Cahill-Red Bulls

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 17 rounds of play:

19. Chivas USA – The Goats will now be without Eric Avila, who is moving to Chivas’ mother ship team in Liga MX. Oh, and they fell in the latest L.A. derby late on Sunday night.

18. D.C. United – United won. That’s not a mis-print. The hard-fought 1-0 win over San Jose snapped United’s 13-game winless streak, which stretched back to early March.

17. Toronto FC – Signs of life? Ryan Nelsen’s team has a win and two draws (including a pretty good weekend result, a 0-0 tie Saturday in Houston) in June.

16. San Jose Earthquakes – After two on the road to begin his stretch as interim manager (a win in Colorado and loss over the weekend at D.C. United), Mark Watson finally gets a game at home. The ‘Quakes face California rival LA Galaxy this week.

15. Columbus – The reality of life without two important pieces began to set it as Chicago took all three points out of Crew Stadium over the weekend. Robert Warzycha’s team is 2-3-3 at home with an unlovely plus-1 goal difference.

14. Colorado Rapids – After getting it together in May, the team has lost three in a row and has a very tough trip in Montreal up next.

13. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee’s arrival has been absolutely sensational; he has a goal in each of his first six matches, including four in league play and two in the U.S. Open Cup. The upswing in offense is helping ease the sting of Arne Friedrich’s retirement.

12. Vancouver Whitecaps – Martin Rennie gave his players four days off over an idle weekend. It was back to training on Monday, prepping for cross-continent travel and a visit to D.C. United.  

11. New England Revolution – Maybe a weekend off was unfortunate timing, allowing the Revs to stew about that awful response late in the first half last week in Vancouver. Either way, time to bounce back, for a U.S. Open Cup opportunity is up Wednesday at D.C. United.

10. LA Galaxy – Bruce Arena is lamenting the loss of personnel ahead to the Gold Cup. Well, join the club. Lots of teams have been dealing with this stuff. His team snapped a three-game winless streak with Sunday’s 1-0 win over woeful Chivas USA.

9. New York Red Bulls – The internet is abuzz with rumors of Juninho’s retirement. Meanwhile, and Tim Cahill (pictured) should be back in the squad soon – all of which is partially obscuring the fact that Mike Petke’s team has lost three in a row and has not win in league play since May 19.

8. Houston Dynamo – Where has all the scoring gone for Dominic Kinnear’s team, which now has two goals in its last six league matches. Brad Davis’ return from U.S. duty will presumably help, although it didn’t in a scoreless draw in Houston against Toronto.

7. Philadelphia Union – Jack McInerney is suddenly snakebit, missing just wide or seeing a keeper make really swell saves off his shot. No matter. He’s still tied for top in league scoring with 10 goals. The Union took down New York (And how!) by a 3-0 score Sunday.

6. Seattle Sounders – How very different this team is when Osvaldo Alondo is not around to screen the back line. The visitors were scarcely competitive in a 2-0 weekend loss at Real Salt Lake.

5. Sporting Kansas City – C.J. Sapong really hurt his team with a silly, petulant little kick of the ball. Up 2-0 on the road at the time, his reduced team wilted in the Texas heat and eventually conceded two late goals to Dallas.

4. Real Salt Lake – The league’s hottest team (yes, perhaps even more than Portland considering all the Timbers’ ties) is 8-1-1 in all competitions since April. That includes the dominant 2-0 weekend win over Seattle.

3. FC Dallas – Blas Perez and Ramon Nunez came in to change the game as Dallas rallied for two goals and drew level with 10-man Sporting Kansas City. The team hosts Portland on Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal.

2. Montreal Impact – Patrice Bernier, who is still underappreciated, had a wonderful assist in a 2-0 win over Houston.

1. Portland Timbers – The team, now unbeaten in 15 games, climbed a little closer to a league record. Two results in Round 17 got the Timbers a little closer, a scoreless draw in Los Angeles and then a commanding 3-0 win over Colorado at home.

LIVE – UCL group stage finale: Leicester, Tottenham both in action

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06:  Harry Kane of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates scoring his sides first goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur at Emirates Stadium on November 6, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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The final matchday of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League group stage takes place on Wednesday with two Premier League teams in action.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Leicester City is already through and has topped Group G with Claudio Ranieri‘s men securing a top spot for next Monday’s Round of 16 draw. The Foxes face FC Porto in Portugal with the hosts needing just a point to secure second place in the group and their spot in the last 16. Putting their Premier League worries aside, Leicester will aim to stay unbeaten throughout all six of their UCL group games.

Tottenham Hotspur wish they could say the same but Mauricio Pochettino‘s men have already crashed out of the Champions League with one game to go. They host CSKA Moscow at Wembley Stadium in Group E with Spurs needing just a draw to secure a place in the Europa League knockout stages. Bayer Leverkusen and AS Monaco has already qualified from Group E but Spurs’ Harry Kane insists they now want to go on and win the Europa League.

[ MORE: Permutations for each UCL group ]

Elsewhere Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund clash to decide top spot in Group F, while Juventus, Lyon and Sevilla are all still in the mix in Group H with the final game to come.

Below is a full schedule for Wednesday’s Champions League games, with each game kicking off at 2:45 p.m. ET.

You can follow live commentary and stats of each game by clicking on the link above, while we will have reaction right here on ProSoccerTalk.


Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Tottenham Hotspur vs. CSKA Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Monaco

Group F
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
Legia Warsaw vs. Sporting Lisbon

Group G
FC Porto vs. Leicester City
Club Brugge vs. FC Copenhagen

Group H
Juventus vs. Dinamo Zagreb
Lyon vs. Sevilla

Power Rankings: Top five players in the Premier League, right now

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The Premier League Player Power Rankings are out and now it is time to focus on the top five.

[ MORE: PST’s top 20 players, Week 14 ]

With two players from Chelsea and two from Arsenal, plus another from Tottenham Hotspur in the top five, Week 14 delivered plenty of goals and attacking players dominate our rankings.

Click on the link above to see our full list of the top 20 players in the Premier League, while in the video above Jenna Corrado and I discuss my top five players based on the last seven days of action.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ] 

Hit play on the video above to enjoy watching some silky skills and terrific goals as we guide you through the creme de la creme.

Why are Leicester struggling so much? Where can Man City improve?

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Last season Leicester City vs. Manchester City was a clash between two rivals fighting for the Premier League title.

This season? Not so much.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars ]

Leicester host Man City on Saturday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com), with the reigning champs embroiled in a relegation battle with just three wins from their 14 PL games this season.

As for City, Pep Guardiola is finding the Premier League a little tougher to handle than Spain and Germany early on with City winning just three of their last eight games in the Premier League but they’re still sitting just four points off top spot. That said, City has lost to both Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea already and their status as preseason title favorites is already being severely questioned.

For Leicester, their problems are worse than those at Man City.

There are multiple issues at play which could explain their stunning drop-off compared to last season. After 14 games this season the Foxes have 13 points. At the same point of their incredible title-winning campaign in 2015-16 they had 29 points and were joint-top of the table with Manchester City who actually have one more point this season than they had at this stage last season.

Back to Leicester and right now they are just two points off the relegation zone and have lost three of their last four games. Ranieri is very worried about relegation, as his recent comments in press conferences show.

“This moment is not the right moment for us. We wanted to get points here but of course it was a relegation battle, they won, well done to them,” Ranieri said after the defeat at Sunderland. “I said two, three weeks ago, always I look behind me. We are in the battle of relegation. For this reason we must stay calm, together and continue to work hard.”

At least Ranieri knows it, but how has it got to this point with Leicester breezing through their UCL group and into the knockout stages?

The loss of N'Golo Kante in midfield has been huge for Leicester with the French international midfielder already proving indispensable for Chelsea this season as he breaks play up, shields the back four and sets the tempo of the game for his team. Kante’s departure has left a huge hole in Leicester’s midfield but they’ve been equally hit just as hard with a lack of goals from Jamie Vardy who has scored just twice in the PL and Riyad Mahrez has suffered from a lack of creativity.

Mahrez set up 22 goalscoring chances for Vardy last season. This season the duo have combined just once. Maybe that is because Ranieri has been chopping and changing his team so much to cope with the demands of the UCL and PL, with Mahrez and Vardy often preferred for European action, but there’s no doubting that their level has dropped off and that’s happened across Leicester’s entire squad.

When you look at Leicester’s defensive displays, not much has changed but perhaps the rub of the green is going against them and they are falling behind to opponents extremely often which is making them chase the game and they’re getting out of their comfort zone. Simply put: Leicester isn’t doing what it is best at.

Ranieri knows it and said as much after their latest defeat at Sunderland which has put them further in trouble with plenty of tough games on the horizon.

“It is difficult to say what we miss. We miss everything,” Ranieri said.

In the latest PST Extra Jenna Corrado and I discuss the recent poor form of both Leicester and Man City and if fans of both teams should be worried heading into this big match on Saturday.

Click play on the video above to see us break it down.

Report: FIFA president backs 48-team World Cup, 16 groups of three teams

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 14: FIFA President Gianni Infantino poses for a photo after part II of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 14, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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Gianni Infantino wants to freshen things up a bit.

The new president of FIFA has been steadfast in his desire to increase the number of teams participating at a World Cup to 48.

[ MORE: Ranking the PL superstars

After all it was a huge part of his presidential mandate which got plenty of the smaller nations of the soccer world on board to vote for him, and reports from AFP are now circulating that Infantino and key figured at FIFA have indeed backed a 48-team World Cup from 2026 onwards.

Members of the FIFA Council had previously received outlines of four proposed formats, including staying with a 32-team World Cup, but it is believed Infantino wants a 48-team World Cup and the decision could be made next month at a FIFA Council meeting.

It is also being widely reported that Infantino wants to try something new and have 16 groups with three teams in each. It is also believed the top two teams would go through from each group to a Round of 32 knockout stage and then to a Round of 16 and so on.

On the face of it, that doesn’t seem too bad an idea.

It would certainly eliminate some of the boring third group games we have endured at most World Cups recently as the two teams going through to the last 16 are usually sewn up by that point and the two other teams are left around with another game to play. However, it will be intriguing to see how the game schedule is set up in the three team group scenario.

The cynical folks out there suggest that Infantino is merely trying to ramp up more revenue from increasing the number of teams from 32 to 48 but when you look at it, the number of games would actually stay the same if there were 16 groups with three teams in each.

Think about it: more upset stories, more first-time qualifiers and more riding on each of the two group games for each team before heading straight to the knockout rounds.