ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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The top four teams all lost; our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 22 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – A 2-1 loss at home combined with Toronto’s win cements United’s spot at the bottom for a while. But! … They did get a stadium deal done last week, and in the big picture that will be among the most meaningful bits of MLS news for 2013.

18. Toronto FC – A dramatic, late win over Columbus – the Reds still trailed in the 87th minute but rallied to take all three points – won’t help in a fruitless playoff bid, but was something to remember for 2013, at least. In fact, it was the first time TFC had won a league match inside its home ground in more than a year. Ain’t that something?

17. Chivas USA – The good feeling from last week’s streak-snapping win disappeared in a loss at Seattle, although the Goats didn’t look too bad in the 2-1 setback at CenturyLink Field.

16. Columbus – Having lost five of six, and considering the emotional blow of coming so close to a road win and then emerging without a single point in Toronto, you really have to wonder if the Crew can rally past all this and still make a playoff push?

15. San Jose Earthquakes – There was a wee bit of controversy with one of the goals, but a 2-1 win over Portland helped the Earthquakes creep up a little further in the table. They are just five points out of a playoff position at this point.

14. Houston Dynamo – A goal from a forward! The first since early May as Cam Weaver struck in a 1-1 draw at home with Chicago. Then again, draws at home won’t get it done for the two-time MLS runner-up; Dominic Kinnear’s team would not make the playoffs today.

13. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee’s 13th goal kept him tied for the league lead in scoring, and provided the important second-half equalizer in a 1-1 draw in Houston.

12. FC Dallas – Now that 22-year-old playmaker Mauro Diaz is in place, you have to wonder how long David Ferreira, struggling mightily now, will hold his place?

11. New England Revolution – We hear so much about the young Galaxy attackers, but what about 18-year-old Diego Fagundez, who has seven goals and four assists in 2013? That’s exceptional.

(MORE: MLS Round 22 week in review)

10. LA Galaxy – How badly does this team need Landon Donovan, Omar Gonzalez and Robbie Keane back in the lineup? The champs are just 4-5-1 since May, including last week’s 2-0 loss at Colorado.

9. Seattle Sounders – Is there some life left in Mauro Rosales, who had a big part in the team’s 2-1 win over Chivas USA? Eddie Johnson returns from Gold Cup duty this week.

8. Colorado Rapids – If you see any MLS rookie review that does not prominently include Clint Irwin, Dillon Powers and Deshorn Brown, dismiss it quickly and move on. Because those three young Rapids keep getting it done. They did again in a big 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy, which had dominated the teams’ series recently.

7. New York Red Bulls – The last 10 minutes of Saturday’s 4-3 win over Real Salt Lake must have been the most eventful this year throughout the league.

6. Philadelphia Union – Aided by a man-advantage for much of the match, Philly emerged with a 1-0 win at Vancouver. The Union is a highly respectable 4-4-3 on the road … and that is how teams make the playoffs.

5. Vancouver Whitecaps – What was Jun Marques Davidson thinking when he head-butted Philly’s Keon Daniel just 8 minutes into Saturday’s contest? Yes, Daniel was a bit naughty himself, but Davidson’s decision to pull a “Zidane” (pictured above) left his team a man down for more than 80 minutes.

4. Montreal Impact – The team’s home contest with Kansas City was as physical as you would expect. Blake Smith’s dramatic 96th minute goal sealed the deal for the Impact.

3. Real Salt Lake – Alvaro Saborio’s hat trick, just the fourth in MLS this year, will get a bit lost amid the disappointment of losing a late lead in the 4-3 setback at Red Bull Arena.

2. Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Park is the site of all things All-Star related this week as AS Roma comes calling for Wednesday’s big event. Only thing that would have made the week better around KC: if they had not conceded that 96th minute goal at Montreal last weekend (in a 1-0 loss).

1. Portland Timbers – Good for the Timbers, who refused to use a dodgy penalty decision as an excuse in a 2-1 loss at San Jose. Clearly, it wasn’t the best we’ve seen this year from Caleb Porter’s team, which seemed to miss midfield glue man Diego Chara.

Heath, Smith sidelined with injuries for USWNT

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CHICAGO (AP) Forward Tobin Heath and defender Taylor Smith are sidelined with injuries that will keep them out of the U.S. women’s national team training camp in Louisiana ahead of two upcoming matches against South Korea.

Heath is nursing an ankle injury and Smith her shoulder. Both women were hurt in the NWSL championship match last Saturday, the U.S. Soccer Federation said Monday.

The Americans play Thursday at New Orleans and Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

Neither player will be replaced on the roster and coach Jill Ellis will have 18 players dressed for each game.

Report: Sam Allardyce, Laurent Blanc want to be next USMNT boss

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Yep, this is true.

Sam Allardyce has thrown his hat into the ring with the U.S. national team searching for a new manager, and so has former Paris Saint-Germain and France boss Laurent Blanc.

[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

According to ESPN, sources close to Allardyce say he is up for the USMNT challenge which would “enable him to impose a long-term strategy and secure a legacy in a nation regarded as a growing force.”

A report from France Football states that Blanc is also interested in replacing Bruce Arena, who resigned last week following the USA’s shock defeat at Trinidad and Tobago which saw them miss the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Hmmm. After Jurgen Klinsmann’s time in charge of the USMNT, are the days of big name foreign managers over?

These are two relatively high-profile names with experience of managing national teams (in Allardyce’s case one game with England before The Telegraph sting scandal) but neither have experience of Major League Soccer or the unique challenges of CONCACAF.

Allardyce often talks fondly about his year spent with the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the NASL during his playing days and has used many techniques he picked up from the U.S. sporting realm in his lengthy coaching career which has spanned Premier League clubs Bolton, Newcastle, Blackburn, West Ham United, Sunderland and Crystal Palace.

Yet the scandal which cut his ill-fated time in charge of England short will likely raise eyebrows if he is to be considered for the U.S. job and his direct style of play is not to the taste of many purists out there.

When it comes to Blanc, his ultra-defensive style of play may turn off those in charge of U.S. Soccer too but there’s no doubting his record with a title win at Bordeaux in 2009 before he took France to the last eight of EURO 2012, and then led PSG to three-straight French titles from 2012-13, is impressive.

The fact that these two managers have reportedly thrown their hats into the ring suggests just how highly the job is regarded worldwide, even if U.S. Soccer fans believe the program is currently at an all-time low after the embarrassment of failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

In his conference call with reporters last week U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) president Sunil Gulati refused to rule out anybody for the USMNT job, stating that no specific profile (American, non-American coaches etc.) is preferred in their search for a new manager.

Many U.S. fans are hoping for a domestic manager to take charge with Peter Vermes, Ben Olsen and Jesse Marsch all mentioned with their vast knowledge of the U.S. national team and MLS setup.

Let’s wait and see what happens but after the Klinsmann era, one would suggest that USSF would be slightly hesitant to go overseas in their search for a new U.S. national team manager.

Champions League score predictions – Week 3

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We are entering the meaty part of the UEFA Champions League group stage with double headers coming up in the next two matchdays.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The five Premier League teams in the UCL are so far unbeaten with Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham all winning both of their opening two group games. Liverpool has two draw so far but Jurgen Klopp‘s men are still looking likely to make the knockout stage.

Below is a look at the 16 matches across the UCL on Tuesday and Wednesday as we make our score predictions for each game.

[ MORE: Champions League standings

Don’t be afraid to let us know your score picks in the comments section below.


Tuesday’s UCL games

Group E
Spartak Moscow 1-2 Sevilla
Maribor 1-3 Liverpool

Group F
Man City 2-0 Napoli
Feyenoord 1-3 Shakthar Donetsk

Group G
RB Leipzig 2-0 FC Porto
Monaco 2-1 Besiktas

Group H
APOEL 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
Real Madrid 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday’s UCL games

Group A
Benfica 1-2 Manchester United
CSKA Moscow 1-2 Basel

Group B
Anderlecht 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain
Bayern Munich 2-2 Celtic

Group C
Chelsea 1-1 Roma
Qarabag 1-3 Atletico Madrid

Group D
Barcelona 3-1 Olympiacos
Juventus 2-1 Sporting Lisbon

Leicester City fire manager Craig Shakespeare

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Leicester City have pulled the trigger much early than many expected.

Official confirmation arrived on Tuesday that Craig Shakespeare, who only took charge permanently of the Foxes over the summer, had been fired after just eight games of the 2017-18 Premier League season.

Claudio Ranieri‘s former assistant coach has been fired by the ruthless Leicester owners with the Foxes winning just one of their opening eight Premier League games of the season.

In an official statement on the club website, here’s what Leicester had to say as Michael Appleton has been placed in interim charge for their trip to Swansea this Saturday.

Leicester City Vice Chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said: “Craig has been a great servant to Leicester City – during his spells as an Assistant Manager and since taking over as Manager in challenging circumstances in February. His dedication to the Club and to his work has been absolute and the contribution he made to the most successful period in Leicester City history is considerable.

“However, our early promise under Craig’s management has not been consistently evident in the months since and the Board feels that, regrettably, a change is necessary to keep the Club moving forward – consistent with the long-term expectations of our supporters, Board and owners.

“Craig is and will remain a very popular, respected figure at Leicester City and will be welcome back at King Power Stadium in future, both professionally and as a friend of the Club.”

The Foxes sat third from bottom and only on six points. The last three times Leicester have gained six points or less in their opening eight games of a PL season they have been relegated.

Stats like that would have surely alarmed their Thai owners.

The last time Leicester went six PL games without a win Ranieri was fired but this is still a shock considering  Shakespeare, 53, had been in charge for only four months.

Shakespeare was in interim charge at the end of last season after Ranieri was fired in February and led Leicester to seven wins from their final 13 games which saved the then reigning champs from relegation.

However, he never seemed like the long-term man to lead the shock 2015-16 PL champions back to the upper echelons of the Premier League and he is now on his way out of the King Power Stadium.