Author: Richard Farley


PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Whole New World Edition

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As MLS seasons age, Power Rankings can get staid. Writers settle into their opinions We leverage them like biases, rolling new prose into our static views. One or two spots here and there may be enough to spark curiosity, but if you have Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City among your top four all year, is really it saying anything to have them at three instead of two?

Those two teams have been at the top of this particular list since the get go. Seattle joined them soon after, with LA helping form our big four by the middle of summer. For a few weeks, the quartet looked set to pull away from the rest of the league, so much so I was going to put a big black bar between four and five. These are the cup contenders. Those are not.

So much for staid. After this weekend’s results, there are two new teams at the top – teams few people picked to make the postseason back in March. Whether you think FC Dallas and D.C. United will be title contenders come November, they’re among the league’s best teams now. After big wins over Real and Sporting  (respectively), they deserve this list’s top two spots.

And ultimately, that’s what this exercise should be about: Who’s good right now? If you’re asking me to put money on who’s left standing in December, that’s a different conversation. But here’s who I think wins, if the teams played tomorrow:

MORE: Last Week’s Power Rankings | Methodology

source:  1 UP 2 FC Dallas: 10-man win? At home? Against least week’s number one? Having built a two-goal lead, and you haven’t lost since May? I just can’t ask Dallas to do more to be number one. (12-7-6)
source:  2 UP 4 D.C. United: The Black and Red just posted a 3-0 win at the defending champions – the team that sat atop of Eastern Conference coming into the weekend. They have a better case for taking number one than being slotted in below two. (13-7-4)


3 UP 1 LA Galaxy: Vancouver looked terrible on Saturday — as bad as they have all season — but controlling the game, keeping a much-needed clean sheet, the Galaxy took the first step toward proving the previous seven days were just an aberration. (11-5-7)

4 DOWN 3 Real Salt Lake: C’mon RSL. I don’t care if Javi (Morales) and Álvaro (Saborío) were out. I don’t care if Dallas is the one team in the league that might not skip a beat when losing a man. You were still playing 11-on-10 for over half the game. When Dallas lost Blas Pérez, it was 0-0. How did you lose 2-1? How? (11-5-9)
source:  5 Seattle Sounders: A great performance by the Sounders in a game they needed to win, but their ranking stays steady. The teams directly above them also had strong days, while recent performances against LA and RSL hint it’s too soon to slide the Sounders past those Western Conference rivals. (14-7-3)
source:  6 DOWN 4 Sporting Kansas City: Credit to Ben Olsen, but blame to the Sporting defense. That back four was downright exploited on Saturday, so much so that you wonder if D.C. didn’t uncover some Achilles heal in the Kansas City defense. I’m betting on “No” (Seth Sinovic should be able to maintain his line a little better going forward), but Saturday’s game still showed us Sporting’s downside. (12-7-6)
source:  7 UP 2 Columbus Crew: Last week we hedged on vaulting the Crew too high, hesitant to slot them above a Toronto team that’s gotten the better of them all year. Four days later, no such qualms. At the moment, it’s pretty clear: Columbus is the third-best team in the Eastern Conference. (8-8-9)
source:  8 UP 4 Philadelphia Union: The four-spot jump looks big, but that’s about more than the Union playing well. That’s Philly taking advantage of slips by Vancouver, Portland, and Toronto. Credit where credit’s due, though. Philadelphia bounced back from its loss at Houston with a strong (albeit, rocky) result against San Jose, making it much easier to blame their struggles at BBVA on the short turnaround between U.S. Open Cup and that Friday night’s lights. (7-9-9)
source:  9 UP 1 New York Red Bulls: Like Philadelphia, it is a team taking advantage of the failings of others. A home win over Montréal isn’t something that justifies a boost in the rankings, but thanks to other teams volunteering to move down, the Red Bulls slide up a spot. (7-7-10)
source:  10 DOWN 4 Vancouver Whitecaps: A two-goal loss at Los Angeles isn’t terrible in the abstract, but Saturday’s version of that abstract was one of the worst performances I’ve seen from the Whitecaps this season. Both attacking and defensively, it was unclear what the Whitecaps were trying to do, with a game plan that needlessly ceded the ball to the Galaxy failing to show it had a way to get forward. At some points of the first half, Omar Gonzalez was allowed to hold the ball at the edge of the attacking third. Vancouver didn’t have anybody within 20 yards of the center line. This team has too much talent to let itself get out-shot 22-6. (7-5-12)
source:  11 DOWN 4 Toronto: This is cumulative effect – a correction after we were so soft on Toronto following a 4-1 loss in Kansas City. Obviously, we were too forgiving, because as they showed while posting only two shots on goal in a 2-2 draw with Chicago, the Reds don’t merit the benefit of the doubt. Ryan Nelsen’s team is the only one in a playoff spot that has a negative goal difference for the season. (9-9-5)
source:  12 DOWN 3 Portland Timbers: This Sunday was the Portland Timbers in a nut shell. The attack is good, but then it hits is final third, where the ball at the feet of anybody but Diego Valeri means the defense is in decent shape. At the back, Liam Ridgewell brought improvement, but during his worst game in MLS, Portland showed they’re still capable of giving up a big number. Stay organized, wait for Portland to give you the ball, then pounce. Sometimes the Timbers’ defense makes it that simple. (7-8-10)
source:  13 UP 2 New England Revolution: At some point on this list, merely being able to get home wins is enough to drive you forward. Although the Rev’s 1-0 win over Chivas USA was in some ways the bare minimum, it’s a minimum other teams may not reach, right now. New England’s moving back in the right direction. (9-12-3)
source:  14 DOWN 2 San Jose Earthquakes: The defense is pulling a Jekyll and Hyde, giving up one goal over 180 minutes to the Sounders while leaking nine to FC Dallas and Philadelphia. Perhaps it’s a symptom of missing Clarence Goodson, but another theory: This team is not equipped to play from behind. If they can’t sit and react, they’re going to give him goals. (6-10-7)
source:  15 DOWN 2 Houston Dynamo: So much for progress. At this point, it’s worth asking what the Dynamo do well. Score goals? They’re 17th in the league. Prevent goals? Tied for worst. At the back and going forward, there are major deficiencies, and while a strong midfield could pick up the slack, that’s not happening. The only silver lining: They’ve won their last two at home. (7-13-4)
source:  16 DOWN 2 Chivas USA: Chivas’s goalless drought is it at 456 minutes, and with Mauro Rosales gone, there’s no end in sight. If Erick Torres isn’t providing goals, a scoreless draw becomes this team’s best case scenario, though as summer’s second half has shown, there’s only so much you can ask of “Cubo”. (6-12-6)


17 Colorado Rapids: A much-needed weekend off allows an ailing (and, plummeting) Colorado to regroup. The Rapids are still only three points out of a playoff spot. (8-11-6)
source:  18 UP 1 Chicago Fire: A 2-2 result in Toronto is a nice way to put a bad week behind them, but the Fire didn’t offer much to build on. Still, the result was progress, stifling momentum that was sending the season out of control. (4-6-14)
source:  19 DOWN 1 Montréal Impact: It was nice while it lasted, Impact, but after one week out of the cellar, you’re back at number 19. I trust you know where the towels are. You’ll need them to clean up that mess you made in New York. (4-15-5)

Samuel Eto’o signs two-year deal with Everton

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On so many levels, this looks like a perfect fit for both sides. In Samuel Eto’o, Everton gets an versatile striker who will easily adapt to Roberto Martínez’s approach – one whose experience and style of play can help nurture Romelu Lukaku. And in Everton, Samuel Eto’o gets to stay on the fringe of Champions League soccer, playing for somebody who has become one of the most respected young managers in Europe.

That marriage became official today, with Everton announcing the 33-year-old Cameroonian put pen to parchment on a two-year deal. Coming off a 12-goal season at Chelsea, the three-time Champions League winner makes his second stop in England, having also played prominent roles at Barcelona and Inter Milan.

“For someone who has achieved nearly everything, he still has the desire he had at 15 when he went to Spain and showed what he could do,” Martínez said, via “For many reasons he has got a point to prove.

The main thing to prove appears to be quality: Can Eto’o still play? Though he scored slightly better than one goal every three (all competition) games at Chelsea, he was a part of an forward trio Blues’ boss José Mourinho identified as a weakness. Along with Senegalese striker Demba Ba (who left for Besiktas), Eto’o was allowed to move on, leaving only Fernando Torres retained at Stamford Bridge.

At Everton, Eto’o will serve a slightly different purpose. Whereas last season he was brought in from Anzhi Makhachkala and put into the Blues’ starting lineup, the four-time African Player of the Year will be a depth player at Goodison Park, with cup competitions and Europa League giving him his main chances to play. With the commitment Martínez has made to Lukaku, the Belgian international is going to be his first choice number nine, but the superior instincts Eto’o has shown throughout his career can, if passed on, help round out his new 21-year-old apprentice.

“I have been very impressed by the style of play Everton adopt.” Eto’o said, in a statement posted by the club. “I could see straight away that at this club I will have the opportunity to play football …

“I was impressed with his enthusiasm but also by the knowledge of football that Roberto Martinez carries, his vision of football and how he reads football. I still think I can learn a great deal from him here.”

If Martínez has sold Everton on a place where Eto’o can continue to develop, it’s a testament to the manager, who continues to show he’s one of the game’s most respected bosses. Though Eto’o’s time at the to of the European game may be over, plenty of strong clubs would welcome the chance to add a player with his résumé. That he chose Everton speaks to the draw Martínez has become.

That draw can also be seen in loan deals like Christian Atsu’s or, last year, Gerard Deulofeu’s – moves that show the renown Martínez has earned translates into more than just blog post plaudits. He’s become a man people want to play for, a potentially distinguishing factor as Everton seeks to cement it’s place near the top of the table.

Van Gaal appeals to supporters’ belief after Manchester United’s League Cup loss


Making no apologies for his team’s play, Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has reached out to supporters after his team’s 4-0 loss at Milton Keynes, asking Red Devils’ fans to maintain their belief in a project still in its formative stages.

That belief was tested Tuesday night when United were bounced out of the League Cup 4-0 at MK Dons. Two goals each from William Grigg and Benik Afobe saw United to the club’s earliest exit in 19 years, with a series of costly mistakes allowing the third-tier team to embarrass their more renown guests.

“It was a matter of making errors at wrong moments,” van Gaal said to MUTV. “When you see the goals against us, I believe there were big errors in the build-ups. When you make errors like that, you give the match away.”

United gave away the first goal after a Jonny Evans error, one that helped the home side take its lead against the run of play. Despite United’s superiority in many phases of the game, carelessness in possession allowed the Dons to blow the game open, with the games third and fourth goals highlighting United’s deficiencies building play.

After the match, van Gaal was aware of what the loss will mean to the club’s support.

“It’s difficult for the fans, I know that,” the first-year boss explained, “but they have to believe in our philosophy. At the end, they can judge, but not now. I hope they shall maintain their confidence in the club and in our philosophy because that philosophy takes time. We are building up a team which you can’t make in one month, even one year.”

Even one year? That’s not good news for United fans who are expecting a return to Champions League.

After today’s loss, that possibility remains a long way off, though with Ángel Di María signed and more talent potentially arriving this window, United may look markedly different in one week’s time.

Right now, however, the team has hit a low, and while fans are smart enough to know three games are not enough to pass judgment, that doesn’t make “Milton Keynes 4, Manchester United 0” easier to swallow.