Jose Villarreal

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.

“Overweight” Costa comes to Mourinho’s defense

Diego Costa, Chelsea FC
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Diego Costa says he and his Chelsea teammates are to blame for Chelsea’s horrid start to the 2015-16 Premier League season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Speaking Thursday, during a bit of downtime over the current international break (Costa was left out of Vicente del Bosque’s squad for Spain’s final two EURO 2016 qualifiers this week), Costa placed the majority of blame at the feet of the entire team, but went on to most harshly critique himself for coming into the season unfocused and “overweight.”

Costa, on his lack of fitness and form to begin the season — quotes from the Guardian:

“We know we’re not in the form we were supposed to be at the beginning of the season. We need to blame the players because we came back from holiday very confident, thinking we could go back into how it was last season, and then realized the team was already in a bad situation.

“I’m going to be very honest: maybe a few weeks ago, five or six weeks ago, I was not on top of my game. At least physically. We talk within the players and we know that, maybe at the beginning, we were not 100 percent as we were supposed to be when we got here. I got injured at the end of last season and then I went on holiday. Maybe I got out of my diet and, when I came back, I was not the way I was supposed to be. I was a little bit overweight. That affected my game. You can be selfish and blame it on the manager but I’m not going to do that. I’m responsible 100%, and so are the other guys.

Given that Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said on Thursday he doesn’t quite know what’s wrong with the defending Premier League champions, hearing someone — anyone — speak up and explain the club’s worst start to a season in 37 years will surely be a welcome sound to any Blues supporter’s ears.

[ MORE: Liverpool appoint Klopp as manager | Allardyce to Sunderland? ]

Costa, who is eligible to return from suspension next weekend when Aston Villa visit Stamford Bridge, has scored just one goal in league play this season (six appearances) after scoring 20 in 26 games last season.

Sam Allardyce to open talks with Sunderland

Sam Allardyce, West Ham United FC
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Now that Liverpool have selected and named their new manager, it appears Sunderland are finally ready to move forward with their own managerial search. (That’s clearly a joke, because it implies Liverpool and Sunderland ever duke it out for the same managerial candidate.)

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Anyway, the Black Cats will have to hire someone to replace the recently-departed Dick Advocaat at some point. We all knew that, despite the fact he’s probably earned a shot at that level, Bob Bradley was never really going to be considered for the job. With that in mind, if you’re not going to endear yourself to the entire United States of America with this hire, you might as well go for the best unemployed manager who’ll actually consider your approach.

That’s what Sunderland chairman Ellis Short appears to have done, as it was reported Thursday that despite an initial reluctance from Sam Allardyce — let’s be honest, he actually was holding out hope for the Liverpool job — the 60-year-old most recently in charge of West Ham United was willing and ready to enter into negotiations with the northeastern club.

One of the major sticking points during Sunderland’s courting of Allardyce is expected to be his demand for autonomy in the transfer market as well as a sizable transfer budget to sign his own players during the January window.

[ MORE: Advocaat: Sunderland squad too thin, chairman to blame ]

Allardyce seems like the no. 1 guy you’d like to bring in to steady a capsized ship — cough Sunderland cough — in any situation. Not only does he have a successful track record in the Premier League, but he’s the kind of no-nonsense leader a club like Sunderland so desperately needs as they find themselves in yet another relegation battle just eight games into the new season.

Short hopes to have Allardyce signed, sealed and delivered when the Premier League returns to action next weekend. In that event, Allardyce’s first game in charge of Sunderland would be a trip to West Bromwich Albion. His first home fixture? Home to Tyne-Wear derby rivals Newcastle United, a club whose boisterous fanbase still holds a great deal of disdain for Big Sam. Sometimes the football gods really are looking out for us.