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.

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

(more…)

Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.

Australian women beat US 1-0 in Tournament of Nations

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SEATTLE (AP) Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans’ four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt’s goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Carli Lloyd blasted a cross from Megan Rapinoe at Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who made a fantastic save. Lloyd had another chance that sailed just over the net.

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Japan and Brazil played to a 1-1 draw in the tournament’s opening game in the afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Each of the four teams in the tournament is in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings. The top-ranked United States went into the game with a 25-0-2 record over the seventh-ranked Matildas.

Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, had a good chance early on in the game but the Americans were unable to break through. Rapinoe has 12 goals to lead the NWSL in scoring this season.

The Matildas have been on the rise of the past several years, with quarterfinal appearances in both the 2015 World Cup and the Olympics last year.

Following the stop in Seattle, the tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.

U.S. Soccer is looking to host a Tournament of Nations each summer that there isn’t World Cup or Olympic competition.