ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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ProSoccerTalk’s weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 13 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – Ben Olsen and Dwayne De Rosario say they’ve made up after all this. Just one of those things, they say. We’ll see.

18. Chivas USA – May has come and gone and here is the ugly truth: four games, four losses and an absolutely dreadful 13-1 goal deficit in the month. Yikes!

17. Toronto FC – Jonathan Osorlo’s second half introduction was a bright spot in a game without many of them for the Reds, a 2-0 loss at New England.

16. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee didn’t get into the 18 as Frank Klopas’ club lost another one, this time at Real Salt Lake. The Fire’s latest acquisition can only help.

15. Vancouver Whitecaps – Kenny Miller? Staying or going? Kind of hard to tell.  Maybe we’ll know more by the time the Whitecaps meet Montreal in Wednesday’s second of the Amway Canadian Championship.

14. San Jose Earthquakes – The season just isn’t going as planned around Buck Shaw. So let’s talk about when the ‘Quakes get out of Buck Shaw! How’s that pretty, green new stadium coming along? It’s LEED certified, you know.

13. Philadelphia Union – Jack McInerney scored again (now up to nine, still sharing the league lead), but the defense went on holiday in a 5-3 loss at Montreal.

12. New England Revolution – What a goal for Diego Fagundez, who is having a sensation May. (By the way, in talking about the kid’s great strike in Saturday’s win over Toronto, perhaps we didn’t give enough credit to Chris Tierney’s good work along the left to arrange his young striker. So, good on ya, too, Chris.)

11. Columbus – Considering the patchwork defense, a 2-2 draw at New York has to be filed under “success.” Federico Higuain was fantastic again.

10. Real Salt Lake – RSL’s home record isn’t bad, but it would be better than 3-1-2 if Jason Kreis’ team had more than seven goals in those six matches. Latest example was the weekend’s 1-1 draw with Chicago.

9. Seattle Sounders – Seriously, guys, we know Osvaldo Alonso is good. Check that – the dude is massive around CenturyLink. But are things going to fall completely apart without him?

8. LA Galaxy – All the talk was about Robbie Rogers, but another Robbie supplied the showy hat trick (Robbie Keane, of course) in a demonstrative 4-0 win over Seattle. It was never close by the way, a real ground and pound for the Galaxy.

(MORE: The dramatically short arc of the Robbie Rogers story)

7. Colorado Rapids – Another week, another win for the league’s most anonymous success story of 2013. Yes, it was over Chivas USA, the league’s top punching bag of the moment. Either way, Oscar Pareja’s club is unbeaten over six in a row.

6. Houston Dynamo – Big question being knocked around MLS last week (and going forward, too): Will it be Houston or Sporting Kansas City moving into the West to accommodate New York City FC? Could be Chicago, too, I suppose. But odds seem to favor SKC or Dominic Kinnear’s bunch from South Texas.

5. New York Red Bulls – Leave it to Thierry Henry to put an exclamation point on his team’s draw at home with Columbus (in fairness, a Columbus side that is quite difficult to beat when traveling): “It wasn’t good enough, especially the way we started, the goal we gave away. … It wasn’t enough, because if it was, we would have won.”

4. Montreal Impact – Marco Schallibaum’s club keeps finding new ways to surprise us, this time leading the way in the highest scoring MLS match this year, a 5-3 win over Philadelphia. Marco Di Vaio (pictured above) supplied the league’s second hat trick this year, matching a league record for goals in a half (three) along the way.

3. Portland Timbers – With all the drama around the D.C. United death spiral, it might be easy to overlook this little gem from the other side of Saturday’s contest: Caleb Porter’s team creeps ever closer to capping off half its 2013 road schedule without a loss, now at 2-0-5 after the 2-0 win at RFK.

2. Sporting Kansas City – Kei Kamara’s second half introduction was huge in an eventful 1-1 draw with Houston. Then again, aren’t games between these two Eastern toughies always eventful?

(MORE: Who says Kei Kamara isn’t fit enough to start?)

1. FC Dallas – George John was back in the lineup, but goalkeeper Raul Fernandez was the big hero in a 1-0 win over San Jose. Fabian Castillo, slowly learning how to properly deploy all that raw speed, had the Red Stripe’s goal.

MLS: Rookie Ebobisse stars as Timbers win in Vancouver

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The game in 100 words (or less): The Portland Timbers, thanks to a standout performance in rookie striker Jeremy Ebobisse’s first MLS start, put to bed a six-game winless skid with a 2-1 win away to the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. The run of poor form stretched back to early June, and saw Caleb Porter’s side slip from contention for the Western Conference’s top spot, into the jumbled mess surrounding the playoff cut line (four teams separated by one point, either side of sixth place, coming into Sunday). Ebobisse scored the opening goal less than a quarter-hour into the game, and delivered the beautiful backheel assist to Sebastian Blanco to restore the Timbers’ lead four minutes into the second half, after watching it disappear just before halftime. The victory sees Portland leapfrog Vancouver to move into fourth place in the West, just four points off the top spot once again.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Three moments that mattered

14′ — Ebobisse touches home his first MLS goal — Sometimes you don’t really have to do much beyond simply existing in the right place. Ebobisse existed in the right place.

45′ — Jacobson heads home before halftime — Update: Portland still have issues defending set pieces.

49′ — Blanco slots past Ousted for 2-1 — No one really stepped up to deny Blanco’s marathon dribble, and Ebobisse did so much more than simply existing on this one.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Jeremy Ebobisse

Goalscorers: Ebobisse (14′), Jacobson (45′), Blanco (49′)

FOLLOW LIVE: Mexico vs. Jamaica — who’ll face USMNT in final?

AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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It’s Mexico versus Jamaica in the second semifinal of the 2017 Gold Cup on Sunday, facing off for the right to play the U.S. national team in Wednesday’s final.

When: 9 p.m. ET
Where: Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California

[ LIVE: Gold Cup scoreboard ]

It’s the second time these sides have met this summer, having already played to a scoreless draw in the second game of Group C play, en route to Mexico finish top of the group, besting Jamaica by two points on the final day of the group stage.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s Gold Cup coverage ]

Hit the link above, or click here, to follow along with Sunday’s semifinal action.

Gonzalez follows heart in switch from Mexico to USMNT

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Jesse Gonzalez started in the 2015 Under-20 World Cup for Mexico, his parents’ homeland. Then last month, the 22-year-old FC Dallas goalkeeper switched his affiliation to join the United States, his home country.

Gonzalez just felt more comfortable in the red, white and blue.

“The U.S. has given me a lot. I’m grateful for what they have given me and the opportunity they have given me,” he said after joining the U.S. roster for the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

[ RECAP: Super-sub Dempsey propels USMNT past Costa Rica ]

Tim Howard, now 38, remains the top U.S. goalkeeper as the Americans try to qualify for next year’s World Cup. Brad Guzan, who will be 33 in September, is entrenched as the No. 2.

After that, no keepers have emerged at the top level in the next generation. Gonzalez, and fellow 20-somethings Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, Cody Cropper and Ethan Horvath all figure to compete with Guzan for the starting job in the 2019-22 World Cup cycle.

“I don’t have any doubt that he will be one of the best keepers in America,” Dallas coach Oscar Pareja said of Gonzalez after discovering the teen prospect when he was playing in a youth tournament.

Gonzalez’s parents emigrated from Mexico, and he was born in Edenton, North Carolina.

“My parents didn’t really find anything around North Carolina,” Gonzalez said. “They thought it was a lonely state, so they got out of there.”

His family moved to Houston and then on to Dallas when Gonzalez was a child. After spotting Gonzalez on a recreational team, Pareja persuaded the family to switch the keeper to the FC Dallas youth academy. He played there alongside midfielder Kellyn Acosta, who has broken into the U.S. starting lineup this year.

“They taught me how to be more responsible,” Gonzalez said. “It was almost like a job at the time, just waking up early and being on time to training.”

[ USA 2-0 CRC: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Pareja, a Colombian national team midfielder in the early 1990s, said the 6-foot-4 Gonzalez’s long arms and quick reflexes immediately reminded him of late Colombian keeper Miguel Calero. Gonzalez debuted for Dallas’ under-16 team in September 2010 and was signed to a professional homegrown player contract in March 2013. Just more than two years later, he became the youngest keeper to start in team history: at 20 years, 89 days.

By then, Mexican team scouts had noticed Gonzalez at a showcase in Sarasota, Florida, and asked whether he had interest in playing for El Tri.

“Richard Sanchez, one of my old teammates, he was there. He talked very well about them,” Gonzalez recalled.

Gonzalez started Mexico’s first four matches at the 2015 CONCACAF Under-20 Championship, then had a pair of saves during penalty kicks to lift Mexico over Panama in the final. At the Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, he played in Mexico’s second and third games,

The following January, Gonzalez turned down an invitation from U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann to attend a national team training camp in Carson, California. Instead, Gonzalez went to a Mexican Under-23 team camp ahead of the Olympics, but he was not picked for El Tri’s Rio de Janeiro roster.

Gonzalez spent a long time before deciding this spring to apply to FIFA for a change of affiliation. Because he had not played a competitive match for Mexico’s senior national team, he was allowed a one-time switch.

“Whatever you decide, you’re going to be right, because that’s going to be your heart,” Pareja recalled telling him.

“Any time a soccer player is making a choice, whether it’s club or country, it’s important that they analyze the options carefully, they seek input from people they trust, and that they come to a decision that they’re happy with,” said Gonzalez’s agent, Richard Motzkin. “That’s the process Jesse took in making his decision and, rest assured, it wasn’t done lightly or without a lot of forethought. Ultimately, Jesse was fortunate in that he had two very good choices.”

After the switch was announced, Gonzalez received text messages from surprised friends.

“They were funny,” he said without going into detail.

[ MORE: Mexico blocking out drama during deep run at Gold Cup ]

Howard is the U.S. starter as the Americans head into Wednesday’s Gold Cup championship against Mexico or Jamaica, and Hamid is the backup while Guzan settles in with Atlanta. For now, Gonzalez’s role is limited to training and pushing others on the practice field.

“We just want to see what he’s about,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Gonzalez is with the national team to learn. A full international debut might take a while.

“He’s not much of talker, which is good. I think young guys talk too much nowadays,” Howard said. “You’re naive in a good way and you think you know it all, and really it’s the opposite. You have it all to learn. At this age they’re using their athletic ability and their raw talent to keep their head above water, and through that process you learn. It is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. It’s got to be everything to you. You’ve got to make a lot of sacrifices to get there.”

Gonzalez is willing to wait. He just hopes his absence from Dallas doesn’t cost him playing time in Major League Soccer.

“My backup could come in and have great games. He could stay there,” he said. “It’s difficult for me. I want to be over there, but I want to be here because this is an amazing opportunity for me.”

Pique with the scoop? Neymar “staying” at Barcelona

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While the entire world waits for official word — any word, really — on the possible world record-shattering transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain, Gerard Pique just became the world’s most appreciated breaker of transfer news.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

Pique, Neymar’s teammate for four seasons at Barca, tweeted (and posted to Instagram) a photo of himself and Neymar, captioned, “Se queda,” or, “He stays.”

[ MOURINHO: United not signing Bale | De Gea not going anywhere ]

Whether he stays or goes this summer, Neymar is about to get paid, and deservedly so. An unquestionable top-five (or -three?) player in the world, he doesn’t turn 26 for another seven months. There has to be someone awaiting the passing of the torch from Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez, both four years Neymar’s senior, some day soon(-ish), so it should come as no surprise that Barca appear to have moved heaven and earth to retain their Brazilian superstar.