ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Once again, the top teams are struggling to get through the summer; our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 23 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – Win No. 3 on the year! Conor Doyle, on loan from England’s Derby County, came off the bench for score a swell goal in the 3-1 result over Montreal.

18. Chivas USA – The Goats could generate precious little offense in a 2-0 loss at San Jose. Carlos Bocanegra’s red card stuck more of a bummer on the night.

17. Toronto FC – A 1-0 win at New England represents a nice result, but the Reds remain long, long way from turning this thing around. A resolution to the ongoing pursuit of Maximiliano Urruti would be a great start.

16. Columbus – Robert Warzycha’s team needs an August super-boost of the kind Federico Higuain gave the Crew one year ago. Unfortunately, those lightning-in-a-bottle moments are few and far between, as we know. The Crew has lost six of seven.

15. FC Dallas – The bottom has fallen out spectacularly as Schellas Hyndman’s team has not won since . How did this team get so bad, so fast? (One answer is the continued reliance on David Ferreira, who is a shell of his former playmaking self.)

14. New England Revolution – All the good feeling of two consecutive road wins evaporated in losing to Toronto FC at home.

13. San Jose Earthquakes – In echoes of 2012, Chris Wondolowski scored twice as San Jose won comfortably at home over Chivas USA. The ‘Quakes sit just three points out of playoff position.

12. Houston Dynamo – Two Houston forwards found goal, so perhaps things are pointed in the right direction at BBVA, although things were in doubt until the very end during a 3-1 victory over Columbus. Meanwhile, early reports that Clint Dempsey may have included Houston on his MLS wish list appeared to be false.

11. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee (pictured above) supplied his league-leading 14th goal, this one a game-winner as the Fire picked up a valuable three points on the road (at Philadelphia).

(MORE: Major League Soccer’s Round 23 in review)

10. LA Galaxy – Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are back on the field following Gold Cup and injury absence. The champs have attempted to address their goalkeeping issues.  Now, if they can just get past this cash grab of an international tournament and re-focus on MLS matters, things might be OK.

9. Seattle Sounders – Clint Dempsey. ‘Nuff said. (Well, there’s this: looks like he’ll play this week against Toronto. Find Univision on your channel lineup if you have not already.)

8. Philadelphia Union – After a loss at home in Round 23, this week’s contest at PPL Park against a potentially drained D.C. United (which plays mid-week while the Union is idle) is an absolute must-have three points.

7. Montreal Impact – The Impact’s season of high highs and curious lows continues: Marco Schallibaum’s club fell to D.C. United, 3-1.

6. Colorado Rapids – A 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake was enough to get the Rocky Mountain Cup into Rapids hands for the first time in seven years. That’s a big day around DSG Park.

5. New York Red Bulls – When peripheral figures like Loyd Sam and Jonny Steele can contribute goals and assists, the team will be a good shape. Last week’s 3-2 win at Sporting Kansas City, a lesson in counter-attacking soccer, helped soften the blow of losing Tim Cahill to injury for a few weeks.

4. Vancouver Whitecaps – Yet another rugged, foul-filled Cascadia Cup contest resulted in a 1-1 draw in Portland, a good result for Martin Rennie’s team.

3. Sporting Kansas City – Peter Vermes changed the team’s style this year to be less reliant on high-pressure tactics. The results aren’t encouraging, however. After last week’s loss in the heartland to New York, SKC is just 5-4-3 at home, which is mediocre at best.

2. Portland Timbers – Caleb Porter’s club is not handling the summer disruptions well, with just one win in its last five home matches. The big blow for the Timbers, however, was seeing bitter rival Seattle gather up attention and a roster boost in Clint Dempsey’s acquisition.

1. Real Salt Lake – Generally speaking, a draw on the road is fine, especially against a team in playoff position. But a 2-2 draw in Denver meant RSL handed off the Rocky Mountain Cup.

Everton 1-0 Newcastle: Walcott blast has Toffees up to eighth

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Everton earned a 1-0 win against Newcastle on Monday behind Theo Walcott‘s second-half strike at Goodison Park.

The victory puts the Toffees into eighth place, leaping over Leicester City for the time being — as the Foxes have an extra game in hand.

[ MORE: Sweden coach says Ibra must reach out to have shot at World Cup ]

The former Arsenal man broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when Walcott blasted the ball into the roof of the net following a lofted cross from Yannick Bolasie.

For Walcott, it’s his third goal since joining Everton in 2017/18 from the Gunners.

The visitors had their fair share of opportunities on the day, particularly through Ayoze Pérez, who was active all throughout the match.

Perez nearly broke the deadlock after the half hour mark when he tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 31st minute with a diving save in the bottom left corner.

Phil Jagielka came close four minutes later when his close-range attempt narrowly missed the top left corner after Michael Keane‘s flicked header off a corner kick.

The Spanish forward was at it again in the second stanza, and nearly found the back of the net when his header was saved in the center of the goal off of a cross from Kenedy.

Newcastle pushed hard for an equalizer in the dying moments, and even played up a man for a few minutes when Leighton Baines was tended to for a head injury, but the Magpies couldn’t even the score.

Sweden coach: Ibrahimovic must call in order to have chance at World Cup

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently raised the stakes when he said, “I am going to the World Cup, yes!” despite having previously declared his retirement from international soccer.

Although the LA Galaxy forward’s comments on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show may not be a clear indication of his involvement in this summer’s World Cup in Russia, Ibrahimovic certainly has an interest in representing his native Sweden once again.

[ MORE: FIFA subjects Morocco 2026 bid to scrutiny ]

Now, all the veteran goalscorer has to do is pick up the phone and call Sweden coach Janne Andersson, according to the manager.

“He can do it,” Andersson told kicker. “But If he changes his opinion, contacts me and tells me ‘yes, I want to be part of it,’ then we’ll sit down and discuss what that would mean, how we play these days and so on. But that’s all speculation.

“I don’t know [if he’d still fit into the team]. But I also don’t think about it. I take the things as they come if they come. If you want to be part of it, you must call me. Easy as that.”

The 36-year-old retired from the international game following Sweden’s involvement in EURO 2016, and Andersson says that he had no intention of calling up Ibrahimovic prior to the media-driven questions surrounding the striker.

Ibrahimovic ranks first all-time for his homeland in goals scored (62) since debuting for Sweden back in 2001.

“Not him, or anyone else who retired. But there’s this media noise,” he said. “I have no problem with those questions [about a possible return]. Not with what he says or what is written in media.”

Several of Sweden’s current players, including goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson recently stated that bringing Ibrahimovic back into the fold may disrupt the rhythm created within the squad — who handled Italy in their World Cup qualifying playoff to reach the final tournament in June.

FIFA subjects 2026 Morocco World Cup bid to fresh scrutiny

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Morocco’s World Cup bid is facing fresh scrutiny this week with the arrival of another delegation from FIFA after an initial task force found deficiencies in the proposals for the 2026 tournament.

In a downbeat conclusion to the visit by the FIFA inspectors last week, Morocco’s bid leader acknowledged it had to improve the quality of the submission made to FIFA in March because inadequacies were identified by football’s governing body.

[ MORE: UCL semifinals predictions ]

The previously unplanned second inspection of Morocco is an indication of the more rigorous process introduced by FIFA following criticism in 2010 that World Cups were awarded to the riskiest nations in 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar).

There will also be closer scrutiny of human rights of the bidders before the vote on June 13 when Morocco is currently due to be taking on a joint challenge from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Associated Press revealed last week Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to FIFA in the human rights risk assessment included in the bid book. The documents – along with the North American submission – will now be scrutinized for any gaps by human rights experts.

“That process involves an expert third-party assessment of the robustness of the human rights content of both bids that will directly inform the administration’s own evaluation,” Rachel Davis, who sits on FIFA’s human rights advisory board, told the AP.

“We are confident that the process will result in a fair assessment of the human rights situation in all four countries involved in the bids, and a roadmap for how to deal with any deficiencies that FIFA will then require the successful bidder to commit to.”

Davis, who is managing director of the Shift human rights organization, said an evaluation of the human rights in the bidding nations will be included in a report to the FIFA Council, which will also assess the verdict of the evaluation task force. A bid with low scores can be blocked by the council from advancing to a vote of up to 207 football nations at the FIFA Congress on June 13.

While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost $16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, North American does not require any tournament-specific building work. Morocco bid president Moulay Hafid Elalamy said at the end of the FIFA inspection that officials “made some remarks on the conditions of some of the stadiums.”

The new batch of technical staff being deployed from FIFA HQ to Morocco did not make a similar follow-up visit to North America after the task force inspected the rival bid’s facilities this month.

“Following the visit of the 2026 bid evaluation task force to Morocco last week, it was decided to have an additional working visit this week to complement the initial analysis of the task force and clarify some aspects of the bid,” FIFA told the AP.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Watch Live: Everton v. Newcastle

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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 sitting pretty in midtable.

[ LIVE: Stream Everton-Newcastle ]

Sam Allardyce and Rafael Benitez have both been around the block a few times but at the moment Allardyce is under pressure and Benitez is working miracles with four wins on the spin as the newly-promoted Magpies have stayed solid defensively all season.

In team news Everton start Tosun, Walcott and Bolasie in attack with Wayne Rooney in midfield.

Newcastle make one change with Islam Slimani making his first start for the Magpies as he comes in for Dwight Gayle.

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Everton

Newcastle United