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MLS Power Rankings — Week 22: NYCFC continues push to top

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The Western Conference has dominated MLS Cup for the better part of a decade, but it’s the East that continues to shine bright as this MLS season hits the midway point.

Here are PST’s latest MLS Power Rankings as we head into another busy weekend:

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TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (21)

21 (22)

 

20 (20)

D.C. United: Five consecutive defeats for Ben Olson’s group has D.C. firmly at the bottom of the MLS table.

Minnesota United: Similar to D.C., the Loons have gone winless in five. The only saving grace? They host D.C. on Saturday.

Colorado Rapids: A solid effort against Toronto last week gives the Rapids a temporary distraction, but they’ll hit the road again this weekend… where they haven’t won all season.

19 (19) New England Revolution: The playoff gap is already widening for the Revs, and a loss against the Union could be potentially devastating for Jay Heaps and Co. The distance from sixth place is currently eight points for New England.
 

18 (9) Orlando City: The Lions got their man in Dom Dwyer, but now they have to take advantage of his presence while Cyle Larin is still with the team. Orlando has scored just 22 goals this season — third-fewest in MLS.
 

17 (13)  San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes have conceded 12 goals in their last three matches. Somehow, they’re only point out of sixth in the West though.
 

16 (21) Real Salt Lake: The Claret and Cobalt are unbeaten in three straight and have the chance to extend that run when they welcome the Crew on Saturday.
 

15 (7) LA Galaxy: Sigi Schmid is in to stop the bleeding for the Galaxy, and his first challenge? A test against his former side, the Seattle Sounders.
14 (16) Montreal Impact: The Impact have been woeful on the road in 2017 (1-4-5), and a trip to Harrison to face the revamped Red Bulls probably isn’t what the doctor ordered.
13 (14) Vancouver Whitecaps: Carl Robinson’s side travels to Dallas this weekend as they look to rebound from last weekend’s defeat against Portland.
12 (18) Philadelphia Union: Another big Eastern Conference clash is on the docket this weekend for the Union, who have played better as of late.

 

11 (12) Columbus Crew: The Crew are still battling a suspect back line with more than half the season gone (35 goals allowed).

 

10 (10) Portland Timbers: We knew this would be one of the top attacks in MLS entering 2017, and the Timbers are backing it up. Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each have 10 goals on the year.
9 (15) Seattle Sounders: The way the Sounders have been playing lately it probably won’t be a warm welcome back to the Pacific Northwest for Sigi Schmid and the Galaxy.

 

8 (11) Atlanta United: The expansion side has won four in a row and lifted itself up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

 

7 (8) New York Red Bulls: Jesse Marsch has brought in some reinforcements both defensively and in the attack, and on top of that, the Red Bulls are starting to look like their old selves.

 

6 (5) Houston Dynamo: The Dynamo are just one of four sides in MLS with a perfect home record in 2017. They’ll put that record to the test against the Timbers on Saturday night.

 

 

5 (3) Sporting KC: Peter Vermes’ side hasn’t lost since the end of May. Unfortunately for the Western Conference side, they haven’t been winning a lot of their matches.
4 (2) Chicago Fire: The Fire finally lost against NYCFC… their first defeat since April 29. Don’t go writing off this team though. They’re the real deal.
3 (6)   FC Dallas: A stingy defense and dangerous attack are a deadly combination, and that’s exactly what Dallas possesses.
2 (4) New York City FC: It was a pretty successful week for Patrick Vieira’s group. A group against Toronto, followed by a win over Chicago.
1 (1) Toronto FC: This is a Toronto team that has lost just three matches all season. To put that into perspective, TFC had three defeats by May 1 a season ago.

Juventus suffers blow with apparent Higuain injury

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The back-and-forth battle at the top of Serie A continued on Sunday as Juventus topped Torino at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino, however, the visitors suffered a big injury scare in the process.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup ]

Alex Sandro‘s winner came in the 33rd minute, but the focus of the match will leave all eyes on Gonzalo Higuain — who exited after just a quarter of an hour.

The Argentine international was looking to latch onto a through ball from Miralem Pjanic in the fifth minute, before jumping over an oncoming Salvatore Sirigu — goalkeeper for Torino.

Higuain appeared to land awkwardly on his ankle, though, and while he attempted to continue on in the match he was substituted off for Federico Bernardeschi 10 minutes later.

The extent of Higuain’s injury is unknown to this point, however, it comes at a very bad time for Juventus.

The Italian giants are heavily involved in the Serie A title race, holding a two-point lead over Napoli at the top of the table.

Additionally, Juve has important fixtures coming up in both the Coppa Italia and Champions League against Atalanta and Tottenham, respectively. Higuain and Co. are level at 2-2 with Spurs heading into their UCL second leg in early March, and Juve will surely need the striker’s presence to have a shot at advancing to the quarterfinals.

Rochdale 2-2 Tottenham: Davies stuns Spurs late

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A valiant effort from a League One side has rewarded the minnows with a replay set to be played at Wembley Stadium.

Tottenham Hotspur looked on its way towards the FA Cup sixth round on Sunday, but a late finish by Steven Davies gave Rochdale a 2-2 draw with the Premier League club at the Spotland Stadium.

[ MORE: Willian stars as Chelsea routs Hull in FA Cup ]

Harry Kane — who scored his 34th goal on the season in all competitions — converted from the penalty spot in the 88th minute, however, Davies had the final say deep into stoppage time to send the two sides towards a replay.

Ian Henderson’s finish in the 45th minute gave Rochdale a gift at the conclusion of the first stanza, after the hosts capitalized on a Spurs giveaway near midfield.

Meanwhile, Tottenham managed to level the match at 1-1 on the hour mark when Lucas Moura calmly slotted his close-range shot past goalkeeper Josh Lillis after a timely through ball from Moussa Sissoko picked out the former PSG man.

The visitors began pressing on in the second half, with Mauricio Pochettino‘s side having trailed at the halftime break.

The two sides will now meet on either Feb. 27 or 28 in the reverse fixture to decide which team advances. The winner will either meet Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea City in the quarterfinals.

Scholes: Pogba didn’t earn Man United spot in 2012 before Juve stint

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Paul Pogba‘s young career has been bright, but a former Manchester United legend suggests that there was a time where the Frenchman struggled to find his way at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Man United draws Brighton, Chelsea gets Leicester in FA Cup quarters

The 24-year-old Pogba is now in his second stint with the Red Devils, after spending four seasons in Italy with giants Juventus.

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes says though that back in 2012 — prior to Pogba’s move to Juve — that the physical player wasn’t pleased with the fact that he wasn’t getting regular minutes with the first team.

“Ferguson wanted me initially to come back and coach the reserve team with Warren Joyce,” he told BT Sport. “I said in September I’d come back. So I started helping Joycey, and I was training with the reserves.

“I was training every day with the likes of Pogba, Lingard, all these types of players. They were a really good side and I was really enjoying training. I was getting fit, I felt great, and it got to December time and the team was struggling a bit.

“They had a load of injuries, no central midfield players were fit. They ended up playing Phil Jones and Fabio da Silva in central midfield in a game against Blackburn at Old Trafford.

“Funnily enough that was the end of Pogba, because he thought he should have been playing instead of them. But he wasn’t doing well enough.”

Scholes, who had retired briefly in 2011, came back after just six months for the Red Devils, and ended up playing a year-and-a-half more following the decision to end his playing career.

It is widely believed that Pogba’s decision to head to Juventus was largely due to the impact of Scholes in the United squad.

Video: Rochdale puts Tottenham on upset alert at the half

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It’s been a tremendous season for Ian Henderson, particularly in the FA Cup, and now he and his side are one half away from upsetting one of the Premier League giants.

Henderson’s finish on the brink of halftime has put League One side Rochdale up 1-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, as the minnows aim to become the first non-PL side to advance to the quarterfinals in this season’s tournament.

A sloppy giveaway from Spurs near midfield created the attack for the hosts, and allowed Rochdale to capitalize on one of its few attacks during the opening stanza.