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.

While PSG has won the title, Areola’s playing for his future

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PARIS (AP) Although Paris Saint-Germain has easily won the French title, Alphonse Areola still has plenty to play for.

The next four games could be crucial in deciding whether PSG keeps the goalkeeper or tries to sign a big name in the transfer window, possibly Thibaut Courtois. The 25-year-old Areola is the same age as Courtois, but has nowhere near the international standing of the Chelsea keeper.

[ MORE: Turkey hands bid plans to UEFA for EURO 2024 ]

It is hard for Areola to stand out, however, in a team noted almost singularly for its attacking prowess. While PSG has already scored more than 100 league goals, and remains on course to reach 100 points this season, Areola has rarely been talked about.

The common perception is that PSG will thrash teams in the French league, so letting in a goal or two is irrelevant.

However, Areola has been one of PSG’s most consistent players this season, and last Sunday he made a personal record of eight saves in a 1-0 win at Bordeaux.

He was also one of the few PSG players to come through the loss to Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League with any credit. Without Areola’s shot-stopping, and particularly his bravery rushing off his line, the 5-2 aggregate loss would have been bigger.

With 104 goals, PSG’s attack is the best in the league by far and has netted 25 more than deposed champion Monaco.

But PSG’s defense is also the best and Areola has conceded only 21 goals in the 31 he has played. Although PSG has dominated most of those, losing only twice all season, he has still made on average four saves per game.

Having replaced Kevin Trapp as No. 1, Areola has missed only three league games all season. It represents a reversal for both.

When Trapp was signed by former coach Laurent Blanc in 2015-16, Areola went on loan to Spanish club Villarreal. He established himself as regular in Villarreal’s side and gained further experience in the Europa League. Spanish media were largely impressed by his consistency and his agility on the goal-line.

He returned to PSG and battled with Trapp for the starting position last season. But coach Unai Emery seemed unsure who he really preferred, with Trapp starting 24 games to Areola’s 14. PSG ended up losing the title to Monaco.

But the hierarchy is much clearer now and the error-prone Trapp, once hailed by Blanc for his passing out from goal, is the one expected to leave.

Areola has further incentive to do well with the World Cup coming up. He is challenging Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda to be France’s No. 2 behind Hugo Lloris in Russia. For now, Areola is a squad member but has yet to make an international appearance under coach Didier Deschamps.

But he has done well at every level for France, starting with the under-16s a decade ago. He got his first taste of international success when he helped France win the Under-20 World Cup in 2013.

While Paul Pogba was one of the stars of the tournament, Areola’s crowning moment came in the final itself. France drew 0-0 with Uruguay and he saved two shots in the penalty shootout. Prior to the shootout he had a word with France’s designated penalty takers, confidently telling them “do your job and I’ll do mine.”

With Emery almost certain to be replaced next season, it promises to be a frenetic offseason of buying and selling at the club.

But whoever replaces Emery should perhaps think twice before letting Areola leave. The Parisian-born Areola came through the youth ranks at PSG, as did center half Presnel Kimpembe and midfielder Adrien Rabiot.

Star-studded sides like PSG often import their best players and fans are happy to see them arrive, because it shows ambition. But they nevertheless identify more closely with homegrown talents such as Areola.

More AP Ligue 1 coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Ligue1

Jerome Pugmire on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/jeromepugmire

Infantino has ‘full confidence’ in Samoura amid ethics issue

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA President Gianni Infantino says he retains “full confidence” in secretary general Fatma Samoura after an attempt to embroil her in an ethics investigation.

[ MORE: Turkey hands in bid plans to UEFA for 2024 EUROs ]

Samoura has expressed irritation at “totally ridiculous and baseless” claims she broke FIFA rules by not declaring an alleged conflict of interest in the 2026 World Cup bidding contest.

FIFA has not specified the exact nature of the complaint or the progress of any ethics investigation after it was alleged she was a relative of former Senegal player El Hadji Diouf, who is an ambassador for Morocco’s bid.

Samoura insisted on Wednesday the former Liverpool forward “is not a member of my family and therefore everything is crystal clear.”

FIFA’s top administrator received a public show of support from Infantino.

“I can confirm my full confidence in Fatma Samoura to lead the FIFA administration,” Infantino said in a statement to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The former United Nations official was hired by Infantino in 2016 months after he was elected as Sepp Blatter’s successor.

Morocco is due to take on a joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico in the June 13 vote for the 2026 World Cup host.

Photo: Flamengo supporter tattoos club jersey on body

MAURÍCIO DOS ANJOS VIA VICE
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A supporter in Brazil has taken fandom to a whole new level with a piece of body art that shows his devotion to the club.

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Maurício dos Anjos, a passionate Flamengo fan, has been a life-long supporter of the Rio de Janeiro-based club, and has the tattoo to prove it.

While it may look like body paint, Dos Anjos has a tattoo on the upper-half of his body depicting the Flamengo jersey, and it’s pretty awesome.

“People ask me if I don’t find it strange that I’m always wearing a Flamengo shirt. And I just don’t,” dos Anjos told VICE. “To me, it’s normal. But it doesn’t seem like anyone I talk to about it actually dislikes my tattoo.”

In total, Dos Anjos says the body work took over 90 hours and 30 sessions to complete the tattoo.

Has the perception of MLS really changed?

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When David Beckham arrived in Los Angeles back in 2007 his presence changed the complexion of Major League Soccer for all the right reasons, and the perception of the growing league changed.

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Over the years, MLS has strived to move into the upper-echelon of the global game, in an attempt to compete with the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga and La Liga, but naysayers still indicate to this day that the United States’ top flight lacks the quality of the aforementioned.

Phrases like “retirement league” and “uninspired” have been used to describe MLS in the past, particularly when it comes to the league’s willingness to spend boatloads of cash on notable players well past their prime.

Examples such as Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard and Rafael Marquez have at times dampened the perception of MLS due to the lack of quality on the pitch from those players, along with several others that had previously boasted extensive resumes.

Now, we’re at a time where MLS has picked up its scouting, with clubs focused more on younger, more skilled talents from South America and Europe.

That has led to major signings over the past several years, such as Ezequiel Barco, Miguel Almiron, Diego Rossi and Jesus Medina, to name a few.

Has that changed the overall complexion of MLS though?

On Thursday, Kevin De Bruyne‘s agent, Patrick de Koster, suggested in an interview that the Belgium international would likely “finish” his career in MLS.

“For now, he’s very happy at this club,” De Koster said. “We always look what the best solution for the player, both financially and football wise. Kevin’s future? I can see him finish at Los Angeles.”

This comes on the heels of a 36-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic joining the LA Galaxy in a move that has sent shockwaves across the league and the world because of the Swede’s great presence on a global scale.

It’s not to say that players like Ibrahimovic, or previous signings like David Villa and Didier Drogba cannot help the overall growth of MLS, because they certainly bring an awareness to the matches and draw attention to their respective clubs.

However, the long-term viability of MLS has been and will continue to be sustained on youth players succeeding in the league, as well as being able to draw promising young talents into the top flight of the U.S.