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.

Wenger: Sanchez, Giroud will both be with Arsenal next year

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Arsene Wenger thinks Alexis Sanchez will sign a new deal at Arsenal this summer, whether the manager changes or not.

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s visit from Leicester City, Wenger did not offer any clues as to his future with the club. He also said it does not hinge on how the Gunners finish the current campaign, and that he is working on transfers for the benefit of Arsenal regardless of his future.

[ MORE: Will Real open door for Barca? ]

That’s no surprise, given his reputation and fidelity to the club. What may surprise some is Wenger’s confidence that Sanchez will stay at the Emirates Stadium.

From Sky Sports:

“I personally think he will stay and sign. First of all he is happy here, his desire is to stay, that is what I deeply believe.

“I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. The question is why would you sell him to another club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.”

Wenger said both sides want to work out a deal and that the hold-up resides in agent-related matters. He also said Arsenal does not have interest in selling Olivier Giroud, who backed Wenger just over a month ago.

Title fight in Spain: Will Real slip up again?

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Barcelona’s dramatic 3-2 win over Real Madrid has set La Liga’s title race on its ear, with both clubs level on points with 75.

Real still controls its own destiny in a bid for its first league title since 2011-12, but a single loss puts Barcelona in pole position for its fourth title in five seasons.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

The tiebreaker is head-to-head, which Lionel Messi lifted from Real with his thrilling stoppage time thriller on Sunday at the Bernabeu.

Here are the run-ins for both sides, with Real facing a more congested schedule thanks to its status as a UEFA Champions League semifinalist.

Real Madrid

Only two of Real’s remaining five La Liga matches are at home, a boon for Barcelona considering Real boasts a strong home mark. The loss to Barca was Real’s first at the Bernabeu this season, and the Merengues only drew three matches at home (Villarreal, Eibar, Atletico Madrid).

Those home matches, however, are against teams that beat Real in the sides’ other league meetings this year, Sevilla and Valencia.

Wednesday – at Deportivo de la Coruna (16th)
Saturday – vs. Valencia (12th)
May 2 – vs. Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 6 – at Granada (19th)
May 10 – at Atletico Madrid (UCL)
May 14 – vs. Sevilla (4th)
May 21 – at Malaga (14th)

Barcelona

Barca is home for three of its remaining five matches. The Blaugranas drew Villarreal and blew out Osasuna and Eibar ahead of the return visits.

As for the road matches, Barca has the Derbi barceloni with Espanyol, having taken the Camp Nou meeting 4-1, as well as a trip to Las Palmas (5-0 at home).

Wednesday – vs. Osasuna (20th)
Saturday – at Espanyol (9th)
May 6 – vs. Villarreal (5th)
May 14 – at Las Palmas (13th)
May 21 – vs. Eibar (8th)
May 27 – vs. Alaves (Copa del Rey Final)

The verdict

Any whiplash Real faces from schedule congestion should be offset by Barcelona’s much tougher schedule. Real could lose again, perhaps versus Sevilla, but Barca will likely finish second thanks to dropped points against Espanyol, Eibar, or Villarreal.

Premier League Weds. preview: Desperation on display

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Two London powers face a race to stay alive for their lofty season goals, while two Northeast sides see their last chances to claim hope for another year in the Premier League.

[ STREAM: All PL games here ]

That’s what’s on the docket for Wednesday’s PL matches, one day after Chelsea buried Southampton 4-2 t0 move seven points clear of Spurs in the race for the league’s 2016-17 crown.

Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

No team has looked better than Spurs lately, though Palace won’t be bowed by a big name or good form. Sam Allardyce‘s Eagles boast wins at Liverpool and Chelsea, as well as a home defeat of Arsenal. Those have all come in 2017, as Palace has leapt to within striking distance of the top half.

Spurs need to win at Selhurst Park to keep pace with Chelsea and sit four points back of the No. 1 spot with five matches to play. Lose, concede, and feel like last April all over again. It was a year from Tuesday that Spurs coughed up a home lead to Leicester and saw any hopes of catching Leicester fade into the sunset.

Middlesbrough vs. Sunderland — 2:45 p.m. ET

This Tees-Wear Derby oozes desperation, with Sunderland knowing it needs to win its matches-in-hand on Hull City and Swansea to have any hope of staying up, and Middlesbrough nearly as desperate.

Boro’s 24 points is three more than Sunderland, who has played one less game. Hull sits 17th with 33 points while Swansea holds 31.

Middlesbrough hasn’t won in the Premier League since Dec. 17, a run of 16 matches. Their only wins of the year are over lower league opposition, a trio of victories against Sheffield Wednesday, Accrington Stanley, and Oxford United.

Sunderland has just one league win since that same date in December, and that came at Crystal Palace. The Black Cats have lost six of eight, and look destined to join Boro in the second tier as Northeast neighbors Newcastle comes up.

(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images )

Arsenal vs. Leicester City — 2:45 p.m. ET

Did Sunday’s FA Cup semifinal win over Manchester City snap Arsenal out of its funk, or was it just a matter of Alexis Sanchez’s class squeezing a bit of excellence out of the tube?

Arsene Wenger will hope for the latter, because Arsenal’s Top Four hopes hinge on winning its matches-in-hand on Liverpool and getting significant help from Man City and Manchester United. Their opposition will also be rested, having rested since bowing out of the UEFA Champions League on April 18.

Leicester’s five match winning streak, part of Craig Shakespeare’s new manager bounce, has died down a bit. The Foxes lost at Everton and drew at Palace, and get a third tricky road test in a row at the Emirates Stadium.

Pochettino calls out Xavi for Dele Alli-Man City “lie to lie to lie”

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“He tried to destroy our focus to win because he hates me because he’s Barcelona.”

Even half-kidding, the Derby Barceloni is alive and well for longtime Espanyol man Mauricio Pochettino and Barcelona legend Xavi.

At least that’s why the latter is trying to sabotage the former’s Premier League title fight, Pochettino says.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 4-2 Saints ]

Speaking from his club team in Qatar, Xavi claimed that Manchester City is going to bid high for Spurs’ young star Dele Alli.

Tottenham boss Pochettino says that’s just not true. Pochettino was joking a bit when he answered questions on the topic, but then told a story about Xavi diving for a penalty in the derby. Here are a few of his thoughts, from The Telegraph:

“It wasn’t a penalty but Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored for Barcelona and they won the game. After in the replay it was very funny because it was clear no one touched him. Come on! It goes from lie to lie to lie.”

“He is working for Manchester City, maybe? He wants to help Guardiola and [Vincent] Kompany.”