Darren Mattocks 3

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

3 Comments

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

19. Chivas USA – What, in the name of Gerd Muller, must Chivas USA do to please the soccer gods and find a doggone goal? Six matches in September brought a grand total of one. One! At this point, who knows what in the world will happen in the offseason with this little lost sheep of a soccer club.  

18. Toronto FC – Two of three matches remaining are against teams with playoff ambition (Columbus and D.C. United). And there’s a match against Canadian rival Montreal. So, there’s still a little something to play for around BMO – assuming spoiler rolls and rivalries are worth something to you. They certainly are to passionate manager Paul Mariner.

(MORE: Tough choices and important questions around TFC)

17. Colorado Rapids – Conor Casey had a nice match in holding up play and brining others into the game during a 1-1 draw at home against Los Angeles. So, that’s progress. But Casey needs to begin finishing. Because two goals in 18 matches is not what a starting center forward wants to hang his hat on.

16. Portland Timbers – The Timbers need to quickly shake the frustration of last week’s controversial draw with D.C. United. Yes, Mr. Paulson, it was a silly call. There’s one thing left for which to play in 2012, the cherished Cascadia Cup, and that bad boy is at stake this week in Seattle. What a chance for Portland, too; the Timbers can send 66,000-plus home in rave green disappointment by rising to the nationally televised moment Sunday.

(MORE: is disciplinary action in the works for owner Merritt Paulson?)

15. Philadelphia Union – Two critical calls appeared to have been blown (both affecting the playoff race). One of them had Philly on the bad side, as an offside decision that went uncalled provided Columbus the game-winning goal in a 3-2 result over the Union. Meanwhile, looks like center back Bakary Soumare is done for 2012.

14. New England Revolution – Jay Heaps’ men went to Houston and made things very difficult on the Dynamo, a playoff aspirant that was desperate for the home win. You could argue that New England even created the better chances, which isn’t bad considering top midfield creator Lee Nguyen is done for the year.

13. Montréal Impact – For anyone remaining out there who still believes Montreal can somehow defy gravity and make the playoffs (bless your optimistic soul), consider this: The Impact visit Houston this week toting that awful 2-12-1 road record. Meanwhile, the Dynamo has not lost this year at spanking new BBVA Compass Stadium. So …

12. Vancouver Whitecaps – Every time I see Vancouver, I want to see a little more offensive “want-to,” a little less sitting back and hoping for the best. They may yet sneak into the 2012 playoffs; the odds remain with them as pursuing Dallas simply dug down too deeply over the season’s first half. Still, winless in seven matches now following last week’s scoreless draw with Seattle? Not. Good. And now livewire striker Darren Mattocks (pictured above) is injured. Not. Good. At. All.

11. Columbus Crew – Jairo Arrieta hit a vital pair of goals before the break, and the Crew found wonderful fortune in a late strike that really wasn’t. Regardless, a 3-2 win over Philadelphia keeps hope alive in Ohio. Arrieta has a goal or an assist in four consecutive matches, reminding us all what a great summer signing he was – even if journos like me keep writing about Federico Higuain.

League Cup roundup: Middlesbrough and Burnley fall to lower league foes

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24: Adam Forshaw of Middlesbrough is challenged by Tim Ream of Fulham during the EFL Cup second round match between Fulham and Middlesbrough at Craven Cottage on August 24, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sunderland, Bournemouth, and Burnley all advanced to the League Cup third round, while Middlesbrough dropped out after finding themselves bested in extra-time.

A strong Boro lineup still saw its goal pummeled all evening by Fulham’s young squad, and Lasse Vigen Christensen won it in extra time with an assist from American youngster Luca de la Torre to complete the 2-1 scoreline. Middlesbrough went ahead early on an 8th minute header by David Nugent, but they were on the back foot the rest of the match. Scott Malone forced a Boro own-goal for the equalizer shortly after halftime, and Christensen won it seven minutes before penalties. The win for Fulham means they are unbeaten through five matches this season across Championship and League Cup play.

Burnley also went to extra-time after a scoreless full 90 minutes, and they were stunned by a goal from Accrington Stanley’s Matt Pearson in the 122nd minute, just ticks before penalties to down the Clarets 1-0. It was a dull match up to that point, and the League Two side earned its first-ever victory over a Premier League side in cup play with the late winner.

Bournemouth nudged past League Two side Morecambe 2-1 thanks to goals from Max Gradel and Marc Wilson, although Morecambe had leveled things for a bit between the two Cherries’ goals.

Sunderland also saw themselves through thanks to Adnan Januzaj‘s first goal for the Black Cats, an 83rd minute strike to down League One side Shrewsbury Town 1-0 at the Stadium of Light. The match was a relatively even affair until Januzaj’s late goal, but Sunderland likely deserved to win on number of chances, with Patrick van Anholt having the best prior opportunity just before halftime with a rocket saved by Jason Leutwiler.

Champions League playoff roundup: Man City eases through, Ajax bounced

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

The result was never in doubt for Manchester City after a 6-0 demolition of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg, but the Premier League side made it official as they eased into the group stage with a 0-0 second leg result at the Etihad.

Joe Hart started and played what could be his final match in a City shirt, with Pep Guardiola handing him potentially one last showing in front of the home fans. The fan favorite received a thunderous welcome from the home fans who understood the situation.

Guardiola rested Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, and David Silva but still put forth a strong side, and Fabian Delph‘s 58th minute goal sent Man City home with an easy victory and clean sheet. There was a scary moment when Kelechi Iheanacho appeared to pull up lame with a hamstring injury, and then suddenly passed out on the field, but he came to just before a Bucharest player was about to attempt to resuscitate him. The young striker was brought off in favor of Fernandinho in the 75th minute.

Also through easily is Borussia Monchengladbach, with a 6-1 home win over Young Boys to complete a 9-2 aggregate victory. Thorgan Hazard opened the scoring just nine minutes in with a solid bit of skill, and Raffael continued his solid run of form with a hat-trick to easy the Germans through. Hazard would eventually cap off a hat-trick in the 84th minute as well.

In the surprise of the round, Dutch giants Ajax saw themselves bow out of the Champions League following a 4-1 aggregate defeat to last year’s Russian Premier League runners up FC Rostov. The spot in the group stage was there for the taking after a 1-1 first leg in the Netherlands, but Ajax was hammered on Wednesday 4-1 in Russia. Rostov managed four goals with four different goalscorers, including Ecudorian international Christian Noboa. The visitors, meanwhile, didn’t even manage a shot on target until the 73rd minute.

FC Koln needed a late equalizer to send them through over APOEL Nicosia, as Paraguayan international Federico Santander scored in the 86th minute to level the match at 1-1 and give the visitors a 2-1 aggregate win. Finally, Dinamo Zagreb completed a stunning comeback, scoring twice after the 87th minute to beat Red Bull Salzburg 2-1 on the day in Austria and 3-2 on aggregate. Junior Fernandes scored in the 87th to level things at 1-1 and requiring extra time. Then Algerian international El Arabi Hilal Soudani bagged the winner in the 97th minute, sending the Croatians through to the group stage.

Coleman explains why he stayed as Wales coach, rejected Hull

ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - OCTOBER 10: Head coach Chris Coleman of Wales celebrates after the Euro 2016 qualifying football match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and Wales at the Stadium Bilino Polje in Elbasan on October 10, 2015. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Chris Coleman says he chose to remain as Wales manager despite interest from Premier League side Hull because he’s in a job that is “close to his heart.”

The Football Association of Wales rejected an approach for Coleman from Hull this month, with the Welshman deciding to stay on rather than resigning.

Coleman, who guided Wales to the European Championship semifinals against the odds, said on Wednesday that “if someone comes and it’s the Premier League, anybody, you kind of look at it sideways. Of course.”

But, Coleman added, managing your country “comes around once, if you’re lucky.”

Coleman has made no secret of his desire to manage in club football in the future, but says “what I’ve got here is something very special and close to my heart.”

FOLLOW LIVE: The UEFA Champions League finds its last five group stage teams

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 24:  Joe Hart of Manchester City warms up prior to the UEFA Champions League Play-off Second Leg match between Manchester City and Steaua Bucharest at Etihad Stadium on August 24, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Who’s going to join Porto, Monaco, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic as playoff teams to join the UEFA Champions League group stage?

The biggest names of Wednesday’s slate are cruising after their first legs, with Manchester City and Borussia Monchengladbach putting five and three goals on the board, respectively.

[ MORE: Champions League Tues. roundup ]

Could the match be Joe Hart‘s last for City? The longtime backstop gets the call with the transfer window a week away.

In the other three cases, things are wide open. Rostov plays Ajax, Red Bull Salzburg faces Dinamo Zagreb, and APOEL lines up Copenhagen.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League slateFOLLOW LIVE

Borussia Monchengladbach (3) vs. (1) BSC Young Boys
Rostov (1) vs. (1) Ajax
Red Bull Salzburg (1) vs. (1) Dinamo Zagreb
APOEL (0) vs. (1) Copenhagen
Manchester City (5) vs. Steaua Bucuresti (0)