ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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(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.

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.