Where will MLS cup be held? Down to three candidates

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If Kansas City prevails in its Eastern Conference final against hard-to-kill Houston, Major League Soccer’s 18th championship will be hosted at Kansas City’s Sporting Park (pictured).

Otherwise – and that’s a big “otherwise” considering Houston’s post-season success over the last two years against Sporting KC – Portland or suburban Sandy, Utah, will host this year’s Dec. 7 final.

Houston is the only team left in the ongoing Major League Soccer post-season (the big bracket is here) that cannot host the MLS Cup final. So if Houston wins a third consecutive MLS Eastern Conference title, they will be the championship game visitors once again (with the Western Conference side as championship contest hosts).

The playoffs are down to four teams. Remember, this is the second year in which the finalist with the best record will host Major League Soccer’s championship.

By the way, it will work just a little better than last year, when Los Angeles, seeded No. 8 among 10 playoff teams, hosted. That didn’t exactly work out as planned, where MLS officials had hoped to reward regular season performance with the opportunity to host MLS Cup.

It did, I suppose … but only to a point.

At any rate, here are the four remaining playoff clubs and their final point totals from 2013.

  • Kansas City, 58
  • Portland, 57
  • Real Salt Lake, 56
  • Houston, 51

(MORE: What we learned from Portland’s win Thursday over Seattle)

(MORE: What we learned from Real Salt Lake’s win Thursday over the LA Galaxy)

(MORE: MLS playoff timing and pace make no sense)

Soccer world reacts to the Manchester attacks

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NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.

Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.

Soccer personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.

Juventus purchases Cuadrado from Chelsea

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If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.

The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.

Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.

Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.

Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.

Report: Jermain Defoe meeting with Bournemouth

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Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.

Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.

[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]

The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.

Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.

Chelsea’s Conte wins pair of top managerial honors

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Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.

The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.

Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.

The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.

In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.