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D.C. United set to give up first pick in allocation for Philadelphia’s Jeff Parke? Yikes.

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So much for speculating how D.C. United would look with Marco Pappa. Or Maurice Edu, for that matter, with the Stoke City man’s return to Major League Soccer discussed more-and-more by the day. Instead, D.C. United’s makeover has added another veteran in central defense, reportedly trading the first pick in MLS’s allocation order along with Ethan White to Philadelphia for Jeff Parke and the sixth pick in allocation.

If you’re looking at this, asking yourself if you’d trade Pappa or Edu for Parke, and are left wondering if there’s something more to this deal, you’re not alone. Parke, who was traded from Seattle to Philadelphia last season, is a decent-to-above average center back who makes decent-to-above average money ($205,000 in 2013). Together with the recently acquired Bobby Boswell, United have the makings of a solid if unspectacular pair. But to give up the chance at Pappa or Edu to make it happen? It seems like something else is up.

That’s not the only wrinkle to this deal. Part of the charm of the Union acquiring Parke last season was the Drexel graduate’s move closer to home. Now, after one year in Philadelphia, the 31-year-old has asked out, requesting the trade as a result of a “personal matter” (as relayed by our friends at CSN Philly). Twelve months after Seattle made the tough decision to cut costs by trading Parke, the former Red Bull is on the move again, set to join his third team in as many seasons.

source: Getty Images
Philadelphia is reportedly targeting Stoke City’s Maurice Edu with the allocation order slot acquired from D.C. United. (Source: Getty Images.)

There are a whole bunch of questions to go around about this one, not the least of which involves D.C.’s motivations. On the surface, it seems Dave Kaspar and Ben Olsen have decided an upgrade in defense is more valuable than adding Edu or Pappa, a decision that’s not difficult to understand. Olsen may see Perry Kitchen as his Maurice Edu while looking at a team that already has Davy Arnaud and Nick DeLeon wide in midfield. Where others might see places to upgrade, Kaspar and Olsen may see reasons to focus resources elsewhere. Finding a partner for Bobby Boswell may have been priority number one.

With that in mind, the bigger questions may rest with Philadelphia. Over at CSN Philly, the big focus is on Maurice Edu, a player that could provide an upgrade to Brian Carroll or Keon Daniel in midfield. While it would be difficult for the Union to turn their back on that upgrade (and a U.S. international) to take Pappa, the team is also in desperate need of new ways to score goals. When Jack McInerney cooled off after his spring explosion, the team was exposed as one-dimensional – overly reliant on playing through Conor Casey. Pappa could solve that. (He could also be the only option, if Edu doesn’t become available.)

On a team that competed for the playoffs last year, wide midfield is one of many holes, part of the reason why this deal looks bad for both sides. Philadelphia may be able to address one of their problems with Edu or Pappa, but in giving up Parke, they’ve created another. Perhaps Ethan White will make a smooth transition to Philadelphia, but the former Maryland Terrapin had yet to show enough at RFK to keep him in red and black. He may just add to the pile of young talent Philadelphia’s waiting to fully mature.

For D.C., they plug a hole, but to do so they’ve given up a prime asset. In return, they get a player who turns 32 in March – somebody who’s decent but no All-Star. Turning their back on a chance to get a more talented player, D.C. United appears to be placing a too much emphasis on 2014, perhaps overlooking the lengths they must travel to overcome their disastrous 2013.

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.