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.

Report: Villarreal defender Semedo arrested on charges of alleged assault, kidnapping

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For the third time in the past four months, Ruben Semedo has found himself in trouble with the law.

According to a report from Spain, the Villarreal centerback was arrested Tuesday morning at his home on charges of assault, kidnapping and robbery. A complaint filed to the police by a victim alleges that Semedo and two others tied the victim up and locked the victim in a room in Semedo’s home.

Semedo and the others then allegedly took the victim’s keys and went to the victim’s house, where they allegedly stole money and/or other valuable items.

[READ: Wigan shock Man City in FA Cup]

Villarreal has yet to respond to the latest incident off the field, which has marred Semedo’s season and the club’s reputation. Semedo has only played four times this year as he’s currently recovering from a right leg injury, and he’s been sidelined with a variety of injuries since joining from Sporting Lisbon for around $17.3 million last summer.

This is Semedo’s third time in trouble with the law. Last October, after a long night of partying, Semedo allegedly smashed a bottle over someone’s head. In November, in the early hours of the morning following an all-night session at a night club, Semedo pointed a gun at a member of the night club’s security staff after an argument earlier in the evening forced Semedo to leave.

For the latter crime, the local prosecutor is pushing for two years in prison. If the current allegations can be proven true, Semedo could face even more time behind bars.

As of right now, it seems incredibly unlikely that Semedo could feature for Portugal in the World Cup, as he’ll have more important matters to deal with.

Russian authorities fine hotels for World Cup price-gouging

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian authorities in two cities say they have issued hundreds of fines after finding many hotels were illegally hiking prices for the World Cup.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer regulator says one Moscow hotel raised prices up to 570 percent above what is allowed by a government decree designed to prevent excessive profiteering during the tournament.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The regulator’s Moscow branch says it issued fines totaling 5.95 million rubles ($105,000) to 198 legal entities and 181 people.

In the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg, where Mexico and France will each play a group game, the regulator said it fined seven hotels, some of which were charging almost three times the allowed rate for rooms.

Russian authorities have taken a hands-on approach to regulating hotel and travel costs during the tournament to prevent the negative publicity of visiting fans being charged large sums.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.