Toyota Park

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)

19. D.C. United – A five-game losing streak makes Wednesday’s home match against Houston absolutely critical. United should be rested, having not played since the 3-0 loss to Columbus on April 27, while the visitors will have traveled coast-to-coast after Sunday’s big win in Los Angeles. So, Ben Olsen’s team needs this one something fierce.

18. Toronto FC – Reports out of the UK say the Reds are trying to add Scottish international defender Steven Caldwell, perhaps on loan. He is currently at Birmingham City. Clearly, they need greater stability in the back. So if not Caldwell, they need to add somebody.

17. Chicago Fire – Same as above, except that Chicago should be even better rested. Philadelphia visits Toyota Park (pictured) on Saturday to face a side that has not played since April 27.

16. Seattle Sounders – Somewhat lost amid all the refereeing consternation Saturday at PPL Park was that Seattle accomplished something worthwhile: rallying with a second-half goal to draw on the road. Mauro Rosales looked better than he has in months. In fact, he had a goal and assist in a match for the first time since 2011.

15. New England Revolution – Lost amid Bobby Shuttleworth’s big night was that Jose Goncalves was good in the middle once again along the Revs’ back line. At six goals allowed (assisted by last week’s worthy, scoreless draw at Portland) the Revs have the second-lowest league total.

14. Chivas USA – Things came apart spectacularly as the Goats ran up against a motivated Sporting Kansas City on Sunday. Now they’ll be without standout goalkeeper Dan Kennedy for this week’s trip into Oregon for face in-form Portland. Chivas is winless in its last four.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Whitecaps are 0-4-1 away from BC Place in 2013 following the latest road setback, a 2-0 loss at Real Salt Lake. At least Martin Rennie’s club doesn’t have a mid-week tournament match to worry about; those have been real buggers lately.

12. Philadelphia Union – We haven’t heard yet how much of a haircut manager John Hackworth will take for excoriating referee Jorge Gonzalez after Saturday’s contemptuous 2-2 draw at PPL Park. But it’s coming. We’ll see if it’s just a fine or something more; if he’s lucky, he’ll be on the bench for Saturday’s visit to Chicago.

11. Columbus – A lot of things went right as the Crew executed well enough against visiting New York – “well enough” except for finishing, that is. Red Bull goalkeeper Luis Robles saved a Federico Higuaín penalty kick, and that was pretty much that in a 1-0 loss. The Crew is now a very modest 1-1-2 at home in 2013.

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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