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Predicting the 2018 MLS standings

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We are almost there.

On Saturday the 2018 Major League Soccer season kicks off and here at Pro Soccer Talk we’ve been previewing the new season and everyone is very excited.

[ MORE: Full 2018 MLS season preview ]

With that in mind, it is time to put our necks on the line and make our preseason predictions for how the 2018 MLS standings will look.

Feel free to get involved in the comments section below too. Here it goes…


Joe Prince-Wright

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto FC
  2. Atlanta United
  3. New York City FC
  4. Chicago Fire
  5. Orlando City SC
  6. New York Red Bulls
  7. New England Revolution
  8. Montreal Impact
  9. DC United
  10. Columbus Crew
  11. Philadelphia Union

Western Conference

  1. Seattle Sounders
  2. Portland Timbers
  3. Sporting KC
  4. LAFC
  5. Vancouver Whitecaps
  6. Houston Dynamo
  7. San Jose Earthquakes
  8. FC Dallas
  9. LA Galaxy
  10. Real Salt Lake
  11. Minnesota United
  12. Colorado Rapids

Nick Mendola

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto FC
  2. New York City FC
  3. Atlanta United
  4. New York Red Bulls
  5. Chicago Fire
  6. Orlando City SC
  7. Philadelphia Union
  8. DC United
  9. Montreal Impact
  10. Columbus Crew
  11. New England Revolution

Western Conference

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps
  2. Portland Timbers
  3. Sporting KC
  4. LA Galaxy
  5. Seattle Sounders
  6. Real Salt Lake
  7. San Jose Earthquakes
  8. Houston Dynamo
  9. LAFC
  10. Colorado Rapids
  11. FC Dallas
  12. Minnesota United

Andy Edwards

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto FC
  2. New York City FC
  3. New York Red Bulls
  4. Chicago Fire
  5. Atlanta United
  6. Orlando City SC
  7. D.C. United
  8. Columbus Crew SC
  9. Philadelphia Union
  10. Montreal Impact
  11. New England Revolution

Western Conference

  1. Real Salt Lake
  2. Seattle Sounders
  3. Sporting Kansas City
  4. LA Galaxy
  5. Portland Timbers
  6. FC Dallas
  7. Houston Dynamo
  8. Vancouver Whitecaps
  9. San Jose Earthquakes
  10. Minnesota United
  11. LAFC
  12. Colorado Rapids

Matt Reed

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto FC
  2. Atlanta United
  3. New York City FC
  4. New York Red Bulls
  5. Orlando City
  6. Chicago Fire
  7. New England Revolution
  8. D.C. United
  9. Columbus Crew
  10. Philadelphia Union
  11. Montreal Impact

Western Conference

  1. Portland Timbers
  2. Seattle Sounders
  3. LA Galaxy
  4. LAFC
  5. Vancouver Whitecaps
  6. Real Salt Lake
  7. San Jose Earthquakes
  8. FC Dallas
  9. Sporting KC
  10. Houston Dynamo
  11. Minnesota United
  12. Colorado Rapids

Dan Karell

Eastern Conference

  1. Toronto FC
  2. Atlanta United
  3. Orlando City
  4. New York City FC
  5. Chicago Fire
  6. Columbus Crew SC
  7. New York Red Bulls
  8. Montreal Impact
  9. D.C. United
  10. Philadelphia Union
  11. New England Revolution

Western Conference

  1. FC Dallas
  2. Seattle Sounders
  3. LA Galaxy
  4. Portland Timbers
  5. Sporting KC
  6. Vancouver Whitecaps
  7. Houston Dynamo
  8. LAFC
  9. Real Salt Lake
  10. Minnesota United
  11. San Jose Earthquakes
  12. Colorado Rapids

How will USMNT line up versus Costa Rica?

USMNT
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Saturday brings a first look at the United States men’s national team in 2020, though Gregg Berhalter’s bunch won’t look anything like its best self.

The Yanks have an almost exclusively MLS roster for the match, with Hobro’s Christian Cappas, Wolfsburg II’s Uly Llanez and unattached 17-year-old Bryang Kayo in the fold.

Many of Berhalter’s best MLS stars won’t be in Carson either for the 3:55 p.m. ET Saturday kickoff. Jordan Morris, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley are the biggest names.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Ronald Gonzalez’s Ticos will be similarly hampered, although more of Costa Rica’s A-side play in MLS and domestically.

We’ll leave the breakdown of the visitors for a later date, but who will rep the U.S. in Saturday’s Starting XI?

The travel roster includes keepers Sean Johnson, Bill Hamid, and Matt Turner, as well as defenders Aaron Long, Walker Zimmerman, Reggie Cannon, Julian Araujo, Chase Gasper, Justen Glad, Mark McKenzie, and Sam Vines. Listed midfielders Sebastian Lletget, Jackson Yueill, Brenden Aaronson, Cappis, Kayo, and Brandon Servania are joined by forwards Gyasi Zardes, Paul Arriola, Jonathan Lewis, Jesus Ferreira, and Ulysses Llanez.

Goalkeeper is anyone’s guess, but Johnson’s got the most run of the three during the Berhalter era. The younger Turner or more accomplished Hamid may step in there.

It would be surprising to see any other center backs besides Walker Zimmerman and Aaron Long given what we know of Berhalter and his respect for regulars. Reggie Cannon should start at right back and it’s between Chase Gasper and Sam Vines for the left. We’ll choose Vines out of intrigue.

Jackson Yueill, Paul Arriola, Sebastian Lletget, and Gyasi Zardes are safe bets to start, and this would seem a spot to give Jonathan Lewis more than subs’ run. That leaves one spot, and we’re pegging Brandon Servania to be the one chosen of four midfielders aged 17-20.

There’s also the matter of whether FC Dallas striker Jesus Ferreira will be internationally cleared to play Saturday. We sure hope he will be!

How do you think Berhalter will line them up?


How Berhalter may go

Johnson

Cannon — Zimmerman — Long — Vines

Yueill — Servania

Arriola — Lletget — Lewis

Zardes


What we’d like to see

Turner

Cannon — Zimmerman — McKenzie — Vines

Yueill — Cappis — Servania

Arriola — Ferreira — Lewis

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Report: Sheffield United in ‘advanced talks’ for $22M Norway star

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Sheffield United is ready to add one of the game’s brightest young talents to its blossoming Premier League side.

Norway midfielder Sander Berge is the name, and he’s been linked with Liverpool amongst others over the past few months.

Berge turns 22 next month and already has 20 caps for Norway in addition to 113 senior appearances for Genk in Belgium and 43 more for Valerenga in his home country.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

The defensive midfielder has chipped in six goals and four assists. He won the Belgian Super League with Genk last year and has a career-best four goals so this season.

It shows what success brings to a club, as Sky Sports reports that Berge turned down a move to Bramall Lane in the summer.

The fee is said to be $22 million, which isn’t small but completely reasonable given his stature for club and country.

This may move may join the Lys Mousset purchase as one of the Blades’ smartest bits of business, especially as Chris Wilder‘s men look for success on multiple fronts. Their success as a newly-promoted side is one of the great stories of the European season, and a place in Europe would be a fantastic achievement.

From The Yorkshire Post:

“It is going well, no doubt about it,” Wilder said. “On the Premier League front and in the Cup. You probably would not think it, but the win at Millwall has given me an enormous amount of pleasure in confirming, not even seeing, what my team is about. Players have come in with the likes of the skipper (Billy Sharp) and other players who are really driving it forward and want to produce individual performances and the atmosphere is good.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

Espanyol identify 12 fans who racially insulted player

Racism in football
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BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish club Espanyol says it has identified 12 fans who racially insulted an Athletic Bilbao player in the Spanish league last weekend.

Espanyol said on Monday in a statement that nine of the fans were club members and would face punishment that could include suspension or a full-time ban.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

It said a report of its analysis of the video images of Saturday’s game at RCDE Stadium were sent to authorities.

The club reiterated its “categorical condemnation of any displays of violence and racism.”

The fans made monkey noises directed at Athletic forward Inaki Williams, who is black. Television images showed Williams confronting the section of Espanyol fans who taunted him after he was substituted late in the game in Barcelona.

The Spanish league said it will seek a partial stadium closure for Espanyol and will raise the incident with the Spanish soccer federation’s competition committee, which handles disciplinary issues.

Transfer rumors: West Ham want $44M midfielder, Barca eyes Rodrigo

Transfer rumors
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West Ham United is being linked with a big transfer splash, and it’s not even a striker.

Uruguayan midfielder Nahitan Nandez is the man in question, and West Ham is reportedly tempting Cagliari with a $44 million offer this January.

Nandez, 23, arrived from Boca Juniors for less than half that fee this summer, and has chipped in a goal with three assists for Tommaso Giulini’s sixth-place Serie A side.

He’s got 31 caps for his national team, and is averaging 1.5 tackles per match with Cagliari. Nandez is also averaging a key pass and 1.1 successful dribbles per league outing.

Football-Italia says that Cagliari will try to tie Nandez to a new deal with a $44 million release clause if the move to West Ham is unsuccessful.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Meanwhile Barcelona’s pursuit of a Luis Suarez replacement isn’t limited to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu admits that Valencia striker Rodrigo Moreno is interesting his coaches.

“We don’t talk about players from other teams. But [Rodrigo’s] name is on the table of the coaches, and a replacement will arrive. I do not know whether it will be from Barcelona B or from outside. I like many players.”

The Spaniard has eight goals in 21 caps, and turns 29 in March. Rodrigo has four goals and 10 assists in 23 matches across all competitions this season.

Valencia beat Barcelona this weekend to send the Blaugranas three points back of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.