ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Nine rounds remain, and the races for playoff spots just keep tightening; Here is our weekly re-ordering of Major League Soccer teams, following 25 rounds of play:

19. D.C. United – Ben Olsen’s team fell to Montreal. Olsen got tossed out. The team remains on track for some dubious records. Ooof.

18. Toronto FC – Wasn’t Danny Koevermans supposed to be back by now? Every little bit will help for this bunch, which fell in Columbus on Saturday.

17. Chivas USA – Let’s see if the Goats can keep 11 players on the field for a mid-week meeting with FC Dallas. It hasn’t been that easy lately for Chivas USA.

16. FC Dallas – On the one hand, Mauro Diaz looks like a pretty good mid-season addition in the midfield. On the other hand we have that unsightly 11-game winless skid, which dates to May 25.

15. Columbus – Federico Higuain has that September look about him, as a another goal from the Crew’s top man helped give the men in yellow back-to-back wins for the first time this year.

14. Chicago Fire – A summer that had seemed to turn in the Fire’s favor took a downward dip in a 2-0 loss at New England. The team looked suddenly short of midfield ideas. Manager Frank Klopas and center back Bakary Soumare were ejected post-final whistle for their part in a sideline kerfuffle.

13. New England Revolution – Mayhem erupted at the end of New England’s 2-0 win over Chicago. Mayhem aside, it’s a big three points for the sixth-place Revs, considering they are neck and neck with seventh-place Chicago.

12. San Jose Earthquakes – Chris Wondolowski hit his eighth goal of 2013 as the Earthquakes upset Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, at Buck Shaw. “Wondo” and Co. have won five in a row at home, and that success in the Bay area has helped keep the ‘Quakes relevant in the playoff chase.

11. Houston Dynamo – Clint Dempsey was the name to know at BBVA Compass Stadium, but the Dynamo’s Giles Barnes stole the show with two goals, including one blistering right-footer from 35 yards in a 3-1 win over Seattle. Watch Barnes’ fantastic strike here.

(MORE: MLS Round 25 week in review)

10. Montreal Impact – A win over hapless D.C. United is not the achievement to hang your hat on in 2013; on the other hand, the Impact haven’t won a lot lately, so the late-game winner from  Marco Di Vaio was big stuff around Stade Saputo. He had both goals in the 2-1 win, his first strikes in MLS since July 3.

9. Philadelphia Union – It is rarely pretty with John Hackworth’s team, but the Union sure knows how to grind out results. Latest example, a highly useful scoreless draw at the New York Red Bulls. And, of course, if you’re going to play a 0-0 contest, may as well have a streaker after the final whistle to liven up the joint, eh?

8. Seattle Sounders – Stop everything this Sunday evening and watch a Cascadia Cup match for the ages against Portland. It. Will. Rock. … They’ve sold every seat in the building, Clint Dempsey will make his home debut and, of course, it’s Portland! Game time is 10 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

7. New York Red Bulls – The good work in goal of Luis Robles (pictured) was the high point from New York’s side of a scoreless draw against Philadelphia. But should the goalkeeper’s good work be a “high point” for a team blessed with Thierry Henry and other swell attacking threats? Meanwhile, Jamison Olave’s injury is concerning.

6. LA Galaxy – Robbie Keane is the newest hat trick hero around the StubHub Center, doing his three-goal thing in a commanding 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake. This comes after Landon Donovan’s hat trick of a week ago; this is an MLS club’s first back-to-back hat trick since San Jose’s in 2005 (Dwayne De Rosario and Donovan).

5. Vancouver Whitecaps – The Whitecaps suffered just their fourth loss 15 matches, falling 2-0 to in-form Colorado. Martin Rennie’s team resorted to hit-and-hope long balls to get over the Rapids’ busy midfield. They’ll presumably get that sorted out this week around BC Place.

4. Colorado Rapids – Raise your hand if you picked Colorado as a Supporters Shield contender. Hmmmm. … Not seeing many hands. … A 2-0 win over Vancouver is the latest good result for Oscar Pareja’s team, now unbeaten for nine in a row. New DP attacker Gabriel Torres (the club’s first Designated Player) debuted in a Rapids’ shirt.

3. Sporting Kansas City – Paying without Kei Kamara and Graham Zusi proved too much for the visitors in a 1-0 loss at San Jose. Peter Vermes’ team played well enough but did lack that last bit of playmaking and finishing quality that their talented pair provides.

2. Real Salt Lake – Manager Jason Kreis said the Galaxy was simply better, and it was hard to argue the point after a 4-2 thumping at the StubHub Center. (One of RSL goals came at the final whistle.) Not many bright spots, although Ned Grabavoy’s renaissance season remains rolling along.

1. Portland Timbers – Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe had the goals in a 2-1 win over FC Dallas, but Diego Valeri pulled the strings in a midfield master class at Jeld-Wen Field. Portland was without Will Johnson and Jack Jewsbury, which takes a lot of “heart and soul” off the field, so that made the “W” even more worthwhile.

Transfer news: Brooks to Liverpool; Henderson loan likely

David Brooks to Liverpool
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The latest transfer news in the Premier League sees David Brooks linked to Liverpool, while Dean Henderson could be heading out on loan from Manchester United once again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Starting in Liverpool, a report from the Daily Star says Liverpool are the frontrunners to sign Welsh attacker David Books, 23, from recently-relegated Bournemouth.

Per the report, Everton, Tottenham and West Ham all want to sign Brooks but Bournemouth’s price tag of $45.7 million is putting clubs off.

David Brooks is certainly a Klopp-like signing. Look at Georginio Wijnaldum, Andrew Robertson and Harvey Elliott. Liverpool’s recruitment team loves to scour the recently-relegated sides for a bargain and Brooks would fall into that category but from his playing style he would also be a very good fit.

His 2019-20 season was impacted by a huge ankle injury but his return after the restart did improve Bournemouth and had the Welsh international been fit all season, they’d probably still be in the top-flight.

Where would he slot in at Liverpool? The Reds do need a tricky, more attack-minded attacking midfield player and although Brooks primarily plays out wide, he can slot inside and would be a good alternative to Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum. Brooks could also play out wide if Salah and Mane need a rest, and is probably a better option than fringe players Xherdan Shaqiri and Takumi Minamino.

It remains to be seen if Klopp and Liverpool will splash this kind of cash, as they are said to be keen on trimming their squad and adding conservatively. That said, David Brooks would probably be worth over $70 million before his injury and Bournemouth’s relegation, and he is young and hungry and has bags of pace as well as being a direct runner with the ball at his feet. Liverpool may decide that this is the right player at the right price at the right time.

Dean Henderson Manchester United
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Moving from Liverpool to Manchester, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a dilemma with his goalkeepers.

David de Gea is no doubt his number one but with Sergio Romero as his back-up option and youngster Dean Henderson desperate to stake his claim as a regular at Man United, something has to give.

The London Evening Standard believes that means Henderson, 23, will head back out on loan for the 2020-21 season. Henderson shone on loan at Sheffield United over the last two seasons but with the Blades looking to sign Bournemouth goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale on a permanent deal, maybe Henderson could be heading elsewhere this summer.

Henderson has been linked with Chelsea, but Man United would be unwilling to strengthen a direct rival, so a move back to the Blades seems likely. However, an extra spanner in the works is that Romero could move on as he now wants to play regularly, so Henderson would be De Gea’s back-up for the 2020-21 season.

Asked about his goalkeeper situation, here’s what Solskjaer had to say.

“I think I must be the most privileged manager in the world with the goalkeeping department, with Sergio, David and we’ve got Dean Henderson coming back. Three top, top ‘keepers,” Solskjaer said. “This season has shown how important Sergio has been for us and for me David always, always performing. We will see what we do for the rest of the season and going forward. It’s difficult, but it’s a nice problem to have. We have Dean, Sergio, David in the ranks. Lee (Grant), the fantastic pro that he is, is backing them up. It will be difficult to keep three of them at the club, so we will see what the decision will be there.”

It would be tough for Henderson to go from playing regularly to sitting on the bench but is the next step in his development playing 10-15 games per season in the FA Cup and League Cup? He may get the odd start Champions League and Premier League game when De Gea needs a rest, but that’s it.

Henderson needs to play regularly and many would argue he should go head-to-head with De Gea for the starting spot at Man United and back himself. If De Gea makes a few mistakes early on in 2020-21 and Henderson is waiting around on the bench, he could get the chance he wants to usurp the Spanish star.

Champions League, Europa League: How to watch, odds, start time, predictions

Champions League odds
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The UEFA Champions League and Europa League action has resumed and I’m going to reveal my predictions for this next round as well as the latest odds for Europe’s top two continental tournaments.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

With Manchester City still in the Champions League and Manchester United and Wolves among the favorites to win the Europa League, there is a lot on the line for Premier League clubs in the coming weeks.

Just because the Premier League season is over, that doesn’t mean the action is over. Far from it. Both Manchester clubs are the bookmakers favorites to seal their respective European glory.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores ]

In the next few days the Europa League and Champions League quarterfinals will take place as the mini tournaments begin.

Man City beat Real Madrid 4-2 on aggregate, while Chelsea lost Bayern 7-1 on aggregate as they crashed out of the Champions League. Man United and Wolves are both in the quarterfinals and favored to go far.

Lisbon, Portugal will host the Champions League games from the quarterfinal stage onwards, while the Europa League games will be hosted around Germany.

Below is a look at my predictions, the odds for the games this week and how to watch and follow all of the fixtures in the USA.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com


JPW’s Champions League predictions

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
Wednesday, August 12: Atalanta 2-3 PSG
Thursday, August 13: RB Leipzig 1-2 Atletico Madrid
Friday, August 14: Barcelona 1-3 Bayern Munich
Saturday, August 15: Manchester City 3-1 Lyon


JPW’s Europa League predictions

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
Monday, August 10: Inter Milan 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Monday, August 10: Manchester United 3-1 Copenhagen
Tuesday, August 11: Wolves 1-2 Sevilla
Tuesday, August 11: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Basel


Champions League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)

(+210) Atalanta v. PSG (+117). Tie: +275
(+225) RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid (+135). Tie: +220
(+235) Barcelona v. Bayern Munich (+115). Tie: +255
(-305) Manchester City v. Lyon (+750). Tie: +450

Outright winner
Manchester City (+220)
Bayern Munich (+325)
Paris Saint-Germain (+500)
Atletico Madrid (+800)
Barcelona (+800)
Atalanta (+1000)
RB Leipzig (+1700)
Lyon (+3500)


Europa League betting odds

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
(+112) Inter Milan v. Bayer Leverkusen (+240). Tie: +250
(-385) Manchester United v. Copenhagen (+1000). Tie: +480
(+235) Wolves v. Sevilla (+120). Tie: +230
(-106) Shakhtar Donetsk v. Basel (+290). Tie: +255

Outright winner
Manchester United (+180)
Inter Milan (+325)
Sevilla (+500)
Bayer Leverkusen (+650)
Wolves (+700)
Shakhtar Donetsk (+1100)
Basel (+2500)
Copenhagen (+6000)

Jadon Sancho to Man United off? Dortmund say he will not leave

Jadon Sancho to Manchester United
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Jadon Sancho to Manchester United may not happen after all, as Borussia Dortmund are holding firm over the talented winger.

[ MORE: UCL, Europa predictions ]

According to numerous reports Dortmund still want $140 million for Sancho, 20, but were said to be willing to accept a smaller initial payment and larger instalments for the England international and wanted a deal done before Aug. 10 when they ramp up preseason.

Aug. 10 is today and Sporting Director Michael Zorc has spoken as the team flew to Switzerland for preseason training and Sancho was with them.

“We plan on having Jadon Sancho in our team this season, the decision is final. I think that answers all our questions,” Zorc said. “Last summer we adjusted Jadon’s salary to match the development of his performances. So in context, we had already extended his contract until 2023 back then.” 

Reports had stated that Sancho had all but agreed personal terms on a five-year contract at Man United and was just waiting on the two clubs to agree a transfer fee. But Dortmund and Man United have both distanced themselves from that in recent days as the German giants have not received any bids for Sancho from Man United.

We have now reached an impasse.

The England international is wanted by so many top clubs around Europe but Jadon Sancho to Manchester United seemed like the best fit.

Now it may not happen at all and Man United can play hardball here. They don’t really need Sancho. He would be a luxury signing.

Sancho will be a menace out wide with Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as United’s other forward options and Paul Pogba and the brilliant Bruno Fernandes creating just behind them. But he would be an extra sprinkle of stardust to an already star-studded attack rather than the cherry on top.

The summer transfer window closes on Oct. 5 and few will bet against Sancho leaving Dortmund between now and then.

Manchester United are going to wait for their man and Dortmund know it.

Manchester United – Copenhagen: How to watch, start time, prediction

Manchester United - Copenhagen
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Manchester United – Copenhagen preview: Copenhagen boss Stale Solbakken isn’t disguising his happiness that a bid to oust tournament favorites Manchester United from the Europa League will be contested over just one leg thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: JPW’s European predictions ]

“It is a great advantage for us that it is decided over one match on neutral ground and without spectators, than if we had to meet them both home and away,” he said on the club’s official site.

The entire tie will be staged at 3 pm ET Monday at Old Trafford.


Know the opponent: Copenhagen

The Danish Superliga runners-up stumbled down the stretch to finish four points ahead of third but well behind title-winning Midtjylland. Ousted from the Champions League by Red Star Belgrade in penalty kicks, defending has been an issue.

Players of a 4-4-2 for many of their recent outings, Copenhagen has won their last two in a 4-2-3-1. You may see ex-Manchester United prospect Guillermo Varela and former Sunderland and Everton player Bryan Oviedo.

Here are the highlights of the Round of 16 defeat of Istanbul Basekshir. Jonas Wind led the way in the 3-0 triumph at home, overcoming the 1-0 first leg loss in Turkey.


How they got here

Copenhagen had nearly five months to lament their 1-0 first leg deficit to Istanbul Basaksehir, then unloading on the Turkish powers via a 3-0 second leg in Denmark.

Copenhagen began their UEL run all the way back in the champions’ route of the playoff round, beating Latvia’s Riga before finishing second to Malmo in Group B. It then beat Celtic to get to the Round of 16 tie with Basaksehir.

United went 4-1-1 in the group stage, a loss to Astana on the penultimate match day no big deal thanks to a home pounding on AZ Alkmaar on the final day to win Group I.

The Red Devils pounded Club Brugge and LASK Linz over two legs to seal a space in the quarterfinals and are significant favorites to win the UEL. Their +180 odds through DraftKings are ahead of Inter Milan (+325) and Sevilla (+500).


What they’re saying

Man Utd’s Sergio Romero on the nature of his club: “As a group of players, if we have a team-mate who is struggling a bit on the day, all the lads have to give him a lift, so he can compete in the game in the best possible way. For sure, every bit of work and effort every day in training, as well as all our dreams are focused on getting United back to another Europa League final. So, we’re going to work hard for that to happen.”

Copenhagen boss Solbakken: “We have to meet the best Premier League team since the coronavirus break, and have, among other things, seen how they beat LASK 5-0 with a B-team, so no matter who they field, we naturally have great respect. … They have a lot of quick players, they play fast and they’ve been good on the counter since Bruno Fernandes came, and they also combine very fast around the field. So there is a lot you can get nervous about, but we have to stick to our own plan and see how far it can take us.”


Odds

The one-legged nature of this round changes the nature of the competition, as class will generally win out over 180 minutes. Ninety (plus) brings a bigger chance of an upset, with Manchester United at -385 and Copenhagen still the biggest underdog of the round at +1000.


Prediction

The match won’t be without scares, but even an empty Old Trafford bears its advantages. United emerges with a 3-1 win.


How to watch, stream Champions League and Europa League

Dates: August 5-23
Location: Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon/Germany
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: UCL here at NBCSports.com & Europa League here at NBCSports.com