PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: More movement, just not No.1

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Some course correction is in place for our second week in new hands, as teams from each conference may’ve taken umbrage at their PST MLS PR drops last week.

So many acronyms!

Any way, Los Angeles continues to look nearly unbeatable, as Jaime Penedo’s goalkeeping has raised its game to meet Robbie Keane and company’s electric attack. Bruce Arena’s move of Robbie Rogers to outside back has essentially demanded to coach of the year award (though Oscar Pareja and Gregg Berhalter deserve a say as well).

Philadelphia, New York and Portland all failed big tests — in our eyes — while New England passed one with flying comeback colors. And what about Toronto?

[ MORE: Last week’s rankings | Methodology ]

Here’s where we are:

RANKING Up/Down
source:  1 LA Galaxy: Can they somehow go higher? Can we place a spot above No. 1? The Galaxy are playing attractive soccer against some of the league’s better teams, and it’s hard to find enough plaudits to divide between Robbie Keane, Landon Donovan, Gyasi Zardes and Jaime Penedo. Los Angeles looks like a team of destiny, and the playoffs are coming. (16-5-9)
source:  2 UP 4 DC United: It’s a big jump one week after a decent drop in the rankings, but bear with us: DC had given us plenty to doubt after their 3-3 draw with Chicago, only to immediately remind us how well they can defend. Chris Korb’s return is an asset that cannot be denied, and DC rises back to a spot it deserves.  (15-9-6)
3 DOWN 1 Real Salt Lake: You could make the argument that RSL deserves to stay in spot No. 2, and honestly this is one that had us bouncing back-and-forth. Two losses from three matches is no befitting a No. 2 squadron, though, especially considering Vancouver had been struggling. (13-7-10)
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4 UP 1 Seattle Sounders: Up a spot thanks to getting off the schneid against Chivas USA, but we cannot boost them higher until we feel better about their defending. It’s a big concern for the Sounders. (18-8-3)
source:  5 UP 4 New England Revolution: Count us among the believers, especially now that Jermaine Jones and company greeted their first loss in a while with a win. After coughing up a 2-0 lead, ghosts could’ve come out to haunt them. They didn’t, and the Revs deserve loads of credit. (14-13-3)
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6 DOWN 2 New York Red Bulls: Well, that 4-0 beat down by Los Angeles certainly wasn’t pretty, but we’ll give a bit of a reprieve to the Red Bulls considering they were denied well by Jaime Penedo and uncharacteristic Bradley Wright-Phillips errors en route to their second-half collapse. Still winners of three of five without a weak W in there. (10-9-11)
source:  7 UP 1 Columbus Crew: We owe Gregg Berhalter an apology. Given his pedigree, the job he’s done in Ohio shouldn’t be a surprise, and the defeat of Montreal shows he learns quickly from his errors. (11-9-10)
source:  8 UP 2 FC Dallas: With only a loss to L.A. among his three last matches, Oscar Pareja is doing work in Dallas. Look out for some big upcoming matches that could assert Dallas as a title contender. (14-10-6)
source:  9 DOWN 6 Philadelphia Union: The Union faced a show-me something match against DC, and failed. If you think six spots is too dramatic a fall, you’re right: We had them too high. Sure, DC had some touchline clearances, but Bill Hamid put some opportunities out there to no avail. Conor Casey in particular seemed to fight the physical DC D and lose. (9-10-11)
source:  10 DOWN 3 Portland Timbers: Caleb Porter and company also faced a chance to reassert themselves. They looked on their way before coughing up a 2-0 lead to Toronto FC that sent them out of the Top Five. Must make most of back-to-back games with San Jose. The Will Johnson injury stings(9-9-12)
source:  11 UP 1 Houston Dynamo: Remember these guys? Now unbeaten through five matches, the Dynamo have a chance to be a playoff threat by winning their match in-hand. It won’t be easy – four of their remaining five matches is against a playoff foe – but it’s a lesson to almost never rule out Houston. (10-13-6)
source:  12 UP 5 Toronto FC: That’s two in-a-row for TFC, and the character shown in their come-from-behind win over Portland should serve notice that a team with leaders like Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe should not be overlooked. Hold a match-in-hand but L.A. is next. And L.A. is really good. (11-11-7)
source:  13 UP 1 Vancouver Whitecaps: This weekend’s win over Real Salt Lake was much-needed for Carl Robinson’s bunch, and a reminder that the Caps are capable of some great things. If they can navigate Dallas and Seattle, they’ll finish with a decent run-in to a playoff spot with matches against Colorado and San Jose to close the season. (9-8-13)
source:  14 DOWN 3 Sporting KC: What the heck is going on here? Matt Besler continues to make uncharacteristic errors, and Sporting’s only win since Aug. 16 is against Chivas USA. There are major concerns in title town, and we’re not sure they aren’t warranted. (13-11-6)
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15 DOWN 2 Montréal Impact: The loss to Columbus should serve as an unnecessary reminder to Montreal fans that it’s all about the CONCACAF Champions League. League form is about staying fit for their continental fight. (6-18-6)
source:  16 DOWN 1 Chicago Fire: It’s effectively over for Chicago after its loss to Houston. Imagine if one or two of those ties were wins.
(5-8-16)
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17 DOWN 1 San Jose Earthquakes: Drawing Colorado is not an accomplishment right now. Change is in the San Jose air, and it’s coming sooner rather than later (6-12-11)
source:  18 Colorado Rapids: Still haven’t won since July 25 after this week’s tie against San Jose. Chivas USA on October 11 might be their last chance to expect a win (8-14-8)
source:  19 Chivas USA: One point since July 12? We’ll raise you no team for two years(6-18-6)

USMNT to meet Canada, 2 others in 2021 Gold Cup group stage

2021 Gold Cup draw
Photo by Roy Miller/ISI Photos/Getty Images)
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The United States men’s national team learned its path to reclaiming the Gold Cup on Monday.

Gregg Berhalter’s Yanks will meet Canada and Martinique in the group stage, as well as one of the Gold Cup prelim winner that will come from the group of Haiti, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Bermuda, or Barbados.

“It’s a good group,” Berhalter said. “Canada has a great generation coming through and the other opponents we’ll see who gets in the four spot but it’s definitely a good group.”

[ MORE: Latest USMNT and Americans abroad news ]

The 2021 Gold Cup will be held July 10 – Aug. 1 in the United States.

Mexico, who beat the U.S. 1-0 in the 2019 Gold Cup Final to take back the trophy from the U.S., will face El Salvador and Curacao plus the nation that survives the prelims between Cuba, French Guyana, Montserrat, and Trinidad and Tobago.

No team has repeated as Gold Cup champion since El Tri beat the United States in 2009 and 2011.

Mexico has won eight Gold Cups and the United States has claimed six. Canada is the only other nation to win the Gold Cup, doing so in 1999.

Tournament invitee Qatar will join Group D with Honduras, Panama, and Grenada.

Group A

Mexico
El Salvador
Curacao
Cuba, French Guyana, Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago

Group B

United States
Canada
Martinique
Haiti, St. Vincent and The Grenadines, Bermuda, or Barbados

Group C

Costa Rica
Jamaica
Suriname
Guadeloupe, Bahamas, Guatemala, or Guyana

Group D

Honduras
Panama
Grenada
Qatar

UEFA Champions League qualifying: How to watch, start times, odds

Champions League qualifying
Photo by Raddad Jebarah/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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American defender Henry Wingo and manager Jesse Marsch face big weeks as the second legs of the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoffs take center stage Tuesday and Wednesday.

Wingo’s Molde drew Ferencvaros 3-3 in the first leg but those three away goals loom large as the American and his Norwegian club head to Hungary.

[ MORE: Champions League qualifying scores ]

Meanwhile, Marsch saw his Red Bull Salzburg come back from an early deficit in Israel to take a 2-1 advantage over Maccabi Tel-Aviv back to Austria.

Salzburg are very heavy favorites to win and advance to the Champions League group stage for another year.

Marsch has also been linked with an impending transfer for USMNT teen Brenden Aaronson, one of at least eight Americans to watch as the European transfer window reaches its conclusion next month.


How to watch the UEFA Champions League qualifying playoff round

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Tuesday and Wednesday
Stream: CBS All-Access (subscription required)


UEFA Champions League playoff round matches

All 12 legs will kickoff at 3 pm ET between Tuesday and Sept. 30.

First legs (Roundup)

Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1-2 Red Bull Salzburg
Slavia Prague 0-0 Midtjylland
Krasnodar 2-1 PAOK
Gent 1-2 Dynamo Kiev
Molde 3-3 Ferencvaros
Olympiakos 2-0 Omonia

Tuesday

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Wednesday

Midtjylland v Slavia Prague
PAOK v Krasnodar
Red Bull Salzburg v Maccabi Tel-Aviv


UCL second leg odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Ferencvaros (+108) v Molde (+215) | Draw (+230)
Dynamo Kiev (-118) v Gent (+280) | Draw (+235)
Omonia (+325) v Olympiakos (-130) | Draw (+235)
Midtjylland (+170) v Slavia Prague (+155) | Draw (+195)
PAOK (+105) v Krasnodar (+220) | Draw (+235)
Red Bull Salzburg (-834) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv (+1300) | Draw (+600)

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

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho thinks that schedule congestion is going to cost Spurs on Tuesday against Chelsea as well as in the treatment room.

The Portuguese boss says he will not be able to give the League Cup the respect he’d like because of Thursday’s Europa League visit from Maccabi Haifa is a match the club needs to make the UEL group stage.

Mourinho lost Heung-min Son to injury in Sunday’s controversial draw against Newcastle and he’s worried about what’s next.

“I think Sonny was just the first [injury],” Mourinho said, via Football.London. “More will come. So he was the first, but more will come.”

Edouard Mendy and Ben Chilwell could make their first Chelsea starts in the match, which comes too soon for Christian Pulisic and Hakim Ziyech.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round kickoff times and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham (+420) v Chelsea (-180) | Draw (+360) — 2:45 pm ET Tuesday
Newport County (+560) v Newcastle (-230)  | Draw (+340)— 12:30 pm ET Weds
Burnley (+625) v Manchester City (-275) | Draw (+375) — 2 pm ET Weds
Brighton (+300) v Manchester United (-120) | Draw (+250)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Everton (-145) v West Ham (+350) | Draw (+280)— 2:45 pm ET Weds
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

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


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Arteta rues missed chances in Arsenal loss to Liverpool

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Mikel Arteta knows his Arsenal team has a long way to go to be as fearsome as reigning Premier League champions Liverpool.

He also knows the Gunners could’ve easily taken a point off the Reds in place of the 3-1 loss on the scoreboard after Monday’s match at Anfield.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things | Player ratings ]

“Really tough place to come for anybody in the world,” Arteta said. “They set incredible standards. They dominate every aspect of the game. … They’ve been together five years. We are at a different moment of our journey.”

Alexandre Lacazette gave Arsenal an early lead in the game and was stymied by Alisson Becker in a second-half bid to make it 2-2.

But the Reds had so many chances before substitute Diogo Jota salted away the points, out-attempting Arsenal 21-4 and holding 66 percent possession.

[ MORE: Klopp’s animated post-match reaction ]

“Taking the lead put us in a really strong position to believe we could get something out of the game but we conceded too early,” Arteta said. “We had some problems with the ball and we had the best chances in the game and when it comes to Anfield you’re not going to get 10 chances. When you get through 1-against-1 against the keeper you have to score if you want to get something out of the game.”

Lacazette won’t love reading that, but Arteta is right. And Alisson also stopped a Lacazette chip on a breakaway goal bid that wouldn’t have counted because the Frenchman was offside.

Arsenal lost its first Premier League match of the season after winning its first two. The two sides meet again at the same venue in League Cup fourth round action on Thursday.

Arsenal’s next PL match is home to Sheffield United on Sunday.