ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)

19. Toronto FC – Woe is the team that cannot win over Portland at home. TFC managed only a draw with Portland at BMO Field.  Darren O’Dea looked good  in his TFC debut, but his entrance into the center of the defense wasn’t enough in a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City.

18. Portland Timbers – Owner Merritt Paulson is feeling the heat (yes, even more of it than before) over his ongoing support for manager Gavin Wilkinson, who did have a pretty good week. Unfortunately, a draw and a close loss on the road qualifies as a “good week” these days for the beleaguered Timbers, who are winless in their last eight. At least there’s a rivalry match this week; Vancouver comes to Stumptown.

17. Colorado Rapids – Yes, Chivas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy had a lot to say about this one, with more of his good work helping contain the Rapids in a 1-1 draw outside Denver. If they have a big run in them, this weekend’s match is a pretty hard place to start one; Oscar Pareja takes his team into San Jose to meet the current league leaders.

16. New England Revolution – It’s all about 2013 now around downtrodden bunch from Gillette Stadium. Maybe that’s why Benny Feilheiber started on the bench for last week’s 2-1 loss to Chicago.  A controversial penalty kick called against the Revs highlighted that one.

15. Philadelphia Union – A 1-1 draw at D.C. United has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons. Philadelphia was quite good in the first 45 and then just barely good enough after the break. Danny Cruz (pictured above) started and had a useful outing before needing to be relieved midway through the second half. He already looks like a nice addition around PPL Park.

14. Chivas USA – Juan Pablo Angel, now coming off the bench, struck at DSG Park as Chivas stole a point out of Colorado. A big mistake from newly arrive Shalrie Joseph put the Goats in a hole. Robin Fraser’s team is 7th in the West now, having been lapped by Dallas last week. Thing to remember about Chivas: they have four or five games in hand over most of the teams it is chasing in the Western Conference playoff race.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps – Barry Robson was pulled off the available list less than 24 hours before kickoff in Seattle. Tsk, tsk, MLS.  Would the Scottish midfielder have made a difference Saturday? We’ll never know; Sounder by 2-0 in that one. Robson didn’t help much in the Whitecaps’ loss at home to Dallas three nights earlier. That’s the same Dallas side that is now five points south of Martin Rennie’s team for the final playoff spot.

12. FC Dallas – What Montreal has done in the East, FC Dallas is doing in the West – even if the side from Texas is behind the curve. Dallas is 5-2-2 lately with David Ferreira in the starting lineup. Imagine if they can ever get Blas Perez back on the field. George John’s big play in the back has been overlooked in all the hubbub over Ferreira’s return and Brek Shea’s enlivened play. The question, of course, is this all too late?

11. Montréal Impact – Jesse Marsch for mayor of Montreal? Of course, it’s really about the players. Patrice Bernier keeps scoring and setting up others and Marco Di Vaio just hit another one as he gets his MLS feet beneath him. Veteran center back Alessandro Nesta had to sit out last week’s big win (3-1) over San Jose with a knee sprain.

Off to slow start, Morris, Seattle know “things can change quickly”

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Both Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders are off to a rough start in defense of their MLS Cup title last Fall, and the USMNT’s star striker admits to recalling last season’s wild turnaround as an inspiration.

“After the game last week we mentioned that we have a lot of the nucleus from last year and we all know that things can change quickly,” Morris said to ProSoccerTalk this week.

Seattle won just seven games before Matchday 22 last season, rebounding with a burst after coach Sigi Schmid was replaced by assistant Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders went 8-2-2 down the stretch en route to an MLS Cup win over Toronto FC.

While he hasn’t scored in five matches and only has two markers in 12 games, he feels success is coming for the 3W-5L-4T Sounders. Morris said the club knows the results aren’t there, but also that they are producing chances.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

“It’s been okay,” Morris said. “Definitely not the start I would’ve wanted. It’s not an excuse but we’ve hit a lot of posts and had other near misses.”

Seattle has a huge opportunity to flip the script on its season when Cascadia Cup rivals Portland visit on Saturday. The free-scoring Timbers are dangerous in attack, but have been opened up 20 times this season. Only two teams have conceded more goals than Portland (which has played the most matches in the league, it must be said).

And it may or may not surprise fans that Morris’ focus has been one of his strengths: the final product.

“I’m working on the final third, whether it’s shooting or finding the open guy,” Morris said. “It’s a big deal for us to finish our chances. Scoring or the final pass in that final third.”

Despite his relatively cold start, it would be surprising if Bruce Arena didn’t tab Morris in his crop for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old also seems relatively certain to be a part of the Gold Cup plans.

“I’m excited and hopefully I get called up,” he said. “These World Cup qualifiers are obviously a very big deal and Bruce has done a really good job of getting us on the same page.”

Morris is also participating in a unique promotional activity with Delta Air Lines for Sounders fans, as he and Cristian Roldan are among Seattle teams picking fans for “positions” in a Fan XI. Once assembled, they’ll travel to L.A. for a Sounders road match and even sign one-day contracts. Morris was happy to get on board with it.

“It’s for our fans, who are amazing,” he said. “Delta’s idea to make a Fan XI gives the fansa chance to have the behind the scenes experience of being part of a team put together by having different skills. We love rewarding our fans.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
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Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
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A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.