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MLS Power Rankings — Week 5: Three teams remain winless to start

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It’s still too early to start eliminating teams from playoff contention but we’re starting to get a feel for which MLS clubs are the real favorites in 2017.

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Three teams remain winless to start the season, but Minnesota United isn’t one them. The Loons picked up their first win in convincing fashion against Real Salt Lake, however, the Montreal Impact, Philadelphia Union and RSL haven’t been so fortunate. Check out PST’s updated power rankings below:


TEAM RANKING (Last Wk)

22 (19)

 

21 (21)

 

20 (22)

Real Salt Lake: The Loons picked apart the RSL backline time and time again last Saturday, and now this team is just one of three in MLS without a win.

DC United: Ben Olsen’s group finally got off the snide against the Union but there are still a lot of questions about D.C. moving forward.

Minnesota United: Baby steps, right? The Loons have their first win and better yet, they aren’t in last in the West. It’s clear this team can score goals at times but they still need to improve upon keeping them out.

19 (18) Philadelphia Union: The Union have a lot of talent on the roster but Jim Curtin should be feeling some early pressure to pick up results as his side sits at the bottom of the East.
18 (16) Montreal Impact: Key injuries have plagued the Impact so far, including those to Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman.
17 (17) Chicago Fire: Bastian Schweinsteiger‘s debut was just about everything you could want as a Fire fan, except for the result.
16 (15) New England Revolution: Back-to-back results for the Revs has the club in better spirits. All the makings are there for an explosive attack but Jay Heaps’ backline still features a few questions that need answering.
15 (14) LA Galaxy: The Zlatan rumors continue to swirl and his services could surely benefit the struggling side over the summer.
14 (10) San Jose Earthquakes: A late red card to Victor Bernardez and allowing the early lead to slip away will be disappointing for the Quakes but they showed plenty of life against NYCFC.
13 (15) Vancouver Whitecaps: The Caps proved they could still post some impressive offense without Kekuta Manneh but their CCL exit midweek could sting for awhile.
12 (13) Sporting Kansas City: Peter Vermes’ side have still allowed just one goal through four weeks. Now, they just need to start finishing their chances up top.
11 (11) Colorado Rapids: The Rapids face a tough test Sunday night when they head to Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City.
10 (8) Orlando City: The Lions suffered their first defeat of the season against Columbus but Kaka should be nearing a return for Jason Kreis’ group.
9 (4) New York Red Bulls: Jesse Marsch’s side sat on the wrong side o a few calls in Houston but the Dynamo simply outclassed the reigning Eastern Conference champions last Saturday. Time to regroup for the Red Bulls.
8 (9)
Houston Dynamo: This attack continues to fly high and Erick Torres leads the charge. The Dynamo have scored the second-most goals in MLS through five weeks and are currently doing so without Romell Quioto.
7 (7) Seattle Sounders: There were opportunities to crack the scoresheet against Atlanta but in the battle of the early-season heavyweights a 0-0 scoreline should be pleasing for both clubs.
6 (5) Toronto FC: It was a struggle at times for TFC to get things going against Sporting KC but a scoreless draw won’t be something Greg Vanney and co. dwell upon. After all, this team is still unbeaten.
5 (6) New York City FC: The Bronx club bounced back after allowing an early goal to the Quakes and Tommy McNamara’s ability to contribute off the bench should have Patrick Vieira very pleased.
4 (12) Columbus Crew: Greg Berhalter’s men have found a rhythm and they have the top spot in the Eastern Conference to show for their efforts.
3 (3) Atlanta United: A quality road draw against the Seattle Sounders should have Atlanta confident through the opening five weeks, especially as the newcomers continue to play without Josef Martinez.
2 (2) Portland Timbers: A late equalizer only handed the Timbers a point at Providence Park but Caleb Porter’s still sit atop the West.
1 (1) FC Dallas: Out of action last weekend in preparation for their CCL clash with Pachuca, Dallas will now have its full attention on MLS after falling just short of the tournament final.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 10 — All eyes on Germany

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Many of the favorites in the 2018 World Cup have disappointed, but until Argentina fell 3-0 to Croatia on Thursday, Germany was the only one to suffer a defeat.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Die Mannschaft fell to Mexico in their opening match, with El Tri carving up the German midfield on the counter. Now, Joachim Low has had ample time to make the adjustments needed to go for victory as the Germans take on Sweden as they chase a spot in the knockout stages among Group F.

Meanwhile, Mexico looks to prove they’re not a one-hit wonder as they take on South Korea in Rostov. Juan Carlos Osorio has received plenty of praise – and rightly so – for his tactics in the upset victory, and that leaves El Tri with a chance to clinch a spot in the knockout stage with a win.

Before all that Group F craziness, Belgium takes the field in the morning against Tunisia as they look to follow up its comprehensive 3-0 victory over Panama in the opening round. A victory for the Red Devils would not only book a place in the knockout round, but also eliminate Tunisia from contention.

Below is Saturday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Saturday, June 23

Group F
South Korea vs. Mexico: Rostov-on-Don, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Germany vs. Sweden: Sochi, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group G
Belgium vs. Tunisia: Moscow, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Kluivert junior leaves Ajax for Roma in $21m transfer

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ROME (AP) — Roma signed Justin Kluivert, the son of former Milan and Barcelona forward Patrick, from Ajax on Friday for a fee that could rise to 18.75 million euros ($21.8 million).

The 19-year-old Dutch international forward has agreed a five-year contract with Roma.

“I’m very happy. I’m at an incredible club,” Kluivert said. “I cannot wait to start. I believe that Roma is the ideal team for my growth, which will allow me to play at the highest levels.”

Kluivert junior made 56 appearances and scored 13 goals for Ajax. He has one cap for the Netherlands.

He joins Roma for an initial 17.25 million euros ($20.1 million) and performance-related clauses could see the price rise by 1.5 million euros.

Ricketts family, owner of the Chicago Cubs, interested in purchasing AC Milan

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The Ricketts family, who purchased a controlling stake in the Chicago Cubs back in 2009, have interest in further pursuing ownership in financially troubled Italian club AC Milan.

According to a family statement, “The Ricketts family brought a championship to the Chicago Cubs through long-term investment and being great stewards of the team … They would bring this same approach to AC Milan.”

First reported by the Chicago Tribune, the news of the Tom Ricketts’ interest in the team comes on the heels of news that current owner Li Yonghong had failed to meet a Friday deadline for a $37 million loan payment. According to reports, the missed payment means that Li will cede control of the club to Elliott Management, who loaned the Chinese businessman the money to complete his initial purchase of the club last April.

The Chicago Sun-Times also reported the family’s interest in the club, and quoted their source as saying, “The Ricketts put together the management team, resources and training facilities [for the Cubs]. [They did] everything you need top to bottom to be successful.”

Ricketts has plenty of history in soccer ownership, having previously been a part of the group that owned English club Derby County before selling back in 2015. This May, Ricketts also announced he was leading an investment group that is looking to bring a USL expansion team to Chicago.

Forbes values AC Milan at $612 million – a massive 26% 1-year decline – and ranks them the 17th most valuable soccer club in the world. That valuation could be further on the decline, as the storied club missed out on Champions League qualification for the fifth straight year, although they qualified for their second straight Europa League appearance with 6th place finish in last year’s Serie A table, eight points behind Lazio in fifth.

AC Milan also faces heavy sanctions from UEFA regarding Financial Fair Play, although those fears could be eased with the financially-troubled Li selling the club.

The Ricketts family’s wealth comes largely from investment banking, with Tom’s father J. Joseph Ricketts having founded Ameritrade back in 1975. Tom is estimated by Forbes to be worth $1 billion, while his father has an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion.

Xhaka, Shaqiri display controversial goal celebrations in win over Serbia

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A seemingly innocuous goal celebration performed by both Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri has thinly veiled, politically charged undertones and could potentially land the pair in FIFA disciplinary proceedings following Switzerland’s 2-1 win over Serbia.

Both displayed a bird hand signal as they celebrated scoring goals, and considering their pre-match comments, post-match social media posts, and ethnic backgrounds, those were clearly meant to represent the double-eagle symbol in the middle of the Albanian flag.

This is a complicated political scenario, but it could be considered by FIFA to be politically provocative. Shaqiri is Albanian, born in Kosovo before moving to Switzerland with his parents and three siblings when he was just a year old. Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008 and is not recognized as a sovereign nation by Serbia. Xhaka is of Albanian descent, and his father previously participated in a demonstration against the communist Yugoslavian rule in Kosovo that landed him a lengthy jail sentence. Albania and Serbia have a particularly tumultuous relationship, with their leaders meeting for the first time in over 60 years in 2014, which caused tempers to flare.

Following the match, Xhaka posted a picture of his celebration on his Instagram story, with the caption in Albanian roughly translated to, “Here you go Serbia, this is why they call me Granit Kosovo!” He deleted the post, and replaced it with an image of his celebration side-by-side with Shaqiri’s, with the slightly more cryptic caption, “We did it, bro!” in English.

FIFA is wildly against any type of political demonstration or involvement in the world of soccer. The governing body has punished individual nation federations in the past for government involvement, while political demonstrations on the field are fiercely frowned upon.

Switzerland captain and new Arsenal signing Stephan Lichtsteiner came to the defense of his two teammates after the match. When asked about the celebrations, he said to Goal.com, “We had a lot of pressure, it was not an easy game for us. We have a lot of Albanians, so there is a lot of history between Serbia and Albania. It was a very tough game for them mentally.”

“It was good. Why not? This is the history for them,” Lichtsteiner continued. “The war between them was so difficult. I spoke to the father of one of our players who is Albanian, and he told me about this history. This is more than football. This is more than football because they have this period, this war that gave them both big problems. I understand them. I think it’s normal, it’s part of their life. There was also big provocation ahead of the game from them [Serbia], so I think it’s normal.”

Shaqiri could be in especially hot water. The Stoke City midfielder wore boots with the flags of Switzerland and Kosovo. He has made it clear in the past that he values his roots, saying, “I was born in Kosovo, but I grew up in Switzerland. I live both mentalities, it’s not a big difference.”

Switzerland finishes its World Cup group stage round with a match against Costa Rica on Wednesday in which a win would secure a spot in the knockout stage.