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).

Watch Live: Southampton vs. Tottenham Hotspur

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Hugo Lloris and Christian Eriksen miss out as sickness-hit Tottenham Hotspur visits struggling Southampton at St. Mary’s on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com)

WATCH LIVE ONLINE

That opens up spots in the lineup for Michel Vorm and Moussa Sissoko, as Spurs aim to go level on points with fourth-place Liverpool.

Saints dipped into the drop zone when Stoke City won on Saturday, but will sit 14th if they can spring a home win over Spurs.

Mauricio Pellegrino is giving Mario Lemina and Manolo Gabbiadini, as well as in-form James Ward-Prowse, the starters’ chance to stop the rot. Southampton is winless in 10 league matches, but has drawn three of the last five.

LINEUPS

Southampton: McCarthy, Cedric, Stephens, Hoedt, Bertrand, Lemina, Romeu, Ward-Prowse, Tadic, Hojbjerg, Gabbiadini. Subs: Forster, Pied, Bednarek, Davis, Boufal, Redmond, Obafemi.

Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm, Aurier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies, Dier, Dembele, Sissoko, Dele, Son, Kane. Subs: Gazzaniga, Foyth, Trippier, Walker-Peters, Wanyama, Lamela, Llorente.

Making sense of the Silva firing: Should’ve let him walk?

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Watford fired manager Marco Silva on Sunday, blaming Everton’s recruitment of the Portuguese boss for his failure, and it seems his replacement has already been identified as Javi Gracia.

I mean, holy smoke: So much for “easy like Sunday morning.”

The Hornets have been poor for some time, and their drop from chasing an unlikely European position to a spot on the fringes of the relegation race does stretch back to time Everton was repeatedly asking to hire Silva.

Funny thing: Perhaps letting him walk would’ve been the right decision.

What Silva did in the first quarter of this season and his lauded attempt to save Hull City last season may recall his overachievement at Estoril in Portugal, but the 40-year-old worked wonders at league powers Sporting CP and Olympiacos.

In the case of the latter, Silva led Thrylos to an absurd record of 38W-3D-7L before quitting after one season.

There’s another piece of the puzzle to consider, too: Watford under owner Gino Pozzo has been quick to change manager, which is a sign the club values — to quote longtime Buffalo basketball coach Reggie Witherspoon — “Jims and Joes more than x’s and o’s.”

As Sam Allardyce, the man who was hired by Everton, has joined Ronald Koeman as bosses unable to get the Toffees’ talented roster humming, it’s worth asking whether both Watford and Everton would’ve been better off had the Silva “transfer” went down at Goodison Park.

Watford has eight losses in 11 matches, handing three points to a variety of teams who’ve struggled to find wins this season: Swansea City, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Huddersfield Town. The Hornets have also drawn Southampton.

Everton under both Koeman and Allardyce has done the opposite: the Toffees have too much talent to religiously fail against the lower clubs. This season, which also saw a short run for caretaker boss David Unsworth, their wins are over Stoke City, Bournemouth, Watford, West Ham, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle and Swansea.

The Toffees big slump has seen a pair of draws with woeful West Bromwich Albion and a loss at Bournemouth.

Which brings us back to Watford under Silva. Despite its long slump, the club is performing in a way more suited for Everton’s talent than the Hornets’ bunch (which certainly isn’t poor). Consider:

Consider that Watford has 49.5 percent possession on the season, behind only Man City, Arsenal, Spurs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Southampton (Everton has 46.4 and that number has regressed under Allardyce).

Also, Watford is ahead of Everton in pass completion percentage, shots per game, goals, shots allowed per game, and dribbles per game.

All this with the Toffees getting some of the finest goalkeeper performances in the league from Jordan Pickford. His 81 saves are second to Lukasz Fabianski and his seven in the six-yard box are joint-top with Mat Ryan.

So, yeah, Everton probably had the right idea in trying to get Silva, who was obviously interested in the job. The Toffees’ buys of Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott are only going to up the ante at Goodison Park, and Allardyce does not have the record of getting talent to reach its potential (at least not in a decade).

Everton’s top performers this year according to advanced stats sites WhoScored and Squawka are ranked 82nd in the Premier League (Mason Holgate) and 103rd in the league (Ashley Williams), respectively.

All this goes to not just say that Silva has done a decent job at Watford, but beg why they’ve decided to fire the boss midway through a transfer window. And considering the Hornets would’ve received compensation of some sort for the move, it’s even more of a head scratcher

Multiple reports: Watford set to hire Gracia as manager

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Watford looks set to appoint Javi Gracia to its managerial position, hours after firing Marco Silva and blaming Everton for the manager.

[ MORE: Watford fires Silva, blames Everton ]

Gracia led Malaga to eighth and ninth place finishes in La Liga between 2014-16 before spending last season at Rubin Kazan.

Gracia, 47, has led promotion campaigns in Spain and has plenty of experience with perceived smaller clubs battling the drop zone.

Watford will hope the Hornets don’t reach that point, still five points clear of the drop after flirting with the Top Seven for the first quarter of the Premier League season.

Latest: Sunday medicals for Mkhitaryan, Sanchez

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan has agreed to join Arsenal from Manchester United, clearing the path for Alexis Sanchez to join the Old Trafford set.

[ MORE: 2 Robbies on the deal ]

The BBC is reporting that both players will undergo medicals at their proposed new clubs on Sunday ahead of a straight swap deal.

Sanchez, 29, has scored 80 goals for Arsenal since arriving before the 2014-15 campaign, including 30 last season.

Mkhitaryan turns 30 this summer, and has struggled at Manchester United since posting five assists in his first three matches of the season.

[ MORE: Watford sacks Silva ]

He was, however, a combination of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, scoring 23 goals with 32 assists.

This could be win-win, as Mkhitaryan at his best is a like-for-like replacement for Mesut Ozil should the German leave in the summer and Sanchez is a more proven PL commodity (though his attitude should be a major question for the United room).