PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: Did Seattle, DC leapfrog LA?

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We’re going to have to have a talk about the presupposed power of the superior West at some point soon.

DC United is defending its guts out, New England and Columbus are rampant, and New York is looking like its grateful to have held on to the final spot despite having incredible offensive upside.

Toronto, messy as it may be, will miss the playoffs despite a roster that includes Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe and Steven Caldwell.

Yes, there’s little doubt L.A. and Seattle will be the favorites to win MLS Cup. It’s hard to imagine either of them losing in a single 90 minutes, especially out West.

[ MORE: Last week’s rankings | Methodology ]

But it is a single 90 minutes. And there are plenty of teams surging forward to make statements of intent ahead of the playoffs.

Here’s where it all shakes out for us:

RANKING Up/Down
source:  1 LA Galaxy: This is the first time in a many many weeks that L.A.’s No. 1 position felt dicey. Seattle limited L.A.’s stars in Carson and took firm control of the the Supporters Shield. It’s victory or second-place for the Galaxy, and anything short of three points will cost them the Shield and — clearly ore importantly — this No. 1 spot. (17-6-10)
source:  2 UP 1 Seattle Sounders: Obafemi Martins. My goodness. The former Newcastle United flip man was a playmaker in the mold of Alan Shearer against L.A., turning the entire game on its head with his assists to Clint Dempsey and Lamar Neagles. He was, in a sense, the dictator of pace. (19-10-4)
source:  3 DOWN 1 DC United: La Barra Brava, Screaming Eagles, La Norte and District Ultras, bear with me here. Your team looks fantastic and has me convinced that it’s now clear team No. 3 in a 3-way race for MLS regular season supremacy. No one’s been better than L.A., Seattle or DC, and the Red and Black will not be ruled out of going atop the power rankings before the postseason. Going down a spot is not your fault. You won, after all. But did you see that L.A. / Seattle game? It has to be 1 & 2… at least for this week. (17-9-7)
source:
4 New England Revolution: Lee Nguyen is a force to be reckoned with, his first goal last weekend being a sublime piece of combination play between the 28-year-old and teammates Kevin Alston and Jermaine Jones. With a little more follow-through in marking, New England blanks Houston. (16-13-4)
source:  5 UP 2 Columbus Crew: The Crew look outstanding. Ethan Finley and Tony Tchani were a dynamic duo in New York over the weekend, and Andrew Schoenfeld’s brace was a good sign for the strike force. Gregg Berhalter deserves 100 high fives, and let’s hope USMNT boss Jurgen Klinsmann’s been paying attention to Ohio’s MLS team these past few weeks. (13-10-10)
source:
6 UP 2 FC Dallas: Winning at home is a force of habit for Dallas right now, which finishes its regular season against Portland this week. Dallas has taken care of Seattle and L.A. in recent weeks and if last week’s win over Colorado is a sign, winning everywhere is on the menu. (16-11-6)
7 DOWN 1 Real Salt Lake: Looking to shoot up the rankings? RSL has to make amends for their recent loss to Chivas USA to convince us, and they’ll get the chance on Wednesday night. (14-8-11)
source:  8 UP 1 Vancouver Whitecaps: Seattle, Dallas and Real Salt Lake have all fallen the way of Vancouver as the ‘Caps make a charge toward the postseason. The help Portland needs from Colorado could be a moot point given how well Vancouver has played in D and goal: They’ve allowed one goal in their last five matches (11-8-14)
source:  9 DOWN 4 New York Red Bulls: One clean sheet in a month, a stretch that has seen the Red Bulls give up multiple goals thrice. Their four-slot drop is a function of the muddled middle rather than fall from grace, but the 3-1 loss to Columbus wasn’t a defensive hat-hanger. (12-10-11)
source:  10 Portland Timbers: One year after going “fairy tale” on the MLS, the Timbers need help to even get into the playoffs. The year’s worth of fixes and “Surely this is just a bump in the road” could feel much worse for Timbers Army in a few days time. (11-9-13)
source:  11 UP 1 Philadelphia Union: It would be really nice to see Amobi Okugo and Maurice Edu in the playoffs, but it’ll have to wait. Philly has more than shown its merit this year. Come Monday we may be counting the Rais M’Bohli miscue as the reason they didn’t get in. (10-11-12)
source:  12 DOWN 1 Sporting KC: Every time you want to say KC is back, they go and do something head-scratching. The 2-1 loss to Philadelphia wasn’t terrible, but it also wasn’t encouraged. Matt Besler’s banged-up and the champs are looking a bit like underdogs. We bet they did that, though. (14-12-7)
source:  13 Houston Dynamo: Giles Barnes is still impressing and, despite the loss to New England, we’re guessing the East is happy Tyler Deric, Dominic Kinnear and company missed out on a postseason slot. (11-16-6)
source:  14 Montréal Impact: As Montreal prepares to say goodbye to Marco Di Vaio, perhaps the biggest question is whether they can replace him well enough to make a playoff run next year. Outside of net, they seem quite capable of being a contender under Frank Klopas. (6-18-9)
source:

15 UP 1 Chicago Fire: They have to turn some of those ties (and losses) into wins, but full marks to the Fire for competing week-in and week-out. Imagine if they were able to get Jermaine Jones as planned. (5-10-17)
source:  16 DOWN 1 Toronto FC: Just really, really… really, really… really, really… poor form. They are perhaps the biggest single-season disappointment in MLS history despite setting a franchise-best for points. (11-14-8)
source:  17 Chivas USA: They didn’t lose again. They also didn’t play. That changes Wednesday night. Drama. (8-18-6)
source:  18 San Jose Earthquakes: Quakes haven’t won since August 2, a stretch of 14 games that includes seven ties. (6-14-12)
source:  19 Colorado Rapids: Pablo Mastroeni and company must be eager to retool, but will he be allowed to be the one to do it? (8-17-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

USMNT learns Nations League dates, says no October friendlies

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CONCACAF’s summer is going to be red-hot as its top sides will scrap multiple times on the road to World Cup qualifying.

In other words, we might see the USMNT meet Mexico twice in a month.

The USMNT, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica are among the group of sides waiting to see who advances from the postponed first stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. The final round of World Cup qualifying had already been postponed.

It was revealed Tuesday that the quartet will now play the first ever CONCACAF Nations League Finals in June, three months behind schedule and just before the 2021 Gold Cup.

[ MORE: How 7 Americans fared in Bundesliga Wk 1 ]

The Gold Cup was previously postponed to June 10 – July 1 and the draw is set for Monday.

The Nations League semifinals see No. 1 seed Mexico against No. 4 Costa Rica and the No. 2 Catrachos of Honduras meeting the third-seeded USMNT.

A U.S. Soccer Federation release said the move is to put the focus on first stage of qualifying (It also gives all of the participants more time to figure out the pandemic atmosphere if it, as anticipated, reaches into a second year dramatically affecting sporting competitions):

This official competition Finals event will take place in a centralized location in the United States in June 2021. Concacaf will now work with our stakeholders to finalize the location and specific dates for this competition.

Playing this competition in June 2021 will enable the First Round of the Concacaf Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup, which involve 30 Concacaf Member Associations, to take center stage in March 2021.

Concacaf remains in discussions with FIFA to agree a new schedule for the Concacaf Qualifiers which retains the current format.

[ WATCH: Gooch’s solo goal for Sunderland ]

U.S. Soccer also announced that it will not play any matches or train in the October international break, aiming for a November return. That means Christian Pulisic will have even more time to find top form for Chelsea.

General manager Brian McBride says Gregg Berhalter’s group may have an additional December camp with its January camp, which is great news for MLS players hoping to cement their statuses in Berhalter’s mind while the European talent continues to play overseas.

“After extensive conversations about holding a men’s national team camp in October, we ultimately determined the unique challenges created by COVID-19 as it relates to hosting international opponents and getting our players together wouldn’t allow us to move forward,” men’s team general manager Brian McBride said, via the Associated Press. “While we won’t have the team together in this upcoming window, we are making considerable progress for November.”

West Ham manager Moyes, two players test positive for COVID-19

West Ham COVID-19
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West Ham United’s preparations for Tuesday’s League Cup match against Hull City were rocked by positive COVID-19 tests for three members of the first team.

Irons boss David Moyes, center back Issa Diop and midfielder Josh Cullen all were informed of positive coronavirus tests before the match. All were sent home and said to be asymptomatic.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

The match went on with assistant manager Alan Irvine taking the reigns.

Diop is by far the most significant name on that list when it comes to West Ham’s competitive fortunes (Yes, we know Moyes in the manager).

West Ham stressed that it’s been vigilant when it comes to COVID-19:

The Club’s measures and protocols around COVID-19 remain stringent. This included offering to test the Hull City team ahead of tonight’s fixture – an offer which they opted not to accept.

Diop went the distance in both of West Ham’s PL matches this season, while Cullen has not featured for Moyes. The Irons lost 2-0 to Newcastle and 2-1 to Arsenal.

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

UEFA Champions League qualifying
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The 12 clubs remaining in the race for the final UEFA Champions League group stage slots will be pared down to six in the next eight days.

There are American connections to two of the six ties.

Former USMNT midfielder Jesse Marsch manages Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg toward the next round, while Molde right back Henry Wingo came up with the Seattle Sounders.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salzburg are significant favorites to advance over two legs, odds accentuated by Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s seven players absent due to positive COVID-19 tests.

Marsch had previously said he did not want to go to Israel due to COVID-19 concerns, calling it “dangerous,” but has accepted the task at hand.

From Austrian publication Kronen Zeitung:

“The moment UEFA said we were going to play in Tel Aviv, it wasn’t a problem for me. Maccabi has a great team. We are not naive. We understand that we have to fight tomorrow.”

At 3:10 in some sportsbooks, Marsch’s men are the only club favored to win the first leg away. Salzburg is led by Dominik Szoboszlai and Patson Daka, who’ve helped the team thrive despite the sales of several stars including Erling Haaland and Takumi Minamino.

Molde has a much tougher test with Hungarian side Ferencvaros, who knocked off Celtic. That tie could go either way, while Slavia Prague and Olympiakos are respectively noticeable favorites to beat Midtjylland and Omonia Nicosia.

Dynamo Kiev will be expected to outlast Gent over two legs, while it would be a minor upset if PAOK takes down Krasnodar.


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.

Tuesday

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

Wednesday

Gent v Dynamo Kiev
Molde v Ferencvaros
Olympiakos v Omonia

Sept. 29

Ferencvaros v Molde
Dynamo Kiev v Gent
Omonia v Olympiakos

Sept. 30

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

Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa, Blues’ defense?

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Edouard Mendy to Chelsea: What does it mean for Kepa Arrizabalaga and how much does it improve the Chelsea defense?

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]   

Frank Lampard has confirmed that goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, 28, has arrived from Rennes in a $28 million deal and the Senegalese international will provide ‘competition’ to Kepa.

“Competition is a regular thing. We have brought Mendy in for that competition. It’s in everyone’s hands to get into the squad,” Lampard said. “I think it is the hardest position, because of the individual nature of it. I have to be sympathetic to that point. Last year I changed a few times, it’s a different thought process. We are always striving for the best performance.”

Is anyone buying that?

A couple of high-profile mistakes in Chelsea’s opening two games of the Premier League season has highlighted Kepa’s poor form and Chelsea have moved fast to bring in Mendy.

What does this mean for Kepa Arrizabalaga?

As the ProSoccerTalk lads discuss in the video above, this is probably the end, or at the very least the beginning of the end, for Kepa at Chelsea. Kepa has never really settled at Chelsea and over the last two seasons he hasn’t backed up being the most expensive goalkeeper in the world.

That transfer fee was a little false, as Chelsea were backed into a corner after losing Thibaut Courtois to Real Madrid and paid Kepa’s release clause of $91.1 million to Athletic Bilbao. But they still paid it and even if the fee was half of that, eyebrows would have been raised. Kepa, 25, has failed to command his box, looked nervous with the ball at his feet and shots from outside the box have also given him plenty of problems. Not a great combo for a goalkeeper.

Chelsea may look to loan him out but there’s no doubt that after being dropped for veteran Willy Caballero at the end of last season, the writing was on the wall and Kepa is on borrowed time at Stamford Bridge.

Does Edouard Mendy to Chelsea improve their defense right away?

Not right away, but it will help. His impressive ability to come for crosses and his towering six-foot six-inch frame should provide some stability and confidence from the defenders around him but the way Chelsea play suggests their defensive issues will remain.

Frank Lampard loves to attack and it’s fun to watch. Well, unless you’re a goalkeeper or defender for the Blues. Mendy is one part of the jigsaw and so too is Thiago Silva who will add a calm head and his experience to a youthful defense, and Ben Chilwell at left back will also improve their defensive outlook.

Lampard loves to attack, though, and we must admit that without N’Golo Kante in front of a oft-changed back four, things will be tough. Mendy’s arrival should help settle things down and help Chelsea improve at the back but Lampard needs his center backs to stand tall in the coming weeks and months.