ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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

19. Toronto FC – It’s all about CONCACAF Champions League, as we talked about earlier today on the blog. Santos Laguna visits BMO Field tonight, and there’s some trash talking history to this one. Trash talking! Does this mean CCL has arrived?

18. Portland Timbers – All things considered this was probably the best week around Jeld-Wen Field all summer. Things went well in a 2-1 win over rival Vancouver, there’s excited talk of a new coaching candidate being identified (Caleb Porter) and the reserves drew over 14,000 for a Sunday match. Cheers to ya, Timbers Army.

17. Colorado Rapids – Let’s all hope Pablo Mastroeni doesn’t decide to call it a day, but things aren’t looking good right now. So last week’s signing of Honduran international Hendry Thomas might help ease the sting if the former U.S. international cannot recover sufficiently from concussion-related issues and return by next season. As for this year? The weekend brought yet another beat-down, a 4-1 loss at San Jose.

16. New England Revolution – Management around Gillette Stadium grabbed Juan Toja in the allocation process. But you just have to think they are trying to package up the former FC Dallas standout and use him to improve the defense or goalkeeping. The entire rear guard just isn’t good enough. Latest evidence: a 4-3 loss at Columbus.

15. Chivas USA – To study the standings and Chivas USA’s games in hand, it looks like the Goats can still catch Vancouver for the final playoff spot. But it’s not going to happen – not without a major improvement. Robin Fraser’s team has gathered just four of a possible 15 points since late July. The team’s only wins since mid-June have come against down-and-out Portland. Combined score for the last three matches: 11-3 for the foes. Oh, up next: three consecutive matches on the road.  Playoffs? Not. Gonna. Happen.

14. Philadelphia Union – This Freddy Adu-John Hackworth back-and-forth may be the most interesting reason to watch events around PPL Park over the last few weeks. Adu was skillfully understated in his comments about coming off the bench in the weekend’s scoreless tie with Real Salt Lake – but that doesn’t mean he was happy about it.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps – Even some of the best supporters around BC Place are having doubts about this team’s ability to hold off challengers for the final playoff spot. A loss at Portland over the weekend certainly didn’t help matterrs. And now Barry Robson’s attitude is being called into question. (Robson is pictured above). It’s a question worth asking, too.

12. FC Dallas – A trip to Los Angeles threw a road block into all that momentum built on David Ferreira’s return. On the other hand, Blas Perez was added as a sub in Sunday’s 2-0 loss after missing the club’s last 12 matches. That was the first time this year Dallas’ top three attackers, Ferreira, Perez and Brek Shea, were on the field together. Vancouver can still be caught, but the margin for error grows thinner with each point lost for FCD.

11. D.C. United – Let’s say this for our friends from RFK: there is never a shortage of stories coming out of Black and Red Valley. Management is always trimming and adding to the roster. Or they are complaining about things that everyone deals with. They tend to change coaches a lot, too. Speaking of coaches, Ben Olsen’s lineup choices were controversial over the weekend. All the swirl of punchy storylines points to the same place, however: questions about whether United will breach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Transfer rumor roundup: Schurrle to Newcastle, Spurs

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A new name has emerged on the loan market, as Borussia Dortmund forward Andre Schurrle is reportedly being made available for the second half of the Premier League season.

[ WATCH: Full PL match replays ]

Newcastle United reportedly leads the pack for the former Chelsea scorer, who is struggling to get time at BVB thanks to a glut of fantastic wingers including Christian Pulisic.

Magpies boss Rafa Benitez has a good relationship with the Westfalenstadion set, having taken Mikel Merino off their hands in August. Newcastle currently uses Christian Atsu on the left wing and Matt Ritchie on the right, but Schurrle can play center forward and Benitez may prefer to use the 27-year-old in the middle of his trident.

But they’ll face competition, and HITC says BVB is willing to pay half of his wages on an 18-month deal to keep him reasonable for some clubs. This could be a boon for Spurs.

Newcastle and Stoke City have also been linked with Galatasaray midfielder Papa “Badou” Ndiaye, with the Magpies said to have bid just a bit higher than the Potters but still under Gala’s buyout clause.

And here’s a wild one, according to ESPN: Chelsea’s rumored pursuit of current Premier League scorers now includes Marko Arnautovic. The audacious Austrian attacker cost West Ham around $35 million when his head was turned from Stoke City in the summer.

He didn’t perform well but Slaven Bilic, but David Moyes has been able to get some fine performances from the powerful Arnautovic. Chelsea has previously been linked with West Ham teammate Andy Carroll, Burnley’s Ashley Barnes, and Stoke’s Peter Crouch as it attempts to find a center forward to ease the burden placed on Alvaro Morata in his first Premier League season.

World Cup winner, England legend Armfield passes away at 82

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1966 World Cup champion Jimmy Armfield has died at the age of 82.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Voted “the best right back” in Europe between 1962-64, the former England and Blackpool captain also had a successful management and broadcasting career.

Armfield was a member of the 1962 and 1966 World Cup squads, though a toe injury kept him from his place in the starting lineup when England won the tournament.

He spent his entire playing career with Blackpool before managing Bolton Wanderers to promotion and Leeds United to the European Cup Final, righting the ship after Brian Clough’s infamous spell in charge of the club.

There’s a statue outside Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road, and the club legend has a stand named after him inside the venue.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Julie Ertz scores in USWNT win, discovers good Eagles news after

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Whoever scheduled the U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly against Denmark at the same time as the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night should really consider the Ertz family in the future.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup — Auba to Arsenal, Man City tracking Evans, Fred ]

While noted USWNT defender Julie Ertz and her team cruised past the Danes in a 5-1 victory, her husband, Zach, was playing a hand in the Philadelphia Eagles’ progression to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

With Julie not knowing what to expect following her team’s match, find out how she took the news of her husband’s triumph in the video below.

While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.

The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.

For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.

Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.

Report: LA FC near deal for Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez

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As this year’s MLS newcomers aim to fill out the rest of their roster, Los Angeles FC appears close to adding a goalkeeper.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to sign for Stoke this winter ]

Reports out of Honduras have stated that Luis Lopez is close to signing with the expansion side, which will suit up for manager Bob Bradley starting in March.

The 24-year-old Lopez most recently played for Real Espana in Honduras’ top flight, who won the league’s Aperatura season. Real currently sits third through one match to start the Clausura season.

At the moment, LA FC has just one other goalkeeper on its roster, former Seattle Sounders keeper Tyler Miller.

Additionally, the Real Espana goalkeeper has made 12 appearances for the Honduras national team.