PST’s Major League Soccer power rankings: Pre-playoff edition sees new boss, different from old boss

Leave a comment

The season’s final power rankings feature changes at the top and bottom of the Top 10 thanks to a colossal win and the impending playoffs, while a top-heavy Bottom 10 sees a fair bit of fluctuation as well.

Yes, these are our final power rankings until after MLS Cup, when we can assess who did what, disappointed whom and left us clamoring for more. Seattle dismissed L.A. over two matches to kick the Galaxy out of the top spot and give the Eastern Conference plenty of hope for the playoffs.

[ MORE: An recently uncapped MLS XI for Klinsmann’s perusal ]

What happened to this powerful unit in Los Angeles? Actually, it’s simple: if Robbie Keane can’t go, they are merely a great team instead of one possessing the potential for all-time greatness. Without Keane and Omar Gonzalez, as we saw last week, they are just a contender.

[ MORE: Last week’s rankings | Methodology ]

Fortunately for Galaxy fans, both of those players will be back for the matches that matter, but Seattle did enough to claim what some consider to be the season’s ultimate prize.

Here’s where it all shakes out for us:

RANKING Up/Down
source:  1 UP 1 Seattle Sounders: I’m not sure he loves it when you call him ‘Big Pappa’, but Marco straight-up punked the Galaxy to close out the Supporters Shield match. Obafemi Martins continues to look like a maestro who happens to play striker, and Clint Dempsey is playing so ornery that Sam Elliott is going to call him and tell him the sun will come up tomorrow. While that version of Dempsey could also come back to haunt the Sounders, they look great. Sigi Schmid’s a good manager, and could pull down the MLS treble (or as a bunch of inferiority-complex driven folks are bound to chime in with, “The Triple”, which sounds unfortunate). (20-10-4)
source:  2 DOWN 1 LA Galaxy: There isn’t much reason for Galaxy fans to panic. Surely Landon Donovan has a lot left in the tank for his final few games of club ball, and Gonzalez and Keane shall return. Really, this whole postseason is about Bruce Arena reminding them that they barely lost the Shield despite plenty of factors not in their favor. One good win and they could become the favorites again. (17-7-10)
source:  3 DC United: Ben Olsen’s boys just keep doing it, week-in and week-out (for the most part). The Luis Silva injury hurts a ton but the Black and Red have defied expectations all year. Why should that stop now? (17-9-8)
source:
4 New England Revolution: No one wants to see the Revs on their schedule right about now, regardless of the opposition’s form. Lee Nguyen and Jermaine Jones are making everyone around them better and Bobby Shuttleworth is making some big saves. If Jose Goncalves and Andrew Farrell bring their best, it could be curtains for the East. (17-13-4)
source:  5 Columbus Crew: Not trying to foreshadow anything here, but it’s hard to believe anyone’s done a better job than Gregg Berhalter (though the man below him in the rankings has an argument). (14-10-10)
source:
6 FC Dallas: Losing to a desperate Portland team is no big worry, but Dallas is barely holding this spot above Real Salt Lake. This week is a real test for Oscar Pareja, the manager who has pushed all the right buttons this season despite some tough obstacles to overcome. (16-12-6)
7 Real Salt Lake: RSL looks fine, and beating Chivas USA and having the bye isn’t quite enough to leapfrog FC Dallas. (15-8-11)
source:  8 Vancouver Whitecaps: There may not be a better pick-up in MLS than Kendall Waston, the stalwart defender who just added the most important goal in Whitecaps MLS history to his resume. Not too shabby. (12-8-14)
source:  9 New York Red Bulls: The winners of three of four have also been trounced by Columbus and L.A. in their last two losses. Lots of questions here, as they could go boom or bust. They did, however, have the touching story of the week(13-10-11)
source:  10 UP 2 Sporting KC: They are the champs, are rise to 10th based on that and the fact that no one below them is still playing. There’s a boat load of questions regarding Sporting, and Peter Vermes needs to do some bailing out. Bad news for the rest of the East; It’s a new season, and KC’s been battle-tested. (14-13-7)
source:  11 DOWN 1 Portland Timbers: Caleb Porter and company have to answer some big questions this offseason, but the biggest one might be: What if they didn’t lose their minds against what turned out to be a nothing Toronto FC team in the 3-2 come-from-ahead loss? Their 2-0 win showed they had the guts to go out hard, but did they overachieve last year or underachieve this year? (12-9-13)
source:  12 DOWN 1 Philadelphia Union: Things are looking up here. John Hackworth should be sticking around, Maurice Edu, Amobi Okugo and Andrew Wenger look ready to stay atop their games and Philly has an offseason to adjust their roster for a better run in a tougher than most think East. (10-12-12)
source:  13 UP 1 Montréal Impact: This six-win team should theoretically be much lower, but they’d be even money or favored if they played any bottom 10 team tomorrow and are still alive in the CONCACAF Champions League. Now how to do they replace Marco Di Vaio? (6-18-10)
source:  14 DOWN 1 Houston Dynamo: Dominic Kinnear’s move to San Jose ushers in an era of uncertainty. (11-17-6)
source:  15 Chicago Fire: Felt really good to watch Logan Pause go off into the sunset with a dramatic, fun win. Are they getting a Spurs man in the fold? (6-10-17)
source:  16 UP 1 Chivas USA: The last time we see the Goats on this list coming off a game week, Chivas USA can be proud of the way Wilmer Cabrera’s team battled down the stretch. Cheers to those who faithfully supported the team. What does their exit mean? (9-18-6)
source:  17 DOWN 1 Toronto FC: “monumental disappointment” can be considered an understatement: Now TFC’s star Premier League import is making sure his slighted by MLS voice is heard (11-15-8)
source:  T-18 San Jose Earthquakes: They’ve been very poor… (6-15-12)
source:  T-18 Colorado Rapids: … but then again, so have they. (8-18-8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Americans Abroad: Chandler, Gooch score; Reyna, Vassilev debut

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The bar for the best weekend for Americans abroad in 2020 has been set.

After months with the under-19 side, 18-year-old Giovanni Reyna made his debut with Borussia Dortmund on Saturday. In England, Indiana Vassilev, 18, did exactly the same for Aston Villa, becoming the second youngest American to play in the Premier League.

Established Americans abroad like Timothy Chandler scored Eintracht Frankfurt’s match winner, while Lynden Gooch struck from distance for Sunderland in England’s League One.

Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — The USMNT star continues to recover from an abductor injury.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — Yedlin is also recovering from an injury, and did not dress for Newcastle on Saturday.

Indiana Vassilev, Aston Villa – The 18-year-old came off the bench and played 23 minutes in his Premier League debut for Aston Villa. Villa drew 1-1 with Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.

EFL Championship

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes played 90 minutes in Derby’s 1-0 win over Hull City on Saturday.

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and played 90 minutes in Wigan’s 2-1 loss to Swansea City on Saturday.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old dressed but didn’t feature in Reading’s 2-0 loss to Millwall.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers’ defender started and played for Hull.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The 34-year-old defender played 90 minutes in QPR’s 1-0 victory ver Leeds United on Saturday.

Tim Ream, Fulham — Ream started and played 90 minutes in Fulham’s 1-0 win over Middlesbrough.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah and Lille were inactive this weekend.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — Jordon-Siebatcheu and Rennes were inactive this weekend. 

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright came off the bench and played five minutes in Venlo’s 1-1 draw with PSV.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest dressed but didn’t feature for Ajax over the weekend. It’s been an on-and-off cycle for the fullback in Holland’s top-flight.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback is injured and didn’t feature for FC Emmen.

Bundesliga

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — The fullback played 90 minutes and scored Frankfurt’s match-winning goal on Saturday against Hoffenheim. 

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams started and played 86 minutes in Leipzig’s 3-1 win over Union Berlin. The midfielder completed 84 percent of his passes.

Weston McKennie, Schalke — McKennie is still having some setbacks from his shoulder injury. The midfielder didn’t dress for Schalke due to fitness issues over the weekend.

Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen is inactive with an injury.

Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf Morales started and played 71 minutes in Fortuna’s 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The 19-year-old started and played 86 minutes on Saturday. It’s refreshing to see Sargent back on the field, getting regular playing time after the injury.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach Johnson was on Mönchengladbach’s bench but didn’t play.

Honorable Mentions

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland — Gooch has been superlative for Sunderland lately, and on Saturday, he was rewarded with this match-deciding goal:

Ian Harkes, Dundee United — Harkes continues to grind it out in Scotland. On Sunday, he registered an assist in Dundee United’s 2-2 draw with Hibernian. 

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez makes Wolves history; Guardado assists in Betis win

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On what was perhaps Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez’s last weekend in Europe, Raul Jimenez made it clear that he is ready to carry on the mantle as Mexico’s marquee striker in the old continent.

The 28-year-old’s double made him Wolverhampton Wanderer’s Premier League all-time leading goalscorer, surpassing Steven Fletcher‘s record of 22 goals in just 61 appearances.

Meanwhile in Spain, Andres Guardado continues to add remarkable chapters to his never-ending European photo book, recording an assist in Real Betis’ 3-0 thumping of Real Sociedad.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Not only did Jimenez boost his league goalscoring tally to the double digits on Saturday, but he also became Wolves’ Premier League all-time goalscorer. The Mexican is indispensable for the Midlands side – well worth the club-record $33-million investment.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito did not make the trip with Sevilla to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday. On Friday, Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl reported that Los Angeles Galaxy have signed the 31-year-old. An official announcement from the MLS side is expected in the coming days.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera started and played 43 minutes in Los Colchoneros’ rare, 2-0 loss to Eibar on Saturday. Atletico are now eight points behind leaders Barcelona and second-best Real Madrid.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado played all 90 minutes and recorded an assist in Betis’ trashing of Real Sociedad. The midfielder also earned a yellow card in the 23rd minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old dressed but remained on the bench for Betis. 

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played 90 minutes in Celta’s 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao. The defender recorded 11 clearances, two interceptions, and earned a yellow card.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  As Napoli’s continues to suffer under Gennaro Gattuso, so does Chucky. The frenetic winger saw just 26 minutes of playing time in Napoli’s 2-0 loss to Fiorentina on Saturday. Gattuso, however, may be on his was out as reports indicated that he’s considering resigning after just 35 days at the helm.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 2-1 loss to Braga on Saturday. The Dragons trail league leaders Benfica by seven points.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez dressed but remained on the bench for PSV on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez dressed but remained on the bench for Ajax on Sunday.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started and played 90 minutes in Zulte’s 3-0 loss to KRC Genk.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Pedro Arce, Panionios –  Panionios were inactive over the weekend.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso and Roda JC take on Jong FC Utrecht on Monday.

Unhappy reunion for Klinsmann as Bayern beats Hertha 4-0

Getty Images
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Jurgen Klinsmann endured an unhappy reunion with Bayern Munich as his former protege Thomas Muller started a 4-0 Bundesliga rout of his Hertha Berlin team.

“It was nice to see him again but of course even nicer to win,” Muller said after Sunday’s victory lifted Bayern to second place, four points behind Leipzig.

Klinsmann gave Muller the first of his so far 336 Bundesliga appearances when he brought on the then 18-year-old for the last 10 minutes of a 2-2 draw with Hamburger SV on the opening day of the 2008-09 season. Klinsmann was fired as Bayern coach in April 2009 as its title hopes faded.

But Muller has only fond memories of his mentor, who later went on to be United States coach.

“I have a special relationship with Jurgen Klinsmann. He made me a professional. I still have the mailbox message from when he called me up for the start of training with the professionals,” Muller said. “He gave me my chance to earn my spurs. He put me straight in. He was my first coach.”

Klinsmann was only cleared to face his former club on Saturday after the German soccer federation and league confirmed they received missing documents for his coaching license.

But Klinsmann, who also played for Bayern between 1995-97 and coached Germany at the 2006 World Cup, could only watch as his team was completely outplayed in the second half.

Hertha showed little initiative going forward and finally paid the price for sitting back when Muller rifled in from close range.

“The first goal opened the game,” said Klinsmann, who had been hoping to extend Hertha’s unbeaten run to five games.

The visitors thought they had another goal minutes later, but Robert Lewandowski’s goal was ruled out through VAR for heading the ball out of Rune Jarstein’s hands.

Lewandowski finally got his goal from the penalty spot in the 72nd after Lukas Klunter tugged Leon Goretzka’s arm.

“The turning point was the penalty,” said Klinsmann, who felt it was a harsh decision.

Thiago Alcantara sealed the result three minutes later with a brilliant strike in off the underside of the bar after Goretzka sent him through, and Ivan Perisic headed in Muller’s cross in the 84th.

Bayern had been missing defenders Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez and Javi Martinez through injury, with forward Kingsley Coman also out and midfielder Joshua Kimmich suspended. Canadian teen Alphonso Davies made his 10th consecutive league start.

Santiago Ascacibar started for his Hertha debut after his winter transfer from second-division Stuttgart. The combative Argentine is Hertha’s first signing following financier Lars Windhorst’s investment of $250 million in the club.

Also Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen won 4-1 at bottom side Paderborn to move sixth.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Messi scores, wins game in Setien’s Barcelona debut (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona’s vintage playing style in their 1-0 win over Granada highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Barcelona 1-0 Granda

With a goal from Lionel Messi against an iron-willed Granada, Barcelona are back at the top of La Liga.

The win is the club’s first under Quique Setien, who debuted as the Catalans manager after replacing Ernesto Valverde.

Barcelona rolled back to the years of Pep Guardiola‘s tiki-taka, as they culminated the game with 83 percent possession and completed 1005 passes. That said, Granda – playing  with 10 men from the 69h minute on – were bulletproof until the 76th minute. Messi gently pushed the ball with his weak foot, finishing what had been a series of fluid, build-up passing.

Setien deployed a nuanced 3-4-3 variation – far from Valverde’s 4-3-3 formation that ended up costing him his job after losing to Atletico Madrid in the Super Copa semifinals.

Players like Sergio Busquets were asked about the distinct styles, but he was candidly opposed to comparing the managers and their philosophies.

“We were a solid team. We had control of the ball. They created little against us,” he told Movistar. “It’s true that we struggled when they dropped deep but, in general terms, the team played a good game.

“It’s not about comparing. Every coach has his style and his way of seeing football. You’ll see what Setien asks us to do. We’re not going to reveal it. We’re delighted with what Ernesto did and we’re delighted with Setien.”

With Real Madrid and Atletico right behind, the defending champions have a long way to go this season. They’ll have to build on the win and, more importantly, further deepen their chemistry under the ex-Real Betis boss. Integrating winter signings into the fold might present itself as a challenge, too.

But one thing is certain: Barcelona can still play like they did back in their glory days. If that sticks, a lot can happen.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Mallorca 4-1 Valencia

Real Betis 3-0 Real Sociedad

Villarreal 1-2 Espanyol

Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Celta Vigo