PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Week 10

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Leave it to a 12-match week to throw the rankings into chaos. With teams like Columbus and Dallas losing twice and San Jose collecting four points, we not only have a wealth of new information on those teams, but we have new context for the teams’ recent results. As such, every team moves, some dramatically:

  • New England moves up four spots after its win over Seattle, and that might not be enough;
  • San Jose and D.C. United climb five and six spots, respectively, as the middle of the rankings crumble;
  • Dallas, Columbus, and Colorado each fall at least five spots, with weekend results leaving little doubt: Their slumps are probably more than mere blips.

The swings reflect when happened on the field, where we had a nine-goal day, three teams score five goals, and road wins from both Chivas USA and D.C. United. That may not be good for Power Rankings, but it’s more fun for Major League Soccer.

Here’s our view on the league after Week 10:

MORE: Player of the Week | Team of the Week | Week 9 Power Rankings | Methodology

RANKING
Up/Down
source:  1 UP 1 Sporting Kansas City: There wasn’t much to do on Saturday, particularly after Collen Warner was sent off for Montreal. Kansas City put up an impressive result, but good teams are supposed to do that when presented with a man advantage. While the defending champions are deserving number ones, this week’s rise is due to Seattle’s fall. (5-2-2)

2 UP 1 Real Salt Lake: Like Kansas City, Real Salt Lake move up after Seattle’s fall, but with two straight wins, it looks like the reigning Western Conference champions have put their drawing ways behind them. Though their trip to Houston was made easier by Servando Carrasco’s early red card, RSL was already up 2-0 when the Dynamo were reduced to 10. (5-0-5)
source:  3 UP 4 New England Revolution: In the first draft of these rankings, New England was number one. Ultimately, I went back to the list’s golden rule: “Neutral field, tomorrow, who wins?” I still give Kansas City and Salt Lake the slight edge (Sporting was 0-0 in Foxborough while at full strength), but you can’t begrudge the opposite view after Saturday’s rout. (5-3-2)
source:  4 DOWN 3 Seattle Sounders: After two weeks in the top spot, Seattle falls, doing so in a way that may make it difficult to reclaim the top spot. Before being able to say they are the best team in the league, the Sounders have to prove their propensity to collapse is gone. If a change in personnel didn’t solve the problem, what will? (6-3-1)

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5 DOWN 1 LA Galaxy: A strong performance at Portland, even in a draw, isn’t something that causes a team to drop, but thanks to New England’s revolution, the Galaxy slip a spot. (2-2-3)
source:  6 UP 3 Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps finally solved their home-road duality and did so by sticking with their 4-2-3-1. Claiming its first road win of the year, Vancouver continued to show Carl Robinson’s influence, with a dominant performance at Crew Stadium understated by the 1-0 final. (4-2-4)
source:  7 UP 1 New York Red Bulls: After this weekend’s result, the Red Bulls don’t deserve this rise, but fortune was on their side (in so far as fortunate cares about Power Rankings). Two teams above them (Dallas, Columbus) crashed, while teams like Colorado, who could have otherwise passed them, fell flat. Ultimately, even after this weekend’s loss, I still don’t think they’re likely to lose to anybody below them at a neutral site tomorrow. (3-3-5)
source:  8 UP 5 San Jose Earthquakes: A four-point week, seven points in the last four games, and a series of teams falling have San Jose in the top half of this list. That speaks to the close quarters below the top six, but it also reflects the nature of this exercise. San Jose’s record isn’t good, but their recent form is decent. Slightly above average, even. (2-3-4)
source:  9 UP 6 D.C. United: It’s not so much that D.C.’s win was so impressive (it was against Philadelphia, after all); it was what the result told us about D.C.’s continued recovery. That Ben Olsen’s team was able to put the Portland result in the past and resume its score early, hold tight ways speaks volumes. It says the team’s success may be more than a product of momentum or luck. While strength of schedule is still an issue, that’s why D.C. is nine, not five. (4-3-2)
source:  10 DOWN 5 FC Dallas: With six teams playing twice last week, the swings on this chart are more drastic than usual. Dallas’s fall, however, is primarily due to its weekend result. A one-goal loss at Seattle wouldn’t have spurred a drop, but the team’s inability to get a result at San Jose despite playing up a man highlighted their post-Mauro Diaz problems. (5-5-1)
source:  11 DOWN 5 Columbus Crew: Like Dallas, the Crew lost twice last week, with one loss more telling than the other. Losing Wednesday in Houston off a set piece goal? Hey, it happens. Losing to Vancouver at home in a game that could have ended in a blow out? We’ve been disillusioned about the Crew. (3-4-3)
source:  12 DOWN 1 Toronto FC: More time off for Toronto, who fall as teams like San Jose and D.C. United continue to improve. (3-4-0)
source:  13 UP 1 Houston Dynamo: The Sunday result was ugly, but the team was also playing with 10. That they were down 2-0 by the time Carrasco was sent off tempers the positives from the win over Columbus. This team will desperately miss Brad Davis and Boniek Garcia, leaving the team relying no Gilles Barnes and Andrew Driver to create goals. (4-5-2)
source:  14 UP 2 Chicago Fire: Chicago finally broke through, on the road, against a quality team; hence its rise here. The underlying flaws are still there, though. Up 5-2 in the second half, the Fire allowed New York back into the game. Frank Yallop made it a point to reshape the defense in the offseason, but to this point, it’s been the weak spot. (1-2-6)
source:  15 DOWN 3 Portland Timbers: As much possession (and, shots) as LA had on Sunday, Donovan Ricketts wasn’t tested any more often than Jaime Penedo. The Timbers were decent … except for that one, trademark defensive breakdown that cost them. That they needed a whiff from Penedo to get a point means three Eastern Conference teams pass them. (1-3-6)

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16 DOWN 6 Colorado Rapids: San Jose was the better side in Santa Clara on Wednesday, but this weekend’s result is the real reason for the fall. If you lose by two at home to Chivas USA, you make a strong case to be 19. (4-3-3)
source:  17 UP 1 Chivas USA: A 3-1 road victory? That’s cause for a bigger rise. Ultimately, I don’t think they’d beat Colorado if the teams played again tomorrow. Pablo Mastroeni over-rotated his squad, with the weather conditions making the match a weird one. The win was enough to move Chivas USA to the head of this three-team trough. (2-5-3)
source:  18 DOWN 1 Philadelphia Union: It’s becoming far too easy. The Union can barely generate a decent chance, let alone score. If you score once, no need to take chances. No need to push for a second. Just .. wait. (1-5-5)
source:  19 DOWN 1 Montréal Impact: Warner’s early red decided Saturday’s match early, with Montreal finding another way to drop points. Unlike teams like Chicago and Portland, there are no silver linings. There’s no sense of urgency. The Impact are adrift. (1-5-3)

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”

Report: Chelsea planning Hazard, Courtois pay raises

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Eden Hazard has returned to his old self under Antonio Conte this season, and now Chelsea is hoping to lock down their star attacker.

[ MORE: Lukaku says decision has been made on Everton future ]

According to the Mirror, the Premier League leaders are planning on offering up a pay raise to Hazard, who has 11 league goals this season for the Blues.

Hazard signed a nearly $250,000 per week deal two seasons ago, but the Belgium international will likely rake in significantly more under the reported deal as Chelsea hopes to keep the 26-year-old away from Spanish giants Real Madrid and others.

The Mirror is also reporting that goalkeeper and Hazard’s Belgian teammate Thibaut Courtois is likely to be handed a raise is salary as well.

The shot-stopper is set be handed a deal roughly in the range of what Hazard is currently making after allowing just 21 goals in 28 PL matches this season.