Edson Buddle

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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19. D.C. United – League records for all-time futility creep ever closer after yet another loss. To Chivas USA, no less.

18. Toronto FC – The Reds came close early on the West Coast but eventually succumbed in a 4-0 loss at Portland.

17. Columbus – After an initial win under interim manager Brian Bliss, the Crew settled back into what they probably are now, a team that just doesn’t have enough to make the playoffs. The Crew fell in Kansas City, 3-0.

16. Chivas USA – Erick “El Cubo” Torres has seven goals this year! His latest was the game-winner Sunday against D.C. United. What might the Goats have done if they had their exciting, young summer arrival all year?

15. Chicago Fire – Mike Magee ended his short personal scoring drought, hitting No. 15 for the season, but a late own goal did in the Fire in a 2-1 loss at Seattle.

14. Houston Dynamo – The Dynamo defense is in a very bad place, having recently conceded five to Montreal and then having given up four at home over the weekend to New York. At home!

13. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Whitecaps are 1-5-2 since mid-summer, and Saturday’s 3-1 loss in Dallas pushed Martin Rennie’s team further down in the standings. Oh, and the schedule ahead is pretty unkind, too.

12. FC Dallas – Schellas Hyndman’s team is hanging in there. Two sensational goals, including Mauro Diaz’s game-winner and Jair Benitez’s goal of the week highlighted the Red Stripes’ valuable 3-1 win over visiting Vancouver.

11. New England Revolution – Matt Reis’ fifth-minute ejection in Sunday’s loss to Montreal put the Revs behind the 8 ball quite early. The Impact eventually earned a 4-2 win at Gillette Stadium. (Which was resplendent with real grass for this one!) Diego Fagundez did get his 10th goal of the year for the Revs.

(MORE: MLS Round 27 week in review)

10. San Jose Earthquakes – The Earthquakes just keep climbing the Western standings, now level with fading Vancouver in the tight,  playoff-chasing pack. Shea Salinas had the second half game-winner in Sunday’s late 1-0 victory over Philadelphia, the league’s Round 28 nightcap.

9. Philadelphia Union – What a frustrating night for Philly fans, forced to stay up late Sunday to watch their team, and then forced to watch their team unable to exploit 10-man San Jose for about half an hour in a 1-0 loss to the Earthquakes.

8. New York Red Bulls – The Red Bulls attacked defined efficiency in a 4-1 win at Houston. That’s two wins in a row for Mike Petke’s up-and-down bunch.

7. Portland Timbers – What a difference Will Johnson and Diego Chara make, now back on the field for Caleb Porter’s team. The Timbers got two late goals in a 4-0 romp over Toronto.

6. Seattle Sounders – Two wins at home recently minus Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey were a bit of a struggle, but it was “mission accomplished” nonetheless. Chicago actually supplied the own goal winner (but off of Zach Scott’s zippy, centering pass) in a 2-1 weekend triumph over Chicago.

5. Montreal Impact – These are the games that make us call Montreal a legitimate MLS Cup contender, a 4-2 win over 10-man New England. Yes, the Revs were short-handed for 85 minutes, but any two-goal win on the road has some merit. Marco Di Vaio scored twice to regain his league leadership, now with 17 goals.

4. Colorado Rapids – In fairness, the LA Galaxy was missing all three DPs. Still, Oscar Pareja’s young team got the job done, a 1-0 win in Southern California that was a sure shape-shifter in the tight MLS West playoff positioning jostle. Edson Buddle (pictured above) had the game-winner against his old team.

3. LA Galaxy – The youngsters just couldn’t get it done as a side missing Landon Donovan, Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez fell to Colorado, 1-0, at the StubHub Center. All three should be available to join the team in the nation’s capital, where big road points are there to be had in Round 29 against the league’s doormat, D.C. United.

2. Sporting Kansas City –  Benny Feilhaber ran the midfield show once again as Sporting KC made easy work of the Columbus Crew. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi return soon to Sporting Park as the schedule sets up favorably for Peter Vermes’ team through the remainder of September.

1. Real Salt Lake – Jason Kreis’ team had a week off before three Western Conference matches that will define how far this balanced team of young and experienced can go in 2013: matches at Seattle and Vancouver, and a home contest against San Jose (as September comes and goes with just three MLS contests).

Seven unheralded stars of this Premier League season

during the Barclays Premier League match between A.F.C. Bournemouth and Tottenham Hotspur at Vitality Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Bournemouth, England.
Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images
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Look, it’s been a crazy year in the Premier League. Leicester City is top by five points, Chelsea is a bottom-half side, and not one of the league’s top three scorers hails from a team in last season’s Top Four.

So it follows that among the league’s other statistical leaders — advanced and traditional — are some surprisingly shining stars.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Or at least they aren’t mentioned a ton. We plan to rectify that here. By no means do we claim these statistical leaders without fault this season, but hats off to the good they’ve done (or, in some cases, the pain they’ve felt).

Most saves in a starring role

You wouldn’t know it from the goal totals these past few weeks, but Stoke City’s Jack Butland has been playing otherworldly between the sticks. His 87 saves lead the Premier League, and the Potters would be in the thick of a relegation battle if he hadn’t shone as brightly.

Ironman

Eleven players have played every minute of their side’s Premier League campaign this season (a 12th, Gareth Barry, has played all but one). Four of those 11 are goalkeepers, and six more are defenders. The only midfielder? Bournemouth’s South African standout Andrew Surman (above).

Top thief, too

Surman is also the league leader in interceptions with 92. The next seven players on the list, headed by Chris Smalling, are all defenders.

The most under-appreciated of the underdogs

Kante (Mark Thompson / Getty Images)

Leicester City has been fantastic, and people are quick to name Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy as big parts of the table-topping effort at King Power Stadium. Then, perhaps they’ll say something about goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel or defender Wes Morgan.

But how about the Premier League’s leader in tackles. Midfielder N'Golo Kante (right) has 115 tackles, 12 more than second-best Yohan Cabaye of Crystal Palace.

An all-expense paid journey to the massage parlor for…

Five players have been fouled more than 50 times this year, and you need to be around the ball a lot for that to happen. The four also-rans are Southampton’s Sadio Mane, Swansea City’s Andre Ayew, Everton’s Ross Barkley and Mahrez, but the man who deserved to skip to the head of the ice bath line is from Crystal Palace: Wilfried Zaha has been fouled 59 times. And that’s the amount of times the foulers were caught in the act.

Let Newcastle United’s captain climb in second, though; Fabricio Coloccini‘s 47 blocked shots are eight more than runners-up Neil Taylor (Swans) and Christian Fuchs (Leicester).

A man possessed

He hasn’t been heralded like a year ago, and most witnesses would tell you the midfielder’s been playing much worse. No, touches don’t equal success, but Cesc Fabregas‘ 2,027 credited touches are 74 more than the next player despite the fact that he’s the only player in the top four to have started less than 25 matches. He’s also completed 83 more passes than the closest competitor (Surman).

All-around stars

Advanced stats site Squawka uses an algorithm to generate statistics on who just might be the most complete player in the Premier League.

It’s certainly not foolproof, but the best player per-90 minutes would likely surprise you: Mousa Dembele of Spurs (Minimum 15 matches).

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As for who’s produced the most when numbers are averaged out over the entire game, one man rises to the top: Ross Barkley.

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Oft-targeted in the Premier League, Carvalho extends deal at Lisbon

Christian Hofer / Getty Images Sport
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William Carvalho has been running through the rumor mill for ages, and Sporting Lisbon has made sure they’ll get their due if he ever stops somewhere else.

The Angola-born Portuguese defensive midfielder with 15 caps has extended his contract with Sporting through 2020, a date that carries him through his 28th birthday.

[ MORE: West Ham 3-2 Liverpool | Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

Carvalho is 23 now, and has been linked with loads of big name clubs from Manchester United to Chelsea, Arsenal to PSG.

His new buyout clause is said to be as high as $53 million, and Carvalho hopes his commitment calms his supporters.

“Sportinguistas, I say to you that I am very happy with the deal which I signed up to 2020 and that you will have total effort on my part to be champions.”

Sporting is tied with Benfica atop the Portuguese table, second on goal differential. The club leads third-place Porto by six points, and is still alive in the Europa League. Bayer Leverkusen is up next.

Klinsmann hints at Euro-heavy roster for World Cup qualifiers

FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Danny Williams #14 of the United States looks on before an international friendly against Brazil at Gillette Stadium on September 8, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
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If your favorite Major League Soccer players don’t make the cut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s next roster, don’t think you won’t see them in the red, white and blue this summer.

[ JPW: What’s the best XI for USMNT’s World Cup qualifiers? ]

Perhaps it’ll be different for the players who were a part of January camp — stars Lee Nguyen and Steve Birnbaum chief among them — but Klinsmann says the late start of the MLS season can affect fitness for the critical qualifiers home and away to Guatemala.

That means there’s a better chance to see in-form Championship midfielder Danny Williams (above) or Pachuca’s Omar Gonzalez then, say, Orlando City’s Brek Shea or Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.

From USSoccer.com:

“We are basically looking all over the place. We monitor all the players in Europe. We monitor all the players in Mexico, and obviously we can’t wait until MLS starts as well. It’s really kind of crucial that we see everybody getting in the best shape possible, everybody getting into a rhythm and making statements.

“Then you say, ‘Is the roster you see at the end of March the same one as Copa America?’ Probably not. The end of March comes early for MLS players. The European players are in the full swing, and also Mexican players because they started already a month ago with Liga MX. So we’ll be monitoring everyone.”

We’ve already covered the obstacle that is the CONCACAF-CONMEBOL Olympic qualifying playoff occurring at the same time as the Guatemala matches, but this is still good news for players in England, Germany and other European locales seeking caps in March.

Klopp on struggling Benteke: “He wants to score and we need him to score”

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Christian Benteke of Liverpool reacts as he foiled by goalkeeper Darren Randolph of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Jurgen Klopp had his appendix removed this weekend, but it’s doubtful he’s feeling as sore as his big Belgian striker.

Christian Benteke had the opportunity to put himself in the good graces of Liverpool fans with a number of decent chances in Tuesday’s FA Cup loss to West Ham, but couldn’t get the job done.

[ MORE: Match recap | Watch Coutinho’s slick free kick ]

In one case, Benteke put himself in a prime spot only to lash his shot wide of the post. Instead, he’s now at 11 appearances without a goal (despite ripping nine shots against the Irons).

From the BBC:

“I don’t believe in the easy goal. He has to carry on like this. It’s not the nicest moment in his career but he has to work hard. He wants to score and we need him to score. We will work on it in the days, weeks and months.”

Klopp maintained that Liverpool was “the better team” on the night — counterpart Slaven Bilic disagreed — despite conceding a pair of very similar looking goals.

The game could’ve avoided extra time through Benteke’s boots and body, but he couldn’t find his finish again.

The 25-year-old has seen his goal production drop by nearly half since joining from Aston Villa in the summer, and it’s sure to return… just maybe not under Klopp.