The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Following Round 7 of league play, here are Nos. 1-10 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement.

(Nos. 11-19 are here)

10. Columbus – A draw in Montreal is a good result for Robert Warzycha’s team. They get another on the road this week as Columbus pushes through its away-heavy March and April schedule. (Psst: All the pressure will be on Chicago on this Week 8 kickoff; the Fire is desperate to win at home.)

9. Vancouver Whitecaps – Interesting that Darren Mattocks seems to have lost his spot to Corey Hertzog. At least Mattocks made the field this week, appearing for about 30 minutes (unlike last week when manager Martin Rennie left his talented young striker on the bench, apparently sending a message.) The Whitecaps drew with RSL in Vancouver, 1-1.

8. New York Red Bulls – A big move up the chart as Week 7 saw the best result yet in Mike Petke’s young coaching career, a 2-0 win at rival D.C. United that was no fluke. The Red Bulls played well – and so did Tim Cahill, who still cannot crack the goal code but did have one of his better matches of 2013. MSG’s Steve Cangialosi and Shep Messing talk about the big win here.

7. Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando was quite sharp in a 1-1 draw in Vancouver with at least three game-changing saves. He needed as many, in part, because team leader and stalwart defensive midfielder Kyle Beckerman went off injured in the first half, a concerning injury for Jason Kreis’ team, for sure.

6. Montreal Impact – Marco Di Vaio (pictured above) can hit some wonderful goals, can’t he? The Italian veteran struck No. 3 on the year Sunday, blowing one past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum in the Impact’s 1-1 draw at Stade Saputo. (It’s up for MLS Goal of the Week.) Italian center back Alessandro Nesta stood tall along the Impact’s back line.

5. Chivas USA – Will things get a little harder now for Chivas USA, now that the Home Depot Center’s second tenant can no longer sneak up on anyone? Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Colorado in Southern California suggests so.

4. LA Galaxy – It was a tough assignment, traveling north to Texas from Monterrey following last week’s CONCACAF Champions League disappointment. Tactically sound (for 80 minutes, at least) the Galaxy nearly pulled a point out of Dallas, but fell 1-0 to George John’s late goal in Texas. This week the tables get turned; LA should be rested as Sporting KC travels across country following a mid-week match in New Jersey.

3. Houston Dynamo – Dominic Kinnear’s team is perfect in four at home this year, having just established the league record with 35 consecutive unbeaten matches at home. It’s really quite an accomplishment, now beyond Real Salt Lake’s 34-game streak that ended back in 2011, the previous MLS best across all competitions.

2. Sporting Kansas City – Peter Vermes’ team plays a mid-week match in New York on Wednesday, and it should be a humdinger. The Red Bulls come in confidently off a huge road win (at D.C. United) and Sporting is unbeaten in its last four, having not allowed a goal in that time. Graham Zusi, Claudio Bieler, Matt Besler and the rest of SKC’s well-drilled bunch should be well rested after an idle weekend in Round 7.

1. FC Dallas – FC Dallas has figured out its midfield. Andrew Jacobson and first-year Brazilian Michel have provided the skill and balance in Dallas’ 4-2-3-1 behind playmaker David Ferreira. And those three strikers (Blas Perez, Kenny Cooper and Eric Hassli) are being worked into the rotation, which puts tremendous pressure on opposition defenses. The club used a late goal to get past the LA Galaxy, 1-0, on Saturday to extend its first-place lead in the West.

Trio of USWNT players stay in locker room for national anthem

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USWNT players Megan Rapinoe, Sydney Leroux and Becky Sauerbrunn were among players from both the Seattle Reign and FC Kansas City who did not appear for the national anthem at a NWSL game on Sunday.

Rapinoe was the first USWNT player to kneel during the national anthem as she joined the protests led by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick calling for racial equality and against police brutality.

With several NFL teams on Sunday taking a knee during the anthem and the Pitstburgh Steelers, Tennessee Titans and Seattle Seahawks staying in the locker room during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner, U.S. President Donald Trump has responded angrily to sports teams who decided to kneel during the national anthem.

Here’s more info from Sounder At Heart on SB Nation:

This time Megan Rapinoe is not alone. Several players from both teams joined her, staying in the locker room during the flag and anthem ceremony.

Elli Reed, Megan Rapinoe, Madalyn Schiffel, Lauren Barnes and Diana Matheson from the Reign did not take the field. Former Sounders/Reign player Sydney Leroux was among the FCKC starters who were not out for the ceremonies. Yael Averbuch, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Desiree Scott round out that group. Sauerbrunn is currently the United States captain. Leroux and Rapinoe are both regulars with the USWNT.

With U.S. Soccer bringing in a new bylaw earlier this year which states players must stand for the national anthem, could we see male and female U.S. stars following this option by not going out onto the pitch for the national anthem in upcoming international games?

All eyes will be on USWNT captain Sauerbrunn, plus midfielder Rapinoe and Leroux, during the anthem when Jill Ellis’ side play against South Korea on Oct. 19 and Oct. 22.

The actions of Bruce Arena’s USMNT side will also be heavily scrutinized ahead of their upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Panama and Trinidad & Tobago on Oct. 6 and Oct. 10 respectively.

Valencia coach Marcelino pulls muscle celebrating winner

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MADRID (AP) It was a bittersweet celebration for Valencia coach Marcelino after his team’s winning goal against Real Sociedad in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Marcelino pulled a thigh muscle in his left leg while celebrating Simone Zaza‘s 85th-minute winner at Anoeta Stadium.

Marcelino put his hand on the back of his leg and immediately started limping, visibly in pain.

Television images later showed him wincing in pain on the bench, and he limped every time he went out to the coach’s area to give instructions to his players.

“I’m older, I need to control myself in certain situations,” the 52-year-old Marcelino said, with a smile. “When it’s the coach getting injured, it’s not a problem.”

Valencia won 3-2 to stay unbeaten and move to fourth place in the standings.

Antonio Conte admits he misses Italy, plans to return home

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This is not exactly what Chelsea’s fans will want to hear on a Monday morning after a resounding 4-0 win at Stoke as the Blues moved up to third in the Premier League table.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Antonio Conte, who delivered the Premier League title in his first season in charge of the Blues, and his first season in England, in 2016-17, has been speaking of his desire to return to his homeland.

Conte, 48, spoke to Italian radio station RadioUno about his experience in the Premier League and left the door wide-open for a return to Serie A in the coming months as he admitted he misses Italy.

“I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” Conte said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future. Us managers have the most precarious job of all. Today you’re working, tomorrow you’re out. I want to succeed, to finish one project and make the right decision about the next. This experience has given me so much, has improved me so much, but perhaps in the future I won’t be a manager. Perhaps I’ll work as a director of football. I don’t know.”

Conte has been linked with the managers job at Inter Milan and with comments like this, those links will not go away.

Adding further fuel to the fire was his decision to only signed an improved contract over the summer rather than extending his stay at Stamford Bridge. Conte’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

After a tough summer and a tough start to the season which saw a feud with Diego Costa dominate the talk surrounding Chelsea, a loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, an opening day defeat at home to Burnley, plus some questionable dealings in the transfer market, the pressure was piling on Conte.

His team have responded with five wins in their next six games in all competitions and are right up there with the early pacesetters in the Premier League.

That said, the fact that Conte was under any pressure whatsoever was a joke considering what he had achieved last season when nobody expected Chelsea to seriously challenge for the title. Therein lies why he could want out when his current deal at Chelsea is up, or maybe even sooner than that.

In situations like this I often think about what Eric Cantona did: leave before anybody else expects you to and you’ll go out, and remain, a hero.

Mourinho escapes ban after sending off

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Jose Mourinho will face no further action from the English Football Association after he was sent off at Southampton on Saturday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Towards the end of United’s 1-0 win — which keeps them unbeaten and in second-place in the standings — Mourinho encroached slightly onto the pitch (we are talking half a yard here) and referee Craig Pawson sent him to the stands after being called over by fourth official Mike Jones who pulled Mourinho back into his technical area.

Mourinho, in true fashion, then delayed his sending off by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he took his place in the stands for the final few seconds of the game.

After being sent off nine times in his career for various discrepancies over the years, Mourinho is no stranger to having the FA’s rule book thrown at him.

However there is an argument out there, and a credible one, that due to his high profile and history of misdemeanors Mourinho is treated rather differently than most managers.

In his long list of previous incidents where he has stepped out of line, stepping slightly over the touchline at Southampton was incredibly minor.

Common sense has prevailed.