ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings (in two parts)

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

19. Chivas USA – What, in the name of Gerd Muller, must Chivas USA do to please the soccer gods and find a doggone goal? Six matches in September brought a grand total of one. One! At this point, who knows what in the world will happen in the offseason with this little lost sheep of a soccer club.  

18. Toronto FC – Two of three matches remaining are against teams with playoff ambition (Columbus and D.C. United). And there’s a match against Canadian rival Montreal. So, there’s still a little something to play for around BMO – assuming spoiler rolls and rivalries are worth something to you. They certainly are to passionate manager Paul Mariner.

(MORE: Tough choices and important questions around TFC)

17. Colorado Rapids – Conor Casey had a nice match in holding up play and brining others into the game during a 1-1 draw at home against Los Angeles. So, that’s progress. But Casey needs to begin finishing. Because two goals in 18 matches is not what a starting center forward wants to hang his hat on.

16. Portland Timbers – The Timbers need to quickly shake the frustration of last week’s controversial draw with D.C. United. Yes, Mr. Paulson, it was a silly call. There’s one thing left for which to play in 2012, the cherished Cascadia Cup, and that bad boy is at stake this week in Seattle. What a chance for Portland, too; the Timbers can send 66,000-plus home in rave green disappointment by rising to the nationally televised moment Sunday.

(MORE: is disciplinary action in the works for owner Merritt Paulson?)

15. Philadelphia Union – Two critical calls appeared to have been blown (both affecting the playoff race). One of them had Philly on the bad side, as an offside decision that went uncalled provided Columbus the game-winning goal in a 3-2 result over the Union. Meanwhile, looks like center back Bakary Soumare is done for 2012.

14. New England Revolution – Jay Heaps’ men went to Houston and made things very difficult on the Dynamo, a playoff aspirant that was desperate for the home win. You could argue that New England even created the better chances, which isn’t bad considering top midfield creator Lee Nguyen is done for the year.

13. Montréal Impact – For anyone remaining out there who still believes Montreal can somehow defy gravity and make the playoffs (bless your optimistic soul), consider this: The Impact visit Houston this week toting that awful 2-12-1 road record. Meanwhile, the Dynamo has not lost this year at spanking new BBVA Compass Stadium. So …

12. Vancouver Whitecaps – Every time I see Vancouver, I want to see a little more offensive “want-to,” a little less sitting back and hoping for the best. They may yet sneak into the 2012 playoffs; the odds remain with them as pursuing Dallas simply dug down too deeply over the season’s first half. Still, winless in seven matches now following last week’s scoreless draw with Seattle? Not. Good. And now livewire striker Darren Mattocks (pictured above) is injured. Not. Good. At. All.

11. Columbus Crew – Jairo Arrieta hit a vital pair of goals before the break, and the Crew found wonderful fortune in a late strike that really wasn’t. Regardless, a 3-2 win over Philadelphia keeps hope alive in Ohio. Arrieta has a goal or an assist in four consecutive matches, reminding us all what a great summer signing he was – even if journos like me keep writing about Federico Higuain.

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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