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Notes on the preliminary U.S. Gold Cup roster

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The Gold Cup will surely be the little brother tournament this summer around our region, struggling to get some attention amid “big bro,” the ongoing World Cup qualifying matches.

Jurgen Klinsmann told us long, long ago that the Gold Cup would be a B-team roster, testing the depth of the U.S. player pool.

But that doesn’t mean the names involved won’t stoke the fires of conversation – even if they are just little camp fires rather than roaring bonfires.

CONCACAF, regional soccer’s governing body, just released 35-man preliminary rosters for each Gold Cup team. And there are a few interesting names on Klinsmann’s list.

Remember, not all of these names will be on the 23-man roster named later; twelve will be “excused.”

  • As expected, Landon Donovan has been named. I have a feeling his name will come up a few times over the next two weeks, but not about Gold Cup. If the U.S. offense continues to struggle as it did Wednesday against Belgium …
  • Oguchi Onyewu and Carlos Bocanegra are both on the list. What is this, 2006? What, Claudio Reyna wasn’t available?
  • Seriously, you wonder about Bocanegra. Is this the best use of his time, considering that he might need additional rest, and that the only chance he has of getting back into the U.S. side is to get into a better club situation. That would be happening right about the same time as the Gold Cup in July.
  • Benny Feilhaber was named; expect to see him, and expect the conversations to start over one of the few U.S. men who does have something creative in his feet. Same for Jose Torres.
  • John Seamus McInerney has been named. You know him as “Jack” McInerney. Or, perhaps you know him as Major League Soccer’s co-leading scorer of the moment.
  • Omar Gonzalez is there, which is interesting. Klinsmann has said that players used for World Cup qualifiers are unlikely to be used for the Gold Cup. LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena certainly won’t appreciate seeing his star center back miss so much of June and July.
  • Stuart Holden (pictured) is on the list, as expected. So much of the focus around the U.S. squad during the tournament will be on Bolton’s mending man.

Here is the provisional U.S. roster:

Goalkeepers: Tally Hall (Houston Dynamo), Bill Hamid (DC United), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: Corey Ashe (Houston Dynamo), DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Tony Beltran (Real Salt Lake), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Carlos Bocanegra (Racing Santander), Edgar Castillo (Tijuana), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Clarence Goodson (Brondby), Oguchi Onyewu (Malaga), Michael Orozco (Puebla), Michael Parkhurst (Ausburg)

Midfielders: Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Heisingborgs), Joe Corona (Tijuana), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC), Josh Gatt (Molde), Stuart Holden (Bolton), Brek Shea (Stoke City), Jose Torres (Tigres), Graham Zusi (Sporting KC)

Forwards: Will Bruin (Houston Dynamo), Herculez Gomez (Santos), Alan Gordon (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Johnson (Seattle Sounders), Jack McInerney (Philadelphia Union), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (1860 Munich)

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.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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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.