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.

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.