ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings – Part II of III

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Who in the world would have recently predicted Sporting Kansas City would be a Part II side? They’ve been money as part of the weekly Money Shot all along!  Anyway, here’s the mid-pack bunch (Nos. 12-7, counting down) in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement. Part I, a.k.a. the “Money Shot” is on deck:

12. Montréal Impact – Things aren’t going badly at all for the expansion side, which is about a month from getting into its renovated stadium. Last week a Canadian pro soccer record 60,860 watched Montreal’s 1-1 draw at Olympic Stadium. The central defensive pairing that coach Jesse Marsch thought all along could be so strong, Matteo Ferrari and Nelson Rivas, is healthy and looking strong. It took a wonderful David Beckham free kick to breach the back line and snap the Impact’s shutout streak, which had advanced to 259 minutes.

11. Los Angeles Galaxy – David Beckham’s up-and-down season was back up in Montreal, where the Galaxy peppered the expansion hosts but ultimately split the points.  Beckham’s free kick goal was quite nice. Plus, it gives the L.A. players and staff something to talk about with Barack Obama as the team meets the President today.

10. Colorado Rapids – More wacky scheduling from the league: Colorado doesn’t play in Round 10 but now kicks off twice over four days, with travel in between. First up is a visit to Washington, D.C.  The Rapids are, at least, catching United at a potentially vulnerable time. “We know they played in a big emotional game on Saturday against Houston in the new stadium and had to travel back,” center back Drew Moor said. “We’re definitely going to look to take advantage of that, and we’ve had a little time off now.”

9. Vancouver Whitecaps – Everyone is entitled to a stinker. But the 4-1 loss at New England underscores a couple of points. First, when Vancouver’s defense isn’t up for the job, results just won’t be possible. Because the ‘Caps attack continues to under-produce. Second, when the team’s first-choice center backs aren’t available, bad things aren’t far away.

8. Chicago Fire – Frank Klopas’ men keep leaving it for late. Like Saturday’s thriller over Sporting Kansas City. This time it was Dominic Oduro (pictured) striking after the 80th minute in a 2-1 win, one that helps the Fire stay connected to the Eastern Conference leaders. Rafael Robayo is finding a comfort zone in the Fire midfield, which is good. Not so good is the hamstring injury to defender Arne Friedrich; the veteran’s ability to stay healthy will determine whether this risky signing works out.

7. Sporting Kansas City – Sporting Kansas City was the talk of MLS for 7 or 8 weeks for all the right reasons. Don’t make us label you “Talk of the MLS – for all the wrong reasons.” Saturday’s loss at Chicago makes it three “Ls” in a row, a truly unnerving turn after such a good opening sprint. And no matter what SKC manager Peter Vermes says about Roger Espinoza’s red card on Saturday, it sure looked like the Sporting midfielder was doing some head hunting.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

Photo by Burak Kara/Getty Images
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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

AP Photo/Matthias Schrader
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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

whufc.com
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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.