Major Link Soccer: Out of First (for now)

The most deadly man in the world... with a soccer ball - Mike Stobe

New York has taken the lead for the Supporter's Shield, but of course it isn't as simple as that

The New York Red Bulls are unique among Big Apple sports clubs without any history of success. They have been bad, and they've been very good at being bad. They are bad consistently and with great frequency. Yet now when they enter Centurylink Field this weekend, it will be as the number one team in the league. By virtue of a Dallas own goal, the Red Bulls now have the highest point total in MLS. However, the Red Bulls will be the club feeling pressure as they enter the Green Hell; They have accumulated one more point than Seattle after playing two additional games. Even if the Sounders lose, they will control their own destiny. That said, a win would fit their recent form and is still far preferable. Every remaining game is critical, but this will be the second time in two weeks that Seattle will be playing for that number one spot.

There were two more kind results for the Sounders this weekend. Real Salt Lake decided to play down to their competition while hosting the San Jose Earthquakes. Adam Moffat's brother-in-law managed a brace to further push Jason Kreis' current team farther out of the SS conversation. Then our neighbors to the north knocked off Montreal and the Vancouver Whitecaps beat the Impact 3-0. Some other Shield competitors did get desired results, but Some enemies can only be defeated by brutal beatings. We will have those opportunities in the last six games of the MLS season.

The Sounders aren't the only ultra successful local soccer side. The team for the University of Washington is currently ranked sixth in the nation, fresh off a beatdown of Florida Gulf Coast (recently famous for a NCAA March Madness run) and a draw with Georgia State. With the two results, the Huskies remain unbeaten on the season.

Ranking prospects and young players is a fool's errand, and yet despite the difficulty (or perhaps because of it) MLS insists on ranking the top 24 players under the age of 24. DeAndre Yedlin was picked third, but the grading system can be a little crazy. It's easier for MLS to acquire young talents from other regions thanks to the "Montero rule" my title for the "Youth DP" position.

Typical of the financial war brewing among the most wealthy clubs in the States and Provinces, the Galaxy have resigned their club president Chris Klein to a contract extension worth up to $500,000 for each year he sticks around. While the salary cap prevents teams from hiring all the best players, it says nothing about the best staff.

Better personnel will mean better players in the long run, and that may include more player loans. AS Roma wants in on the action.

Foreign owners have been investing in MLS (including Manchester City on NYCFC) but DC United owner Erick Thohir has deeper pockets than I realized; it appears he is attempting to take on a 70% ownership of Inter Milan. That is big time.

The final attendance numbers for the 2013 USL PRO season are out, and MLS expansion favorite Orlando is number one. They also set an all-time US 3rd division attendance record for a single match when they hosted the final in front of 20,000 fans. Farther up the panhandle, Tampa Bay lagged in last for average attendance. A clear example why they aren't in expansion discussions with other southern cities.

Match-fixing continues to be a big topic, making waves again as an ex-security chief for FIFA looks to create a "global intelligence body" to combat the issue.

80 fans were arrested around Russia's Premier League for various demonstrations of their passion.

Catch up with Michael Gspurning on Saturday's Sounders FC Roundtable Podcast, supplied online for all the mere mortals unable to wake up at 8:00am on a weekend.

Supporters' Shield table in two forms

# Club PTS GP PPG W GF GD Club PTS GP PPG W GF GD
1 New York Red Bulls 51 30 1.7 15 47 11 Seattle Sounders FC 50 28 1.79 15 38 10
2 Seattle Sounders FC 50 28 1.79 15 38 10 New York Red Bulls 51 30 1.7 15 47 11
3 Real Salt Lake 48 30 1.6 14 53 14 Sporting Kansas City 48 29 1.66 14 43 15
4 Sporting Kansas City 48 29 1.66 14 43 15 Montreal Impact 45 28 1.61 13 46 4
5 Portland Timbers 46 29 1.59 11 45 14 Real Salt Lake 48 30 1.6 14 53 14
6 LA Galaxy 45 29 1.55 13 46 10 Portland Timbers 46 29 1.59 11 45 14
7 Montreal Impact 45 28 1.61 13 46 4 LA Galaxy 45 29 1.55 13 46 10
8 Colorado Rapids 45 30 1.5 12 37 6 Colorado Rapids 45 30 1.5 12 37 6
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