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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.

Crew SC announce MLS Cup 2015 sold out 15 hours after qualifying

Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew SC
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The building formerly known as Crew Stadium has hosted its fair share of famous soccer games since it opened in 1999 — dos a cero, anyone? — and Sunday’s MLS Cup 2015 looks set to rank right up there among them.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Roughly 15 hours after advancing to this year’s MLS Cup, which they will host this Sunday (4 p.m. ET), Columbus Crew SC announced on Monday that MAPFRE Stadium is officially sold out.

Crew SC president of business operations Andy Loughnane addressed the fanbase in a blog post on the club’s official site Monday afternoon and said, “As of late this morning we are sold out of the extra capacity seating that was created for MLS Cup at MAPFRE Stadium. While there is a small chance that additional seats could be released for purchase as a result of MLS holds being returned, we are sold out of all known available seats.”

[ MORE: Beckham group abandons yet another stadium plan, site in Miami ]

Crew SC, making their second MLS Cup appearance in club history (2008 champions), will host first-time MLS Cup contestants, the Portland Timbers, on Sunday.

PL clubs combined to pay out $200 million in agent fees in 2015

Liverpool Unveil New Signing Christian Benteke
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What a time to be an agent in the footballing world, eh? The rich just keep getting richer and richer and richer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The steady increase in transfer fees being paid for players — bad, good, great and amazing alike — has made quite a few “selling” clubs rich reach over the last decade or two, to be sure, but it’s also made another group of people obscenely rich: player agents.

As the soccer world has gone crazy with its “now, now, now” approach — managers must win now, or they’re fired; new signings must become stars now, or they’ll be sold; etc. — agents are the ones making out like bandits — no losses to be sustained on players who turn out to be flops; no future loss of wages due to taking “too long” to settle in and being labeled a flop — at the expense of clubs and, most cruelly, the players.

More than $195 million was paid out agents by Premier League clubs across the January and summer transfer windows, with Liverpool — ever the club in constant change — paying out $21.5 million in agents fees to remain top of the table for a second straight year. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal were the four other clubs to top $15 million.

[ MORE: Premier League Payback — The Diego Costa era over at Chelsea? ]

Agents not only receive a fee when players change clubs through transfers, but can only be compensated again and again when one of their clients signs a new contract with their current club.

For instance, Wayne Rooney has signed at least four new contracts since joining Manchester United in 2004, the latest of which came barely three years after he was given a new five-year deal in Oct. 2010 upon handing in a transfer request in an attempt to force a move to Manchester City. Rooney’s current weekly wage is reported to be in the neighborhood of $450,000. His agent, Paul Stretford, will have received a sizable payday upon negotiating the deal in Feb. 2014.

At the end of the day, sports are little more than a business, and it’s the ones who play the game — the political game, that is — the best, and most ruthlessly, who are making out like bandits.

Puksas Award finalists: Somehow absent is USWNT’s Carli Lloyd

Carli Lloyd, USWNT

FIFA announced on Monday its three-man list of finalists for the 2015 Puskas Award, handed out each year to the player who scored the “most beautiful” goal of the past calendar year.

[ MORE: 2015 Ballon d’Or finalists ]

The three men up for this year’s honor are Alessandro Florenzi (WATCH HERE), Lionel Messi (WATCH HERE) and Wendell Lira (WATCH HERE) — all scorers of fantastically beautiful goals this year.

That means Carli Lloyd, who made the original list of nominees before being whittled down to just three, is shockingly tragically scandalously criminally not a finalist for this year’s award. Reminder: This is the goal we’re talking about.

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

So, here’s the case for Lloyd:

  • She scored from midfield
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick
  • She scored the winner from midfield in a World Cup final to complete a hat trick in the 16th minute

How in the world is Carli Lloyd’s midfield goal to complete a 16-minute hat trick and win a World Cup final not a top-three goal of the year? You got some (more) explaining to do, FIFA.

Beckham group abandons latest plans for Miami MLS stadium

David Beckham
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All signs seemed to point toward an all-too-familiar outcome for the David Beckham-led investment group hoping to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to the city of Miami: another failed plan in their bid to build a brand new stadium.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Earlier this month, newly-joined all-world sports executive Tim Leiweke warned that groups or individuals currently owning the various parcels of land surrounding the Miami Marlins’ baseball stadium, the latest site Miami Beckham United (MBU) had chosen, were making “unrealistic” demands and threatened to derail the project at that location.

Today, it’s been reported across South Florida that the group has altogether abandoned plans to build their stadium at that particular site. Miami city commissioner Francis Suarez confirmed that MBU were “moving in a different direction” — quotes from Local 10 News:

“It’s going to be withdrawn from the next agenda because the Beckham group has not acquired the private properties that are needed to construct the stadium on that site.”

“The residents expect us to hold these teams to the fire,” Suarez said. “A lot of times they’re financed by wealthy people and they want some sort of a public subsidy, which is very controversial as well, which is why we were going to take it to referendum.”

[ MORE: Timbers reach first MLS Cup | Crew SC to host MLS Cup 2015 ]

On Sunday, during halftime of the league’s Eastern Conference final, MLS commissioner Don Garber was asked about the Miami stadium situation, to which he responded, “We think Miami will be a great market. We found a reasonably good site. I’m confident that we’ll get something done there.”

MBU is reportedly being held to something of a deadline by the MLS board of governors, which meets every year ahead of MLS Cup, with this weekend’s sit-down thought of as a target date to have something concrete going forward. Meanwhile, Sacramento Republic FC, an MLS expansion hopeful currently playing in the USL (third division), announced last week they would be moving forward with building their brand new MLS-sized stadium, expansion bid or not.