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The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Following Round 2 of league play, here are Nos. 1-10 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement.

10. San Jose Earthquakes – Was word of the Goonies’ demise a bit premature? Adam Jahn certainly returned Buck Shaw Stadium to being a place of late nightmares for opposition, scoring one goal and helping create the stoppage time winner Sunday against New York. The team needed something like that, still struggling with injuries to its usual late-match mayhem-making strikers Alan Gordon and Steven Lenhart. San Jose is also missing speedy midfielder Marvin Chavez and young, skillful outside back Steven Beitashour.

9. Columbus – A win on the road at Chivas USA and a loss a Vancouver opens the season with some promise for Federico Higuain and his men in yellow. New Brazilian center back Glauber debuted well enough, but we’ll see if a huge boo-boo in last week’s loss at Vancouver was a fluke or something recurring. Up this week: a toughie against San Jose. Put on your ear buds and listen to some Crew faithful talk about that one, and all things Crew, broadcasting from somewhere called “Awesome Town.” Awesome.

8. Sporting Kansas City – Perhaps we are judging SKC too harshly. After all, three points from two matches on the road isn’t bad at all. Heck, do that over a full season and playoffs are all but guaranteed. Still, something just looks off as Peter Vermes’ club adjusts to the losses of Kei Kamara and Roger Espinoza to EPL clubs. We should know more after watching this version perform at home; SKC opens at the recently renamed Sporting Park this weekend against struggling Chicago.

7. New England Revolution – While Revs fans get excited about No. 1 pick Andrew Farrell, they can also get excited about the way Juan Toja and Lee Nguyen began combining in the 1-0 win over Chicago. This piece called Toja’s evening in the creative role “electric.” Hard to argue – now let’s see if the Colombian lefty can stay healthy. Up this week is another road match, this one at young and erratic Philadelphia.

6. Real Salt Lake – Jason Kreis’ side paid a high price for its youth movement last week; one of its young replacements for the higher-salaried vets was late getting off the post on a corner kick, and a potentially valuable road draw became a loss. Over two matches, Kyle Beckerman continues to be a steadying force. On the other hand, striker Robbie Findley needs to get himself going.

5. D.C. United – Ben Olsen’s team navigated Dwayne De Rosario’s two-match suspension about like you would expect, losing at Houston to open the season but responding quite nicely with a win at RFK over Real Salt Lake, a team that is never an “easy out.” Chris Pontius and Nick DeLeon look good so far. No surprise. Same for Chris Korb at outside back, and Perry Kitchen prospered in a slightly more advanced role last week.

4. Montreal Impact – Surely the surprise outfit of Major League Soccer’s young, 18th season. The second-year MLS club has opened with wins at Seattle and Portland (the Pacific Northwest double!) under new Swiss manager Marco Schallibaum (pictured). They have a good chance to go 3-0, opening at home this week against Toronto. (Well, not exactly at “home,” but in Montreal at Olympic Stadium.)

3. Vancouver Whitecaps – Nigel Reo-Coker is blending well at BC Place, Kenny Miller looks good in his new attacking midfield role and Daigo Kobayashi is fulfilling his promise for Martin Rennie’s club so far. This terrible injury to captain and defensive leader Jay DeMerit notwithstanding, things are looking green and plush so far this year in Whitecaps Valley.

2. Houston Dynamo – Dominic Kinnear’s team had the week off, a great little break in league action between CONCACAF Champions League matches against Liga MX power Santos Laguna. (The return leg in Mexico is tomorrow; Houston leads the series by a goal.) Only league action so far was the 2-0 win over D.C. United 10 days back; a Rivalry Week visit to Dallas is on deck for Sunday.

1. LA Galaxy – Obviously, performance in Champions League should not overtly impact rankings in league play. But if we’re honest, it’s difficult to discount last week’s helpful 0-0 opening leg draw in Costa Rica in forming thoughts on the Galaxy’s 2013 version. Especially when it comes after that 4-0 whuppin’ laid on Chicago a few days early to open the MLS title defense. The Galaxy meet Costa Rica’s Herediano again in  Wednesday’s return leg, with a good shot at advancing into the Champions League semis.

WATCH: Walcott compares Wenger speech to Pacino

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What if Tony D’Amato of American football was Antoine Dumond of the world’s game?

Theo Walcott says Arsene Wenger inspired him to make that comparison after a recent pregame speech, a fiery number that convinced the Arsenal attacker how badly his manager wanted to win the Premier League.

[ MORE: Chinese Super League for Giovinco? ]

Speaking to Arsenal TV for a series of questions on former and current teammates — and Wenger — Walcott shared a pretty funny tidbit:

“The manager did a speech the other day. I won’t be able to do the speech because it was that good.”

“It genuinely reminded me of the film ‘Any Given Sunday’. I actually said that to him, and I was little bit embarrassed.’ You remind me of that film, that speech,’ I didn’t know if he had seen the film.

“Just showing the passion and how hard, and how long it’s been as well. He really wants it, like all of his players.”

Here’s the thing, though: Walcott doesn’t give us the answer as to whether Wenger has seen “Any Given Sunday”. And how about you, Theo, do you see yourself in Willie Beamon or Cap Rooney?

CAS rejects Serbia’s challenge to Kosovo joining UEFA

Supporters of Kosovo's national soccer team raise Kosovo flag during their international friendly soccer match at Adem Jashari Stadium in Mitrovica, Kosovo on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Kosovo host Turkey for their second friendly match of the country's national football team. Turkey won the match 6-1. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)
AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Serbian soccer federation’s appeal against Kosovo joining UEFA has been rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The court ruled that Kosovo met the standard of UEFA entry rules because it is “recognized by the majority of the United Nations member states as an `independent state.”‘

[ MORE: Chinese Super League for Giovinco? ]

Serbia argued that Kosovo, which joined European soccer’s governing body last May despite not being a U.N. member, should be blocked.

CAS decided that because “there is no formal recognition of countries by the U.N.,” then acceptance of Kosovo’s statehood by most countries was valid for the soccer application.

European soccer federations voted 28-24 in favor of Kosovo’s entry to UEFA after Serbia led opposition to its former province.

Serbia and its allies, including Russia, have not recognized Kosovo since the Balkan republic declared independence in 2008.

UEFA’s decision led to Kosovo joining FIFA one week later, and being fast-tracked into a 2018 World Cup qualifying group.

Still, Ukraine hosted Kosovo in neutral Poland in October, because its government also does not recognize Kosovo’s statehood.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”