Week 2: Premier League Power Rankings – Bluebirds rising

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One shock result stole all the headlines during Week 2 of the Premier League, as Cardiff City registered their first win in the top-flight for over 50 years against much fancied Manchester City.

A result like that will do wonders for your position in the Premier League Power Rankings. So find out where the side from the Welsh capital sit and which teams were the other big movers this time out.

Every Tuesday we will put our neck on the line each to analyze the strength of each Premier League team. Forget about the official league standings, that doesn’t mean squat.

(MORE: Premier League Power Rankings archive)

The Power Rankings take into account the strength of schedule, injuries, suspensions, playing well but still losing and plenty of other variables.

The W-L-D bracket shows each PL teams current record and we’ve added an extra factor as you can now see how many spots each team has moved, up or down, from week-to-week.

So please feel free to debate the Week 2 Power Rankings… that’s what they’re here for.

RANKING
source:  1 UP 1 Chelsea: They move up to the top of the rankings after easily shutting down United away from home. Okay, Chelsea had no real chances to score but they had a gameplan, and it worked a treat. Two home wins and a great point on the road. (2-0-1)

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2 DOWN 1 Manchester United: David Moyes’ side ran out of ideas against Chelsea. Sure they forced the issue, but you can you remember Rooney, RVP or Welbeck getting in behind the Blue wall? Rooney’s performance was the real highlight for United. (1-0-1)
source:  3  UP 1 Tottenham: Two games, two 1-0 wins, two PK game-winners from Roberto Soldado. Solid from Spurs against Swansea, a few kinks here and there. Life could be bright after Bale. (2-0-0)
source:  4  DOWN 1 Manchester City: A shock defeat at Cardiff exposed Manuel Pellegrini’s injury-hit defense, a bad day at the office. City have the perfect chance to recover next time out as Hull head to the Etihad. (1-1-0)

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5  – Liverpool:See Tottenham. Almost a mirror image of their opening day win against Stoke as the Reds beat Villa 1-0 thanks to a Daniel Sturridge goal. Another team built on defensive solidity. (2-0-0)
source:  6  – Arsenal: That’s more like it. The Gunners put in a great counter-attacking display vs. Fulham at a drenched Craven Cottage. Podolski grabbed two, Giroud looked sharp and Ramsey is finally delivering. Back on track but still work to do. (1-1-0)
source:  7  – Everton: Roberto Martinez’ side just couldn’t score against West Brom, they looked going forward and solid at the back. Solid start with two draws, but will they add a few creative players before the window slams shut? (0-0-2)
source:  8  UP 1 Southampton: The Saints should have comfortably beat Sunderland, but ended up grabbing a point late on. Mauricio Pochettino’s men had 64 percent of possession and numerous chances. Need to be more clinical going forward. (1-0-1)
source:  9 UP 1 West Ham: Sam Allardyce’s team haven’t conceded after two games played and went close to beating Newcastle away. On another day they could have scored 2 or 3 but the old adage “win your home game, get a point away” prevailed. (1-1-0)
source:  10  DOWN 2 Swansea: Two tough games to open up the season for the Swans and confidence must be low for Michael Laudrup’s men. They need to turn things around fast, they have the talent. All about mentality to get back on track. (0-2-0)
source:  11 Fulham: The Cottagers looked off the pace against a fired up Arsenal on Saturday. But they did dictate the play for large chunks and tried to force the issue. The Berbatov-Bent partnership looks promising. (1-1-0)
source:  12 Aston Villa: A tough week for Villa is over, as they faced Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in seven days. Two tight defeats and a win later, Paul Lambert’s men look dangerous on the break but still a little shaky at the back. (1-2-0)
source:  13 UP 3 Stoke: A real confidence boosting win at the Britannia in Mark Hughes’ first home game in charge. Palace took an early lead but the Potters had plenty of chances and rallied in the second half to turn things around. (1-1-0)
source:  14 DOWN 1 Norwich: The Canaries suffered a bad loss at Hull City and couldn’t score against the newly promoted team, despite having a one man advantage for over 60 minutes. Norwich’s attack need to fire next week against Southampton. (0-1-1)
source:  15
West Brom: The Baggies ground out a good point on the road at Everton, but they rode their luck as the Toffees struck the woodwork and threatened throughout. News of Ben Foster’s broken foot won’t help matters. (0-1-1)
source:  16  UP 3 Cardiff: What a win. The Bluebirds first ever victory in the Premier League came thanks to Fraizer Campbell’s heroics. A 3-2 win against Manchester City showed they could be here to stay.(1-1-0)
source:  17  DOWN 3 Newcastle: The Magpies didn’t lose against West Ham, but they didn’t really impress either. Alan Pardew may need to get a few new faces in this week, otherwise it will be a long, hard winter in the North East. (0-1-1)
source:  18 Hull: Steve Bruce’s team battled to a much-needed win at home against Norwich after being down to 10-men. Not much poise or creativity about this one, they ground out a result when it mattered. Great character. (1-1-0)
source:  19 DOWN 2
Sunderland: Paolo Di Canio’s men scored early against the Saints but didn’t kick on. They were content to protect their lead and offered nothing going forward. The Mackems still need to gel. (0-1-1)
source:  20  – Crystal Palace: Ian Holloway will be a busy man this week as he desperately searches for new players. Palace started well against Stoke and went into the break 1-0 up, but sloppy defending was their downfall. Pivotal week for Palace. (0-2-0)

Hernandez, Araujo score in 1st half, Mexico beats Costa Rica

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MEXICO CITY (AP) Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo scored in the first half, and Mexico overcame the absence of half a dozen players to beat Costa Rica 2-0 on Friday night in a World Cup qualifying match.

Hernandez scored on a cross from Carlos Vela to open the score in the seventh and Araujo added a goal on a header in the 45th.

[ USMNT: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

Hernandez scored his 46th goal with the Mexican team and tied Jared Borgetti as the all-time leading scorer.

With the win, Mexico remains undefeated and has seven points after three rounds to take sole command in the six-nation tournament. Costa Rica stays on six points and is second and Panama is third with four.

The top three teams qualified for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Mexico beat Costa Rica for the first time since September 11, 2012, when they prevailed 1-0.

Running Away With It

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Christian Pulisic scored and played a part in three other goals as the United States rained goals down on Honduras in a 6-0 win at Avaya Stadium in San Jose early Saturday morning.

Clint Dempsey scored two goals, and Michael Bradley and Sebastian Lletget also scored as the U.S. moved into fourth place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Their next match is Tuesday in Panama.

[ MORE: Player ratings | Three things ]

The United States men’s national team’s bid to recover their 2018 World Cup hopes got off to a flying start.

Sloppy Honduran defending caused a turnover outside the 18, and Jozy Altidore played Christian Pulisic in on goal. Keeper Donis Escober got a piece of Pulisic’s shot, but no one followed Lletget to the back post and the ex-West Ham and current LA Galaxy man quickly put the Yanks up 1-0.

The Yanks didn’t stop, and Lletget drew a yellow card when he beat Ever Alvarado down the right flank and forced a take down from the Honduran defender.

Alberth Elis slipped John Brooks’ mark, and the Houston Dynamo man turned to fire on goal. Tim Howard was well positioned to scoop it up.

Lletget turned out to be injured by the Alvarado foul, and Bruce Arena turned to Alejandro Bedoya in the 17th minute.

Geoff Cameron was given a yellow card in the 25th minute for a foul on Roger Espinoza. That gave a free kick to Honduras from 30 yards out, and Romell Quioto fired right at Tim Howard.

Then it was the captain who doubled the lead, as Honduras inexplicably gave him the room to walk across the arc of the 18 to rip a shot across goal. 2-0.

It was Clint Dempsey’s turn in the 33rd minute, after an otherworldly scooped pass from Pulisic.

What. A. Pass. Kid.

Honduras then took a bigger hit: the loss of star attacker Romell Quioto (Houston Dynamo) to an apparent shoulder injury.

Brooks bailed out an out-of-position Gonzalez just before halftime to keep the lead 3-0.

The Yanks needed 15 seconds to make it 4-0, with Dempsey winning a 50-50 tussle and finding Altidore for a flick to Pulisic. He netted his fourth USMNT goal. He’s 18.

Pulisic then won a free kick 25 yards out from goal by embellishing a foul, and Dempsey’s free kick tricked Escober. 6-0. For real.

A scary moment late as a dazed and wobbly John Brooks was forced off despite no apparent injury. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Brooks (Ream, 70′), Cameron (Zusi, 58′); Bradley, Lletget (Bedoya, 18′), Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore.

Goals: Lletget (5′), Bradley (27′), Dempsey (33′, 49′, 54′), Pulisic (46′)

 

Player ratings from USMNT’s pounding of Honduras

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Battered. Throttled. Eviscerated.

Pick your verb of dominance, the United States likely fit it well in a 6-0 destruction of Honduras at Avaya Stadium in San Jose.

[ MORE: Recap + video | Three things ]

The win boosts the U.S. in World Cup qualifying after their 0-2 start, but how did the individuals fare? Obviously well.

Starting XI

Tim Howard — 7 — The team just feels in a safer place with the veteran back there. If the U.S. goes to the 2018 World Cup, Howard remains their No. 1 (and there probably never should have been a question. Sorry Brad).

Jorge Villafana — 7 — Tidy passing and a low-risk game from the Santos Laguna man.

John Brooks (Off 70′) — 7 — An early error before recovering to be his usual free-clearing, athletic self. Scary injury took him out late, as he looked dazed. Fox’s Jenny Taft said he was dehydrated, which is a relief.

Omar Gonzalez — 5  — He wasn’t bad, but Gonzalez is still a positional question mark. Bailed out a couple times by Brooks.

Geoff Cameron (Off 59′) — 6 — Out of position and a bit hobbled, he wasn’t at his best.

Michael Bradley — 7 — One of his better USMNT games in a long time.

Sebastian Lletget (Off 17′) — 8 — Scored, then got hurt on a roasting run down the right.

Darlington Nagbe — 6 — One or two electric moments in the first half, but overall a quiet enough night for the Timbers man.

Christian Pulisic — 9 — Hard to not to hand the kid a 10. He’s quite frankly the most exciting American talent in the history of the program.

Clint Dempsey — 10 — Along with Howard, the sort of player you knew would make sure this game ended with three points. The fact that he nabbed three goals, too, is just a bonus.

Jozy Altidore — 7  — Pretty darn good night holding up the ball, and passed as well as ever, but did he drop a bit too deep too often? The answer is probably, “Who cares? They won 6-0, dude.”

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 18′)  — 6 — Typical high energy, space eating job in the middle of the park from the Union man.

Graham Zusi (On 58′)  — 6 — Good late clearance preserved the shutout.

Tim Ream (On 70′)  — 6 — Interesting to note that Arena went to him over Walker Zimmerman or Matt Besler.

Three things to take away from USMNT 6-0 Honduras

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The United States men’s national team pulled a Leicester City.

[ MORE: Recap & videoPlayer ratings ]

That’s a joke with truth wrapped around it, because the Yanks have had plenty of time and even a pair of friendlies to respond from the firing of Jurgen Klinsmann.

But in their first serious match without their old coach, the U.S. looked a team renewed and unleashed. Now the Americans may find themselves back in an automatic World Cup qualifying spot with a win on Tuesday in Panama.

Things change.

Vindicated

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and all of the USMNT players waited months and months to get the chance to answer their critics following a pair of embarrassing losses to open the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Sure, having Clint Dempsey, Geoff Cameron, and Tim Howard back helped a whole lot, and the seasoning Christian Pulisic is getting at Borussia Dortmund is unquestionably good for an 18-year-old.

But there’s little doubt Michael Bradley and Co. were fired up to silence their critics. Whether they admit it or not, this is a bunch that was stung by those who said they failed their old coach.

Most expected the U.S. to get a point or better against Honduras, but to do it the way they did is an unexpected bonus. A win in Panama on Tuesday would boost them into the Top Three.

And don’t worry, the old boss was pleased for his former charges.


The future is now…

I Tweeted the following after a late second half pass from Pulisic, and there was little disagreement.

Pulisic won’t be credited with an assist for his shot which rebounded to Sebastian Lletget for the opener, but he will walk away with his fourth international goal and two proper assists.

One was an absurd scoop to Clint Dempsey’s chest, and the other was a long avenue that shouldn’t have existed. Still, Pulisic found that street and provided an absolutely dynamic force all over the park.

There have been U.S. teens at big European clubs, and U.S. teens who’ve made impacts on the national team, but never both at the same time and never both at this level. Pulisic is for real, and finding his ceiling is an adventure we’re all undertaking with great enjoyment.


…But the legends sure helped

Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard will go down as two of the most important players in United States men’s national team history.

Actually, they may be duking it out for Nos. 1 and 2 when it’s all said and done.

Dempsey’s hat trick was his career in a nutshell. The first saw him body off a defender while collecting a Pulisic pass off his chest, then lashing a shot with power despite said defender dragging him down.

The second was a burst of speed to run onto Pulisic’s through ball and classic calm in the face of an onrushing keeper, holding onto the ball before sliding it home from an acute angle.

The third was this free kick. A bit aided by goalkeeper Donis Escober, but such is life.

And don’t sleep on Howard’s early performance as Honduras tried to find some sort of foothold in the match. Always well-positioned, the team just feels safer with the Colorado Rapids man between the sticks.