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).

MLS Power Rankings — Week 3: Gap developing at the top

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We’re just three weeks in, and while there’s still obviously gobs of time for teams to right the ship, we are also seeing who’s for real at the top of the table, and while the table doesn’t always show it, we’re starting to learn more and more about each team that picks up the points.

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Atlanta continues to win, still yet to lose in MLS play three matches into its inaugural season, and Portland bounced back to prove they’re still in control. At about the 7-8 mark there looks to be a clear gap developing. Can anyone buck the trend moving forward? Your updated power rankings:


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

 

22 (19)

21 (22)

20 (21)

DC United: Six goals conceded, none scored in their last two. Not much else needs to be said.

Minnesota United: Their very first MLS point was an important one, holding on down a man. Still a very long way to go.

New England Revolution: More of the same for New England who admittedly had a tall task against FC Dallas but couldn’t hold on.

19 (20) Columbus Crew: Could this week be the one that starts the climb? Six shots on target out of seven total, that’s efficient. Still need a result against a better team to back it up.
18 (18) Real Salt Lake: No Glad, No Plata, down a man, still almost pulled it out. Still, the defending was poor at times a man down and Beckerman knows better. Need to start picking up points.
17 (16) Philadelphia Union: 14 shots, just two on target. That’s the type of day it was in Orlando. Just a point from three is worrying.
16 (12) Chicago Fire: Ouch. It’s hard to take much of anything from a big loss to a smoking hot team playing 79 minutes with 10 men. Still…that one will hurt.
15 (17) Montreal Impact: They held firm against a good NYCFC attack, and actually did the coming back for once.
14 (14) Vancouver Whitecaps: In a vacuum, no shame in losing to Tigres or Toronto, but now they’ve got a bit of poor form with the Galaxy coming to town and then the CCL second leg. Will want to avoid a string of bad results.
13 (15) LA Galaxy: All road wins are good wins. That said, beating a weakened RSL by a goal after playing a man down the entire second half is not exactly convincing. They were second best until Beckerman went off and managed just 4 shots on target.
12 (13)
Sporting Kansas City: Have conceded just one goal. They have a plan, and it’s working so far. Just need to figure it out on the other end.
11 (5) Colorado Rapids: Give the Loons credit, but a draw against 10-man Minnesota is not a good look. The defending has been poor.
10 (7) San Jose Earthquakes: Bit tough to figure out this San Jose team early on, but with Godoy held in check, they were outshot 15-5 by KC.
9 (6) Houston Dynamo: Caught Portland at a bad time. This is still a good team, but maybe with some soul-searching to do after a big loss.
9 (10)
Orlando City: An extra week of rest helped Orlando and Cyle Larin did Cyle Larin things. Six possible points, six taken. Still need to prove themselves on the road after last season.
7 (9) Seattle Sounders: Just like Portland, Seattle got back to what it does best, and that involved Dempsey and Morris scoring. The attack looked dangerous
6 (4) New York City FC: Montreal hacked NYCFC to death and it worked. They’re still a good team, but will have to figure out how to win ugly too.
5 (8) Toronto FC: A very solid bounce-back win without Giovinco, who will be back after the break. The rough start appears to be more of a blip.
4 (3) New York Red Bulls: The ugly wins finally came back to haunt them. Hard to take much from a cross-country road trip, but they fell short in a tough test.
3 (11) Atlanta United: You betcha. This team’s for real. Well, they certainly appear to be with Josef Martinez on fire, but now he’s injured. Now what?
2 (2) FC Dallas: A win over New England continued FC Dallas’s hot start. It’s mind-boggling how little attention Max Urruti gets.
1 (1) Portland Timbers: That’s more like it. The scary Portland attack bounced back by putting four goals past 2-0-0 Houston.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez injured on international duty

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Atlanta United is sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings three weeks into its inaugural Major League Soccer season, and the bite appears to be every bit as fearsome as the bark for the newcomers.

Now, the club must contend with its first bit of truly scary news.

In-form striker Josef Martinez was injured on international duty with Venezuela and is heading back to the United States for evaluation. The report says he tweaked his left thigh, and after the match head coach Rafael Dudamel said he would release Martinez back to Atlanta, saying, “I do not think it’s good for Josef to travel. This muscle tightness can take 10 days of recovery.”

Martinez was subbed off of Venezuela’s match with Peru in the 59th minute, replaced by Yangel Herrera and walking off under his own power. Venezuela drew the match 2-2, blowing a 2-goal halftime lead and leaving them bottom of the table, 14 points back of the intercontinental playoff spot.

Obviously that 10-day recovery is more ideal than any other long-term prognosis, but it would still see him miss a road visit to Seattle next Friday. The 23-year-old has a whopping five games in his first three MLS games with Atlanta and has been a force. Brandon Vazquez and Bryan Rochez are the two options currently on Atlanta’s roster to replace the Venezuelan in the lineup.

Martinez was signed on loan from Serie A side Torino, but the move was made permanent last week.

Kevin de Bruyne questionable for injury-laden Belgium

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Belgium, already without superstar Eden Hazard for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Greece, will now be without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up an injury in training on Friday and will miss both the match against Greece and the subsequent friendly against Russia three days later…maybe.

The Belgian National Team official Twitter account sent out a quote from manager Roberto Martinez that confirmed De Bruyne would miss the pair of matches, but the tweet was quickly deleted.

Instead, this one was pushed out in its place, correcting his availability and also updating the type of injury:

Should De Bruyne miss out, it means Belgium would likely rely heavily on Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas for the playmaking duties, with midfielder Radja Nainggolan potentially taking on a more attacking role as well.

Belgium and Martinez also confirmed that right-back Thomas Meunier will miss out after failing to recover from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini‘s status is unknown after he was held out of Thursday’s training session.

The injury also leaves De Bruyne’s status for Manchester City up in the air, with a pair of massive games in London in quick succession after the injury break. City visits Arsenal next Sunday, followed by a hop over to Stanford Bridge on Wednesday.

Landon Donovan retires again, this time for good

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After coming out of retirement last fall to join the LA Galaxy for one more shot at an MLS Cup, Landon Donovan has once again called time on his career, saying he’s certain he will not play again.

With a number of other ventures on his plate, the USMNT all-time leading scorer is looking forward to spending his time elsewhere.

“Yeah, I’m done,” Donovan said. “I’m done. No more playing for me. I have not [gone public with it yet]. But that is definitely the case.”

Donovan scored one goal in nine games for the LA Galaxy in his comeback bid, with the club ravaged by injuries and still gunning for the Cup. However, after the season was over with a loss to Colorado in the Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy confirmed it was nothing more than a short-term stopgap.

“With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing,”team president Chris Klein said to the L.A. Times in December. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and we see we’re comfortable in the direction that we’re headed.”

In January, reports claimed Real Salt Lake had offered Donovan a Designated Player contract, but it appears he’s turned it down, and will now have time to concentrate on his other ventures. Off the field, Donovan is an analyst on Fox’s soccer coverage, is on the advisory committee for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid, and has joined the ownership group attempting to bring an expansion MLS team to San Diego.