Jun Marques Davidson, Keon Daniel, Baldomero Toledo

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

4 Comments

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.

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

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

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.

Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over in-limbo Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images
1 Comment

Few footballing sagas will ever reach heights of absurdity comparable to that of the Joel Matip/Liverpool versus Cameroon/FIFA battle currently raging, as the Reds defender finds himself “ineligible” to play for his club due to an international call-up 18 months after announcing his international retirement.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright summed up the situation quite well, in full, right here. An excerpt:

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules.

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

Fast forward a few days, and Jurgen Klopp and Co. have no further clarity regarding the situation. It’s so unclear, in fact, that Klopp said on Tuesday he may select the 25-year-old during one of two remaining games this week, and hope for the best — quotes from the Guardian:

“As you can imagine, we are in a lot of talks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this. It’s already long term but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything but at the end I have to make the decision. Of course I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make. I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice — I’m not a lawyer.”

“Most of the time in life you know if you do this, then you get this. But it’s not 100 percent clear what happens [if Matip plays]. We try everything to win football games. If this can happen — out of the tournament or whatever — then we have to decide about the risk. He’s ready to play for us and that makes it difficult.”

What an utter disaster of a situation Cameroon have intentionally created here.

VIDEO: Jeison Murillo’s incredible bicycle from a corner kick

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17:  (R-L) Jeison Murillo of FC Internazionale celebrates his first goal with Geoffrey Kondogbia during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
1 Comment

Look away now, Andy Carroll. Take a bow, Jeison Murillo.

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Just three days after Carroll scored the bicycle-kick goal of the year (so we thought), here comes Murillo, Inter Milan’s 24-year-old Colombian striker, to steal his thunder (below video). The fact he did it directly from a corner kick, with the ball traveling roughly 40 yards before flinging his body into the air and striking the ball so cleanly, (somehow) trumps Carroll’s accomplishment from Saturday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — Tight at the top… and bottom ]

Sensational goals come in twos now, apparently, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud scored stunning scorpion-kick goals (WATCH HERE and HERE) just days apart earlier in the season.