World Cup Qualifying

World Cup Qualifying slideshow

Ange Postecoglou insists his focus is solely on the World Cup qualifying playoff with Honduras.

AUSTRALIAN SOCCEROOS TRAINING

Ange Postecoglou insists his focus is solely on the World Cup qualifying playoff with Honduras

Denmark cancels World Cup qualifier against Sweden

The Danish national women's soccer team huddle together before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen Wednesday Oct. 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Denmark cancels World Cup qualifier against Sweden

Dutch national soccer team member Pernille Harder passes journalists before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden.(Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Denmark cancels World Cup qualifier against Sweden

Danish national women's soccer team member Nadia Nadim after training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Dutch national soccer team member Pernille Harder passes journalists before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden.(Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Dutch national soccer team member Pernille Harder passes journalists before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden.(Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

The Danish national women's soccer team huddle together before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen Wednesday Oct. 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

The Danish national women's soccer team huddle together before training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen Wednesday Oct. 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Danish national women's soccer team member Nadia Nadim after training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Danish national women's soccer team member Nadia Nadim after training in Dragor, outside Copenhagen on Wednesday Oct 18 2017. A pay dispute involving the Danish women's national team has forced the country's soccer federation to cancel the upcoming Friday World Cup qualifying match against Sweden. (Finn Frandsen/AP via ritzau)

Watch Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign as told by a Super Mario level

No, really.

Watch Northern Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign as told by a Super Mario level

No, really.

U.S. Soccer Holds Surplus of Between $130-$140 Million

Much has been made of the current financial surplus of U.S. Soccer, which has been reported to be around $100 million following the success of the 2016 Copa America Centenario. But a source with direct knowledge of the situation says the actual number on the surplus is significantly higher: Between $130 million and $140 million.

While a significant portion of that surplus needs to be kept in reserve, U.S. Soccer has yet to decide on what to spend the rest of that money. Board discussions have centered on capital investments in infrastructure, youth development and new uses of technology to identify talent. But everyone has their own idea on what they think the surplus should go toward.

In May, SI.com reported that part of the surplus was being earmarked for a project called the "Innovate to Grow Fund," which would stimulate growth among membership at all levels, from the grassroots and up. U.S. Soccer was also engaged in talks over building a national training center with the surplus funds.

Steve Gans Receives Required Nominations to Run for U.S. Soccer President

For the first time since 1998, U.S. Soccer will have a contested presidential election. SI.com has learned that Boston lawyer Steve Gans has received the required three letters of nomination that he needs to be an official candidate in the February election.

It’s expected that the incumbent, Sunil Gulati, will run for his fourth term despite the U.S. men’s World Cup qualifying failure. Gulati refused to confirm he would run again in addressing reporters last week, but he did concede that he had reached out to constituents about endorsing him or nominating him in recent weeks. In a blow to democracy, the last four U.S. Soccer presidential elections have had only one candidate. But that will not be the case this time around.

Peru's players celebrate after playing Colombia to a 1-1 draw during a World Cup qualifying soccer match against Colombia in Lima, Peru, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Honduras' Alberth Elis (17) celebrates after his team Honduras' Romell Quioto scored against Mexico, during a World Cup qualifying soccer match in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Syria's goal keeper Ibriham Alma, second left, is unable to stop the header from Australia's Tim Cahill, second right, from scoring during their Soccer World Cup qualifying match in Sydney, Australia, Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - North, Central America & Caribbean - Trinidad and Tobago v United States

USA's Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley hug during their World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago. REUTERS/Andrea de Silva

Soccer Football - 2018 World Cup Qualifications - North, Central America & Caribbean - Trinidad and Tobago v United States

USA's Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley hug during their World Cup qualifying match against Trinidad & Tobago. REUTERS/Andrea de Silva

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Reyna on U.S. soccer: 'We're far too arrogant, far too obnoxious'

The former USMNT captain sounded off on what he sees as serious problems with American soccer in the wake of the recent World Cup qualifying disaster

Former U.S. Soccer Presidents, MLS GM Weigh in on Sunil Gulati's Role, Future

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati is set to dig his heels in and run for re-election in February despite the U.S. men’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. But should Gulati run again?

Few respected soccer people in the U.S. are willing to speak on the record, but former U.S. Soccer presidents Alan Rothenberg and Bob Contiguglia and former Real Salt Lake owner and NBA GM Dave Checketts did speak for public consumption.

Rothenberg said: “Where matters stand now, I don’t see any better candidate even remotely extant. Therefore, [Gulati] should run. If somebody from the outside with tremendous credentials should appear, I might have to take a second look at it. And by the way, I think Sunil would, too. If he could keep his role on the 2026 World Cup and CONCACAF and FIFA, I think he’d be very happy. And running the World Cup would take a heck of a lot of time. But at the same time, it would have to be somebody who was clearly able to take the reins [of U.S. Soccer].”

Contiguglia said he thought Gulati had done a good job overall running the U.S. Soccer board and that he should continue.

Checketts, meanwhile, said: “I do feel that there will be someone who will emerge who has the ability to move the needle here. I think that Sunil should remain involved. I hope he does remain involved. But I would challenge him now to consider stepping aside so that someone else could give it a try. I think [U.S. Soccer] needs a different direction.”

UCL LIVE: Liverpool Routs Maribor; Man City Leads Napoli; Madrid, Spurs Level

The Champions League group stage hits its halfway point for half of the teams in the field on Tuesday, with Matchday 3 kicking off with a few scintillating matchups.

Real Madrid hosts Tottenham in a clash of Group H leaders, while Manchester City welcomes Napoli to the Etihad, where two of Europe's most prolific attacks will go head-to-head.

Elsewhere, Besiktas will look to continue its impressive run in the competition at Monaco, while Christian Pulisic aims to rebound from the USA's World Cup qualifying disappointment in Borussia Dortmund's match in Cyprus, where the Bundesliga power seeks its first points in the group at APOEL.

Here is the full slate for today's matches (all begin at 2:45 p.m. ET):

Spartak Moscow vs. Sevilla

Maribor vs. Liverpool

Manchester City vs. Napoli

Feyenoord vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Monaco vs. Besiktas

RB Leipzig vs. Porto

Real Madrid vs. Tottenham

APOEL vs. Borussia Dortmund

Stay tuned here for live updates and highlights of goals and key plays (refresh for most recent updates).

LIVERPOOL SUPPLIES THE EXCLAMATION POINT

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold put the finishing touches on Liverpool's thrashing of Maribor, scoring the Reds' sixth and seventh of the day to make it 7-0 in Slovenia. The result, coupled with Spartak Moscow's result vs. Sevilla, will shoot Liverpool to the top of the group.

NAPOLI PULLS ONE BACK

Given the gift of a second penalty, Napoli happily took advantage, with Amadou Diawara beating Ederson from the spot to make it 2-1 at the Etihad in the 73rd minute.

APOEL STUNS DORTMUND–FOR A MOMENT

Dortmund figured it'd get back on track in the Champions League at lowly APOEL, but the Cypriot side has other ideas. Mickael Pote's goal just after the hour mark put Dortmund stunningly behind 1-0 and in need of a change in fortune–and fast. That came from its captain, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos finished off a pass from Mario Gotze five minutes later to make it 1-1.

SPARTAK PULLS AWAY

Spartak Moscow took another lead on Sevilla after conceding the equalizer, with Lorenzo Melgarejo scoring the go-ahead goal off Quincy Promes's assist in the 58th minute. It extended that lead to 3-1 soon after, with Denis Glushakov doing the honors and coming up with the vital insurance goal.

Luiz Adriano netted the fourth in the 74th minute, making it 4-1 and adding to the Russian champions' statement, which comes on the heels of drawing Liverpool on Matchday 2.

LLORIS ROBS BENZEMA

?Real Madrid looked like it would take a 2-1 lead in the second half, with Karim Benzema having a point-blank chance, but Hugo Lloris came to the rescue, with a full-extension kick save on the goal line. Just tremendous.

BESIKTAS TAKES ITS FIRST LEAD

Cenk Tosun scored his second of the day, giving Besiktas a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute at Monaco and putting the Turkish club in line for its third win in as many matches.

BERNARD SENDS SHAKHTAR AHEAD

?Bernard scored for a second time in response to Feyenoord's opener, giving Shakhtar Donetsk its first lead of the day, a 2-1 advantage.

FIRMINO MAKES IT HIGH FIVE FOR LIVERPOOL

Three points are going Liverpool's way. Roberto Firmino struck for his second of the day with a glancing header, making it 5-0 at Maribor.

RONALDO PK BRINGS REAL MADRID LEVEL

Serge Aurier gifted Real Madrid an opportunity to equalize after fouling Toni Kroos with a rash challenge, and Cristiano Ronaldo obliged, beating Hugo Lloris from the spot just minutes before halftime to make it 1-1 in Madrid.

SALAH MAKES IT FOUR

Mohamed Salah, fresh off becoming Egypt's hero in World Cup qualifying, boosted his own stock with his second goal of the day, as both he and Roberto Firmino converged on a cross at the far post before the former tapped home to give Liverpool a 4-0 lead over Maribor.

EDERSON SAVES MERTENS'S PK

Ederson bailed out his teammate, Kyle Walker, saving a penalty kick from Dries Mertens after the England fullback committed the foul. The save preserved Man City's 2-0 lead.

GOALS GALORE IN LEIPZIG

RB Leipzig scored twice in quick succession to seemingly pull away from Porto, but Ivan Marcano pulled one back just before halftime, and the two sides went into the locker room with the hosts leading 3-2. The match also featured this sensational show of skill from Jean-Kevin Augustin.

MONACO, BESIKTAS GO BLOW FOR BLOW

Monaco is looking to give Besiktas its first setback of the competition, and was on its way after Radamel Falcao's opener at the half-hour mark. But the in-form Cenk Tosun answered four minutes later on a wonderful header, making it 1-1.

VARANE OWN GOAL GIVES SPURS LEAD

All eyes were on Harry Kane at the Bernabeu, where it's speculated that Real Madrid will make a massive offer for the Tottenham star, and he made an impact in the 28th minute. Serge Aurier crossed for Kane, whose run prompted Raphael Varane to inadvertently direct the ball into his own goal to give Spurs a 1-0 lead in the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid had wasted an earlier chance, after Cristiano Ronaldo's header clanged off the post and Karim Benzema pulled the rebound wide of an empty net.

SEVILLA RECOVERS AFTER EARLY CONCESSION

It's never easy going on the road, but Sevilla, which entered the day atop Group E, expected a simpler match at Spartak Moscow. It went down early as Quincy Promes scored in the 18th minute, but Simon Kjaer responded in the 30th off the corner kick to make it 1-1.

SALAH MAKES IT THREE

It certainly appears to be Liverpool's day. After setting up Roberto Firmino for the opener, Mohamed Salah makes it 3-0 for Liverpool–with Firmino returning the favor–within 20 minutes at Maribor.

RB LEIPZIG, PORTO EXCHANGE EARLY GOALS

Willi Orban scored in the eighth minute for host RB Leipzig, but Vincent Aboubakar answered 10 minutes later off a throw-in sequence, bringing Porto level at 1-1 in their anticipated Group G clash.

MAN CITY CAN'T BE STOPPED

Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0, finishing off a sensational ball from Kevin De Bruyne to double the Manchester City advantage over Napoli at the 13-minute mark.

COUTINHO DOUBLES THE LIVERPOOL LEAD

It's been all Liverpool in Slovenia, where Philippe Coutinho doubled the advantage for Jurgen Klopp's side, scoring for a fourth straight game.

STERLING SCORES FIRST VS. NAPOLI

Manchester City's sizzling form continued early vs. Napoli at the Etihad, where Raheem Sterling pounced on a blocked shot to score the opener for the Premier League side.

FEYENOORD HOLDS RARE ADVANTAGE, GIVES IT UP

?Dutch champion Feyenoord has had a brutal start to the competition, losing its first two games to Man City and Napoli, but it got off to a good start against Shakhtar Donetsk, with Steven Berghuis scoring in the seventh minute. That didn't last all that long, though, with Bernard equalizing in the 24th minute.

FIRMINO GIVES LIVERPOOL EARLY LEAD

Roberto Firmino wasted no time, finishing off an early cross from Mohamed Salah on the counterattack to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.

Here are the lineups for today's games:

Spartak Moscow vs. Sevilla

?

Maribor vs. Liverpool

Manchester City vs. Napoli

?

Feyenoord vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

?

Monaco vs. Besiktas

?

RB Leipzig vs. Porto

?

Real Madrid vs. Tottenham

?

APOEL vs. Borussia Dortmund

?

Matchday 3 concludes on Wednesday, with Chelsea-Roma highlighting the slate. PSG is also in action, at Anderlecht, while Jose Mourinho returns to Portugal as Manchester United meets Benfica.

UCL: Liverpool Routs Maribor; Man City Edges Napoli; Real Madrid, Tottenham Draw

The Champions League group stage hit its halfway point for half of the teams in the field on Tuesday, with Matchday 3 featuring some scintillating matchups and some eye-opening results.

Tottenham went to Real Madrid and earned a 1-1 draw, with Hugo Lloris coming up big in goal. Spurs' Premier League mates Liverpool and Manchester City were big winners Tuesday, with the former rolling to a 7-0 thrashing vs. Maribor, while the latter held off high-powered Napoli. The big surprise of the day happened in Cyprus, where Borussia Dortmund had to fight for a mere draw vs. APOEL, and though it didn't lose ground on Group H-leading Real Madrid and Tottenham, it missed a golden opportunity to make up some.

Elsewhere, Besiktas stayed perfect, coming from behind to win at Monaco, while in the other game in that group, RB Leipzig held off Porto in a five-goal thriller.

Here are the results for the day:

Spartak Moscow 5, Sevilla 1

Maribor 0, Liverpool 7

Manchester City 2 Napoli 1

Feyenoord 1, Shakhtar Donetsk 2

Monaco 1, Besiktas 2

RB Leipzig 3, Porto 2

Real Madrid 1, Tottenham 1

APOEL 1, Borussia Dortmund 1

And here's how the day played out across the competition.

LIVERPOOL SUPPLIES THE EXCLAMATION POINT

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Trent Alexander-Arnold put the finishing touches on Liverpool's thrashing of Maribor, scoring the Reds' sixth and seventh of the day to make it 7-0 in Slovenia. The result, coupled with Spartak Moscow's result vs. Sevilla, will shoot Liverpool to the top of the group.

NAPOLI PULLS ONE BACK

Given the gift of a second penalty, Napoli happily took advantage, with Amadou Diawara beating Ederson from the spot to make it 2-1 at the Etihad in the 73rd minute.

APOEL STUNS DORTMUND–FOR A MOMENT

Dortmund figured it'd get back on track in the Champions League at lowly APOEL, but the Cypriot side has other ideas. Mickael Pote's goal just after the hour mark put Dortmund stunningly behind 1-0 and in need of a change in fortune–and fast. That came from its captain, as Sokratis Papastathopoulos finished off a pass from Mario Gotze five minutes later to make it 1-1.

SPARTAK PULLS AWAY

Spartak Moscow took another lead on Sevilla after conceding the equalizer, with Lorenzo Melgarejo scoring the go-ahead goal off Quincy Promes's assist in the 58th minute. It extended that lead to 3-1 soon after, with Denis Glushakov doing the honors and coming up with the vital insurance goal.

Luiz Adriano netted the fourth in the 74th minute, making it 4-1 and adding to the Russian champions' statement, which comes on the heels of drawing Liverpool on Matchday 2.

LLORIS ROBS BENZEMA

?Real Madrid looked like it would take a 2-1 lead in the second half, with Karim Benzema having a point-blank chance, but Hugo Lloris came to the rescue, with a full-extension kick save on the goal line. Just tremendous.

BESIKTAS TAKES ITS FIRST LEAD

Cenk Tosun scored his second of the day, giving Besiktas a 2-1 lead in the 54th minute at Monaco and putting the Turkish club in line for its third win in as many matches.

BERNARD SENDS SHAKHTAR AHEAD

?Bernard scored for a second time in response to Feyenoord's opener, giving Shakhtar Donetsk its first lead of the day, a 2-1 advantage.

FIRMINO MAKES IT HIGH FIVE FOR LIVERPOOL

Three points are going Liverpool's way. Roberto Firmino struck for his second of the day with a glancing header, making it 5-0 at Maribor.

RONALDO PK BRINGS REAL MADRID LEVEL

Serge Aurier gifted Real Madrid an opportunity to equalize after fouling Toni Kroos with a rash challenge, and Cristiano Ronaldo obliged, beating Hugo Lloris from the spot just minutes before halftime to make it 1-1 in Madrid.

SALAH MAKES IT FOUR

Mohamed Salah, fresh off becoming Egypt's hero in World Cup qualifying, boosted his own stock with his second goal of the day, as both he and Roberto Firmino converged on a cross at the far post before the former tapped home to give Liverpool a 4-0 lead over Maribor.

EDERSON SAVES MERTENS'S PK

Ederson bailed out his teammate, Kyle Walker, saving a penalty kick from Dries Mertens after the England fullback committed the foul. The save preserved Man City's 2-0 lead.

GOALS GALORE IN LEIPZIG

RB Leipzig scored twice in quick succession to seemingly pull away from Porto, but Ivan Marcano pulled one back just before halftime, and the two sides went into the locker room with the hosts leading 3-2. The match also featured this sensational show of skill from Jean-Kevin Augustin.

MONACO, BESIKTAS GO BLOW FOR BLOW

Monaco is looking to give Besiktas its first setback of the competition, and was on its way after Radamel Falcao's opener at the half-hour mark. But the in-form Cenk Tosun answered four minutes later on a wonderful header, making it 1-1.

VARANE OWN GOAL GIVES SPURS LEAD

All eyes were on Harry Kane at the Bernabeu, where it's speculated that Real Madrid will make a massive offer for the Tottenham star, and he made an impact in the 28th minute. Serge Aurier crossed for Kane, whose run prompted Raphael Varane to inadvertently direct the ball into his own goal to give Spurs a 1-0 lead in the Spanish capital.

Real Madrid had wasted an earlier chance, after Cristiano Ronaldo's header clanged off the post and Karim Benzema pulled the rebound wide of an empty net.

SEVILLA RECOVERS AFTER EARLY CONCESSION

It's never easy going on the road, but Sevilla, which entered the day atop Group E, expected a simpler match at Spartak Moscow. It went down early as Quincy Promes scored in the 18th minute, but Simon Kjaer responded in the 30th off the corner kick to make it 1-1.

SALAH MAKES IT THREE

It certainly appears to be Liverpool's day. After setting up Roberto Firmino for the opener, Mohamed Salah makes it 3-0 for Liverpool–with Firmino returning the favor–within 20 minutes at Maribor.

RB LEIPZIG, PORTO EXCHANGE EARLY GOALS

Willi Orban scored in the eighth minute for host RB Leipzig, but Vincent Aboubakar answered 10 minutes later off a throw-in sequence, bringing Porto level at 1-1 in their anticipated Group G clash.

MAN CITY CAN'T BE STOPPED

Gabriel Jesus made it 2-0, finishing off a sensational ball from Kevin De Bruyne to double the Manchester City advantage over Napoli at the 13-minute mark.

COUTINHO DOUBLES THE LIVERPOOL LEAD

It's been all Liverpool in Slovenia, where Philippe Coutinho doubled the advantage for Jurgen Klopp's side, scoring for a fourth straight game.

STERLING SCORES FIRST VS. NAPOLI

Manchester City's sizzling form continued early vs. Napoli at the Etihad, where Raheem Sterling pounced on a blocked shot to score the opener for the Premier League side.

FEYENOORD HOLDS RARE ADVANTAGE, GIVES IT UP

?Dutch champion Feyenoord has had a brutal start to the competition, losing its first two games to Man City and Napoli, but it got off to a good start against Shakhtar Donetsk, with Steven Berghuis scoring in the seventh minute. That didn't last all that long, though, with Bernard equalizing in the 24th minute.

FIRMINO GIVES LIVERPOOL EARLY LEAD

Roberto Firmino wasted no time, finishing off an early cross from Mohamed Salah on the counterattack to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute.

Here are the lineups for today's games:

Spartak Moscow vs. Sevilla

?

Maribor vs. Liverpool

Manchester City vs. Napoli

?

Feyenoord vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

?

Monaco vs. Besiktas

?

RB Leipzig vs. Porto

?

Real Madrid vs. Tottenham

?

APOEL vs. Borussia Dortmund

?

Matchday 3 concludes on Wednesday, with Chelsea-Roma highlighting the slate. PSG is also in action, at Anderlecht, while Jose Mourinho returns to Portugal as Manchester United meets Benfica.

October FIFA Ranking Provides Glimpse Into World Cup Draw Possibilities

The U.S. men's national team may not be taking part, but the World Cup will still go on, and Monday was a big day on the road to Russia.

FIFA's world ranking for October was released, and while most roll their eyes at the FIFA rankings (the USA actually improved by a position after being eliminated from World Cup contention, so...), they hold a significant role in the World Cup. Per FIFA procedure, the October rankings are used to determine the pots for the Dec. 1 draw in Moscow. Instead of one seeded pot and three pots determined by logistical and geographical reasoning, FIFA has changed its ways so that all four pots are determined purely based on the rankings. What that means is aside from host Russia, which is ranked 65th in the world, the remaining 32 teams are distributed in order of their October ranking. Russia goes into the top pot, followed by the top seven-ranked teams, and the remaining 24 teams are spread into the three subsequent pots in order.

The October ranking was also used to determine the pots for the UEFA playoff round, with the top four teams based on ranking going into Pot 1, and the next four in Pot 2. Switzerland (11), Italy (15), Croatia (18) and Denmark (19) are the highest-ranked teams, and they'll each be drawn against one of Northern Ireland (23), Sweden (25), Republic of Ireland (26) and Greece (47). That draw takes place on Tuesday.

With only 23 of the 32 spots in Russia clinched (four European places, three African ones and two intercontinental playoffs will determine the remaining nine), we can't completely come up with scenarios for groups at the World Cup, but here's what we can glean from the October rankings, and what they'll mean for the draw:

POT 1 IS SET

And Spain is not going to be part of it. The 2010 World Cup champion just misses out as the eighth-ranked team on the planet. Because the top pot is the host nation (Russia) and the seven top-ranked teams, Spain is left in Pot 2, where it could surely factor into a Group of Death.

The top seven teams joining Russia in the top pot are: Germany, Brazil, Portugal, Argentina, Belgium, Poland and France.

No disrespect to Russia or Poland, but there's a clear desired destination for teams in Pots 2-4: Whichever group is headed by Russia or Poland. Even Portugal and Argentina aren't the most daunting top seeds–especially the latter, after its qualifying campaign–but nobody wants to gameplan for Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo in a World Cup.

POT 2 PERMUTATIONS

Spain will lead the second grouping, and beyond that, it gets a little tricky.

Peru, Switzerland, England, Colombia, Italy, Mexico and Uruguay are the next seven nations either in the World Cup or still alive in contention. Should Peru, Switzerland and Italy win their respective playoffs, then the pot would remain as is. Should any or all slip up, there would be a domino effect, and Croatia, Denmark and Iceland are next in line to rise a rung.

Regardless, Spain, England, Colombia, Mexico and Uruguay will be in this pot, and when you start to combine them with the teams in the seeded pot, thing start to get a bit death-y.

POT 3 POSSIBILITIES

If things go to form in the playoffs, Croatia, Denmark and Iceland would lead this grouping, with 2014 quarterfinalist Costa Rica likely settled in this pot as well. Northern Ireland, Sweden and Republic of Ireland will look to change that by winning their playoffs, while Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal and Iran, DR Congo, Australia, Nigeria, Serbia and Japan could all land here, too.

POT 4 STILL LARGELY UNCLEAR

South Korea, Saudi Arabia and first-timer Panama are set for this grouping no matter what. After that, it all comes down to the playoffs and remaining African qualifiers. As of now, Morocco, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Cape Verde and South Africa are all alive here, while Honduras and New Zealand could also land in this pot, should they win their respective playoffs against Australia and Peru, and Greece could also, if it wins its UEFA playoff.

GROUP OF DEATH POTENTIAL

As always, teams from the same region must be kept separate in the draw, aside from UEFA, where up to two European nations can be in the same group. So how does Brazil, Spain, Japan, Ivory Coast sound? What about Germany, Spain, Nigeria, South Korea? France, Uruguay, Croatia, Japan, anyone?

We'll be able to properly simulate and speculate after the conclusion of November's qualifiers and qualifying playoffs, but until then, at least we have some semblance of how the World Cup could look in Russia next summer.

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

The U.S. will try to begin picking up the pieces in a friendly at the Estadio Algarve on Nov. 14 as the team begin life after Bruce Arena

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

USMNT to face Portugal in first match following World Cup qualifying failure

The U.S. will try to begin picking up the pieces in a friendly at the Estadio Algarve on Nov. 14 as the team begin life after Bruce Arena

The MLS XI, Week 33: Playoff Spots Fly Off the Board, Kaka Bids Farewell

As it turns out, only two major things will be decided on MLS Decision Day: Playoff seeding and one remaining spot in the postseason.

MLS Week 33 saw an abundance of playoff spots get claimed, with the Eastern Conference's six teams all set–though not their order–and only one spot remaining up for grabs in the Western Conference. Three clubs still have their hat in the ring, while two playoff outsiders–the LA Galaxy and Minnesota United–will look to play spoiler on the final day of the season.

All of that was decided as the league played its full slate across two time windows on Sunday, but all 22 teams will be in action simultaneously this coming Sunday at 4 p.m. ET, where playoff matchups will finally be able to be determined, RFK Stadium will close its doors and remaining unknowns will have their mysteries solved.

Until then, here is the best of the weekend that was in MLS:

I. How the West ('s sixth place) will be won

Three teams will fight for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference on Decision Day, a spot currently held by the San Jose Earthquakes. Hot on their trail are FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake. All three will be at home for their finales, and thanks to the quirks of the MLS rule book, goal differential is not the first tiebreaker. That's big for San Jose, considering its -22 GD is tied for worst in the West. Its 12 wins are two more than FC Dallas, so even though they're tied on points, San Jose is guaranteed a playoff berth with a win over Minnesota. Any slip-up, though, and it'll be a dose of Decision Day chaos. FCD (vs. LA, coming off a horrible 4-0 loss to Seattle) and RSL (vs. Sporting Kansas City coming off a 1-0 loss to rival Colorado) are banking on it.

II. Red Bulls wrap up East's last place

Sixth in the East is going to the New York Red Bulls, after Jesse Marsch's side stemmed the tide of its last-season swoon and followed last weekend's win over Vancouver by holding off Atlanta United for a 0-0 draw and clinching the final spot and a road game in the one-game wildcard round.

That means first and sixth are settled in the East, but second through fifth are wholly up for grabs. With a first-round bye at stake, NYCFC vs. Columbus on Sunday is the game to watch.

III. Thread

IV. Toronto FC matches record

TFC reached the 68-point plateau after a 1-0 win over rival Montreal, with Jozy Altidore moving on from the U.S. men's national team's colossal World Cup qualifying failure by scoring early at BMO Field (cue the "Where was this Tuesday night in Trinidad?!" calls).

The three-point haul brought TFC level with the 1998 LA Galaxy's record mark and has Toronto in position to set a new standard for MLS with a win or draw in its finale at Atlanta. Regardless, Toronto will be the top seed in the East, and it'll host MLS Cup again, provided it gets there. With Altidore and Michael Bradley eager to get over the disappointment of missing the World Cup, the American stars will surely be even more motivated than usual to lift more silverware with their club. In the meantime, they were able to lift the Supporters' Shield.

V. HOW?

VI. What an absolutely perfect save

Take a bow, Stefan Marinovic!

VII. More goalkeeping heroics

Tyler Deric preserved the Houston Dynamo's fourth point off Sporting KC in a matter of five days with this fine day at the office.

VIII. This is probably what the Galaxy had envisioned

It's way too little too late for the LA Galaxy, but Romain Alessandrini, Jermaine Jones, Jonathan Dos Santos and Giovani Dos Santos combining for three goals in a dominating 3-0 win over Minnesota United was probably more along the lines of what Chris Klein & Co. had hoped for with its first post-Bruce Arena season, as opposed to, you know, what's actually transpired since March.

IX. Meet your likely Golden Boot winner

There's still one game to go for all, but the Chicago Fire's Nemanja Nikolic separated himself from the pack with a hat trick on Sunday, and he leads the Golden Boot race by three goals. It was Nikolic's race to win based on his red-hot start to his first Fire season, but a nine-game midseason scoring drought threatened his case. He's come on late, though, with eight goals in his last six games, to retake control.

Is the MLS single-season record in his sights? Another hat trick in the Fire's finale would pull him level with Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips for the league's top mark of 27. Four goals would set the new standard, though that may be asking a lot of him at Houston, considering his Sunday hat trick was his first of the season.

X. Adorable

XI. Kaka bids farewell to Orlando

There's plenty one can say about Kaka's time with Orlando City. He was a heck of a marquee signing for the club in its expansion year, and he was a great ambassador for the team, city and league. He was also the highest-paid player in the league for the duration of his time in Orlando, and the club has 0 playoff appearances to show for spending north of $7 million a year. Regardless, emotions were high as he played his final home game for Orlando City days after announcing he would not be signing a new deal with the club. His contract expires at the end of the season, and whether he'll be playing elsewhere in MLS or the world or retiring, he was given a hero's sendoff.

It is still crazy to think that Kaka is the last player not named Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Ballon d'Or (2007).

Obrigado, Kaka!

FIFA releases latest World Rankings

Top six remain unchanged, while U.S. rise despite World Cup qualifying embarrassment.

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