Toronto FC v New England Revolution

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly Major League Soccer rankings

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The updated ordering in ProSoccerTalk’s ranking of Major League Soccer teams following 12 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – I just don’t know how to feel about a team that seems so satisfied with a draw at home. Yes, a draw with Sporting KC snapped a seven-game losing streak. But for such a proud franchise, is a nine-game winless streak really that much better?

18. Toronto FC – After another loss at home, it looks like yet another season will come and go without anything to feel great about around BMO Field.

17. Chivas USA – El Chelis is broken. He says there isn’t enough talent to win. The team’s ownership situation is as stable as a three-legged chair. Otherwise, yeah … everything is OK.

16. Chicago Fire – If it weren’t for Ben Olsen at D.C. United, Chicago’s Frank Klopas would be the MLS coach in hottest water.

(MORE: Which MLS manager is in the most trouble today?)

15. New England Revolution – New England’s win at BBVA Compass Stadium – statistically speaking, the toughest venue yet in 18 years of MLS play to go get three points – was probably the best yet in the young coaching career of Jay Heaps (pictured above).

14. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Whitecaps’ had a chance to build some mo following last week’s 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy. Well, they fumbled it away when conceding late against 10-man Portland, watching a potential win devolve into a draw at home. Martin Rennie’s club has won just 7 of its last 31 matches dating back to this time last year.

13. San Jose Earthquakes – Yet another home draw for Frank Yallop’s men, who are a pretty average 3-1-4 at Buck Shaw this year.

12. Columbus – Same story for this team of mystery: pretty shaky at home and curiously strong on the road. Federico Higuain was pure genius in the 1-0 win at Toronto.

11. Philadelphia Union – Young striker Jack McInerney struck for his league-leading eighth goal. Don’t forget, he would be the league’s youngest Golden Boot winner if he keeps the pace. New Brazilian arrival Kleberson is contributing regularly for the PPL Park gang now.

10. Real Salt Lake – Ned Grabavoy’s two goals out of midfield got lost amid some other big performances in Round 12. Jason Kreis’ team is 3-0-1 in May with one game still to play at home (plus another at Rio Tinto in U.S. Open Cup play.)

9. LA Galaxy – Three points from two road matches along the East Coast don’t look too bad – until you consider how close Bruce Arena’s team came to having even more. They conceded late against New York to fall, 1-0, at Red Bull Arena. It was a goal that probably should not have happened.

8. Colorado Rapids – Oscar Pareja’s team lost all three games to the Earthquakes last year, so a draw at Buck Shaw on Nate Sturgis’ goal represents a worthwhile result for the Rapids. Four consecutive games without a loss keeps the Rapids mid-pack in the West.

7. Montreal Impact – Marco Schallibaum’s club had the weekend off, helping them rest and prep for Wednesday’s second leg of the Amway Canadian Championship. Vancouver managed a scoreless draw in Montreal during last week’s first leg.

6. Houston Dynamo – Two losses in a row at previously impenetrable BBVA Compass Stadium? What is going on with Dominic Kinnear’s club? This one was to New England after a previous setback against Sporting KC.

5. Seattle Sounders – In a wildly entertaining game, Seattle downed Western Conference leading Dallas, 4-2, at Century Link Field. Eddie Johnson scored twice as he preps for a busy summer for Seattle and the U.S. national team.

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4. New York Red Bulls – After we all started worrying that Tim Cahill (pictured left)  had forgotten how to score, now suddenly the man cannot stop scoring. His late header – A header … what else? – gave the Red Bulls all the points in a high-profile meet-up with Los Angeles.

3. Portland Timbers – An unlikely figure (Jose Valencia) provided the late equalizer for 10-man Portland in a draw at Vancouver that Caleb Porter’s team can feel pretty good about.

2. Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Kansas City is still hopping mad about a perfectly legitimate goal that was incorrectly ruled offside. Officials have copped to the error, but that won’t change the result, a 1-1 draw at D.C. United.

1. FC Dallas – Beating down beleaguered D.C. United in Texas without a bunch of important starters is one thing. Clearly, a match at Seattle without those important figures is something else completely. Schellas Hyndman’s men gave it a good go, but finished on the wrong side of a wild 4-2 loss in Washington.

Solo: USWNT finding new identity ahead of Olympic qualifying opener

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With the U.S. women’s national team set to kick off their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament on Wednesday (Watch live, 8:30 p.m. ET online via Live Extra) against Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas, goalkeeper Hope Solo knows the reigning World Cup and Olympic champs will have to reinvent themselves.

She’s been here before.

[ STREAM: Olympic qualifying live ]

Following the retirement of several key players — Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny among them — after their 2015 World Cup win in Canada, Jill Ellis’ team has been trying to create a new identity over the past few months.

It’s something that’s easy to say but a lot tougher to do.

“It’s really interesting. I’ve been on this team for quite some time and I’ve heard many times ‘let’s create a new identity. We have to find our own identity, this team moving forward,” Solo said. “It’s something I’ve heard quite a bit but it’s never easy to do. We’ve lost some big name players, a lot of players have retired. We have young players coming in and the Olympics are right around the corner. We have to find a way to play to the best of our ability with some older players, brand new players and everybody in-between. It’s not easy but it is not foreign to us.”

Despite all the upheaval the USWNT are still the favorites to win their fourth Olympic gold on the spin at Rio 2016 this summer.

Placed in Group A for CONCACAF qualifying for the 2016 Olympics — the top two teams from the eight-team tournament advance — alongside Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Mexico, the U.S. should breeze into the knockout rounds where they will likely face old foes Canada in the final.

Remember, over the next 11 days you can stream all 15 games live online via NBC Sports Live Extra with up to four games also shown on NBCSN.

Here’s the full schedule as Solo and Co. aim to seal their spot in the 2016 Olympics with minimum fuss.

Leicester fan will win $50,000 from $10 bet if Foxes win Premier League

Leicester’s Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring against Manchester United, his eleventh consecutive goal in the Premier League, during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Manchester United at the King Power Stadium, Leicester, England, Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015. Vardy becomes the first man to score in 11 consecutive English Premier League soccer matches after finding the back of the net against Manchester United today.(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
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As their odds of winning the Premier League title continue to be slashed, tales of Leicester City fans set to win an incredible amount of cash continue.

The latest story is a beauty.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired” ]

On the eve of the 2015-16 Premier League season one Leicester City fan, Chloe Cope, decided to put $10 on her side to win the title. The odds were 5,000 -1. So, with the Foxes five points clear at the top of the table with just 13 games to go, the first league title in Leicester’s 132 year history would not only bring unbeliavable amounts of jubilation to the East Midlands city but also plenty of cash for its fans. $50,000 for this Miss Cope, in fact.

The story gets even better. Check this out.

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Miss Cope’s flutter on her beloved Foxes was actually her first-ever bet. She opened up an online betting account last summer in the UK with Sky Bet and was rewarded a free $30 bet which she used to make a bet that Leicester would finish in the top six this season. That’s virtually assured so she will win another $637.

The two bets she made back on August 7 2015 are shown in the Tweet below via Jacqui Oatley.

A few other Leicester fans are also in line to win plenty of cash, but this one seems to have the most riding on it.

Will big changes in Europe threaten UEFA Champions League’s future?

FC Barcelona, 2014-15 UEFA Champions League winners
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With talk of the UEFA Champions League being threatened by a “super league” of some sort, that notion has been undermined by some of Europe’s top teams.

For now.

[ MORE: What is USMNT’s best XI?

On Wednesday in Paris the European Clubs’ Association (ECA) met at its 16th annual congress and confirmed it will seek to change the way the UEFA Champions League and Europa League is run when the current term of agreement cycle expires at the end of the 2017-18 season.

With over 200 member clubs the ECA represents many of the biggest teams on the planet with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Chelsea all included.

In the past there has been a growing notion for a European “super league” to replace the Champions League and that perennial European giants should not have to rely on qualifying for Europe via their domestic competitions.

That is one of the factors currently being discussed by the ECA, as they released the following statement after the congress in France this week.

“In light of the upcoming 2018-21 UEFA Club Competition Cycle, the clubs are currently discussing the future of UEFA’s main club competitions, namely the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. As in the past, the clubs are in constant dialogue with UEFA to further develop and improve both competitions. All ECA Member Clubs have gathered in informal working groups to exchange initial thoughts and ideas.”

[ MORE: Reports claim Mourinho to United is “done deal”

The current ECA chairman and chairman of Bayern Munich, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, also spoke about the need to revamp both club competitions.

“I believe both ECA and UEFA are interested in an evolution of the competitions. Stagnation means regression,” Rummenigge said. “We have always jointly looked into ways to further develop and improve the competitions. It is important to find a good and balanced solution for everyone involved.”

So, overall, it seems that for now both ECA and UEFA is willing to work together to improve the current format of the UCL rather than go their separate ways and the ECA member clubs beginning their own competition, as had been mooted by Rummenigge and other high-ranking officials in the past.

What changes could be discussed for the 2018-21 UEFA Club Competition Cycle?

For me, it seems like it would be a good idea to somehow reduce the number of UCL teams who enter the group stage. That would help it preserve its elite status and potential shave two matchdays off the schedule to lessen the pressure on teams. Currently 32 teams qualify in eight groups of four teams and a total of 78 teams from across UEFA’s 54 member nations qualify for the UCL each season. 46 fall by the wayside in the qualifying rounds and many of those teams are too small to ever dream about getting anywhere near the group stages.

[ PHOTOS: New PL logo released

Perhaps just having one playoff round to make the UCL and limiting the number of spots for nations with lower UEFA coefficients is the way to go. That way those nations would back their teams competing in the Europa League and that competition will gain more prestige as a direct correlation between teams performing well in the Europa League will lead to certain nations being granted places in the UEFA Champions League. That’s the case now, but adding extra emphasis to the Europa League should be a big part of the next cycle.

The biggest situation the ECA seem to want to sort out here is how some of Europe’s biggest teams did not qualify for the UCL. The overriding notion seems to be that the ECA wants them to qualify each year. Even though the likes of past UCL winners Liverpool, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund weren’t involved in Europe’s elite competition this season, did the tournament really suffer because of it? In terms of gate revenue, perhaps, but it seems that the ECA is conflicted about the best way to get as many of its member teams involved in the elite competition as possible.

Another idea I’m just throwing out there could be to hand teams a spot in the UCL based on their current coefficient which takes into account their previous performances in UEFA Club Competitions. Perhaps four spots per season could be reserved for teams who don’t qualify for the UCL domestically, but have the highest coefficient of the non qualifiers. Just a thought.

There’s clearly plenty to sort out but it seems like — for now, at least — we haven’t seen the end of the UEFA Champions League. But tweaks will need to be made to stop it regressing.

VIDEO: Will Ferrell is feeling guilty – “I got Jose Mourinho fired”

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Sometimes there’s just something you have to admit.

[ MORE: Mourinho to United “done deal”

It sounds better if you say it out loud and get it off your chest. This is one of those moments for comedian, actor and now part-owner of a Major League Soccer franchise, Los Angeles FC, Will Ferrell.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Joining the Men In Blazers this week the self-proclaimed soccer nut joked that he was the one who actually got Jose Mourinho fired by Chelsea.

For real. Watch the video above to see Ferrell’s admission as he explains exactly what happened.

[ MORE: Arsenal, Spurs to fight for the PL title? ]

Just seven months after leading Chelsea to the Premier League title, Mourinho was dismissed by the west London club in December.

NOTE: Severe tongue-in-cheek mode activated.