Jose Villarreal

The Top Ten in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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Following Round 5 of league play, here are Nos. 1-10 in ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS quality rearrangement.

(Nos. 11-19 in the PST rankings are here)

10. D.C. United – A home loss in Round 4 to Columbus is difficult to assess, mostly because Columbus isn’t bad at all. This much we do know: Dwayne De Rosario has to get himself going – otherwise this team is going nowhere. This week’s test at Sporting Kansas City certainly won’t be easy.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – Anyone remember about this time last year, when myself and others continued to discount a growing list of victories for Frank Yallop’s Earthquakes, unable to fully buy in? Well, it’s the opposite this year. Things aren’t going so swell (a rather meek loss at Houston over the weekend represent the latest evidence), but the boys from Buck Shaw have earned some benefit of the doubt. The 2-2-1 record certainly isn’t the stuff of a Supporters Shield defense in 2013, but let’s talk again when they get a couple more of the walking wounded back on the grass.

8. Columbus – A week off (which will help Eddie Gaven more fully recuperate from a recent injury setback) to prepare for a visit from young Philadelphia? Yep, Robert Warzycha’s men have to take advantage of that.

7. Sporting Kansas City – Benny Feilhaber – where you been, man? That was some kind of two-assist performance of yours last Saturday, the one that helped take down Montreal for the first time this year.

6. Real Salt Lake – Watching Luis Gil, Sebastian Velaquez and Devon Sandoval operate around Rio Tinto in last week’s commanding win over Seattle (Well, OK, “commanding” for a half, at least) says great things about the development initiative going on in Utah. Everyone can sign home growns and draft raw talent, but RSL is getting worthy production from the trio of youngsters.

5. FC Dallas – Blas Perez came off the bench to supply the big goal last week in a win over New England. But just as important has been Michel’s introduction into the midfield, in a dual holding role alongside Andrew Jacobson. Peruvian international Raul Fernandez had a good night, too, in the shutout at Gillette Stadium.

4. Chivas USA – We like our crow with really good grill marks, bathed tastefully in a delicious, fresh chimmichurri sauce. Until further notice, “El Chelis” and Chivas USA register as A-OK in our book. Most of the success has come at the Home Depot Center, but a big Round 4 win at Chicago demonstrates that the Goats can travel, too.

3. Montreal Impact – One stinker (at a highly motivated Sporting Kansas City) cannot undo all the good that Marco Schallibaum and his Impact did over four previous round in MLS. They get a week to recover before easing into a mild April, when the club has just three matches, including two at home.

2. Houston Dynamo – How far will this streak go? Dominic Kinnear’s team is unbeaten in 34 contests (in all competitions) at home. One more and they no longer share the league mark; they will own it. The record-setter could come April 14 at BBVA against Chicago. Of course, a meeting with Portland up in Oregon is up first on Saturday.

1. LA Galaxy – Remember this name (if you haven’t already): Jose Villarreal (pictured above). The young forward has already left a mark on the champs’ 2013 season, striking spectacularly in stoppage time Saturday to help his team split the points in Toronto.  Oh, and Landon Donovan is back. Or maybe you heard. Bruce Arena’s team will need him in this CONCACAF Champions League semifinal series starting this week.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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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.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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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.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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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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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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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.