Seattle Sounders v Los Angeles Galaxy

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings


Our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 19 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – Ben Olsen’s team was dominated in Colorado, but coming away with a 0-0 draw, especially without some important starters, was surely a moral victory for United.

18. Toronto FC – Diego Forlan is coming! … Oh, wait … No, he isn’t.  Either way, goal scoring wasn’t the issue in last week’s 3-3 draw with Montreal at BMO Field.

17. Chivas USA – Two draws on the road (at FC Dallas and Montreal, both among their conference’s leaders) made for a highly respectable week around Goat Valley.

16. San Jose Earthquakes – A win over Colorado in Mark Watson’s first match as interim head coach provided some hope – but they’ve lost three of four since. With three straight matches at home, we’ll know by early August whether this club has gone from Supporters Shield winner to non-playoff team, because they’ll need at least six points from this set to even think about post-season chances.

15. Columbus – Playing at home, with a lead, a man up for almost 80 minutes, the Crew still made fairly hard work of a 1-0 win over Portland. Federico Higuain did not help by missing his second penalty kick this year.

14. Chicago Fire – “Magic Mike” is up to 11 goals (tied for league lead) with another strike Sunday at Toyota Park. If the Fire climbs into the playoffs, is Magee the league’s MVP?

13. Houston Dynamo – Things are a little better around BBVA thanks to a 1-0 win over Philadelphia, but Dominic Kinnear’s team knows he cannot count on Ricardo Clark to score the goals going forward. The strikers and outside attackers simply must start producing.

12. Colorado Rapids – Any other team have two legitimate Rookie of the Year candidates? The Rapids do in Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown, who had a goal in a 2-0 win over New York.  (They followed up three nights later with a 0-0 draw at home against D.C. United, a bit of a bummer.)

11. New York Red Bulls – Mike Petke’s team is a relatively modest 8-7-4. They play two of the next three at home in Harrison, with the one road trip into bottom-of-conference Toronto. That sounds like “Time to make a move” to us.

10. New England Revolution – The team just keeps improving, slowly but surely. The weekend’s fairly comfortable 2-0 win over San Jose makes Jay Heaps’ team 5-1-2 since mid-May. A spot in the playoffs is a within reach. Oh, and  Saer Sene sure nailed a beauty of a goal, didn’t he?

9. Philadelphia Union – A tough week on the road finishes with a draw at Real Salt Lake and a close (1-0) loss at Houston. It gets a little easier now, with Chivas USA and Portland en route to PPL Park over the next two weeks.

8. FC Dallas – Why is the team winless in six matches in all competitions now, after looking so powerful through March, April and May? It’s mostly about depth … and a serious lack of it in certain places.

7. Seattle Sounders – Weirdest stat about the Sounders: they have played just five matches since May. All the better, thought, given Osvaldo Alonso’s injury, and how diminished the team looks without him.

6. LA Galaxy – Robbie Rogers (pictured above, on the right) had his best outing yet in a Galaxy shirt, helping guide a good performance in a 2-0 win – And a controversy-free win at that! – over FC Dallas. FYI, goal scorer Robbie Keane now leads the league with eight assists.

5. Vancouver Whitecaps – So now we know: the Whitecaps can beat Seattle after all. Only took 13 tries! Martin Rennie’s team is 5-1-1 lately as Kenny Miller and Camilo are producing goals consistently.

4. Sporting Kansas City – A win at Chicago was huge for Peter Vermes’ team, which marched into Toyota Park over the weekend with just single win in league play since mid-May.

3. Montreal Impact – Marco Schallibaum’s team is winless in three matches, including two at home. And the Impact needed a late penalty kick Sunday just to split the points with Chivas USA. Time to wake up, Les Bleus.

2. Real Salt Lake – First run-out without all those important pieces? Meh. A 2-2 draw (against Philadelphia) without the likes of Nick Rimando, Kyle Beckerman and others is holding serve, at least.

1. Portland Timbers – The Timbers’ 15-game unbeaten streak, which was approaching league records, is over after a 1-0 loss at Columbus. Considering that Caleb Porter’s team was a man down for almost 80 minutes on the road, there was still enough to feel good about. They are, however, going to miss their captain.

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.