Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders - Western Conference Semifinals

Major League Soccer announces finalists for 2013 awards

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The three men who dominated Major League Soccer’s Most Valuable Player debate through the season’s last week have been named finalists for this year’s award, MLS announced today, also revealing the finalists the league’s other 11 postseason awards. One of Montréal’s Marco Di Vaio, LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane, or Chicago’s Mike Magee will win their first MVP honor when the honor is announced on Dec. 5, with awards season set to begin on Nov. 25.

MLS will announce one major honor per day until the Thursday before MLS Cup (which takes place on Dec. 7). Among those awards, 2012 Defender of the Year Matt Besler is in the running to retain that honor, Colorado Rapids Dillon Power and Deshorn Brown are among Rookie of the Year’s final three, while Real Salt Lake veteran Nick Rimando (pictured) is the favorite to win his first Goalkeeper of the Year award.

Here’s the full slate of nominees:

Most Valuable Player
Marco Di Vaio (Montreal Impact)
Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy)
Mike Magee (Chicago Fire)

Defender of the Year
Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City)
Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution)
Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy)

Goalkeeper of the Year
Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)
Donovan Ricketts (Portland Timbers)
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Coach of the Year
Jason Kreis (Real Salt Lake)
Mike Petke (New York Red Bulls)
Caleb Porter (Portland Timbers)

Rookie of the Year
Deshorn Brown (Colorado Rapids)
Dillon Powers (Colorado Rapids)
DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)

Newcomer of the Year: Jose Goncalves (New England Revolution), Nigel Reo-Coker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)
Comeback Player of the Year: Kevin Alston (New England Revolution), Conor Casey (Philadelphia Union), Lamar Neagle (Seattle Sounders FC)
Fair Play: Jalil Anibaba (Chicago Fire), Nat Borchers (Real Salt Lake), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers)
Team Fair Play: Houston Dynamo, LA Galaxy, Vancouver Whitecaps FC
Humanitarian of the Year: Jeb Brovsky (Montreal Impact), Dwayne De Rosario (D.C. United), Matt Reis (New England Revolution)
Referee of the Year: Ismail Elfath, Hilario Grajeda, Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referee of the Year: Frank Anderson, Bill Dittmar, Kermit Quisenberry

Awards Announcements Schedule:
November 25: Rookie of the Year, Fair Play Individual & Team of the Year
November 26: MLS Defender of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and Referee/Assistant Referee of the Year
December 2: Coach of the Year and Comeback Player of the Year
December 3: 2013 MLS Best XI
December 4: Goalkeeper of the Year and Newcomer of the Year
December 5: Goal of the Year, MLS Save of the Year and MLS MVP

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.