World Cup squads ranked 32-1 by PST staff; Who wins it? How’d US do?

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The ProSoccerTalk staff has weighed in on the 2014 World Cup’s 32 participating nations. Each writer was asked to submit their 1-32 rankings, and each vote counted toward the final list. The lowest combined score would be our number 1.

Following our rankings, you’ll see our group of death, “easiest” group, most surprising ouster and “highest” advancement. You’ll also be able to see how the tournament plays out from the Group Stages to the final.

It’s a good tournament to be a CONMEBOL squad, and a rough time to be from CONCACAF. Without further ado, let’s get to the rankings.

source: AP32. Iran (152 points)
Highest vote: 32 (three)
Lowest vote: 27

T-30. Australia (151 points)
Highest vote: 32
Lowest vote: 28

T-30. Algeria (151 points)
Highest vote: 32
Lowest vote: 27

29. Honduras (133 points)
Highest vote: 30
Lowest vote: 18

28. Cameroon (131 points)
Highest vote: 29
Lowest vote: 22

T-26. South Korea (130 points)
Highest vote: 30
Lowest vote: 22

T-26. Costa Rica (130 points)
Highest vote: 31
Lowest vote: 16

25. Mexico (121 points)
Highest vote: 28
Lowest vote: 19

source:

24. Nigeria (116 points)
Highest vote: 27
Lowest vote: 20

23. Ecuador (114 points)
Highest vote: 26
Lowest vote: 20

22. Greece (112 points)
Highest vote: 25
Lowest vote: 20

21. Ghana (103 points)
Highest vote: 28
Lowest vote: 11

20. Japan (97 points)
Highest vote: 24
Lowest vote: 13

19. Bosnia and Herzegovina (94 points)
Highest vote: 25
Lowest vote: 13

18. Switzerland (92 points)
Highest vote: 20
Lowest vote: 17

17. Croatia (85 points)
Highest vote: 23
Lowest vote: 11

source: Reuters

16. England (80 points)
Highest vote: 24
Lowest vote: 9

15. United States (78 points)
Highest vote: 19
Lowest vote: 10

T-13. Russia (69 points)
Highest vote: 16
Lowest vote: 12

T-13. Ivory Coast (69 points)
Highest vote: 23
Lowest vote: 6

12. Netherlands (63 points)
Highest vote: 20
Lowest vote: 7

11. Colombia (59 points)
Highest vote: 17
Lowest vote: 8

10. Portugal (56 points)
Highest vote: 18
Lowest vote: 5

9. Chile (50 points)
Highest vote: 15
Lowest vote: 5

source: Getty Images8. France (46 points)
Highest vote: 11
Lowest vote: 6

7. Belgium (37 points)
Highest vote: 11
Lowest vote: 5

6. Uruguay (34 points)
Highest vote: 8
Lowest vote: 4

5. Italy (28 points)
Highest vote: 11
Lowest vote: 2

4. Argentina (21 points)
Highest vote: 8
Lowest vote: 2

3. Spain (17 points, one No. 1  vote)
Highest vote: 7
Lowest vote: 1

2. Germany (16 points)
Highest vote: 4
Lowest vote: 2

1. Brazil (6 points, four No. 1 votes)
Highest vote: 2
Lowest vote: 1

Following our points guide, how would our tournament play out?

Group of death: Group G (Germany, Portugal, United States, Ghana)
Easiest group: Group H (Belgium, Algeria, Russia, South Korea)
Lowest seed eliminated in group stage: Netherlands (12)
Highest seed to advance to Round of 16: Bosnia and Herzegovina (19)

source: Getty ImagesRound of 16:
Brazil (A1) def. Chile (B2)
Uruguay (D2) def. Colombia (C1)
France (E1) def. Bosnia and Herzegovina (F2)
Germany (G1) def. Russia (H2)
Spain (B1) def. Croatia (A2)
Italy (D1) def. Ivory Coast (C2)
Argentina (F1) def. Switzerland (E2)
Belgium (H1) def. Portugal (G2)

Quarterfinals:
Spain (B1) def. Italy (D1)
Argentina (F1) def. Belgium (H1)
Brazil (A1) def. Uruguay (D2)
Germany (G1) def. France (E1)

Semifinals:
Brazil (A1) def. Germany (G1)
Spain (B1) def. Argentina (F1)

Final:
Brazil (A1) def. Spain (B1)

Report: USMNT interim manager to be named this weekend

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What’s next for the U.S. Men’s National Team?

[ MORE: Landon Donovan considering running for U.S. Soccer presidency ]

The first of many dominos may fall this weekend, according to ESPN FC.

The report states that the USMNT is likely to name its interim manager “some time this weekend,” however, U.S. Under-20 manager Tab Ramos likely won’t be the one named.

Ramos is reportedly seeking a full-time position as the USMNT boss, and the interim tag could be a turn off for the 51-year-old former national team midfielder.

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati had stated following former U.S. manager Bruce Arena’s departure that he expected to make a decision in “seven to 10 days.” A decision this weekend would stick with Gulati’s original intentions.

The Americans will reconvene next month when they take on Portugal on Nov. 14 in an international friendly in Leiria.

[ MORE: PST speaks with Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel ]

The match was originally scheduled to be played in Faro, but due to recent devastation in the are the fixture will be played in Leiria and all proceeds will go to the victims of wildfire damage. Portugal will also play a friendly four days prior to taking on the U.S. against Saudi Arabia at the same stadium.

Top 5 Premier League storylines in Week 9

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Manchester City continues to dominate its opposition at the top of the Premier League, but there are plenty of other details to watch for this weekend around England’s top flight.

The 2017/18 PL campaign has seen several of the league’s top sides struggle through eight matches, while surprises Watford and Burnley attempt to stake their claim as legitimate title contenders.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Below, PST takes a look at the top 5 storylines around Week 9 of PL action.

Blues hope to end recent woes against surprise Hornets

Chelsea vs. Watford — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

What’s going on with Chelsea? The Blues nearly gave away all three points against Roma in Wednesday’s Champions League clash. That was after Antonio Conte‘s suffered back-to-back league defeats against Manchester City and bottom side Crystal Palace.

Injuries have certainly played a role in some of the club’s shortcomings recently, but there is still plenty of positive squad talent for Chelsea to pick up its performances. N'Golo Kante‘s absence in the midfield is notable because of his high work rate, but the Blues will have to make due in the mean time without the Frenchman.

Eden Hazard‘s brace against Roma is a good sign though for Chelsea, who will need their most dangerous player to influence the attack in addition to Alvaro Morata’s strong early return since joining from Real Madrid.

Clarets look to spoil City’s perfect start

Manchester City vs. Burnley — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN

The Clarets proved last season that they could be one of the most dangerous home sides in the PL, but 2017 has shown that Sean Dyche‘s men could present a real threat in England’s top flight.

Burnley is unbeaten in seven of its first eight matches, with its lone defeat coming to West Brom. Although that match proved to be a bit of an anomaly given the team’s win over Chelsea on opening day and subsequent results against Tottenham and Liverpool on the road.

The Citizens will present a different threat given the club’s highly-potent attack, but Burnley’s back line has been a revelation thus far by allowing just six goals. That ranks fourth in the PL behind only Man City, Man United and Spurs.

[ MORE: PST ranks the top 20 players in the latest PL power rankings ]

Kane presents challenge for Reds’ defensive unit

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Liverpool — Sunday, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Prior to Wednesday’s 7-0 thrashing of Maribor in the UCL, Liverpool had drawn three straight matches in all competitions. It doesn’t really have to be stated, but Tottenham is not Maribor… they’re a lot better.

In fact, Harry Kane is budding into one of — if not the best — strikers in the world at the moment. The Englishman has already scored 11 goals in as many matches across all competitions, which poses a massive threat to a Reds defense that has struggled mightily.

Liverpool has conceded 12 goals in eight PL matches, which is only one fewer than Watford for the most allowed out of the top 14 sides in England’s top flight. Jurgen Klopp‘s group has surely built something special up front with the likes of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah threatening opposing back lines, but that is all for not if they cannot establish a solid unit defensively.

Can the Toffees stop the bleeding at the Emirates?

Arsenal vs. Everton — Sunday, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN

Two wins in their first eight is far from the expectations that anyone around Everton would have hoped for this season. The departure of Romelu Lukaku was an undoubted blow, but the Toffees have looked in shambles on both sides of the ball through the first eight weeks of play.

Everton is tied for the fourth-most goals conceded thus far in the PL (13), while only managing five finishes up front. Ronald Koeman has a lot of work to do with his side, who sit just two points above the relegation zone. That’s nowhere near the top 6/7, where the club has been accustomed to finishing in recent years.

[ MORE: The biggest surprises, disappointments in UCL so far ]

New-look Hammers head to Old Trafford

Swansea City vs. Leicester City — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET online

It’s still hard to pinpoint Leicester’s problems, but another manager has gone by the wayside and the club is running out of excuses for the team’s poor play. We saw a similar struggle from the Foxes last season, after having had won the PL in 2015/16, but the team just looks less desirable at the moment.

The Foxes currently sit in 18th place through eight matches, this despite still having Jamie Vardy, Riyad Mahrez and Kasper Schmeichel — each of whom are widely-regarded as some of the best players at their position in the PL

For the Swans, goals have been hard to come by through the first weeks of the season. The loss of Gylfi Sigurdsson prior to the new campaign beginning was a massive blow, but the club has still managed eight points thus far.

TFC’s Giovinco says Toronto FC would “avoid relegation” in Serie A

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Toronto FC won’t be leaving Major League Soccer for Serie A any time soon — or probably ever — but wouldn’t it be fun if they had the chance to?

[ MORE: Landon Donovan considering U.S. Soccer presidency run ]

Star striker Sebastian Giovinco brought up the hypothetical in a recent interview, and the former Italian international believes that his current TFC side is good enough to avoid relegation in Italy’s top flight.

“There’s no doubt that [MLS] has improved,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It’s still not on the same level as the elite European leagues, but it all depends on the desire and the effort you put out there. Big names keep arriving and there are a lot of top quality South Americans.

“[If Toronto were in Serie A] we would avoid relegation easily, maybe finishing in mid-table.”

The comments were prompted by the Atomic Ant after Italy manager manager Gian Piero Ventura openly expressed concerns with Giovinco playing in MLS instead of one of Europe’s top leagues. The same could be said about Ventura’s predecessor and current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte.

It’s difficult to equate MLS directly to Serie A, or any other league for that matter, but one thing has been clear throughout Giovinco’s tenure in Toronto. He’s really good.

Giovinco has scored 54 regular season goals for TFC since joining the Canadian side in 2015, while adding 37 assists. Additionally, during last season’s playoff run — which saw Toronto advanced all the way to MLS Cup — Giovinco had four goals and as many assists.

Europa League roundup: Lyon tops Everton, Giroud guides Arsenal

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It was a wild and crazy Thursday full of UEFA Europa League action, and while one Premier League side lucked out, another continued its fall from grace.

Arsenal picked up a 1-0 win over Red Star Belgrade on the road after Olivier Giroud’s 85th-minute overhead kick give the Gunners three points and complete command of Group H.

[ MORE: Dusan Tadic tells his story of his move to Southampton ]

Meanwhile, Everton fell 2-1 to Lyon on the day, as the Toffees remain at the bottom of Group E with one point in three Europa League matches. Toffees defender Ashley Williams was very lucky not to earn himself a straight red card after a terrible challenge on Lyon keeper Anthony Lopes.

The challenge came four minutes prior to Williams netted the equalizer for Everton. However, Bertrand Traore scored the winner for Lyon with a quarter hour remaining in the match.

Elsewhere, Real Sociedad scored six goals en route to a comfortable win over Vardar, while AC Milan had to settle for a scoreless draw against AEK Athens.

Here are all of Thursday’s results from around the Europa League.

Astana 4-0 Maccabi Tel-Aviv
BATE 1-0 Cologne
Hapoel Beer Sheva 1-2 Steaua
Konyaspor 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg
Lugano 3-2 Viktoria
Marseille 2-1 Guimaraes
Nice 1-3 Lazio
Ostersunds FK 2-2 Athletic Bilbao
Red Star Belgrade 0-1 Arsenal
Vardar 0-6 Real Sociedad
Zenit 3-1 Rosenborg
Zorya 2-1 Hertha Berlin
Zulte-Waregem 1-1 Vitesse
AC Milan 0-0 AEK Athens
Atalanta 3-1 Apollon Limassol
Austria Vienna 1-3 Rijeka
Dynamo Kyiv 2-2 Young Boys
Everton 1-2 Lyon
Fastav Zlin 1-1 Copenhagen
SC Braga 0-2 Ludogorets
Sheriff 1-1 Lokomotiv Moscow
Skenderbeu 0-0 Partizan
TSG Hoffenheim 3-1 Istanbul Basaksehir
Villarreal 2-2 Slavia Prague