2015 Major League Soccer power rankings, Volume V: ‘Caps cap, Quakes shake up the Top Five

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There’s been a lot of moving and shaking going through the MLS power rankings as June comes to a close with plenty of head-scratching and fist-bumping through a streaky and even league.

Parity continues to reign in Major League Soccer, and we see some serious movement of the sneaky variety. For example, do you realize San Jose has lost just once since April 17, and it was against a very good Toronto FC?

Or that FC Dallas’ derby win over Houston was just its second win overall since the last Texas takedown on May 1?

[ MORE: Portland thumps Seattle 4-1 ]

The challenge becomes how to rank these teams. Reeling Seattle has to fall from the top, but just a bit or a total free fall? Consider the team was on a 6-1-1 run the last time we did our PRs, and part of its three-game losing skid — four in five — has come without suspended Clint Dempsey and injured Obafemi Martins.

Those absences certainly play a massive role in where the club stands, and those players will be back, so do we slot them higher than current form or give the current run its just desserts?

Plus when we last met, Orlando City and New York City had yet to go on recent tears, and sat Nos. 19 and 20 in our rankings.

Less talking, more ranking. Feel free to debate in the comments section.

RANKING Up/Down
source:  1 UP 2 Vancouver Whitecaps: Began a four-game road trip with a loss to Montreal, then spun off three-straight wins over L.A., New York Red Bulls and New England. Octavio Rivero is back on the map, and the ‘Caps will bid for their second four-game win streak of the season this weekend before a massive litmus test against KC on July 12.
source:  2 Sporting KC: Easy, fans, you did jump 12 places last go-round. The only blemish in recent weeks is an understandable but still very frustrating loss to Real Salt Lake which came off a 15-day layoff.
source:  3 UP 5 Toronto FC: Take away a loss to a then-raging New York City FC, and Toronto has looked as good as anyone. A derby win against Montreal capped a batch of wins that included DC United, Portland and San Jose (not one of whom is going poorly). And if those didn’t convince you, TFC held DC on the weekend for four of six points from the last two meetings.
source:  4 UP 1 DC United: Doing just fine, but hasn’t beaten high quality competition in a while. You have to run back to May to find wins worth holding up. Still, you can only play who’s on your schedule, and Seattle and Dallas are up next.
source:  5 UP 3 San Jose: The derby win over L.A. is nice, but don’t discount that the Galaxy had played on Wednesday and San Jose had a week off. That said, I’m a believer in the Earthquakes now and moving forward. One loss since April 17, and that came against TFC.

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6 UP 1 L.A. Galaxy: Have a legit argument to be higher up, as they can easily dismiss their loss to San Jose as coming against a strong, rested opponent. And by easily dismiss, we mean as a result, not as a derby loss. That still stings.
source:  7 UP 12 Orlando City SC: Adrian Heath has his charges in order after an early-season swoon. Their only loss since May 13’s loss to DC United came to Montreal last week.
source:  8 UP 2 Portland Timbers: There may be no hotter team in Major League Soccer, but we’re hesitate to latch onto the club due to their schedule run. As we said with DC, you can only beat who’s on your schedule, and Portland has done that. Toss in a win over Seattle when the Sounders were at full-strength, albeit in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, and we’re getting there. San Jose’s up next, and a win would make us believers.
source:  9 DOWN 3 FC Dallas: Fortunate to not drop much further. A three-game Eastern Conference swing could have them in a bad, bad spot when we meet again, or Oscar Pareja’s men could use the stretch to restore some faith.
source:  10 DOWN 9 Seattle Sounders: Woof. Another team without a win of true quality dating back to a Cascadian victory over Vancouver in mid-May.
source:  11 UP 1 Columbus Crew: Unbeaten in three is a start, but this is far from the tour de force we expected after last season’s revelatory campaign under Gregg Berhalter.
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12 DOWN 8 New England Revolution: Jermaine Jones is as important as we thought he was. Get well soon.
source:  13 DOWN 2 New York Red Bulls: From May 10’s win over NYC to Sunday night’s victory over the same opponents, New York went 1-4-1, and is still in fourth place in the East because, well, the East refuses to stand up.
source:  14 UP 6 New York City FC: After winning just once through 13 matches, Jason Kreis’ boys picked up wins No. 2, 3 and 4 in a row before Sunday’s dispiriting derby loss.
source:  15 Montreal Impact: Now in a playoff spot (if we ranked by points per game). Have to get points against New York City and Columbus before a two-match run versus Seattle and KC.

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16 DOWN 3 Houston Dynamo: Back-to-back losses have cooled our brief Dynamo enthusiasm. Bring on Cubo, soon, please and thank you.
source:  17 UP 1 Philadelphia Union: Better than they’ve looked, can Maurice Edu possibly overcome their poor start to the season? A gauntlet is up ahead.
source:  18 DOWN 2 Real Salt Lake: Just one win in six, but it was a big one against hot Sporting KC.
source:  19 DOWN 5 Chicago Fire: Four losses in a row makes them 1-6-2 in their last nine.

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20 DOWN 3 Colorado Rapids: Eleven points back of a playoff spot before the calendar finds July. It’s just not a good season.

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.