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Highlights: San Jose within one point of Colorado after beating Rapids at Buck Shaw

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Thanks to Chris Wondolowski’s 10th goal of the year, San Jose’s within a sliver of a playoff spot, with the Earthquakes’ 1-0 victory Wednesday over visiting Colorado leaving them one point behind the fifth-place Rapids.

The goal came in the 69th minute, with the reigning Major League Soccer Most Valuable Player Chris Wondolowski taking advantage of young Shane O’Neill on a corner kick. On the Shea Salinas out-swinger, “Wondo” gave the young central defender a small shove, catching him off balance with the type of normally innocuous contact that’s standard procedure on corner kicks. That left the San Jose captain essentially unmarked from nine yards out, his header going into the right side-netting for the game’s only goal.

That game-winner made up for goals Wondolowski could have had in the 50th, 64th, and 69th minutes. Just after halftime, he found himself going in alone on goal after badly beating O’Neill off the dribble, but a poor finish into Clint Irwin’s feet left the score 0-0. On the next chance, Wondolowski got the ball past Irwin only to see a retreating Drew Moor save his shot off the line. Five minutes later, a header toward the top of goal off a restart from the right was palmed out for a corner – the corner Wondo buried for the winner.

Later, Clint Irwin swallowed an Alan Gordon header put on goal from a corner kick – another highlight of the Colorado’s keeper strong yet losing effort. Though the final score was 1-0, it would have been much worse without the play of the Rapids’ Man of the Match.

Ultimately, the mere fact Colorado lost was more important than how it happened. Now, only one point up on San Jose, they close the season with a home-and-home against a Vancouver team coming off a 4-1 thrashing of Seattle. Sweep that series, and Colorado’s in. Drop points, and they’ll need the Earthquakes’ help to stay in the top five. Drop too many points, and Vancouver (three points back) will pass the Rapids.

As for San Jose, they still need help to make the playoffs. Even if they sweep their final two games (at LA and home to Dallas) they could still find themselves on the outside looking in. If the Galaxy win Wednesday against Montréal or in their season finale at Seattle, the defending champions are assured of finishing ahead of the Earthquakes. If that happens while Colorado sweeps Vancouver, San Jose’s late charge will be for naught.

Well, almost for naught.  Even if San Jose doesn’t return to the postseason, we’re going to remember this run. We’re going to remember their poor start, all the early-season injuries they had to overcome, and how close they are to rendering all that adversity meaningless. LA, Colorado, or Vancouver may surge over the next two weeks, and San Jose may be left out in the cold, but after the run Matt Watson’s stoked his team to throughout the summer, nobody who’s followed the league will forget the end to the 2013 season …

Even if such memories will be no consolation to the players if they don’t return to the postseason.

Ronaldo shows no sign of injury while hanging with Conor McGregor

instagram.com/cristiano/
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Cristiano Ronaldo may not be ready for the UEFA Super Cup, but he’s no longer limping around.

To explore the Real Madrid superstar’s Instagram is to see Ronaldo, sometimes clothed, hanging out with celebrities.

In the last couple weeks we’ve seen him with Eva Longoria, Jennifer Lopez, and now his “bro” Conor McGregor.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Wait, what?

Yeah, Ronaldo is friends with the MMA star, and showed no ill form (and no brace of any kind) in several posed photos with McGregor.

Although admittedly, McGregor’s IG game is a bit better: The Irish fighter posted a photo of himself sunning in his briefs with the caption, “I’m gonna get him on the Forbes list by next year. But I’m gonna get him on the tan by next week.”

Good luck with both, bro.

Great to see you bro!!💪🏽🔝

A photo posted by Cristiano Ronaldo (@cristiano) on Jul 24, 2016 at 3:48pm PD

Bruce pens letter to Hull fans: “Desperately wanted to make it work”

YORK, ENGLAND - JULY 23: Steve Bruce manager of  Hull City ahead of the pre-season friendly match between York City and Hull City at Bootham Cresent on July 23, 2014  in York, England. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
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Many Hull City fans didn’t want Steve Bruce to leave the club, and this open letter shows why.

After leaving the club by “mutual consent” on Friday — it was first widely reported that he quit — fans protested at Hull’s game on Monday.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

Bruce may’ve had his problems with Hull’s ownership, but he certainly got his supporters’ feelings right down to the core.

From the Hull Daily Mail:

My biggest regret is having to walk away but it was a decision I had to make for the sake of the club. The last 12 months have been very tough and it felt like the right step for the club to move forward in a different direction and with someone else in charge.

I desperately wanted to make it work this summer and be a Premier League manager again but, sadly, it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, I’ve left Hull City with some fantastic memories that I’ll always cherish, including just eight weeks ago in the Championship play-off final at Wembley.

Class from the longtime boss, and we imagine he’ll have a job very soon if he wants it.

Report: Everton to activate release clause of Stoke’s Arnautovic

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 28: Marko Arnautovic (1st L) of Stoke City competes for the ball against Seamus Coleman (2nd L) and Gareth Barry (1st Rof Everton during the Barclays Premier League match between Everton and Stoke City at Goodison Park on December 28, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Dave Thompson/Getty Images)
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Everton is going to activate Marko Arnautovic‘s $16 million release clause to bring the Stoke City striker to Goodison Park, according to a report out of Austria.

Stoke had been trying to sign Arnautovic to a contract extension, but the player was reportedly prepared to play out the final year of his deal.

[ MORE: Who wins the League of Hate? ]

The huge 27-year-old Austrian has been with Stoke since 2013, and broke through with 11 Premier League goals last season.

Arnautovic would give Everton support behind Romelu Lukaku, and insurance in case the Toffees do wind up selling their Belgian striker. Everton also has Arouna Kone as a potential target forward, but Oumar Niasse is expecting to leave after less than a year at Goodison Park.

Chelsea wins the League… of Hate; Bournemouth, Leicester not hated

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  Diego Costa of Chelsea celebrates his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Chelsea at St Mary's Stadium on February 27, 2016 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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A family of English newspapers conducted its annual survey of which teams are the most hated in the Premier League, and there’s a new champion.

Manchester United has dropped to second in the table to Chelsea in what the Manchester Evening News called the “League of Hate”.

[ MORE: Rooney’s England position not set ]

According to the MEN, 10,000 fans were quizzed on their love and hate:

A national survey asked fans of each top flight club which sides they hate, and which they love, and the west London club came out as the most disliked club overall.

United, who won the dubious accolade last year, have been revealed to be the next most reviled side.

It’s no surprise that the league’s more successful sides sit atop the table while newer PL clubs like Bournemouth and Burnley are not reviled. That said, Leicester’s dream story has them 19th. How much more success do they need to have before shooting up the hate table?

Here’s the Top Five, and all results:

1) Chelsea
2) Manchester United
3) Liverpool
4) Manchester City
5) Arsenal