Soccer birthdays: On another day, Carsten Jancker might not make the big birthday list. But the former Bayern Munich man was a big whoop in the late 1990s and into the next decade. And he did have 33 caps for Germany. So, yeah, happy 38th birthday, Herr Jancker.
Longtime Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Paul Allen (pictured) turns 50. That man is darn near a legend around White Hart Lane.
Big Important Story of the Day: Toronto FC got off to a good start in CONCACAF Champions League play with a resounding 5-1 win over travel-weary Aguila from El Salvador. But tonight’s contest against Mexican power Santos Laguna? Yes, that will be a different story.
RASNoD (Random American Soccer Name of the Day): Ted Eck
If the MLS playoffs started today:
- Sporting Kansas City vs. Wildcard winner
- New York Red Bulls vs. Houston
- Vancouver Whitecaps at L.A. Galaxy
- San Jose vs. Wildcard winner
- Real Salt Lake vs. Seattle
What you should watch on TV today: Sacha Kljestan and his Belgian club Anderlecht try to stay alive in UEFA Champions League play, hosting AEL Limassol FC from Cyprus. Kljestan’s team is down by a goal, but this one is in Brussels, so it’s “game on!” That one kicks off at 5 p.m. on Fox Soccer Channel. (But stay off of Twitter; it is a delay broadcast.) Later on FSC the aforementioned Toronto-Santos Laguna contest kicks off at 8 p.m. ET.
*Ahead on the blog today: In addition to the usual Tuesday staple, our ProSoccerTalk MLS weekly rankings, we’ll have some thoughts on Monday’s terrible news out of Kansas City, where striker Teal Bunbury is done for the year after suffering a severe knee injury in Sunday’s draw with New York.
PST background noise while blogging today: We’ll see what SoundCloud has to say about it; I’m thinking downtempo.
*Always subject to change; you know how it is…
Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]
However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.
Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.
They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.
The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.
Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.
[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]
Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.
The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.
[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]
Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0
Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.
[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]
Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw
Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.
In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.
[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]
Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.
Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.
Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.