PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – Stability-enhanced edition

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Perhaps we’re buying into our own preconceptions, but last week was a relatively stable one in Major League Soccer. At least, if you see Power Rankings like these as an indication of flux, MLS’s teams are starting to play to expectations. Only two teams moved more than two spots on this week’s chart.

One of those teams, Sporting Kansas City, is in the middle of its worst slide since 2011. Even if you saw KC’s fall coming — and I don’t know anybody that did — you couldn’t have predicted it’d be this bad. Granted, Sporting still sits second in the East, but in terms of form, this team has gone from among the league’s most predictable to a mid-season question mark.

The other big mover is New England, who is on its third third major streak of the season. Five straight wins this spring vaulted the Revs to the top of our rankings, but when our list returned after a World Cup break, New England was two from the bottom, an eight-match losing streak sending Jay Heaps’ side out of the East’s top five. Now, having won four-in-a-row, New England’s climbing back toward the top, but won’t worry. There’s still time for Mr. Hyde to send the Revs back to the bottom.

Until then, here’s our updated list, with New England knocking on the door of what’s become a solid quintet at the top:

MORE: Last Week’s Power Rankings | Mid-week adjustment |  Methodology

RANKING
Up/Down

source:

1 LA Galaxy: Anywhere else on the chart, you want to seethat bright green “UP” in the “Up/Down” column. But when you’re at the top, nothing looks better than that thin back line – the dash that says all your challengers fell short. We were here last week, we’re here now, and in all likelihood, we’ll be here going forward. LA hopes the latter is true. (14-5-7)

2 UP 2 Real Salt Lake: After 60 minutes of dominance, RSL was in danger of dropping points against visiting Dallas, but thanks to Alvaro Saborio’s idyllic return, the Claret and Cobalt hinted at what it will be going forward: A team capable of punishing teams resting in their own third. (12-5-10)
source:  3 D.C. United: The draw at Vancouver was more than a point, particularly given the absences of Eddie Johnson (short-term) and Chris Rolfe (longer). With Sporting slumping, United has a change to lock down the East with upcoming games against New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia. (14-8-5)
source:  4 DOWN 2 FC Dallas: Two spots is a severe drop for a team that only lost by one at RSL. Compared withhow United performed in Utah, Dallas looks like the better team. If it wasn’t for the Toros’ loss last week at Chicago, we’d be inclined to agree, but recent form suggests Dallas should take this step back, particularly after being so far behind the game over Saturday’s first hour. (12-9-6)
source:  5 Seattle Sounders:  Though last Wednesday was impressive, Seattle ultimately beat a nose-diving Chivas USA. It’s no reason to move up, but given how impressive the Soudners were in Wednesday’s first half, it was also no reason to move down. (16-7-3)
source:  6 UP 5 New England Revolution: Five spots is a big jump, but New England had a two-win week, with Sunday’s new set up showing Jermaine Jones will be given room to dominate. With Lee Nguyen inserting himself into MVP discussions, New England’s become the biggest threat outside our increasingly staid top five. It’s almost as if the June (and July) swoon never happened. (12-12-3)
source:  7 Philadelphia Union: It was a six-point week for Philadelphia, but wins over Toronto are becoming obligatory. If the Union were lower on this chart, those steady performances would be enough to justify a rise. At seven, though, competition above them makes it more difficult to move up. (9-9-9)
source:  8 DOWN 2 Columbus Crew:  So Columbus loses last week at Montreal and moves up, but they a win this week costs them a spot? Go figure, context is important, and whereas a strong performance by the Impact made last week’s loss understandable, the 3-0 win over Chivas USA flattered an often flat performance. Ultimately, Columbus’s ranking has been more influenced by teams New England and Kansas City than the team’s own decent results. (9-9-9)
source:  9 DOWN 1 Portland Timbers:  Portland may be the most entertaining team in the league, but at this point, that entertainment is coming at the expense of results. Not that Caleb Proter’s been willing to make that trade, but as exciting as his attack has been, his defense seems committed to preserving drama. One week after a clean sheet in Vancouver, Portland gave up three at home.  (8-8-11)
source:  10 New York Red Bulls:  Saturday’s was a great result for New York, but in terms of Power Rankings, the results were more equivocal. What is a win over a plummeting Sporting worth right now? Unfortunately, we don’t know, so instead of vaulting New York up the chart, we’ll take a wait-and-see approach. (8-8-10)
source:  11 UP 1 Houston Dynamo: Three wins in four games have renewed Houston’s playoff hopes, and while they’re still five back of a postseason spot, Power Rankings are easier to navigate. The teams below this line are all struggling to get results. Though Houston has yet to silence its doubters, the team’s still cracking the win column. While there’s a danger of being too results-based, the points serve a nice tiebreaker when things get close. (9-13-4)
source:  12 UP 1 San Jose Earthquakes:  Again: consider the form; consider what’s around them. San Jose has taken points from Real Salt Lake, Seattle, and Portland recently, and while they’ve also gone over a month without a win (over Seattle, mind you), the Earthquakes have at least shown they’re capable of troubling some of the league’s stronger teams. Right now, with the possible exception of Montreal, nobody below this point is doing the same. The record says lower. The form says here.(6-10-9)
source:  13 DOWN 4 Sporting Kansas City: A two-loss week, five more goals allowed, and Sporting has lost the benefit of the doubt. Losing at New York after Dom Dwyer, Benny Feilhaber, and Aurelien Collin returned to the lineup left them out of excuses. Right now, Sporting’s just not that good. (12-10-6)
source:  14 Vancouver Whitecaps: Much as, as in the case of Philadelphia, it’s difficult to climb once you reach a certain point in the rankings, it’s also difficult to fall too far without losing games. Vancouver has done their fair share of that of late, but with a draw on Saturday against East-leading D.C., it’s difficult to be too harsh. In the bigger picture, however, there are very few teams Vancouver seems capable of beating, at the moment – the reason why a team still on the verge of a playoff spot is so ranked so low. (7-6-13)
source:  15 UP 1 Montréal Impact:  The Impact ultimately lost this weekend, but for the fourth game in a row, Montreal gave a decent performance. The only games this team’s lost since Aug. 2 have been on the road, and with wins over Chicago and Columbus (as well as Saturday’s encouraging show in Houston), Montreal deserves this bump. (5-16-5)
source:  16 DOWN 1 Chicago Fire: A one-goal loss at New England would look a lot better if the team put more than one shot on target. Whatever progress Chicago made against Dallas didn’t make its way to New England.  (5-7-14)

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17 UP 1 Colorado Rapids: Friday was a disaster, but given how it happened, the game tells us nothing new about how Colorado will play going forward. They were bad last week. They were bad against LA. If something doesn’t change, they’ll be bad next week, too. (8-13-6)
source:  18 DOWN 1 Toronto FC: After two more losses, there’s only one team in Major League Soccer we can see the Reds beating on a neutral field, right now. Thankfully for Greg Vanney, the gains Toronto made over the season’s first five months keep TFC in playoff contention. (9-11-6)
source:  19 Chivas USA:  Since drawing Vancouver at home on Aug. 16, Chivas USA has been outscored 11-2 (four games). During their nine-match winless run, six games have been decided by more than one goal. If Chivas USA is trying to finish its existence with a prolonged metaphor, mission accomplished. We get it: This franchise wasn’t that good. (6-15-6)

Report: Wolves buying Nelson Semedo from Barcelona

Semedo to Wolves
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Wolves are turning much of the Diogo Jota money into Barcelona right back Nelson Semedo, according to several reports.

Semedo, 26, is set to cost around $42 million, some $16 million less than the reported max value of Jota’s sale to Liverpool.

Barca will open up some money to pursue American back Sergino Dest and others with the sale of Portuguese international. Reporter Fabrizio Romano says Bayern Munich still feels it’s in prime position to buy the Ajax back.

[ MORE: Wolves – Man City preview ]

Semedo would help replace Matt Doherty and could again push Adama Traore forward into a wing role.

Semedo has won four league titles between Benfica and Barcelona as well as the UEFA Nations League as part of his 14 caps for Portugal. He has two goals and 11 assists in three seasons at the Camp Nou, where Ronald Koeman is trying hard to clear out salary.

He would join boss Nuno Espirito Santo as well as Ruben Neves, Rui Patricio, Joao Moutinho, Pedro Neto, Daniel Podence, Fabio Silva, Vitinha, Ruben Vinagre, and Roderick as Portuguese members of Wolves.

Next up for the Wolves is a visit from Man City on Monday (Watch live at 3:15 pm ET Monday, online via Peacock).

Brighton cruises past Newcastle through Maupay brace

Newcastle - Brighton
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Newcastle – Brighton: Neal Maupay scored twice in the first seven minutes of Brighton and Hove Albion’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United at St. James’ Park on Sunday.

Aaron Connolly scored late to complete the score line and Yves Bissouma saw a late red card as the Seagulls deserved every bit of the win.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ] 

Newcastle drops to 1-1 on the season following its opening win over West Ham. The Magpies are off to Tottenham next, while Brighton hosts Manchester United.


Three things we learned from Newcastle – Brighton

1. Going two behind Brighton a problem: Graham Potter’s Seagulls could be one of the season’s surprise packages, especially if teams hand them early two-goal leads. The club has an embarrassment of riches at center back and was able to loan Shane Duffy, a very good back in his own right, to Celtic because of Ben White, Lewis Dunk, Adam Webster, Joel Veltman, and Dan Burn. The first three played Sunday and were basically impenetrable

2. More promise from Maupay: Maupay scored 10 times last season, his first in the Premier League after the Frenchman buried 25 chances for Brentford in his last season in the Championship. He finished his penalty and slotted a second on Sunday, and his team looks set to produce plenty of chances for its forwards this year.

3. Turnabout fair play: The Magpies were, perhaps, surprisingly decisive winners at West Ham on opening day while Brighton did well enough and would’ve felt unlucky to fall by two to Chelsea on Monday. Perhaps the early lead was a massive help but Brighton looked better prepared for Newcastle and the Magpies’ lack of a real game-changer in the midfield proved its undoing.

Man of the Match

We might’ve given it to Bissouma for a complete performance but his wild boot to the face of Jamal Lewis was ugly though unintentional. Lamptey was great but left early. Maupay’s next in line, just ahead of an impressive Leandro Trossard.


Newcastle – Brighton recap

Jamaal Lascelles cleared early danger for Newcastle but that was a harbinger of what was to come as Allan Saint-Maximin chopped Tariq Lamptey down in the box to give Brighton a third-minute penalty.

Maupay dispatched a hard low penalty under a diving Karl Darlow to make it 1-0.

The Frenchman had it 2-0 moments later when VAR overruled the assistant referee when Lamptey led a charge down the right of Newcastle’s defense.

Yves Bissouma was lively in the first 22 minutes and blazed over the bar.

The hits kept coming for Newcastle as Saint-Maximin left the match in the 34th minute with an ankle ailment. The French wizard was replaced by Ryan Fraser.

Steven Alzate led a stoppage-time rush that nearly put it out of reach, Leandro Trossard’s ball making its way to Lamptey but the back’s shot smothered by Karl Darlow.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Newcastle boss Steve Bruce lifted Andy Carroll for Miguel Almiron and the Magpies had more of the ball in the second half.

But Brighton twice challenged Darlow while the final ball kept eluding Newcastle.

The Magpies finally got their chance when Callum Wilson butchered a point-blank header off of Almiron’s fine cross.

Aaron Connolly broke through the back line and smashed the post but the AR’s flag was up. Trossard then clobbered the post on a shot that would’ve counted had it been on target.

Newcastle couldn’t make anything from a series of Ryan Fraser corners, Jeff Hendrick’s attempt to recreate a great goal at West Ham instead sailing well over the frame with 11 minutes to play.

Connolly had been knocking on the door and delivered the knockout blow with a terrific curler from inside the 18 in the 84th minute.

Bissouma was shown his red after VAR review of his reckless cleat to the face of Jamal Lewis with a few minutes to play, the Newcastle defender badly bloodied.

Chelsea – Liverpool: How to watch, start time, team news, prediction, odds

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Chelsea – Liverpool: This is always one of the biggest games of the Premier League season and on Sunday (Watch live at 11:30am ET, online via Peacock) at Stamford Bridge we can expect all-out attack between these two stacked heavyweights.

CHELSEA – LIVERPOOL STREAM LIVE

Frank Lampard and Chelsea have spent close to $300 million on new players this summer and may spend even more as they look to make the leap from a top four team to title contenders. As for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, the reigning champions had a scare in their opening day win against Leeds but will know they will have plenty of chances to score against Chelsea.

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Here is everything you need to know ahead of Chelsea – Liverpool this Sunday with team news, odds, stream link and more.


Team news: Chelsea – Liverpool (INJURY REPORT)

Chelsea will be without USMNT star Christian Pulisic as Lampard revealed he suffered a minor injury setback from his hamstring issue. This game has also come too early for new signings Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell, and Thiago Silva to make their debuts as they work their way towards full fitness. Timo Werner is fit after suffering a small injury on his debut.

Frank Lampard issued the following injury update on Pulisic:  “Chilwell is not ready for the game, neither is Christian Pulisic. We hope they will work well during the week.” And had this to say after their win at Brighton on Monday: “Christian was training with us last week but he had a bit of discomfort a couple of days ago when he was trying to be in contention for today. It would have been a big ask for today and he has had to take a few steps back and we will have to see.”

Liverpool has Thiago Alcantara on the bench and Kostas Tsimikas available following a period of self-isolation after he tested positive for COVID-19. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missing once again after he picked up a knee injury, while Xherdan Shaqiri is battling back from yet another injury. 


What they’re saying

Frank Lampard on the brewing rivalry, sideline clashes with Jurgen Klopp: “How much do you want to make of it? If you’re pushing to be successful… we had it when I was a player. In the Champions League we drew each other a lot. In modern terms it’s slightly different because Liverpool are on top of the league and we’re trying to improve. Both squads, clubs and coaches are very driven to win. It’s what the Premier League is all about. The nature of the world we live in is there’s a lot of airtime for you to fill with rivalries. They can be scrutinised in every way. I have huge respect for him, what he’s done at Liverpool was incredible. There’s nothing in it for me. The competitive nature of the 90 minutes can boil over but the respect for Klopp I have will never change.”

Klopp on Mohamed Salah’s hat trick on the opening day against Leeds: “Of all the good performances Mo had for us obviously, this was for sure one of the better ones. So he should be proud of that because it’s very special to have these kind of numbers. ‘Long may it continue,’ I like to think in these moments, and this time I say it as well.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Chelsea (+215) are the underdogs but Liverpool’s odds are longer (+115) than many would expect. Chelsea have done well against Liverpool in recent seasons and seem to match up with them well, and the draw (+270) would be the smart bet in this one. Both teams would take that early in the season and move on.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Prediction

I’m going for a goalfest here and I think both teams will have plenty of chances and it’s all about who is more clinical. Liverpool will try to shore things up at the back but I think Chelsea know how to get behind them and Werner, if he’s fit, will cause problems. I’m going for 3-3. This will be a classic.


How to watch Chelsea – Liverpool stream and start time

Kickoff: 11:30 am ET Sunday
Online: Stream via Peacock

Mourinho comments after leaving Dele Alli out amidst PSG links

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Tottenham Hotspur scored five times in Sunday’s win over Southampton, but Jose Mourinho’s comments after leaving Dele Alli out of the team will have elicited plenty of buzz.

So will rumors that Paris Saint-Germain is among the clubs seeking the English attacker’s signature.

[ RECAP: Southampton 2-5 Spurs ]

Saying “I want a balanced squad” and that he has too many forwards to dress right now — yes, even before Gareth Bale suits up — Mourinho explained his thoughts on the forward.

From Football.London:

“I’m not responsible for the market. I’m not able to answer your question on that. I can only say I left eight players behind training. They are a big group and Dele was among this group. The same way a squad is a puzzle and in the same way so is the bench. I cannot have three wingers and a number 10 and then no defender. Dele stayed out but probably Tuesday he will play.”

Journalist Fabrizio Romano reported that Spurs have been trying to offload Dele over the past few days and that Real Madrid did not want to take him on loan as part of the Gareth Bale deal.

The 24-year-old was hooked at halftime of Tottenham’s season-opening loss to Everton and has cooled off considerably since an early rejuvenation under Mourinho last season.

Dele has 62 goals and 55 assists in 223 appearances for Spurs, but just 16 and 14 in his last 77 dating back to the start of the 2018-19 season.

The knock on Dele has been that he’s a poor trainer, something the player laughed off when Mourinho pointed it out with a smirk during a meeting caught by cameras during the club’s “All Or Nothing” series.

Dele has three goals and six assists in 37 England caps and would still fetch a decent transfer fee, though he hasn’t appeared for the Three Lions since 2019.

Is it time to sell? Spurs run the risk that Dele’s value may never quite rebound anywhere near its heights and could dip quite a bit lower if he stays out of favor in North London. And Bale’s salary isn’t going to pay itself.