Jay DeMerit

ProSoccerTalk’s weekly MLS rankings

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19. D.C. United – A 2-2 draw at home against Los Angeles qualifies as a good result for Ben Olsen’s team this year. Chris Pontius scored his second goal of 2013.

18. Toronto FC – The Reds gave New York a real tussle before a late goal put the game out of reach at Red Bull Arena.

17. Columbus – Federico Higuain and Dominic Oduro hooked up for a wonderful, late goal in a win at Montreal. There is still a mighty hill to climb, but three big points on the road (and what a really big upset, it was) means the team can keep dreaming about post-season soccer a while longer.

16. Chivas USA – Late-season scoring sensation Erick “Cubo” Torres had a penalty appeal denied in a 1-1 draw with Portland. If the Goats get that call (it was pretty iffy, truth be told), who knows where the result might have fallen?

15. Vancouver Whitecaps – Great to see Jay DeMerit (pictured) back on the field; MLS is a better place with more consummate professionals like him around. Unfortunately, his Whitecaps could do no better than a scoreless draw at San Jose and remain in seventh place, two spots out of the playoffs.

14. FC Dallas – But for some sloppy finishing, Schellas Hyndman’s team could have picked up three huge points on the road against Colorado. French midfielder Peter Luccin, injured in preseason, has been activated and could help add bounce to the team’s fading playoff aspirations.

13. Chicago Fire – A road draw at Toronto and a late win at home against New England keeps Chicago’s clock ticking in the playoff race. Mike Magee struck No. 16 for the year, but remains two goals behind Montreal’s Marco Di Vaio for league leadership.

12. New England Revolution – The Revs were hard done when a 50th minute goal from Saer Sene that was ruled offside. It would have given visiting New England a 3-1 lead over Chicago; instead, the home team came back to win over the Revolution, 3-2. Kelyn Rowe has seven goals and seven assists in an increasingly outstanding second professional season.

11. Philadelphia Union – John Hackworth’s team has forgotten how to score, now with just one goal in five games. They have fallen from second place a few weeks ago to sixth in the East, one spot out of the playoffs.

(MORE: MLS Round 29 week in review)

10. Houston Dynamo – After last week’s awful, three-goal loss at home, a 1-0 victory on the road (in a real grind of a game from both sides) was exactly what Dominic Kinnear’s team needed to jump start its playoff bid.

9. San Jose Earthquakes – The ‘Quakes took 22 shots against visiting Vancouver but did no better than a scoreless draw – one that seriously damages San Jose’s dimming playoff hopes. It was the first time San Jose has failed to win at home since May, although the team remains unbeaten at home in its last 14 contests.

8. Portland Timbers – What Timbers manager Caleb Porter told MLSSoccer.com after his team’s 1-1 draw at last place Chivas USA: “We didn’t show up with enough hunger, urgency, had a bit of casualness in our play with a few individuals, and that can’t happen.” They had better locate that lost urgency soon; they are only two points from dropping out of a playoff spot.

7. Montreal Impact – Giving up soft goals will be this team’s undoing in the playoffs if they can’t get the back line sorted out. Saturday’s loss at home to Columbus does serious damage to the teams hopes of finishing atop the East. Marco Di Vaio, now with 18 goals, retained his league leadership.

source:  6. New York Red Bulls – Fabian Espindola (pictured left) scored off the bench in a less-than-convincing win over Toronto. That’s a pretty handy card to play for manager Mike Petke going forward, especially as “Espy” just wasn’t working previously as a starter. Oh, and Thierry Henry’s “Waiting for the bus” celebration was pretty cool.

5. Colorado Rapids –  A big performance from recently signed Uruguayan midfielder Vicente Sanchez guided an important 2-1 Western Conference win over Dallas. Afterward, Sanchez had some nice words about hoping to bring a little joy to a region troubled by significant flooding.

4. LA Galaxy – The Galaxy gave up two bad goals to D.C. United in a 2-2 draw. A.J. DeLaGarza’s elbow injury may keep him out for a while, but Landon Donovan’s ankle injury does not appear serious. That’s good news as L.A. heads into a busy week, with Metapán up in midweek in CONCACAF Champions League play and league-leading Seattle inbound for the StubHub Center over the weekend.

3. Real Salt Lake – RSL just didn’t match Seattle’s intensity as the team from Utah lost 2-0 before more than 55,000. If not for Nick Rimando, coming back off national team duty to have a big match, the score could have been worse.

2. Seattle Sounders – The Sounders had been ticking off the points lately, although not in the most impressive, dominating ways. Well, that changed with a commanding 2-0 win Friday over visiting Real Salt Lake. With it, Seattle now looks like the Supporters Shield favorites. Obafemi Martins (one goal, one assist Friday) reminded everyone that Eddie Johnson and Clint Dempsey aren’t the only scorers worth watching around CenturyLink.

1. Sporting Kansas City – The club should be well rested after a weekend off and can take a big step toward CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals with a win Tuesday over Real Esteli. After that comes a trip into Toronto.

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.