The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Following Round 5 of league play, here are Nos. 1-10 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement.

(Nos. 11-19 in the PST rankings are here)

10. D.C. United – A home loss in Round 4 to Columbus is difficult to assess, mostly because Columbus isn’t bad at all. This much we do know: Dwayne De Rosario has to get himself going – otherwise this team is going nowhere. This week’s test at Sporting Kansas City certainly won’t be easy.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – Anyone remember about this time last year, when myself and others continued to discount a growing list of victories for Frank Yallop’s Earthquakes, unable to fully buy in? Well, it’s the opposite this year. Things aren’t going so swell (a rather meek loss at Houston over the weekend represent the latest evidence), but the boys from Buck Shaw have earned some benefit of the doubt. The 2-2-1 record certainly isn’t the stuff of a Supporters Shield defense in 2013, but let’s talk again when they get a couple more of the walking wounded back on the grass.

8. Columbus – A week off (which will help Eddie Gaven more fully recuperate from a recent injury setback) to prepare for a visit from young Philadelphia? Yep, Robert Warzycha’s men have to take advantage of that.

7. Sporting Kansas City – Benny Feilhaber – where you been, man? That was some kind of two-assist performance of yours last Saturday, the one that helped take down Montreal for the first time this year.

6. Real Salt Lake – Watching Luis Gil, Sebastian Velaquez and Devon Sandoval operate around Rio Tinto in last week’s commanding win over Seattle (Well, OK, “commanding” for a half, at least) says great things about the development initiative going on in Utah. Everyone can sign home growns and draft raw talent, but RSL is getting worthy production from the trio of youngsters.

5. FC Dallas – Blas Perez came off the bench to supply the big goal last week in a win over New England. But just as important has been Michel’s introduction into the midfield, in a dual holding role alongside Andrew Jacobson. Peruvian international Raul Fernandez had a good night, too, in the shutout at Gillette Stadium.

4. Chivas USA – We like our crow with really good grill marks, bathed tastefully in a delicious, fresh chimmichurri sauce. Until further notice, “El Chelis” and Chivas USA register as A-OK in our book. Most of the success has come at the Home Depot Center, but a big Round 4 win at Chicago demonstrates that the Goats can travel, too.

3. Montreal Impact – One stinker (at a highly motivated Sporting Kansas City) cannot undo all the good that Marco Schallibaum and his Impact did over four previous round in MLS. They get a week to recover before easing into a mild April, when the club has just three matches, including two at home.

2. Houston Dynamo – How far will this streak go? Dominic Kinnear’s team is unbeaten in 34 contests (in all competitions) at home. One more and they no longer share the league mark; they will own it. The record-setter could come April 14 at BBVA against Chicago. Of course, a meeting with Portland up in Oregon is up first on Saturday.

1. LA Galaxy – Remember this name (if you haven’t already): Jose Villarreal (pictured above). The young forward has already left a mark on the champs’ 2013 season, striking spectacularly in stoppage time Saturday to help his team split the points in Toronto.  Oh, and Landon Donovan is back. Or maybe you heard. Bruce Arena’s team will need him in this CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series starting this week.

West Ham 0-3 Brighton: Gulls fly past Irons

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  • Murray heads Gross free kick
  • Izquiero strikes from distance
  • West Ham blanked at home
  • Murray earns, converts PK

Glenn Murray scored twice and Jose Izquiero also scored to lead visiting Brighton and Hove Albion past West Ham United 3-0 at London Stadium on Friday.

The loss will do nothing to ease the pressure on West Ham manager Slaven Bilic.

Brighton moves into 10th with 11 points, behind Newcastle United on goal differential. West Ham’s eight points keep them ahead of 16th place Everton, also on goal differential.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Brighton took a lead in the 10th minute when Premier League veteran Murray lost Pedro Obiang and turned Pascal Gross‘ free kick across a diving Joe Hart and inside the far post.

Murray now has PL goals for Brighton and Hove Albion, Bournemouth, and Crystal Palace.

West Ham had chances from Marko Arnautovic, Michail Antonio, and — perhaps most dangerous, a left-footed rip from Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez that nearly saw its way inside the far post.

And then… well, wow. Izquierdo darted inside from the left and hit his hard shot at Hart, who could only slap the ball inside his goal:

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Manuel Lanzini threatened with a slightly deflected 65th minute free kick, and the Irons wasted the ensuing corner.

A dizzying, creative run by Anthony Knockaert provided Murray a 1v1 with Hart, but a second touch allowed the keeper to close down the Englishman.

Murray earned Brighton a PK within a minute, unable to get past the block of Pablo Zabaleta. He took his shot well.

Malta captain mutes goal celebration after journalist slain

AP Photo/Elisabetta Baracchi
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Malta captain Andre Schembri says the car bomb slaying of a Maltese investigative journalist prompted him not to exult after scoring an historic goal.

Schembri’s temporary equalizer for Cypriot club Apollon in a 3-1 loss to Italian side Atalanta in the Europa League on Thursday made him the first Maltese player to score in proper European competition – excluding qualifying.

[ PL PREVIEW: Saints vs. West Brom ]

But instead of pumping his fist or leaping in joy over the achievement, Schembri hung his head as teammates mobbed him.

Schembri wrote on Facebook on Friday, “Celebrating my goal didn’t feel right after what happened in Malta this week.”

Malta has been stunned since Monday by the slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an anti-corruption reporter whose targets included Malta’s leading politicians.

“When they killed Daphne I wasn’t able to sleep for three nights,” Schembri told the ANSA news agency. “Malta is Europe, it’s not the third world. We need to be united when faced with grief like this, to say that we’re better than all of this.

“I love my country and with that goal it came naturally to me to think about a reporter’s freedom and the life of a mother of three children.”

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. West Bromwich Albion

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  • West Bromwich Albion hope to choose from goalkeepers Ben Foster (back) and Boaz Myhill (hamstring) for the trip to St Mary’s. Hal Robson-Kanu (strain), James Morrison (calf) and Oliver Burke (hamstring) will all be absent for the Baggies.
  • Southampton are again without Jeremy Pied but have no other injury concerns.
  • Of all teams to have met in at least seven different Premier League campaigns, Southampton v West Brom has the lowest goals-per-match ratio in the competition (21 in 14 matches, 1.5 per match). 
  • Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in a goal in each of his last three PL appearances against the Baggies (one goal, two assists).

Two mid-table sides meet up in the south of England as Southampton hosts West Bromwich Albion at 13:20 p.m. Saturday afternoon. (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Both teams are struggling for form heading into the match. West Brom is winless in its last seven games while Southampton has just one win in its last five, coughing up a chance to defeat Newcastle a week ago.

It’s a big boost for Southampton though that Manolo Gabbiadini is back on the scoresheet after scoring twice against Newcastle. It was Gabbiadini’s first goal since the second week of the Premier League season.

At the other end, West Brom have a worry with both of its top two goalkeepers, Ben Forster and Boaz Myhill. recovering from injuries.

What they’re saying

Southampton manager Manuel Pellegrino on his team: “The reaction of the team was really good, but we have to start from the beginning with this spirit. Sometimes you have to be patient, because at the beginning teams have more energy, they are fresher and they can press you better. I think we feel comfortable with the ball. If we are precise with the ball and with our tempo, we can create more problems – it doesn’t matter who we are playing. We know that West Brom are really strong physically, and dangerous from set plays and on the counter-attack. That’s something we’ve been working on this week. Every single week we are learning from our last few games, and I feel that my players are better prepared.”

West Bromwich manager Tony Pulis on facing Southampton: “They’re a good footballing team. Pellegrino has come in with his own ideas and the way he wants to play. From watching them in a couple of games away from St Mary’s they seem a little more relaxed. They look a little more uptight at home. But I’m sure they’ll become the team everyone knows they can be.”

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Prediction

West Bromwich doesn’t look closer to stopping its slide down the table, especially on the road. Even with Jay Rodriguez returning to his former club, Southampton should find the offense to put Tony Pulis and West Brom away. Southampton 2-1 West Bromwich Albion

Watch Live: West Ham vs. Brighton and Hove Albion

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West Ham and Brighton kick off the weekend’s Premier League action at the London Stadium on Friday afternoon. (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN an online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Both teams have just eight points from eight games, and are looking to move up in the table with a win.

Manuel Lanzini makes his second consecutive start, playing behind Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in West Ham’s 4-2-3-1 formation. On the other side, Tomer Hemed sits his final match of his three-match suspension, with Glen Murray playing atop the 4-4-1-1 Brighton formation.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Hart; Zabaleta, Fonte, Reid, Masuaku; Kouate, Obiang; Antonio, Lanzini, Arnautovic; Chicharito Hernandez. Subs: Adrian, Cresswell, Ogbonna, Byram, Ayew, Noble, Fernandes

Brighton and Hove Albion: Ryan; Bong, Duffy, Dunk, Saltor; Izquierdo, Propper, Stephens, Knockaert; Gross; Murray. Subs: Krul, Goldson, Suttner, Schelotto, Molumby, March, Brown.