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.

VIDEO: Napoli fans celebrate Juventus win

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It is safe to say Napoli’s fans were pretty happy with the 1-0 win their team secured at Juventus on Sunday.

Kalidou Koulibaly powered home a header in stoppage as Napoli moved just one point behind Juventus, who sit top of the Serie A table, with four games to go. The title race is well and truly on in Italy.

The scenes across Naples after the game were incredible and when the players arrived back at the airport at around 3 a.m. local time they were greeted by thousands of adoring fans.

Take a look at the video below. Wow.


Preview: Everton v. Newcastle

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  • Everton have won seven of their last eight games v Newcastle
  • Newcastle have won four PL games in a row
  • Wayne Rooney has more goals (15) against Newcastle than any other PL team

Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both setting pretty in midtable.

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game

The Toffees sit in ninth, with Newcastle in 10th and just one point behind Everton with a game in hand. Rafael Benitez has been lauded for taking his newly-promoted side into the top 10 with defensive solidity, while Sam Allardyce has been lambasted for a defensive style of play despite getting Everton out of a relegation fight following his appointment back in November.

In team news Everton have Mason Holgate and Gylfi Sigurdsson out injured, while Newcastle will be without Christian Atsu but Islam Slimani could make his first start.


What they’re saying 

Sam Allardyce on the job Rafael Benitez has done at Newcastle: “From a difficult period they have managed to recover and get in the Premier League and they have turned it around. They have put together a run of games and we’ll see a better Newcastle than we saw up there [when Everton won 1-0 in December]. Rafa has progressed very well. He has always expressed his disappointment with not enough funds – we can all say we don’t have enough funds. What he has managed with the funds he has, particularly in the January months, has been excellent.”

Rafael Benitez on his Newcastle future: “I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time. I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.”

Prediction
Two teams who are very similar in terms of their style of play should see a bit of a stalemate take place at Goodison. 1-1 draw, which is a much better result for Newcastle and will pile more pressure on Big Sam.

Paul Pogba: “Transfers are not in my head”

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Paul Pogba has been discussing his future at Manchester United beyond this season.

The Frenchman delivered a stunning assist in United’s 2-1 win against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday, with the midfielder now named Man of the Match in each of his last two games after plenty of speculation about his future at United in recent months.

Jose Mourinho left Pogba out of his starting lineup on multiple occasions, while Pep Guardiola claims he was offered to buy Pogba in January and speculation about him joining Paris Saint-Germain, going back to Juventus or heading to Real Madrid continue.

Speaking to French outlet Canal Football Club, Pogba had the following to say about his own future.

“Right now, I am at Manchester United and I am honestly only thinking about the present. Transfers are not in my head. We are in the [FA] Cup final and the World Cup is around the corner,” Pogba said.

Pogba also addressed the rumors regarding his relationship with Mourinho with reports stating that the duo do not get along and United’s manager is fed up with the Frenchman’s attitude off the pitch.

“I don’t have a problem with him, and I don’t think he has a problem with me,” Pogba said. “He’s the coach and he has to make choices. I am a player and I accept them. I have to answer on the pitch.”

Benitez happy to stay at Newcastle if he “has the tools to compete”

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Rafa Benitez is approaching something vaguely resembling sainthood in the northeast of England — with the Newcastle United-supporting portion, at least — but his future remains in doubt as the end of the current Premier League season draws nearer and the next one approaches.

[ MORE: Salah beats De Bruyne to win PFA Player of the year award ]

Benitez and Newcastle owner Mike Ashley have endured an unhappy working relationship for much of Benitez’s 25 months at the club. The Spaniard was true to his word, though, when he stuck around another season after being relegated from the PL in 2016, then again after winning promotion on the Magpies’ first attempt, but he’ll be faced with the same dilemma again this summer, even after guiding Newcastle to a mid-table finish (they currently sit 10th with five games left to play).

[ MORE: Man United reach FA Cup final | Chelsea join them ]

If he’s not given assurances that he’ll be handed the necessary funds to properly strengthen his squad during the upcoming summer transfer window, the 58-year-old could very well walk away and leave Ashley to play the part of all-too-familiar villain. Or, as Benitez put it this weekend, Ashley could fork over “the tools to be capable of competing” and make everyone, from the manager to the fans, happy — quotes form the Guardian:

“If they [Ashley’s representatives] want to talk to my people [about a new contract,] they can talk. The main thing is to be sure we share the same ambition.

“I want to win games and I want to win trophies and I want to have the tools to be capable of competing. At the same time, I like to improve players, coach players, follow a business plan, a realistic business plan in modern football. I have no problem with that because I did it in the past.

“We have to be sure to have all the tools to compete and achieve what we want to achieve because Newcastle is a massive football club and we want it to reach its potential.”

Of course, the perfect scenario for everyone involved would have been for any one of the numerous takeover bids to have gone through during the last two years, but as was most recently evidenced earlier this year, Ashley and the Toon can’t seem to quit each other just yet.