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Atlanta’s Miguel Almiron tops 2017 MLS jersey sales list

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Atlanta United clearly made a big splash in Major League Soccer during its first season, and one of its players sat at the top of this year’s jersey sales list.

[ MORE: MLS provides update on Beckham’s Miami franchise ]

Attacker Miguel Almiron checks in at the number one position for Atlanta, while teammate Josef Martinez is third in the breakdown. Overall, Atlanta boasts five players in the top 25, second-most of any team in MLS.

The only team that had more players? The defending MLS Cup champion Seattle Sounders, who look to be on course to get back to the final this season. The Sounders have six players inside the top 25, including Jordan Morris, Clint Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro — each of whom are inside the top 10.

Below is the list of 25-most purchased jerseys for the 2017 season, as provided by MLSStore.com.

25. Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)
24. Yamil Asad (Atlanta United)
23. Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)
22. Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders)
21. Diego Chara (Portland Timbers)
20. Roman Torres (Seattle Sounders)
19. Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
18. Greg Garza (Atlanta United)
17. Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United)
16. Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
15. Hector Villalba (Atlanta United)
14. Dom Dwyer (Sporting KC to Orlando City)
13. Jack Harrison (New York City FC)
12. Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
11. Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders)
10. Nicolas Lodeiro (Seattle Sounders)
9. Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC)
8. Kaka (Orlando City)
7. Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC)
6. Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders)
5. David Villa (New York City FC)
4. Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)
3. Josef Martinez (Atlanta United)
2. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Chicago Fire)
1. Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United)

Mohamed Salah starts for Egypt despite int’l retirement talks

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Mohamed Salah is coming off of his best season as a professional, but reports suggest that his time with the Egyptian national team could soon be coming to an end for reasons that extend beyond soccer.

Salah will however be included in Egypt’s Group A finale against Saudi Arabia on Monday, though, after the team sheet was revealed by the Pharaohs ahead of the match.

CNN reported over the weekend that Salah believes he is being used by Egypt as a political symbol to represent Chechnya, which has sparked talks of the talented Liverpool winger ending his international career.

Egypt has already been eliminated from reaching the Round of 16 after losing its first two matches at the World Cup.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo
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2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.