How U.S. men in England’s Premier League performed Saturday and Sunday in Round 13:
Clint Dempsey, Tottenham Hotspur: Duece made a big contribution to a worthy win at White Hart Lane. His little scoop pass to put Gareth Bale clean through for Spurs’ second goal was truly wonderful stuff. And Dempsey’s added a quick little pass to help along possession on the home team’s third in a 3-1 victory over London rival West Ham.
Brad Friedel, Tottenham Hotspur: Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas went with French international Hugo Lloris for this one. It was a great week for Lloris (he was huge in a 0-0 draw against Lazio in a mid-week Europa League match), which makes it a less-than-great week for Friedel.
Tim Howard, Everton: A slow first half for the U.S. No. 1 got slightly busier in the second 45. Howard can’t be completely happy with the way he dealt with Sebastien Bassong’s stoppage time header. Hard to call it a gaffe (especially in an EPL round that had a couple of real doozies from other ‘keepers) but perhaps he could have pushed the initial header away to preserve all three points. Otherwise, Howard was his usual steady self in the 1-1 draw at home with Norwich. His work included a solid stop on the goal line as Anthony Pilkington put a sturdy, 85th minute header on goal.
Brad Guzan, Aston Villa: Mostly unbothered in a drab 0-0 contest with Arsenal, the U.S. international did kick away an Aaron Ramsey shot with a swell foot save. No goals at home will not help the struggling side (still in the relegation zone), but Guzan certainly isn’t to blame for that.
Eric Lichaj, Aston Villa: Came in at left back for Villa but never looked comfortable, especially against a fresh Andrey Arshavin in the scoreless contest.
Geoff Cameron, Stoke City: The former Houston Dynamo man has mostly settled in at right back for Tony Pulis’ men, but he was on the left Saturday for the Potters, who took all three points against mostly lifeless Fulham at the Britannia Stadium. His only nick was a second-half yellow card. Mid-table now (12th) is a good place for Stoke.
Maurice Edu, Stoke City: The U.S. international did not make Pulis’ 18-man selection for Stoke.
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.
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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.