ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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19. D.C. United – A 2-2 draw at home against Los Angeles qualifies as a good result for Ben Olsen’s team this year. Chris Pontius scored his second goal of 2013.

18. Toronto FC – The Reds gave New York a real tussle before a late goal put the game out of reach at Red Bull Arena.

17. Columbus – Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro hooked up for a wonderful, late goal in a win at Montreal. There is still a mighty hill to climb, but three big points on the road (and what a really big upset, it was) means the team can keep dreaming about post-season soccer a while longer.

16. Chivas USA – Late-season scoring sensation Erick “Cubo” Torres had a penalty appeal denied in a 1-1 draw with Portland. If the Goats get that call (it was pretty iffy, truth be told), who knows where the result might have fallen?

15. Vancouver Whitecaps – Great to see Jay DeMerit (pictured) back on the field; MLS is a better place with more consummate professionals like him around. Unfortunately, his Whitecaps could do no better than a scoreless draw at San Jose and remain in seventh place, two spots out of the playoffs.

14. FC Dallas – But for some sloppy finishing, Schellas Hyndman’s team could have picked up three huge points on the road against Colorado. French midfielder Peter Luccin, injured in preseason, has been activated and could help add bounce to the team’s fading playoff aspirations.

13. Chicago Fire – A road draw at Toronto and a late win at home against New England keeps Chicago’s clock ticking in the playoff race. Mike Magee struck No. 16 for the year, but remains two goals behind Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio for league leadership.

12. New England Revolution – The Revs were hard done when a 50th minute goal from Saer Sene that was ruled offside. It would have given visiting New England a 3-1 lead over Chicago; instead, the home team came back to win over the Revolution, 3-2. Kelyn Rowe has seven goals and seven assists in an increasingly outstanding second professional season.

11. Philadelphia Union – John Hackworth’s team has forgotten how to score, now with just one goal in five games. They have fallen from second place a few weeks ago to sixth in the East, one spot out of the playoffs.

(MORE: MLS Round 29 week in review)

10. Houston Dynamo – After last week’s awful, three-goal loss at home, a 1-0 victory on the road (in a real grind of a game from both sides) was exactly what Dominic Kinnear’s team needed to jump start its playoff bid.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – The ‘Quakes took 22 shots against visiting Vancouver but did no better than a scoreless draw – one that seriously damages San Jose’s dimming playoff hopes. It was the first time San Jose has failed to win at home since May, although the team remains unbeaten at home in its last 14 contests.

8. Portland Timbers – What Timbers manager Caleb Porter told MLSSoccer.com after his team’s 1-1 draw at last place Chivas USA: “We didn’t show up with enough hunger, urgency, had a bit of casualness in our play with a few individuals, and that can’t happen.” They had better locate that lost urgency soon; they are only two points from dropping out of a playoff spot.

7. Montreal Impact – Giving up soft goals will be this team’s undoing in the playoffs if they can’t get the back line sorted out. Saturday’s loss at home to Columbus does serious damage to the teams hopes of finishing atop the East. Marco Di Vaio, now with 18 goals, retained his league leadership.

source:  6. New York Red Bulls – Fabian Espindola (pictured left) scored off the bench in a less-than-convincing win over Toronto. That’s a pretty handy card to play for manager Mike Petke going forward, especially as “Espy” just wasn’t working previously as a starter. Oh, and Thierry Henry’s “Waiting for the bus” celebration was pretty cool.

5. Colorado Rapids –  A big performance from recently signed Uruguayan midfielder Vicente Sanchez guided an important 2-1 Western Conference win over Dallas. Afterward, Sanchez had some nice words about hoping to bring a little joy to a region troubled by significant flooding.

4. LA Galaxy – The Galaxy gave up two bad goals to D.C. United in a 2-2 draw. A.J. DeLaGarza’s elbow injury may keep him out for a while, but Landon Donovan’s ankle injury does not appear serious. That’s good news as L.A. heads into a busy week, with Metapán up in midweek in CONCACAF Champions League play and league-leading Seattle inbound for the StubHub Center over the weekend.

3. Real Salt Lake – RSL just didn’t match Seattle’s intensity as the team from Utah lost 2-0 before more than 55,000. If not for Nick Rimando, coming back off national team duty to have a big match, the score could have been worse.

2. Seattle Sounders – The Sounders had been ticking off the points lately, although not in the most impressive, dominating ways. Well, that changed with a commanding 2-0 win Friday over visiting Real Salt Lake. With it, Seattle now looks like the Supporters Shield favorites. Obafemi Martins (one goal, one assist Friday) reminded everyone that Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey aren’t the only scorers worth watching around CenturyLink.

1. Sporting Kansas City – The club should be well rested after a weekend off and can take a big step toward CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a win Tuesday over Real Esteli. After that comes a trip into Toronto.

Off to slow start, Morris, Seattle know “things can change quickly”

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Both Jordan Morris and the Seattle Sounders are off to a rough start in defense of their MLS Cup title last Fall, and the USMNT’s star striker admits to recalling last season’s wild turnaround as an inspiration.

“After the game last week we mentioned that we have a lot of the nucleus from last year and we all know that things can change quickly,” Morris said to ProSoccerTalk this week.

Seattle won just seven games before Matchday 22 last season, rebounding with a burst after coach Sigi Schmid was replaced by assistant Brian Schmetzer. The Sounders went 8-2-2 down the stretch en route to an MLS Cup win over Toronto FC.

While he hasn’t scored in five matches and only has two markers in 12 games, he feels success is coming for the 3W-5L-4T Sounders. Morris said the club knows the results aren’t there, but also that they are producing chances.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

“It’s been okay,” Morris said. “Definitely not the start I would’ve wanted. It’s not an excuse but we’ve hit a lot of posts and had other near misses.”

Seattle has a huge opportunity to flip the script on its season when Cascadia Cup rivals Portland visit on Saturday. The free-scoring Timbers are dangerous in attack, but have been opened up 20 times this season. Only two teams have conceded more goals than Portland (which has played the most matches in the league, it must be said).

And it may or may not surprise fans that Morris’ focus has been one of his strengths: the final product.

“I’m working on the final third, whether it’s shooting or finding the open guy,” Morris said. “It’s a big deal for us to finish our chances. Scoring or the final pass in that final third.”

Despite his relatively cold start, it would be surprising if Bruce Arena didn’t tab Morris in his crop for next month’s World Cup qualifiers. The 22-year-old also seems relatively certain to be a part of the Gold Cup plans.

“I’m excited and hopefully I get called up,” he said. “These World Cup qualifiers are obviously a very big deal and Bruce has done a really good job of getting us on the same page.”

Morris is also participating in a unique promotional activity with Delta Air Lines for Sounders fans, as he and Cristian Roldan are among Seattle teams picking fans for “positions” in a Fan XI. Once assembled, they’ll travel to L.A. for a Sounders road match and even sign one-day contracts. Morris was happy to get on board with it.

“It’s for our fans, who are amazing,” he said. “Delta’s idea to make a Fan XI gives the fansa chance to have the behind the scenes experience of being part of a team put together by having different skills. We love rewarding our fans.”

Day Seven: All the action from the U20 World Cup (video)

Kim In-chul/Yonhap via AP
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Mexico has automatically qualified for the knockout rounds of the U-20 World Cup despite falling to Venezuela.

[ MORE: U-20 World Cup latest

Germany dropped below Mexico in goal differential after allowing a 3-0 lead to sink to one, though El Tri still likely would’ve advanced to the next phase despite Germany’s result.

Mexico 0-1 Venezuela

Caracas 19-year-old striker Sergio Cordova scored for the third-straight match in what is sure to make him a hot summer commodity as Venezuela clinched Group B with a perfect 3-0 record.

Germany 3-2 Vanuatu

Vanuatu’s potential name of the tournament Bong Kalo scored twice in the second half to sink Germany below Mexico on goal difference.

Guinea 0-5 Argentina

A brace from Lautaro Martínez gives Argentina hope of the knockout rounds with a third-place finish.

England 1-0 South Korea

Everton’s Kieran Dowell scored the lone goal of the match to give England the Group A crown.

Zabaleta staying in Premier League with West Ham move

@WHUFC
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A week after bidding Manchester City an emotional goodbye, Pablo Zabaleta has announced he’ll be staying in England.

The 32-year-old right back is moving to London, where he’ll join West Ham United on a two-year deal beginning July 1.

[ MORE: Three key battles in FA Cup Final ]

The San Lorenzo youth product went to Espanyol in 2005 to begin his European adventure, joining Man City in 2008. He won two PL titles, two League Cups, and an FA Cup, and was named the club’s player of the season in 2012-13.

From WHUFC.com:

“Manchester City gave me the opportunity to come to this wonderful league, the Premier League, something I’ve been enjoying a lot as a player and of course for me it was probably the right time to move on.

“Also, as a player, I thought I wanted to keep playing in the Premier League. For me, after being in this country for so long, this is a new challenge for me in the Premier League and I’m ready for it and looking forward to it.”

Maybe he just wanted 3G.

Young Sam Byram can learn plenty from Zabaleta, and the signing means that star right-sided man Michail Antonio likely won’t have to be wasted at right back in emergency situations. Good risk by the Hammers.

Valencia extends Man Utd deal to great Mourinho praise

Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his Antonio Valencia appreciation, and the Manchester United manager has rewarded his fullback with a new deal.

Valencia is nine appearances away from 300 in a Manchester United kit, with 22 goals and 61 assists as a Red Devil.

[ MORE: Monaco star’s Man City medical ]

Valencia said United has “been my life” since arriving from Wigan Athletic in 2009, while Mourinho heaped praise on the Ecuadorian captain’s character with glowing praise.

“It is no secret that I had been an admirer of Antonio’s long before I joined the club. I knew what a fantastic player he was and he has not disappointed me on that front. However, what I could never have imagined was what a great person he is. I know I have said this before but I truly believe it is a real privilege for us to have such a good player and such a good man. I am delighted he has extended his contract.”

Only Ander Herrera and Eric Bailly recorded better tackle rates at Old Trafford last season, and Valencia was credited with a team-best 1.5 crosses per game.