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

Leave a comment

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

Five Thirty Eight unveils Top 426 soccer clubs in the world

Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Perspective achieved?

Advanced statistical site Five Thirty Eight has put together a weekly ranking of the top and bottom club teams in the world, and its algorithm gives us a theoretical answer into where Major League Soccer fits into the club soccer landscape.

[ MORE: Julian Green back on transfer market ]

At its very base level, the rankings will give reason to check back all season. Can Manchester United break into the Top Three? Will an MLS side leap into the Top 100? Can the worst American club avoid the bottom slot?

Here’s the list of clubs, and Five Thirty Eight has also gone through the trouble of giving its statistical analysis of who’s best set-up to win leagues and even games.

A note on the methodology:

We’re using recent matches played between teams from different leagues, supplemented with league market values (from Transfermarkt), to assign a strength rating to every league that we’re forecasting. Our new league ratings also give us the ability to a calculate a global Soccer Power Index (SPI) rating for each team — a number from 0 to 100 that represents the overall strength of each team.

The Premier League and La Liga combine for six of the Top Ten teams in the world, with Real Madrid No. 1 and Man City, Manchester United, and Chelsea running Nos. 7, 8, and 9.

Brighton and Hove Albion is the lowest ranked Premier League club, 188th in the world. The only PL sides outside the Top 125 are the three promoted clubs. Swansea is 113th, the lowest (or highest) ranked PL side aside from the new promotions.

Brighton is 17 spots below MLS’ top representative: Toronto FC. The same web site ranked MLS as the 28th best league in the world earlier this month, between Denmark and Croatia.

New York City FC shows up next, at 259, then rivals New York Red Bulls at 267. The bulk of MLS clubs fit between 320 and 422, where Minnesota United brings up the rear. The study ranks 426 teams, with three Scottish clubs running 424-426.

[ MORE: Man City 1-1 Everton | 3 things ]

As for some other odds, Five Thirty Eight gives Manchester United the best odds to win the league at 31 percent, with Man City, Chelsea, and Spurs joining them with the best odds to place in the Top Four.

The average simulated season has United besting rivals City by two points, with 80. Tottenham (72) tops Arsenal (68) for fourth by four points, while No. 6 Liverpool finishes 10 points clear of Merseyside rivals Everton (57 points).

It’s no surprise that the three promoted clubs — Huddersfield Town, Newcastle, and Brighton — are the top bets to be relegated, with Bournemouth, Crystal Palace, and Swansea City the next best bets to find life in the Championship.

Other notes:

— Manchester United is the fourth-best defensive team in the Premier League, behind only Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Juventus.

— Spurs are also in the Top Ten amongst defensive teams, a 8.

— Man City is the best offensive team in the PL, seventh in the world.

— Watford is this week’s highest PL riser, up 22 spots.

— MLS side Chicago Fire suffered the fourth biggest drop in the world this week (40 spots).

Five Thirty Eight is one of the best predictive web sites in the world, and one of the only ones who gave more than an outside shot (though still ranking it a long shot) of the 2016 United States presidential election turning out for the winner of the electoral college. So this is certainly food for thought.

Former Dinamo Zagreb boss injured after shooting

Mario Loncar/FENA via AP
Leave a comment

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) Controversial former Dinamo Zagreb director Zdravko Mamic was shot and injured in Bosnia on Monday, police and media reported.

Croatia’s state TV said Mamic was shot in his leg and taken to a local hospital on Monday. It said the injury was not life-threatening.

Police were searching for two possible assailants.

[ MORE: Five PL new boys to watch ]

Bosnian media said Mamic was attending a memorial for his father at a graveyard near the town of Tomislavgrad when two people fired at him from a nearby forest. Another report said it was a drive-by shooting.

Croatia’s TV said Mamic voluntarily left the hospital in Bosnia after doctors managed to stop the bleeding, and he went to the Croatian capital, Zagreb.

Bosnian police declined to confirm the identity of the victim by name, but said a man with the initials ZM and born in 1959 in the Croatian city of Bjelovar, just like Mamic, was shot and injured.

Mamic, known for his fiery temper, has been on a high-profile embezzlement and tax fraud trial in Croatia.

Prosecutors accuse Mamic, his brother, and two others of embezzling 15 million euros of the club’s money since 2008 and not paying 1.6 million euros in taxes.

Mamic, who remains Dinamo’s adviser, is still considered the most powerful man in Croatian football despite the charges.

Dinamo issued a statement, calling the attack a “murder attempt.”

It said the attempted “liquidation” of Mamic was not a surprise amid a “lynching campaign” against him by the Croatian media.

He was recently knocked off his yacht into the sea by an attacker believed to be a fan of rival Hajduk Split.

AP Writer Dusan Stojanovic contributed from Belgrade, Serbia.

LIVE – Champions League playoff: Nice-Napoli headlines action

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With Celtic (just about) booking their spot in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday, four more teams will join them.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Napoli, Olympiacos, Sevilla and Hapoel Be’er Sheva all have narrow leads heading into the second legs which sets things up rather nicely. Olympiacos and Be’er Sheva will be feeling particularly nervous after conceding at home in the first leg.

On Wednesday five more ties takes place across Europe with Liverpool looking to book their spot in the UCL group stage against Hoffenheim.

Below is the full schedule for Tuesday’s games, which kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, while you can click on the link above to follow live commentary on all four matches.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff second legs

Nice vs. Napoli (Napoli lead 2-0 on aggregate)
Astana 4-3 Celtic (Celtic advance 8-4 on aggregate)
Rijeka vs. Olympiacos (Olympiacos leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Sevilla vs. Istanbul Basaksehir (Sevilla leads 2-1 on aggregate)
Maribor vs. Hapoel Be’er Sheva (Hapoel Be’er Sheva lead 2-1 on aggregate)

LIVE – Premier League clubs enter League Cup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Seven Premier League teams enter the League Cup second round on Tuesday with plenty of potential upsets lined up.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

All 13 PL clubs (six more are in action on Wednesday) face teams from the lower leagues with the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester City, Bournemouth and Swansea City all on upset alert.

U.S. national team players to watch out for include Lynden Gooch who starts for Sunderland and Emerson Hyndman who is on the bench for Bournemouth.

Below is the schedule for the League Cup games on Tuesday with all games to kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday
Crystal Palace vs. Ipswich Town – 2:30pm
Aston Villa vs. Wigan Athletic
Leeds United vs. Newport County
Middlesbrough vs. Scunthorpe United
Norwich City vs. Charlton Athletic
QPR vs. Brentford
Fulham vs. Bristol Rovers
Cardiff City vs. Burton Albion
Carlisle United vs. Sunderland
Doncaster vs. Hull City
Brighton vs. Barnet
Accrington Stanley vs. West Brom
Sheffield United vs. Leicester City
Birmingham City vs. Bournemouth
Watford vs. Bristol City
MK Dons vs. Swansea City
Reading vs. Millwall – 3pm
Bolton vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 3pm