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.

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.