The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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(MORE: Nos. 11-19 in the countdown are here)

10. Columbus Crew – After a quickly arranged weekend off to attend the funeral of teammate Kirk Urso, the band of Yellow brothers must pull themselves together for Wednesday’s big test against the visiting Galaxy. (That game is on NBC Sports Network.) Danny O’Rourke’s return to the rotation would help, but no one can quite figure out if he’s ready to roll just yet. And that’s not the only mystery around Crew Stadium these days.

9. Seattle Sounders – Man, talk about a beat-down of a week. First, they fall heroically in a PK shootout at Sporting Kansas City in the U.S. Open Cup final. But they picked themselves up, hydrated properly and dusted off any remnants of Midwest regret, marching boldly into Buck Shaw Stadium, home of the Supporters Shield leaders. There, the Sounders fell in the dying seconds to San Jose. Yep. Last week would only have been a bigger bummer if Sigi Schmid’s dog had run away.

8. D.C. United – A loss at Sporting Kansas City may not look awful, but in the context, this thing is starting to get worrisome. That’s three losses in four games for the Black and Red, although all the defeats were on the road. Dwayne De Rosario’s shoulder injury is concerning, too, although it doesn’t appear to be long-term. Maybe the team can rally around the Chris Pontius snub; it darn sure stinks to be the alleged No. 23 on a 22-man national team selection.

7. Angeles Galaxy – David Beckham certainly wasn’t missed as the Galaxy attack chewed up one side of Chivas USA and down the other, once again reminding everyone that the Home Depot Center rivalry really isn’t much of one. Not until Chivas stands up again in the series. Landon Donovan, with four assists, climbed to No. 4 on the all-time league leadership. Meanwhile, do not discount the importance of the Galaxy first-choice back line finally being in place.

6. Chicago Fire – Two goals by Chris Rolfe (pictured) and another by smooth center back Arne Freidrich were the money shots in a massive 3-1 road win over Philadelphia. Some of the air went out of the Fire soccer ball soon after, however, with the finalization of Marco Pappa’s move to Heerenveen in Holland. (He’ll stay through the end of the year and then move in January.) And a little more air escaped the Toyota Park ball with news that Logan Pause will miss 4-6 weeks. There’s enough personnel cover for Frank Klopas, but he’ll probably need to adjust the formation or some of the roles.

5. Real Salt Lake – A loss at Vancouver leaves RSL with a 4-6-1 record in its most recent 11 MLS contests. They’ll host Dallas this weekend, but could potentially be distracted by next week’s must-win CONCACAF Champions League match in Utah. Several starters will be returning from mid-week national team duty for those two, so it’s a busy stretch for the Rio Tinto men.

4. Sporting Kansas City – U.S. Open Cup hangover? Nah, not even close. Peter Vermes’ men punctuated their huge U.S. Open Cup triumph by taking care of weekend business over D.C. United.  It really wasn’t even a fair fight, as a better-rested visitor put up surprisingly little resistance.  A day after that contest, Graham Zusi and Matt Besler, left for Mexico to join the U.S. national team for its Wednesday friendly. It’s Besler’s first look under U.S. boss Jurgen Klinsmann.

3. New York Red Bulls – Tim Cahill is starting to feel it, which will fall as distressing news for the rest of the East. The Red Bulls midfielder began figuring things out in last week’s important 2-0 win over Houston with a major role in both goals. Just imagine what Cahill might accomplish when he gets fit. Meanwhile, Thierry Henry is carping about the team’s unworthy road show, while the rest of the league stares with envy at RBNY’s glistening 8-0-3 home record. It is pretty, isn’t it?

2. Houston Dynamo – The 2-0 setback in New York was the first loss for Dominic Kinnear’s Orange since Montreal’s triumph back on June 23. Ricardo Clark made his first appearance in the loss. Well, Clark’s first on a second swing through H-Town, that is. Some improved finishing from Mac Kandji may the difference in first, second or third place in the East going forward. Columbus, up against all kinds of potentially destabilizing distress, reports to BBVA this weekend.

1. San Jose Earthquakes – Every week, with each stoppage time result earned, the 2012 Supporters Shield scoots a little closer to Buck Shaw Stadium. This time it was Steven Lenhart with the high-drama, late game-winner, beating back a brave Seattle Sounders’ effort. Bonus “win” this week: Three Earthquakes are in Mexico City for the U.S. friendly against El Tri: Chris Wondolowski, Steven Beitashour and … Wait for it! … Alan Gordon. Yes, things are definitely swell in Buck Shaw Valley when Alan Gordon is getting swept into national team duty.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man United on verge of signing Shakhtar’s Fred

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Jose Mourinho is nearing a boost to his attacking midfield, with Brazilian international Fred reportedly on the verge of joining Manchester United.

The 25-year-old midfielder has starred for Shakhtar Donetsk the past five seasons, cementing his place as a starter for the Ukrainian side and impressing in UEFA Champions League matches. Fred follows the likes of Manchester City’s Fernandinho and Chelsea’s Willian as using Shakhtar as a mid-way point between Brazil and the Premier League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

According to multiple reports in England, Manchester United is in advanced negotiations to sign Fred for a reported transfer fee of nearly $59 million. The singularly-named Fred would be the third-famous Fred to play for Man United, following Freddie Goodwin, who played for the Red Devils from 1954-60 and Fred Erentz, who played from 1892-1902.

Although he is not physically big, Fred could be an Eden Hazard-type player, a tricky midfielder who puts defenders on their heels as he skates past them with the ball.

Here are more transfer rumors and notes from around the Premier League:

(more…)

FIFA Council member Nyantakyi arrested on return to Ghana

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ACCRA, Ghana (AP) FIFA Council member and Ghana Football Association head Kwesi Nyantakyi has been arrested on his return to his home country following a complaint made against him by the Ghanaian president.

Police spokesman David Eklu confirmed to The Associated Press on Thursday that Nyantakyi, also a vice president of the Confederation of African Football, is in custody and being interrogated.

[READ: Yaya Toure talks future, playing with Paul Pogba]

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo asked police to investigate Nyantakyi after the soccer boss allegedly was caught in an undercover documentary promising businessmen access to the president and other senior government officials in return for money.

Nyantakyi was out of the country at the time President Akufo-Addo made the complaint.

Ghana media reported that Nyantakyi, a member of the powerful FIFA Council since 2016 and an influential figure in African football, was picked up by plain-clothes police at the airport in Accra and taken straight to police headquarters.

NFL’s 49ers purchase minority stake in Leeds United

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One of England’s most famous clubs is receiving investment and strategic business connections from one of the NFL’s most famous brands.

Leeds United and the San Francisco 49ers announced Thursday that 49ers Enterprises, an investment arm of the 49ers ownership, has purchased a minority stake in the Championship club. Multiple reports state that the 49ers now own 10-15 percent of the club, but current Leeds chairman Andrea Radrizzani remains the majority owner.

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As part of the deal, 49ers President Paraag Marathe gets a seat on the Leeds United board of directors. Per Leeds, the money invested will stay with the club and be used for the first team, as Leeds looks again to make its way back to the Premier League in next season’s campaign.

An American ownership group investing in England is nothing new, but to identify and purchase a stake in a club with history and a decent chance at making it to the Premier League is impressive. In addition, the York Family, who owns the 49ers, has a net worth in the billions, which could help fund Leeds’ push back into the Premier League.

For the 49ers, this is also a savvy business decision. By investing low in a club in the Championship, they hope that they can experience the financial windfall of playing in the Premier League. This season, clubs made a combined $3.2 billion (with a capital B) thanks to revenue sharing, international and domestic TV rights, and other sponsorship deals.

With even the relegated sides taking home nine figures in revenues from the league, who wouldn’t want to invest and take a cut of that?

Now, only time will tell how long it is before the 49ers influence helps – or hinders, based on the 49ers current state of affairs in the U.S. – Leeds reach the pinnacle of English football.

Iniesta joins Japanese club Vissel Kobe

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TOKYO (AP) Former Barcelona playmaker Andres Iniesta was introduced as the newest member of Japanese club Vissel Kobe on Thursday, a poorly kept secret that’s been rumored for weeks.

Iniesta appeared before a packed news conference at a central Tokyo hotel on Thursday along with Kobe’s billionaire owner, Hiroshi Mikitani.

[READ: Earnie Stewart being considered for U.S. Soccer post]

“I’m pleased to announce,” Mikitani said, “that Andres Iniesta will be signing up play with Vissel Kobe after his historic career at Barcelona.”

Iniesta signed his contract as Mikitani watched, and then spoke through an interpreter.

Terms of the contract were not disclosed, but Japanese media are reporting he will earn $30 million annually on a three-year deal.

“For me this is a very special day,” the Spaniard said. “This is an important challenge for me. My family is excited to come to Japan and we are very pleased. There were many offers. Other clubs showed interest. But I decided to sign with Vissel Kobe because the project presented to me was impressive.”

Mikitani is also the CEO of Barcelona sponsor Rakuten, a Japanese online retailer.

Iniesta held up the team’s red shirt with his famous No. 8 on the back, and his name written across the bottom.

Iniesta previously had said he would probably retire from international soccer after Spain plays at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

The 34-year-old Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup final. He also was a key part of Spain’s two European Championships in 2008 and 2012.

He announced last month he would leave Barcelona after 16 seasons. His last match for the Spanish club was on Sunday against Real Sociedad at Camp Nou.

Vissel Kobe is in sixth place after 15 games in the J-League. It signed Lukas Podolski last year, but the German striker is out until the end of June with an injured calf.