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MLS Power Rankings — Week 1: Expansion sides humbled in debut

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It was a wild opening weekend around Major League Soccer, which saw both expansion sides fall in their debuts and the reigning league champions lose down in Texas.

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Meanwhile, regular season conference winners from a year ago each started out with victories on the road.

[ MORE: Looking ahead to Week 2 around MLS ]

Without further ado, let’s take a look at PST’s first installment of the 2017 MLS Power Rankings.


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (NR)

 

21 (NR)

 

20 (NR)

Minnesota United: The former NASL boys received their rude welcoming on opening night, and while it wasn’t unexpected, it could surely be a sign of things to come in 2017 as Adrian Heath’s group learns to connect with one another.

New England Revolution: On paper the Revolution still boast a very strong attack, but defensively there are many uncertainties for Jay Heap’s squad.

Atlanta United: For 75 minutes, Atlanta looked like the better side. Tata Martino has to groom his men for the remaining 15 minutes to avoid another meltdown.

19 (NR) Columbus Crew: After going from an MLS Cup appearance in 2015 to missing the postseason altogether last year, the Crew will be relying a lot more on Ola Kamara up top.
18 (NR) Chicago Fire: Veljko Paunovic certainly strengthened his side this offseason with the likes of Dax McCarty and Nemanja Nikolic, but it’s time for the team to produce consistently after missing the postseason six of the last seven seasons.
17 (NR) Montreal Impact: With no more Didier Drogba at the helm, it’s Ignacio Piatti’s attack to orchestrate.
16 (NR) San Jose Earthquakes: Dominic Kinnear and co. got off to a strong start, but can the club sustain its Week 1 success?
15 (NR) Philadelphia Union: The Union attack had its moment in Vancouver, but will Jay Simpson be the answer up front? 
14 (NR) Real Salt Lake: RSL did well to contain Toronto’s dangerous attack, but there are still some questions up front.
13 (NR) Sporting Kansas City: Keeper Tim Melia proved himself with a strong PK save in the opener, but his side’s attack will have to be sharper in the final third.
12 (NR) Houston Dynamo: This club has a long way to go before their will be shouts of playoffs but hey, they did beat the reigning champions.
11 (NR) D.C. United: Luciano Acosta’s status over the first few weeks is uncertain but it’s time for Patrick Mullins to put together a full season up front after getting paid this offseason.
10 (NR) Los Angeles Galaxy: It’s a new era in LA without Bruce Arena and Robbie Keane. Time will tell as to how the club copes with those losses. At least Zlatan could be months away from making his debut?
9 (NR) New York City FC: Patrick Vieira vowed to bring in a younger core this offseason, and he backed it up. Who fills the goalscoring void left by Frank Lampard, though?
8 (NR)
Orlando City: It’ll be intriguing to watch how the Lions handle Kaka’s extended layoff due to injury. The good news… Jason Kreis’ backline looks significantly more sound than a season ago.
7 (NR) Vancouver Whitecaps: The Western Conference side couldn’t back up their Champions League progression with an opening weekend victory, but this club has exciting written all over it.
6 (NR) Seattle Sounders: Can’t take too much stock in one game because the champions boast a ton of talent. Clint Dempsey‘s goal was a great sign for both club and country, though.
5 (NR) Colorado Rapids: Pablo Mastroeni seemed mostly content with his squad during the offseason, and the Rapids backed it up on opening day with stellar defensive play.
4 (NR) Toronto FC: A healthy Giovinco and Jozy Altidore presents a nightmare of a challenge for opposing defenses.
3 (NR) New York Red Bulls: After a rocky offseason, the Eastern Conference champions proved their resiliency down at a hostile Bobby Dodd Stadium.
2 (NR) Portland Timbers: Caleb Porter has to pleased with squad, particularly his attack. Although Minnesota was certainly lacking, the Timbers could have the best front six in MLS.
1 (NR) FC Dallas: Barring catastrophe, this is a playoff team; again. The only question is: will Dallas take the next step in 2017?

Ilkay Gundogan: ‘OK’ to award Liverpool Premier League title if season cancelled

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Manchester City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes that Liverpool have every right to be awarded the Premier League title if the the season were to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Liverpool, who haven’t lifted a top-flight title for 30 years, currently hold a 25-point lead over second-best City, and are two wins away from officially sealing the title.

“For me, that would be okay, yes,” Gundogan told German broadcaster ZDF, after being asked if Liverpool should be named champions if the season were to end early.

Despite believing that awarding Jurgen Klopp and company the title is the fair thing to do, the Germany international is concerned that the cancellation of the league will not only backfire on the top threshold teams but those on the bottom end of the table as well.

“You have to be fair as a sportsperson,” the 29-year-old said. “There are different opinions. For clubs who have had a very good season, it obviously wouldn’t be nice if it was cancelled now.”

“On the other hand, for clubs who aren’t doing as well and are maybe in the relegation places, an abandonment would obviously suit them.”

Gundogan added he’d be open to taking a wage-cut should City and other English clubs follow Juventus and Borussia Dortmund’s lead in asking players to trim their earnings in order to play non-playing staff.

Of course I think it’s okay, that goes without saying, [but] there’s been no discussion in England yet,” Gundogan said. “Perhaps that’s because the English clubs are a bit financially stronger than the clubs in Germany at the moment.

“I don’t know who has the final say in that decision. On the other hand, if a player says, ‘no, I don’t want that, I worked hard for it, I get my salary,’ then it can go in the opposite direction.

“For me personally, it would be okay but, to be honest, you have to be tolerant and if there are players who are against that, then that’s also an acceptable situation.

Harry Kane fails to rule out future Tottenham exit

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Harry Kane won’t rule out a future Tottenham exit, admitting that it largely depends on lifting silverware with his boyhood club.

Asked by Jamie Redknapp on an Instagram live session whether he would end his playing career at Spurs, the 26-year-old striker responded that it all depends on the “progress of the team” and added that he’s not the type of person to be somewhere just for the sake of being there.

In other words, he wants to win titles with Spurs, soon. If not, his days in north London may be numbered.

It’s one of those things, I couldn’t say yes, I couldn’t say no,” Kane told Redknapp on Sunday. “I love Spurs, I’ll always love Spurs. But it’s one of those things – I’ve always said if I don’t feel we’re progressing as a team or going in the right direction, then I’m not someone to just stay there for the sake of it.

“I’m an ambitious player, I want to improve, I want to get better, I want to become one of the top, top players,” he added. “It all depends on what happens as a team and how we progress as a team. So it’s not a definite I’m going to stay there forever – but it’s not a no either.”

Kane, along with his teammates at the time, got the short end of the stick under Mauricio Pochettino, losing a Champions League final and a League Cup final. The striker is aware that Spurs, top to bottom, have – and have had – the firepower to lift silverware but need the final push, which they may unlock under proven winner Jose Mourinho.

“We’ve been saying that for a couple of years now,” says Kane, “we have got a fantastic team but for one reason or another we haven’t been able to get the trophies that, when you look from the outside, we’ve got the team to get.”

“It’s a hard thing to take as a player. I want to win at everything I do so when we’re coming close and you don’t quite get there it’s hard to take and starts to build up. But from my point of view, and the team’s point of view, all you can do is do everything you can, give your best to win every game, to win trophies. For one reason or another, we haven’t quite got there yet.

“Next year, the gaffer now, it’ll be his first chance to really have a pre-season with the team and embed his values into the team and we’ll see what happens. Of course, I want to win, I want to win team trophies, I want to be doing it sooner rather than later. So we will have to see how it goes.”

Kane, who is third on Spurs’ all-time scoring list, is fond of Mourinho, a manager he grew up watching and respects. The strike admits they chat on a regular basis about soccer and a plethora of other subjects, but is aware that if Spurs want to reap all the benefits from having him onboard, the players will need to leave it all on the field.

“He came in and what you see is what you get,” Kane said. “He’s an honest guy – he’ll tell you if you’re doing things well or if you’re not. If he likes you he’ll tell you and if he doesn’t like you he’ll tell you.

“From my point of view, I have built a good relationship with him. We talk every few days or so, talk about all different things, talk about the team, when we were playing, what we can do, how we can improve.

“For me, it’s great to work under a manager like Jose. Obviously growing up, watching football, he was a big part of that. It’s another opportunity for me to work with one of the best managers in the world.

“I’m excited to see how that relationship unfolds and see what we can do on the pitch. So far he’s been great and I know he’s excited to put his stamp on the team when he gets his opportunity.

“When a manager like him comes in and you know he’s won everywhere, I’m sure he has no intentions to not do that at Spurs. From a player’s point of view we know we have a top, top manager, so it’s up to us to go out there and perform.”

What we love about West Ham United

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be detailing what we love about each Premier League club competing in the 2019-20 season and next up is Tottenham.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Each day we will release details on why who adore each team in particular as we remind ourselves just how awesome the PL is as we await its return following the suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

This afternoon, we forge ahead with the Irons, the Hammers, the West Ham United Football Club.


The Bubbles: Let’s be honest here, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles” is one of the coolest song/gesture combinations in world football. The bubbles floating across the field as the Irons seek three points is *chef’s kiss.*

The Academy of Football: Current captain Mark Noble is the latest in a long line of celebrated footballers to come out of West Ham’s Academy. And there are some giants in there, including the subject of our next topic Sir Bobby Moore. West Ham has produced Joe Cole, Michael Carrick, Jermain Defoe, Paul Ince, Trevor Brooking, and Frank Lampard Senior and Junior.

West Ham United
Frank Lampard and Joe Cole (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

 

 

 

Sir Bobby Moore: Can you believe we’ve got a member of the Carolina Lightnin’ on this list? Obscure American soccer jokes aside, Mr. West Ham didn’t just captain the club but also the national team that won England’s only World Cup (West Ham legends Geoff Hurst and Martin Peters were also on the team). Moore is one of the greatest defenders of all-time, having played more than 500 times for West Ham in addition to his status as a centurion for the Three Lions. A Ballon d’Or runner-up in 1970, “Sir Bobby” was an absolute monster of the game. Plus, he was in “Escape to Victory.”

West Ham United
The Bobby Moore statue outside Wembley Stadium (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Mark Noble: There’s something remarkable about everyman Mark Noble, and not because the 32-year-old finishes penalties like a surgeon and looks like the definitive everyman. Doesn’t he give hope to every average-built person on earth? Poor Mark is five appearances from 500 for his career, and will likely meet that milestone by the end of this season, presuming it comes! His 60 goals are seven shy of Carlton Cole’s modern West Ham standard of 67, while his 59 assists lap the field.

Noble (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Juventus players, staff set to sacrifice up to $100M in wages

Juventus
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Juventus players and coaches have agreed to forego pay for March, April, May, and June to the tune of approximately $100 million.

The Old Lady has been hit internally by coronavirus, with players Paulo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, and Daniele Rugani testing positive for COVID-19.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Italian football federation chief Gabriele Gravina has become a worldwide name during the COVID-19 crisis, and praised the move by Juve’s players and staff (via Football-Italia).

“The agreement reached by Juventus is an example for the whole system. I thank Giorgio Chiellini, his teammates and Maurizio Sarri because, in wake of the collaboration that the FIGC hopes to have in days, they placed general interests at the heart of their conversations with the club.

“Unity and solidarity in the world of football represent the first great response to the emergency we’re experiencing, and that risks becoming even more serious if we don’t resume playing soon. Only through the contribution of all the protagonists, each of them playing their part, will we make football stronger.”

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