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MLS Power Rankings — Week 2: Big shakeups below top three

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Week 2 saw lots of of goals, poor weather up north and a lot of other excitement around Major League Soccer.

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Meanwhile, one expansion team continues to struggle finding its feet, while another recorded a six-spot.

[ MORE: Dom Dwyer gains U.S. citizenship, eligible for USMNT ]

Without further ado, let’s take a look at PST’s first installment of the 2017 MLS Power Rankings.


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (22)

 

21 (21)

 

20 (19)

Minnesota United: The Loons have allowed a league-leading 11 goals in two matches. In comparison, the next most a club has conceded is four…

New England Revolution: Match vs. Orlando City cancelled due to inclement weather.

Columbus Crew: There’s been some early carryover from last season’s struggles, particularly on the defensive end where the Crew have had some issues. This is still a team loaded with talent though.

19 (11) DC United: No Luciano Acosta to start has made the attack look stagnant and the backline did this team no favors either in New York City.
18 (14) Real Salt Lake: Injuries have plagued RSL so far in 2017. Justen Glad and Joao Plata are among the questionable for this weekend’s clash against the Galaxy.
17 (17) Montreal Impact: Good start against the Sounders, but the Impact have to close out games better.
16 (15) Philadelphia Union: Jim Curtin’s side fought hard to pick up a draw against Toronto. The Union will get Orlando in Week 3, who had a lay off a week ago.
15 (10) LA Galaxy: Lots of injuries have halted an early-season momentum for the Galaxy. 
14 (7) Vancouver Whitecaps: Their CCL hopes took a dash against Tigres so let’s see how the Whitecaps respond versus Toronto.
13 (13) Sporting Kansas City: They haven’t been good but they also haven’t been bad. At least Peter Vermes can say SKC is one of two teams that haven’t allowed a goal yet.
12 (18) Chicago Fire: Nemanja Nikolic opened up his MLS account, and it seems like there’s a lot more where that came from.
11 (20) Atlanta United: The weather was certainly frightful up in Minnesota but Atlanta’s play was so delightful. Miguel Almiron and Josef Martinez are living up to the early hype down in Hot-lanta.
10 (8) Orlando City: Match against the New England Revolution in Week 2 postponed.
9 (6) Seattle Sounders: The champs haven’t gotten out to the start that they would have liked and now the Red Bulls come to town for the Sounders’ home opener.
8 (4)
Toronto FC: Some early injuries have made things difficult for Greg Vanney’s side, including to Sebastian Giovinco, but the runners’ up from a season are still unbeaten to start.
7 (17) San Jose Earthquakes: Anibal Godoy and the Earthquakes attack are out to a hot start in San Jose.
6 (12) Houston Dynamo: The Western Conference bottom dwellers from a season ago have looked anything but that in 2017. Scary movement up front and solid backline have the Dynamo as a legitimate contender to make some noise in the West.
5 (5) Colorado Rapids: The Rapids should give Tim Howard a raise for his performance against the Red Bulls. No, seriously. Go watch the highlights again.
4 (9) New York City FC: We saw a glimpse of how good this NYCFC attack can be in Week 2. Now, a difficult home test against the Impact looms for the Bronx side.
3 (3) New York Red Bulls: It hasn’t been the prettiest but the Red Bulls are one of four teams to win their first two matches.
2 (1) FC Dallas: Unbeaten in two and a possible Champions League final in the works, everything has started out according to plan for Oscar Pareja and co.
1 (2) Portland Timbers: Even though the Timbers only had one goal to show in Week 2, this attack continues to look extremely potent and is probably the best in MLS.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.