PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Mid-week adjustment

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Three mid-week games in Major League Soccer have made our Tuesday Power Rankings obsolete, but one day before Los Angeles kicks off the weekend’s slate against Colorado, we have a chance to make some adjustment before the league returns to the field. Here are our PR adjustments, with teams listed in alphabetical:

MORE: Tuesday’s Power Rankings | Methodology

Chivas USA
Tuesday ranking: 19
Wednesday result: 4-2 loss to visiting Seattle

If we were doing North American Power Rankings, Chivas USA would be below Minnesota United and the San Antonio Scorpions, at least. There are at least two NASL teams capable of beating the Goats right now. USL Pro’s Orlando City would merit some consideration, too.

Alas, these are MLS Power Rankings, which makes 19 our boring, lenient floor. Though giving up four goals in Wednesday’s first half to Seattle felt like a new low, there’s nowhere else for this Chivas team to go.

New ranking: 19

New England Revolution
Tuesday ranking: 11
Wednesday result: 3-1 win over visiting Sporting Kansas City

Turn your back for a couple of weeks, and New England’s suddenly good again. The Revs are now four games unbeaten, with their last two results one-sided affairs against playoff clubs.

Unfortunately, “playoff clubs” is the rosiest description you can afford Toronto and Kansas City right now. For different reasons, both teams have fallen apart, and while it’s encouraging to see the Revs back in the win column, flat-pinging opponents can’t be ignored.

New England deserves credit for taking care of business. After all, it’s not like they’re squeaking out wins against these wounded foes. Still, the greater context around these games recommends caution. While the Revolution deserves a bump up the chart, a big move should wait until they catch a team in form.

New ranking: 9

source: AP
Philadelphia Union’s Conor Casey, left, and Toronto FC’s Doneil Henry, right, leap for the header during the second half Wednesday in Chester, Pa. The Union won 1-0. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Philadelphia Union
Tuesday ranking: 7
Wednesday result: 1-0 win over visiting Toronto

Toronto’s form mad a home win obligatory result. That Philadelphia met that obligation wouldn’t normally recommend them for a rise, particularly given the 1-0 final. When you’re near the top third of the rankings, it takes more than holding serve to make up ground.

Philadelphia was coming off a bye week, though, with Tuesday’s ranking reflecting a bit of wait-and-see uncertainty. Now, uncertainty has given way to reference, making it easier to justify a bigger rise.

Thanks in part to Columbus’s loss at Montréal, Philadelphia’s in our top six.

New Ranking: 6

Seattle Sounders
Tuesday ranking: 5
Wednesday result: 4-2 win at Chivas USA

As impressive as Wednesday’s first half was, it told us little about Seattle’s prospects vis-à-vis teams above them in the rankings: Real Salt Lake, D.C. United, FC Dallas, LA Galaxy. As obligatory as Philadelphia’s 1-0 over Toronto may have been, a two-goal victory over Chivas USA may be more so. Chivas just aren’t played at an MLS level, right now.

The result does put Seattle in position to gain ground this weekend. RSL hosting Dallas will make it difficult for the Sounders to pass either, but if DC slips at Vancouver, there may be a chance to move up. Granted, we’ll likely lean on the “Eastern Conference teams on BC Place’s rug” trope, but if United performs worse than the usual fish out of water, Seattle could end the weekend in the top four.

New ranking: 5

Sporting Kansas City
Tuesday ranking: 9
Wednesday result: 3-1 loss at New England

Unfortunately, yesterday’s disappointment was nothing new. We’d seen the problems Sporting was having at the back. We suspected New England, energized by the insertions of Charlie Davies and Kelyn Rowe, would take advantage. Though Sporting has now given up nine goals in their last three games, that form was already cooked into their ninth place ranking. A loss at New England doesn’t change that much.

The new information Wednesday gave us: a measure relative to New England, who Sporting can’t be ranked above, right now. We also saw the champions may be farther from a recovery than previously thought, the hole they’re digging requiring a bigger adjustment. Maybe D.C. United really did “find them out 10 days ago?

If that bears out, even this new, season-low ranking will be too high. After this weekend, Sporting may drop below our mid-table mark.

New ranking: 10

Toronto FC
Tuesday ranking: 17
Wednesday result: 1-0 loss at Philadelphia

One point in four games leave Toronto on the verge of becoming the East’s Colorado – a former Western Conference playoff hopeful who’ve now lost six in a row. Like the Reds, Colorado’s most recent result is a 1-0 loss on the road, but whereas TFC’s defeat came at playoff-contending Philadelphia, the Rapids were playing the Shield-leading Sounders.

That seems to recommend TFC for a place above the Rapids, but too often a pair of games proves inadequate when trying to answer our question: Which team would win in a neutral site game, tomorrow? Between two slumping teams, it may be impossible to tell, but I keep going back to one, fabricated test.

Looking back at Toronto’s four-game slide, I see two games where the team could have prevented its slump (vs. Chicago, vs. New England), while Colorado was an underdog in each of its six losses. While that might tell us much, it does present a possibility: that the Rapids’ slide is about schedule in addition to quality.

New ranking: 18

PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings (post-mid-week results):

1. LA Galaxy
2. FC Dallas
3. D.C. United
4. Real Salt Lake
5. Seattle Sounders
6. Philadelphia Union (+1)
7. Columbus Crew (-1)
8. Portland Timbers
9. New England Revolution (+2)
10. Sporting Kansas City (-1)
11. New York Red Bulls (-1)
12. Houston Dynamo
13. San Jose Earthquakes
14. Vancouver Whitecaps
15. Chicago Fire
16. Montréal Impact
17. Colorado Rapids (+1)
18. Toronto FC (-1)
19. Chivas USA

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

Kevin De Bruyne, Manchester City FC
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Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms

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LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

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Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

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The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.

VIDEO: Gerrard returns to Liverpool for training in MLS offseason

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
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Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

The legendary midfielder, 35, has returned to the Reds just six months after leaving his hometown club for a new adventure in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Gerrard spent a glittering 17-years at Anfield, guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League title and winning every other major title except for the elusive Premier League crown.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

After suffering an early exit from the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs with the Galaxy, Gerrard is now back in England and he’s using his time at home to train with Liverpool’s first-team and help out in any way he can as Jurgen Klopp has allowed him to come back into the dressing room he called home for nearly two decades.

“It’s a good situation,” Klopp said. “Everybody had a smile on their face when they saw Stevie. It’s good to have him here and we hope we can help him, and he can help us for sure with being in the dressing room. It’s cool.”

Below are photos and videos from Gerrard’s return as Klopp once again quashed any rumors regarding a loan move for the former Liverpool skipper who will enter his first full MLS season in 2016 with the Galaxy.

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
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PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

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The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.