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Top Ten new faces in Major League Soccer

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At first blush, the roster tumult between Major League Soccer’s 2016 and 2017 has to be among the biggest in recent memory.

Not only did gigantic names like Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard leave the league, but two new teams meant six new available Designated Player slots.

[ MORE: PST’s MLS 2017 roundtable ]

There was always going to be an unusual influx of talent this season, but the fact that it was so hard to select only 10 names for a post like this shows the immense potential of MLS 2017.

So we used a non-mathematical formula that included skill, potential, and that wild X-factor of whether their names and games have raised our eyebrows.

10. Maxi Moralez, New York City FC — Wherever he fits in the XI, the longtime Atalanta man will be a target for the opposition.

9. Cristian Colman, FC Dallas — Playing atop the playmaker-heavy squad of Dallas would put a lot of players on this list.

8. Bismark Adjei-Boateng, Colorado Rapids — One of several players with Premier League ties who will test their mettle in a high profile spot.

7. Jonathan Spector, Orlando City SC — Could be the answer to Orlando’s issues with structure and defense.

6. Josef Martinez, Atlanta United — Success in Europe + 37 caps for Venezuela including nine goals at age 23 = Yep.

5. Nemanja Nikolic, Chicago Fire — The Legia Warsaw alum brings 55 goals over his past two seasons to Illinois.

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19: Brooks Lennon of Liverpool celebrates his goal during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at The Lamex Stadium on September 19, 2016 in Stevenage, England. (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Lennon (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)

4. Brooks Lennon, Real Salt Lake — Not even positive the homecoming kid is going to start every week, but his U.S. U-20 performances and Liverpool mettle combine for excitement. If he plays a ton, has ROTY written all over him.

3. Romain Alessandrini, LA Galaxy — Provided he acclimates to the beatings and difference in style between Ligue 1 and MLS, has a shot to take the city by storm.

2. Romell Quioto, Houston Dynamo (pictured atop page) — One of two prototypical Honduran prospects with the Dynamo, Quioto may be built to adjust to the league a tad faster than Alberth Elis

1. Miguel Almiron, Atlanta United — To have a player this good and this young is special for MLS.

Honorable mention: Ilie Sanchez (Sporting KC), Chris Mavinga (Toronto FC), Miguel Ibarra (Minnesota United), Gerso Fernandes (Sporting KC), Sebastian Blanco (Portland Timbers), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United), Roland Lamah (FC Dallas), Oguchi Onyewu (Philadelphia Union), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United), Alberth Elis (Houston Dynamo), Carlos Carmona (Atlanta United)

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.

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

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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