ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

Leave a comment

(Nos. 1-10 are on deck …so check back)

19. Toronto FC – It’s all about CONCACAF Champions League, as we talked about earlier today on the blog. Santos Laguna visits BMO Field tonight, and there’s some trash talking history to this one. Trash talking! Does this mean CCL has arrived?

18. Portland Timbers – All things considered this was probably the best week around Jeld-Wen Field all summer. Things went well in a 2-1 win over rival Vancouver, there’s excited talk of a new coaching candidate being identified (Caleb Porter) and the reserves drew over 14,000 for a Sunday match. Cheers to ya, Timbers Army.

17. Colorado Rapids – Let’s all hope Pablo Mastroeni doesn’t decide to call it a day, but things aren’t looking good right now. So last week’s signing of Honduran international Hendry Thomas might help ease the sting if the former U.S. international cannot recover sufficiently from concussion-related issues and return by next season. As for this year? The weekend brought yet another beat-down, a 4-1 loss at San Jose.

16. New England Revolution – Management around Gillette Stadium grabbed Juan Toja in the allocation process. But you just have to think they are trying to package up the former FC Dallas standout and use him to improve the defense or goalkeeping. The entire rear guard just isn’t good enough. Latest evidence: a 4-3 loss at Columbus.

15. Chivas USA – To study the standings and Chivas USA’s games in hand, it looks like the Goats can still catch Vancouver for the final playoff spot. But it’s not going to happen – not without a major improvement. Robin Fraser’s team has gathered just four of a possible 15 points since late July. The team’s only wins since mid-June have come against down-and-out Portland. Combined score for the last three matches: 11-3 for the foes. Oh, up next: three consecutive matches on the road.  Playoffs? Not. Gonna. Happen.

14. Philadelphia Union – This Freddy Adu-John Hackworth back-and-forth may be the most interesting reason to watch events around PPL Park over the last few weeks. Adu was skillfully understated in his comments about coming off the bench in the weekend’s scoreless tie with Real Salt Lake – but that doesn’t mean he was happy about it.

13. Vancouver Whitecaps – Even some of the best supporters around BC Place are having doubts about this team’s ability to hold off challengers for the final playoff spot. A loss at Portland over the weekend certainly didn’t help matterrs. And now Barry Robson’s attitude is being called into question. (Robson is pictured above). It’s a question worth asking, too.

12. FC Dallas – A trip to Los Angeles threw a road block into all that momentum built on David Ferreira’s return. On the other hand, Blas Perez was added as a sub in Sunday’s 2-0 loss after missing the club’s last 12 matches. That was the first time this year Dallas’ top three attackers, Ferreira, Perez and Brek Shea, were on the field together. Vancouver can still be caught, but the margin for error grows thinner with each point lost for FCD.

11. D.C. United – Let’s say this for our friends from RFK: there is never a shortage of stories coming out of Black and Red Valley. Management is always trimming and adding to the roster. Or they are complaining about things that everyone deals with. They tend to change coaches a lot, too. Speaking of coaches, Ben Olsen’s lineup choices were controversial over the weekend. All the swirl of punchy storylines points to the same place, however: questions about whether United will breach the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

Claudio Villa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

Twitter/@Futbolestodo
Leave a comment

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

Epsilon/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

Catherine Ivill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]