New York Red Bulls v Sporting Kansas City

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(Nos. 11-19 are in the last post)

10. San Jose Earthquakes – At some point this just gets silly. I mean, they have scored in stoppage time that it’s not even a big deal anymore. Well, unless you were in the stands Sunday to see the Goonies go all Goonie on Portland with a stoppage time equalizer. Or, unless you’re Portland, I suppose. Then it’s still a big deal.

9. Portland Timbers – Caleb Porter’s team knows it can’t concede late goals and expect to move up among the league elite. Then again, everyone gives up late goals against San Jose.

8. Vancouver Whitecaps – Martin Rennie picked a fairly defensive lineup for last weekend’s road test in Dallas, and they did succeed in mucking up the game a bit. But when Dallas got the lead there wasn’t enough offense to produce much of a rally. The ‘Caps fell to the Western leaders, 2-0.

7. Montreal Impact – Seriously, MLS schedule-makers, what’s the deal? Some teams have played eight or nine matches. Why are a couple of clubs, like Montreal, stuck at just six? Yes, they’ll all play 34 in the end … but this just feels weird. Like the other Canadian sides, they have important Canada Cup matches on Wednesday.

6. New York Red Bulls – A mid-week loss to Sporting Kansas City was mitigated (somewhat) by a 4-1 win over distracted New England. Thierry Henry’s latest, classy finish highlighted the afternoon, and Dax McCarty continues to rank as one of Major League Soccer’s busiest midfield men.

5. Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando can save him some penalty kick! He did it once again in the 1-0 win over Chivas USA. (Some around RSL took umbrage last week when we said Houston has the league’s deepest midfield. The Dynamo deserves the edge because of experience in the depth. But, yes, RSL faithful … you’re talented youngsters make for a deep midfield, too.)

4. LA Galaxy – Statement win needed. Statement win accomplished! The 2-0 win over Sporting Kansas City may come with a tiny asterisk since the visitors traveled across country following a draining win at New York. Then again, well-rested L.A. did exactly what they needed in making the tired visitors pay. On, and Landon Donovan is back. Big time. 

3. Houston Dynamo – Dominic Kinnear’s team will play better matches that Saturday’s somewhat bedraggled day at BMO Field north of the border. Then again, Dominic Kinnear’s team will surely take it; a late, late equalizer saw 10-man Houston take a confidence-building point out of Toronto. Who cares if the Dynamo left it late, or if they didn’t look great in their latest road test? They got the job done. Somehow …

2. Sporting Kansas City – Hard to put a label on the week that just was for Peter Vermes’ team. The win at New York was about as perfect as it could be, with an opportunistic goal and then lots of great work from Aurelien Collin (pictured, on the left) and the entire SKC back line, who didn’t give ‘keeper Jimmy Nielsen much to do. But the big test in L.A. just three nights later? Meh. Then again, considering the circumstances, “Meh” is about what anyone could expect.

1. FC Dallas – Everyone around the Western Conference leader is  playing well, including outside backs Zach Loyd and Jair Benitez, who are providing plenty of push up the outside to keep pressure on teams. The Red Stripes get Vancouver for the second consecutive week in Round 9, another of those scheduling quirks that MLS keeps delivering. We really do need to have a talk with Mr. Schedule Maker about all this.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia