The Money Shot: top o’ the heap in MLS Weekly rankings

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We’ve already dropped the knowledge and science on Parts II and III; here are your top money-makers and heart-breakers right now in MLS:

6. Chicago Fire – Glass half-full: Four points of a possible six has the Fire on the very same bullet train track that Frank Klopas’ crew finished on late last year. Glass half empty: This fearsome foursome of points came against expansion Montreal and a reeling Philadelphia Union. This week’s road test at Colorado will  tell us more.

5. Houston Dynamo – Odd match, last Friday in a 2-0 loss at Seattle. The Dynamo was in control in the hostile CenturyLink Field, and yet found themselves down by a pair inside the first half. Manager Dominic Kinnear said he was happy for things other than 10 minutes that went sideways. Still, all things considered, the Orange can be quite pleased with two wins from three matches on the road to start 2012.

4. Los Angeles Galaxy – The big news out of AEG Valley last week was an announced friendly for this July against touring Tottenham Hotspur. The team had a week off; New England visits the Home Depot Center this week.

3. Real Salt Lake – A disallowed goal for the home side in a 1-0 surprise setback has been a talker around MLS this week. A top MLS executive says referee Mark Kadlecik got it right. Still, questions linger about removing an attacking team’s advantage in such situations.

2. Seattle Sounders – Whether you think David Estrada’s deflected strike should be marked down as “own goal” or “another one for the kid,” Seattle’s young man is clearly brimming with confidence. Same with the team, tied with Vancouver atop the Western Conference table with San Jose making the northern hop this weekend. The keen eye of Seattle Times’ writer Joshua Mayers was particularly high last week on Marc Burch, who seems to be establishing himself as Sigi Schmid’s top choice left back.

1. Sporting Kansas City – The Kansas City Star’s Charles Gooch has some deliciously revealing numbers on the stacked-and-packed attack at Livestrong. For example, Sporting KC has outshot each opponent this season by a double-digit margin: plus-16 vs. D.C. United, plus-10 vs. New England and plus-10 in Sunday’s win over FC Dallas. So it’s not just that Peter Vermes’ men are a perfect 9 of 9 from possible points this year; the Midwest side is seriously pressing the opposition. Chivas USA is up this week in Southern California.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.

Nashville MLS expansion club snares ex-Liverpool CEO Ayre

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Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre is moving from Merseyside to the Music City.

The Tennesseean’s Joe Rexrode says Ayre is set to take the reins of Nashville SC as the first CEO in club history when it makes its debut in the 2020 MLS season.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Liverpool hired ex-EA Sports executive Peter Moore to replace Ayre in 2017 after the latter, 54, spent six years with the club as managing director and then CEO.

From the Tennessean:

“The MLS has huge ambitions to be one of the biggest and leading leagues in the world, and is on that trajectory,” Ayre said. “Both as a soccer fan and an executive in the industry, it’s something I’ve had my eye on because it’s important. … You talk about MLS and its growth, I think it’s becoming easier and will become easier to attract the right talent to something that’s exciting and developing. And if you have a reputation of being involved in a club like Liverpool, you hope that stands for something when you start to try and attract talent.”

The timing of Ayre’s addition hearkens back to that of former Tottenham executive Darren Eales at Atlanta United. If it has the same success, Nashville will be proud.

Report: Lampard interviews twice with Championship club

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Steven Gerrard‘s longtime England midfield mate Frank Lampard could soon be joining him in a management.

While Gerrard is tasked with rebuilding Rangers’ Scottish title push, Lampard’s reported new gig would entail leading Ipswich Town back to the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Sky Sports says Lampard has already interviewed twice with Ipswich Town ownership in a bid to earn his first senior management gig.

Lampard, 39, played for Chelsea, Man City, New York City FC, West Ham United, and Swansea in a sparkling 20-year playing career.

Town finished 12th in the Championship, 15 points back of a playoff spot and 19 clear of relegation.

No World Cup for Chelsea’s Spanish trio

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Spain has left Chelsea trio Alvaro Morata, Marcos Alonso, and Pedro off its World Cup squad.

Also omitted were Napoli’s Jose Callejoin and Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin.

[ MORE: MLS Things — The Archive ]

Manager Julen Lopetegui did include Blues defender Cesar Azpilicueta and ex-Chelsea man Diego Costa, as well as Manchester United’s David De Gea, Arsenal’s Nacho Monreal, and Man City’s David Silva.

Spain is expected to contend for the tournament crown in Russia, led by a stellar midfield which includes Silva, Andres Iniesta, Isco, and Thiago Alcantara.

Spain is in a group with Portugal, Iran, and Morocco.

Spain’s World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: De Gea, Kepa Arrizabalaga, Pepe Reina

Defenders: Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Azpilicueta, Nacho, Alvaro Odriozola, Jordi Alba, Monreal, Dani Carvajal

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Asensio, Iniesta, Isco, Saul Niguel, Thiago Alcantara, Koke, Silva.

Forwards: Diego Costa, Rodrigo, Iago Aspas, Lucas Vazquez.