D.C. United v Chivas USA

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Following Round 3 of league play, here are Nos. 1-10 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement.

10. Columbus – Fans who showed up for Saturday’s match despite the nasty weather got their money’s worth in a 1-1 draw with chances aplenty on both sides. The Crew misses Eddie Gaven, although young Ben Speas continues to look promising.

9. Philadelphia Union – Young striker Jack McInerney scored again as the home team overcame New England. That was his second game-winner in as many weeks. (Oh, and nice job from the PPL faithful, showing up in some pretty nasty weather, too. Man! When is spring going to get here, anyway?)

8. San Jose Earthquakes – Still missing too many front-line men, Frank Yallop’s club found enough to manage a 1-1 draw in Columbus, a worthy result for the boys from Buck Shaw, all things considered.

7. Sporting Kansas City – Three points from two matches on the road to open 2013 didn’t look so bad, but a scoreless draw to open the home schedule really stings. Is the strategic choice to possess more and pressure a little less backfiring? Or does the side just need more time to adjust?

6. Real Salt Lake – First things first: the club tied Colorado at home, 1-1. Nick Rimando was huge. Now … This week’s contest is the poster child for why MLS should stop stubbornly playing through FIFA dates. RSL will miss five players to international duty, including Rimando, its leading scorer and its top midfielder. Ridiculous.

5. D.C. United – Big drama at RFK! Cries for goal-line technology! Of course, it all worked out pretty well for the visitors into Red Bull Arena, as Bill Hamid (pictured) reached out and put a big paw on what was / was not / may have been the late game-winner in New Jersey. As scoreless draws go, this was a dandy.

4. Houston Dynamo – We’ve talked enough about Dominic Kinnear, who seriously twisted off about “divers and cheaters.” Meanwhile, we urge peace and balance in life and in MLS. His team? If they defend set-pieces a little better, they might have managed a draw in North Texas rather than a 3-2 loss. Oh, the Scottish kid, Andrew Driver? It’s going to be difficult to keep him off the field. He’s good.

3. LA Galaxy – The young season’s first blemish came in a 1-1 draw with its L.A. rival, as Bruce Arena’s team conceded a late equalizer to 10-man Chivas USA. Robbie Keane didn’t score, but the Irishman – who will miss this week due to international duty – was up for the job. Preseason talk of Keane as 2013 league MVP? He’s done little to hurt that so far.

2. Vancouver Whitecaps – We’ll know more about that 2-0 start when Martin Rennie’s club travels to Houston this weekend. Both Whitecaps’ wins have come at home so far. Meanwhile, some folks are wondering if the magic is already vanishing in Darren Mattocks? Seems a smidge early for all that … but check it out if you like.

1. Montreal Impact – Let’s just give Coach of the Year to Marco Schallibaum and be done with it! If you say you picked the Impact to be 3-0 at this point, you are a liar. Patrice Bernier is performing brilliantly, by the way. Oh, and Designated Player Marco Di Vaio tops the Castrol Index, if you’re into that kind of thing.

MLS Cup: Toronto FC all about the team

Toronto FC defender Nick Hagglund, center, celebrates his goal against the Montreal Impact with teammates Michael Bradley, right, and Steven Beitashour (33) during the second half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Toronto, Ontario (AP) Team has been the theme for Toronto FC in the buildup to the MLS Cup final.

From boisterous practices to team-first media interviews, the All for One club motto has been plain to see ahead of the championship game Saturday against the visiting Seattle Sounders.

“You don’t get to this point by mistake or by accident. You get here because a group of special guys who have all bought into a philosophy, an identity,” said Toronto midfielder Will Johnson, an MLS Cup winner with Real Salt Lake and Portland.

“I say the same about Seattle. They’re bought into what they’re good at. We’re bought in, very motivated and want to sacrifice and put aside egos to get to a point as a team to compete for the big trophy.”

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

Star striker Jozy Altidore, no fan of chatting with the media, was downright prickly when a reporter asked him if he had taken time to reflect on his personal journey to the championship game.

“No,” he said definitively. “This isn’t personal, this is a team game. We’re here to try to help Toronto to be a winning team. This has nothing to do with individuals. So it has nothing to do with what I’ve been through. This is what the city’s been through, what the fans have been through, what this club has been through. That’s far more important.”

Fullback Justin Morrow, a seven-year MLS veteran, has never played this deep into the season before.

“Each week we build on top of each other and we get closer as the year goes on. It really feels like it’s a culmination this week,” he said.

[ UCL: Who can Arsenal, Man City, Leicester draw? ]

Coach Greg Vanney has made a point of praising the entire squad, including reserves who function as the scout team in practice. While he has done soccer’s equivalent of shortening his bench for the playoffs, the squad has stayed on point. If anyone has beefs, they have been kept to themselves.

That’s no small feat considering the salaries on the squad range from $7.12 million for star striker Sebastian Giovinco to $51,500 for youngsters Mo Babouli and Tsubasa Endoh.

For Morrow, being part of a tight-knit group allows you to forget that it is your job.

“When teams aren’t doing well, players tend to focus on that – their job and not about the other people on the team,” Morrow said. “And I think when teams are doing well, it becomes about the relationships between the players.”

Report: Atlanta United to acquire Parkhurst; Guardado hopes fading

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 12:  Michael Parkhurst #4 of the Columbus Crew SC controls the ball against against the Philadelphia Union on March 12, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
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Atlanta United is adding MLS experience to its high-flying international acquisitions.

The expansion side is set to acquire Michael Parkhurst from the Columbus Crew, according to a report from The Sporting News.

[ MORE: Mourinho worried about Zorya pitch ]

Parkhurst, 32, has been a fixture for the Crew since returning to MLS after stints with Nordsjælland and FC Augsburg. The 25-times capped American defender would join a relatively loaded expansion unit that reportedly will also add veteran Chicago goalkeeper Sean Johnson.

Unfortunately for Atlanta, it seems the first-year club’s hopes of landing Mexican star Andres Guardado are fading.

From Ives Galarcep for The Sporting News:

The club has one remaining designated player slot it is expected to fill ahead of its inaugural 2017 season, but transfer target Andres Guardado appears less likely to be the player to fill that slot, sources have told Goal USA.

The Crew was a massive disappointment last season, failing to make the playoffs one season after making a run to the MLS Cup Final. Is Parkhurst a good gamble for Atlanta?

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Men in Blazers podcast: Conte v. Pep, Cherries comeback, Spurs-Swans

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Rog and Davo relive the tactical battle between Antonio Conte and Pep Guardiola, marvel at tiny Bournemouth’s comeback win over high-flying Liverpool and duck-and-cover while recapping Spurs 5-0 Swansea.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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Mourinho accepts Zorya compliment, but says best coach “doesn’t exist”

Manchester United's coach Jose Mourinho, centre, attends a training session with his team at Chernomorets stadium in Odessa, Ukraine, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, ahead of Thursday's Europa League group A soccer match against FC Zorya Luhansk. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky
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On the eve of his side playing Manchester United in the UEFA Europa League, Zorya Luhansk boss Yuriy Vernydub called counterpart Jose Mourinho the best manager in the world.

And Mourinho disagreed.

Well, in principle.

[ MORE: Designing the best UCL Round of 16 ]

The Portuguese was flattered by Vernydub’s compliments and isn’t one to turn down praise. Yet at the same time, Mourinho thinks a coach’s success is year-to-year. There’s no clear best in the sport, according to Mou.

From ManUtd.com:

“He was nice by saying that but I don’t think he is right. I don’t think there is a best coach in the world. It doesn’t exist in my opinion. Every season one has to win the FIFA Gold Ball but I don’t think there is the best. You can say the best of the year and that I agree. Every year there is one with the most important result. So he is just being nice, no more than that.”

That’s almost meta, Mou.

Conceptually we understand, and Mourinho would feel he was the best in the world three seasons ago but not last year or this year (yet). Yet it’s difficult to say that the bodies of work from Pep Guardiola, Mourinho, Carlo Ancelotti, Unai Emery, Antonio Conte, Luis Enrique, and Jurgen Klopp couldn’t be measured against each other, right?

[ MORE: United, Saints advancement scenarios ]

Onto the little picture Mourinho is worried about a potentially rock hard pitch at Zorya affecting the game. This, from the BBC:

“The pitch is very hard, the pitch is very icy,” said United boss Mourinho.

“They are putting warmth on the top of it, but the pitch is very difficult and people cannot make miracles. Let’s hope everything goes well.”

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