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MLS Snapshots: Opara scores a bike, SKC win; SJ thump RSL

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The game in 100 words (or less): I’m going to start by quoting myself (re: Sporting Kansas City), via Twitter: “This team is better in June than it was in March, and will be better in October than it is in June. Just steadily progressing.” Saturday’s 2-1 victory away to LA Galaxy (just their second road win of the season, and the team’s fourth and fifth away goals in 10 games) is the latest sign of progress for Peter Vermes’ side, as they extend their lead on the rest of the Western Conference to five points. Roger Espinoza and Ike Opara scored the visitors’ goals — the latter coming in spectacular, most unexpected fashion — before the hosts pulled back to 2-1 through Dave Romney late in the second half. LA, meanwhile, sit sixth in the West, one point clear of the wrong side of the playoff cut line.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Three moments that mattered

22′ — Diop’s howler puts SKC up 1-0 — Sometimes — and this is one of those moments for Clement Diop — you just want the ground to open up and swallow you into the middle of the Earth.

35′ — Opara rides his bike to 2-0 — Ike Opara, a center back, scored a bicycle kick from a long ball played to him by Matt Besler, Sporting KC’s other center back. It’s a sequence of events you won’t see again for a long, long time.

59′ — Smith goes through Feilhaber, who is subbed off — Baldomero Toledo allowed Nathan Smith to stay on the field after this “tackle” on Benny Feilhaber.

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Man of the match: Ike Opara

Goalscorers: Espinoza (22′), Opara (35′)


San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Real Salt Lake

Three Two moments that mattered

13′ — Hoesen blasts a loose ball past Rimando for 1-0 — If you fail to clear the ball anywhere inside 12 yards, you’re probably going to get scored on. Danny Hoesen got all of this one.

68′ — Hoesen sets up Ureña for 2-0 — Hoesen’s speculative through ball found its way into space, and Marco Ureñat took it from there, putting the game away and handing RSL their eighth loss in 11 games.

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Man of the match: Danny Hoesen

Goalscorers: Hoesen (13′), Ureña (68′), Hernandez (90+4′)

MLS Power Rankings — Week 17: East leads the way at the 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)

Real Salt Lake: A win over Minnesota in their last outing was solid but the Claret and Cobalt still remain just one point above bottom out West.

D.C. United: A nice comeback win over Atlanta helped D.C.’s stock slightly, and apparently they’re one of the few clubs that has figured out how to have success against Tata Martino’s group.

Colorado Rapids: The Rapids were brought back down to earth after their three-match win streak. Despite that run, Pablo Mastroeni and Co. remain last in all of MLS.

19 (16) New England Revolution: Jay Heap’s group were flying high after a big win against Toronto, but another strong Eastern Conference side (the Chicago Fire) reminded the Revs how talented the East is.
18 (15) Philadelphia Union: Three straight losses have the Union back to where they were early in the season… at the bottom of the East.
17 (18) Minnesota United: There’s no doubt the Loons picked up their most exciting win thus far on Wednesday night against Portland. Adrian Heath and Co. will attempt to do something they haven’t accomplished yet in MLS; win back-to-back games.
16 (16) Montreal Impact: The Impact are unbeaten in four, but the Canadian side still has the fewest wins in MLS (4) through 14 matches played.
15 (19) Seattle Sounders: Rough conditions at Yankee Stadium shouldn’t have been anything the Sounders weren’t used to but the reigning champions couldn’t get it done against NYCFC before following it up with a solid draw against Orlando.

 

14 (14) Vancouver Whitecaps: A solid result against FC Dallas has the Whitecaps sitting in the final playoff spot out west.
 

13 (11) San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes are winless in three and have scored just twice in the process. The club is hoping new signing “Vako” will be the DP spark the team needs.
12 (8) Columbus Crew: Greg Berhalter’s men have proven to be one of the better home sides in MLS. They’ll welcome a hungry Impact side on Saturday.

 

11 (13) Atlanta United: D.C. appears to be this club’s kryptonite. Atlanta will host last-place Colorado this weekend.
10 (10) Portland Timbers: It was an ugly match against Minnesota, but despite back-to-back losses the Timbers still sit third in the West.
 

9 (12) Orlando City: The Lions continue to show signs of improvement from their first two seasons in MLS. They’re late equalizer against the Sounders was the latest showing.
8 (9)  New York Red Bulls: 6-1 is the Red Bulls record against NYCFC. Even better for the Harrison side is that they haven’t lost at home to their New York rivals.
7 (7) LA Galaxy: Props to the Galaxy for their turnaround, but Curt Onalfo’s men need to clean things up at home. The Galaxy currently boast the worst home record in all of MLS at 1-3-3.
6 (5) FC Dallas: The defending Supporters’ Shield holders have a brutal schedule upcoming, which begins with another Texas Derby on Saturday.

 

 

5 (3) Houston Dynamo: This team keeps quietly going about its business, and despite it’s poor road record (0-6-2) the Dynamo sit second out West.
4 (6)  New York City FC: A big win over the Sounders should have Patrick Vieira’s men buzzing heading into their second Hudson River Derby in a span of 10 days.
3 (5) Sporting KC: Peter Vermes and Co. will face one of their biggest challenges to date when they head west to take on the surging Galaxy.
2 (2) Chicago Fire: The Fire are now unbeaten in eight, and it’s very fair to say that this club is pushing hard for the top spot in the East and the Supporters’ Shield.
1 (1) Toronto FC: Unbeaten in nine of their last 10, Toronto is still the odds-on favorite to win MLS Cup this season.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Man United cleared in Pogba inquiry

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Manchester United can breathe a sigh of relief Wednesday morning after facing possible FIFA sanctions.

The world governing body cleared the English club Wednesday of any impropriety regarding Paul Pogba‘s world-record $116 million transfer. On the other hand, FIFA announced it is opening disciplinary proceedings against Pogba’s former club Juventus.

The transfer and Pogba’s contract have been in the news recently after a book published in Germany alleges that Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola will earn $55 million from the deal. Raiola reportedly earned nearly $29 million in the transfer and will be paid another $26 million over the next four years.

With Atletico Madrid currently serving a transfer ban and Barcelona having served one in the past, Manchester United couldn’t afford to miss out on a transfer window as the club looks to ascend back to the top of the Premier League table.

Here’s a look at more transfer news and rumors around the Premier League:

(more…)

Report: LA Galaxy’s interest in Tigres star Gignac quite real

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Reporter Kristian Dyer says the LA Galaxy has bid $6 million for the services of French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac of Tigres UANL.

The Mexican club is said to value him at twice that fee, which is plenty of money for a 31-year-old striker. Transfermarkt rates his value just under $8 million, and Gignac signed with Tigres on a free transfer in 2015.

[ MORE: DC adds Deshorn Brown ]

Gignac spent time at Marseille with LA’s new star, 28-year-old Romain Alessandrini, who has been influential since arriving in the offseason.

From Metro.Us:

Gignac’s interest in a move to MLS is “high” the source said.

“He thinks highly of the MLS and sees this as a dream move,” the source said. “Los Angeles would be a great fit for him.”

Gignac has 53 league goals in 81 appearances in Liga MX, and it would be surprising if he didn’t carry a similar strike rate in MLS. With Gyasi Zardes yet to score in 798 minutes for the Galaxy this season, LA needs an answer and someone to pair with Giovani Dos Santos on the end of Alessandrini’s playmaking. Between Zardes, Jack McInerney, Jack McBean, and Jose Villarreal, LA has just two goals this season.

MLS Power Rankings — Week 16: Fire continue ascent

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It’s been two weeks since we’ve had a full slate of MLS matches, but the docket is stacked this weekend as all 22 sides take the field.

With only six teams in action during the international break, there wasn’t movement in this week’s Power Rankings but one club continues its rise to the top after extending its unbeaten run to seven matches.

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

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (22)

21 (20)

 

20 (21)

D.C. United: A tough test up north against Toronto won’t be easy for Ben Olsen’s group.

Real Salt Lake: The Claret and Cobalt have conceded a league-worst 35 goals so far.

Colorado Rapids: The Rapids remain at the bottom of the west but back-to-back wins have given Pablo Mastroeni’s group a moral lift.

19 (16) Seattle Sounders: The Sounders are looking to have a second half of the season like a year ago but the defending champions have struggled so far.
18 (7) Minnesota United: This is a completely different side away from home, with the Loons have failed to secure a victory in their time on the road this season.
17 (17) New England Revolution: A draw with NYCFC and win over Toronto (arguably the league’s best side) could be what the doctor ordered for the Revs to kick start their season.
16 (19) Montreal Impact: Unbeaten in three, the Impact are looking a bit more like themselves as of late.
15 (14)  Philadelphia Union: The Union always get up when the Red Bulls come to town. The 10th-place side needs another strong performance against Jesse Marsch’s group.
14 (11) Vancouver Whitecaps: The Whitecaps host Dallas in a critical match out west.
13 (9) Atlanta United: Back-to-back defeats are on Atlanta’s record but they sit just two points out of sixth place in the East.
12 (15)  Orlando City: The Lions are finding their way again after a hiccup a couple weeks back. They’ll host the Impact on Saturday.
11 (15) San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes have allowed six goals in their last two matches. They’ve lost both.
10 (13) Portland Timbers: A big win over FC Dallas should have the Timbers back on track moving towards the second half of the season.
9 (12)  New York Red Bulls: The defending East champions had their rivals’ number in the Open Cup, but now the Red Bulls face a Union side that has had their number over the years.
8 (8) Columbus Crew: The Crew are losers of four of their last six. A trip down to Atlanta is in the offing, which won’t be easy.
7 (13) LA Galaxy: The Galaxy currently boast the second-best unbeaten run in MLS at six matches.
6 (3)  New York City FC: An Open Cup defeat to the Red Bulls surely stings, but NYCFC has to have short-term memory this weekend when they host Seattle.
5 (4) FC Dallas: The Timbers had their number last weekend, which isn’t the end of the world based on Portland’s quality. Now, Dallas moves on to Vancouver.
4 (5) Sporting KC: Eric Palmer-Brown’s expected permanent move to Europe has made headlines while Sporting continues its reign atop the Western Conference.
3 (6) Houston Dynamo: A road visit to the surging Galaxy could be one of the best matches of the weekend.
2 (2) Chicago Fire: The Fire are deserving of the top spot after they extended their unbeaten streak to seven matches with a win over Atlanta. Unfortunately, it’s going to take more than one slip up to dethrone Toronto.
1 (1) Toronto FC: Greg Vanney’s side finally lost two weeks ago against the Revolution but this club is still the best in MLS.