2015 Major League Soccer power rankings, Volume III: FC Dallas rides high while expansion sides sink

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Pro Soccer Talk is trying something different for our power rankings this season. Instead of a week-to-week analysis of where teams in the league sit in relation to each other, we’re going to let our rankings breathe for a bit.

It’s been about three weeks since we last sorted the clubs of Major League Soccer, and plenty has changed at the top of the pops.

[ MORE: Klinsmann on 2018 World Cup goals ]

Here’s the new batch, different from the old batch. Check out the previous PR’s here.

source:  1 UP 6 FC Dallas: Guess who’s back? Oscar Pareja’s bunch have won three of four, with the fourth a tie against Colorado (which only ties teams, so what else could one expect?). The four-spot they hung on Houston in the Texas Derby was especially impressive.
source:  2 UP 1 DC United: Ben Olsen is doing a job (again) for the Black-and-Red, who have lost just a single match this season. There’s plenty to hang their hats on, especially back-to-back wins over Columbus and Vancouver.
source:  3 UP 3 New England Revolution: Lost their first two games, and haven’t seen that column since. We’re being reminded of their strength on a weekly basis, although this weekend’s Orlando City tie isn’t on the map in high-five country.
source:  4 DOWN 3 Vancouver Whitecaps: Stumbled against DC United and then suffered through a 0-0 draw against Portland in Cascadia action. Nothing major to worry about for ‘Caps fans, but they aren’t the hottest team right now. No shame in that. Now onto Saturday’s massive tussle.
source:  5 Seattle Sounders: Columbus cooled off their three-game hot streak, but the match was worth the price of admission. Huge Saturday match against Vancouver.
source:  6 DOWN 4 New York Red Bulls: The New York Derby win over NYCFC was nice, but not enough to salvage the Red Bulls’ ranking after a loss to New England and twin 1-1 draws versus the West.
source:  7 DOWN 2 L.A. Galaxy: Winless in four, but the only loss in the bunch came against high-flying FC Dallas. Will the addition of West Ham’s Sebastian Lletget help their midfield?
source:  8 Columbus Crew: Huge win over Seattle for Gregg Berhalter’s boys. Have pulled nine points out of twelve available, with the only loss coming at the hands of DC United.
source:  9 Real Salt Lake: Unbeaten in three after a two-match swoon of sorts. The 2-1 win over Chicago is a step in the right direction.
source:  10 San Jose Earthquakes: The Quakes stay mid-rankings after taking five of nine points. Have a pair of signature wins this season with triumphs over Vancouver and Seattle, and they don’t really have a bad loss in the bunch.
source:  11 Portland Timbers: Beaten Montreal isn’t kazoo-blowing territory, but it’s a start. Throw in the Vancouver tie, and the return of both Diego Valeri and Will Johnson, and the Timbers may be ready to make a move.
source:  12 Houston Dynamo: Giles Barnes ranks among the most overlooked stars in the league, and he made Toronto’s first day in new BMO Field a miserable one. DaMarcus Beasley is playing well and Cubo’s on the way, but their backdoor was exploited often by Jozy Altidore.
source:  13 UP 3 Colorado Rapids: Taking over the mantle of “most likely to draw” from Chicago, who took it from Portland, Colorado has drawn 7 of 10 matches this season. Their only win? A 4-0 thumping of No. 1 FC Dallas. You forgive them out for us. Please.
source:  14 UP 3 Sporting KC: That’s more like it! Unbeaten in three matches, Sporting is starting to make us believe. We know they have the talent, now they need to string together some 3-pointers.
source:  15 DOWN 2 Chicago Fire: Streaks McGeeks! Chicago chased a three-game losing skid to start the season with three wins, and has not lost a pair on the bounce. With New York City, Columbus and Montreal on the horizon, Fire need to swing 7 points here.

16 UP 4 Toronto FC: Snared a pair of necessary road wins over expansion sides New York City and Orlando, but fell apart early against Houston in the Eastern side’s home opener. Every now and then, Michael Bradley has a shocker. The Dynamo reaped the benefits on Sunday.
source:  17 DOWN 3 Orlando City: Back-to-back shutout losses to Columbus and Toronto followed up by a draw against New England. With Kaka, anything is possible, but they need better (than Saturday) from Brek Shea. And Cyle Larin’s progression could help both of the aforementioned players.
source:  18 DOWN 3 Montreal: The Impact’s first Major League Soccer match in a month was a 2-1 loss to Portland. The CONCACAF Champions League final appearance was nice, but now it’s time to get back to MLS-based business.
source:  19 DOWN 1 Philadelphia Union: One win on the season… over the No. 20 team. You can only say “unlucky” so many times. The last four matches were tough, but excuses only get you so far. Get a point somewhere.

20 DOWN 1 New York City FC: Jason Kreis admitted it’s been harder than he thought, and that’s an understatement. Between the tiny home pitch and the two months without a win, the obstacles and frustration are piling up in New York. Heck, a point in the New York Derby could’ve stopped the bleeding.



Carlos Vela scored a celestial goal. We are blessed to have seen it

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Carlos Vela is making all other spectacular individual MLS seasons look run of the mill.

I mean, look at the gumption on this guy.

[ VIDEO: Rooney sent off, Kamara scores golazo ]

The Cancun-born playmaker left the San Jose Earthquakes back line on the beach with a soft shoe routine to give LAFC its third goal in a 4-0 win on Thursday

Vela, 30, now has 25 goals and 11 assists in 25 league matches for LAFC this season. He added two goals and an assist in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play.

But this one, yeah, this one takes the cake.

First, there’s Vela’s non-chalant dummy before picking up the pass.

Then, there’s Florian Jungwirth’s body language during and after his being cooked with a nutmeg. That’s an entire mood.

Next, Vela dribbles around the keeper and allows a slide tackler so glide past him before finishing with aplomb, the magic touch his going near post as if to say, “Can I beat this guy a second time, or do I have to use the easier route?”

Diego Rossi also had a goal and an assist, while Mark-Anthony Kaye continued his strong season with an assist to ex-Fiorentina prospect Joshua Perez. It’s a first MLS goal for the California-born Perez, now 21.

WATCH: Rooney sees red for forearm shiver, Kamara scores golazo

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP
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Midweek MLS provided plenty to talk about on Wednesday, with two red cards and a golazo in one match alone.

The two main talking points from the New York Red Bulls’ 2-1 win over DC United weren’t really part of what led the victors to three points.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

How? Well, one of the world’s marquee names earned a red card via VAR and a returning star scores an absolute stunner, that’s how.

Here’s Ola Kamara’s debut marker for the Black-and-Red, adding to a record which included 49 goals in 97 matches between Columbus and the LA Galaxy before moving to the Chinese Super League for a wildly disappointing time with Shenzhen FC.

All of that is forgotten.

As for the Rooney incident, the Red Bulls already led 1-0 when DC’s star striker went forearm shiver on Cristian Casseres Jr.

It’s the second red of the season for Rooney, who is set for Derby County in January.

Amro Tarek was later sent off for the Red Bulls, who moved ahead of DC in the standings. Kaku and Daniel Royer had RBNY’s goals.

Newcastle takeover could be back on if in holiday relegation battle

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How much do Newcastle United supporters dislike their owner Mike Ashley right now?

Enough that this report is likely to condemn many to hoping their favorite club in the world is in the Bottom 3 come Christmas.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

The Chronicle’s Mark Douglas speculates that Ashley will lower his asking price for the club if it is in a relegation fight come December — something that looks certain after the Steve Bruce-led Magpies got bossed around by promoted Norwich City.

Nothing But Newcastle transcribed Douglas’ chatter from his podcast, in which he says,

“It wouldn’t surprise me if we hear more in December because there are still people sniffing around that football club and if the team are in the bottom three, there’ll be people thinking they can get a bargain out of Mike Ashley again. … He will probably more open to listening to lower offers in January and December which is what happened last December. He was basically saying ‘take it off my hands, you now have to take the risk’'”

This is notable for two reasons. First: the social experiment of wondering how many fans could see themselves rooting for their team to take a major and perilous back step just to see the back of a man they perceive is at the root of their failures (and that perception is widespread in this case).

But second, we can see if this rumor comes true because it’s difficult to imagine Newcastle as comfortably mid table by Christmas.

Fan protests and anger are nothing new, but here’s an effort to show how wobbly Ashley’s reputation is on Tyneside: Fans have taken to selling a black and white striped shirt with player name and number but no sponsor just so they can have a Newcastle jersey that doesn’t put money into Ashley’s pockets. And this is after he broke the club’s transfer record twice in one year.

If we’ve learned anything from the past few seasons, though, it’s that boycotts and anger will spur Ashley into insisting that he’s willing to sell and just conveniently enough it will be before the January transfer window. He “won’t be able to buy any players” with the takeover in play, and talks will hit a wall come late January, when they’ll loan a couple young players from Top Six sides.

Yes he spent significant money on Joelinton, Allen Saint-Maximin, and others this summer, but one decent window doesn’t make a culture. Count us amongst the skeptical, for now.

Messi back in training, could be fit for Betis

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi was back in full training again on Wednesday and may be fit to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Messi had been training separately from the squad since injuring his right calf in the preseason.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener on Friday.

Barcelona has not said how long it expects Messi to be sidelined.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also dealing with injuries to forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele.

Dembele is certain to miss Sunday’s match at the Camp Nou because of a left thigh injury that should keep him out for about five weeks.

Suarez also isn’t likely to play this weekend because of a muscle injury sustained before halftime of Friday’s game in Bilbao.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona hadn’t loss a league opener in 10 seasons.

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