Toronto FC Introduce Jermain Defoe

Will Jermain Defoe make England’s World Cup squad after move to Toronto?

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New Toronto FC signing Jermain Defoe was unveiled amongst much fanfare on Monday, as Major League Soccer’s newest star has landed in Ontario.

But will Defoe’s multi-year and multi-million dollar prevent him playing for the English national team?

That’s the question many have been asking on both sides of the pond, as England really don’t have anyone else in their squad that possesses the sublime finishing skills that Defoe has. Inevitably the question that is often asked to European players moving to MLS cropped up in Defoe’s first press conference as a Toronto player, as he was asked whether his move to the North American top-flight spelled the end of his England career.

“The most important thing for me is just playing football, scoring and doing well for the team,” Defoe said. “Hopefully, then I can be on a plane [to Brazil].”

But we all know it’s not that simple.

Eurosnobs out there, and there are plenty of you, would argue that Defoe is making a bad decision by leaving behind one of English soccer’s top six teams to join Toronto, a side that’s never made the MLS postseason. However the finances obviously come in to it here, as the England international is 31 and perhaps wanted one big pay day to finish his career. He’s got that. But will he get on the plan to Brazil and persuade Roy Hodgson to take him?

“I have to be honest, I did think about the chances of going to the World Cup,” Defoe said. “It’s always important to play well for your club, and having played in a World Cup before, it’s just the greatest thing in the world. It’s a dream come true. And yes, it did cross my mind, but at the same time I believe the MLS is going to be fantastic for me, and it’s important to be playing.”

(MORE: Where will new Toronto FC man Jermain Defoe fall in the ranking of MLS strikers?)

That’s the puzzler, because would Hodgson have picked Defoe had he stayed at Spurs and was on the bench like he had been for most of this season? Defoe has started just three PL games and made 10 appearances off the bench, so he wasn’t playing regularly but at Toronto he will be a regular starter and would be much sharper and fitter, in theory, to be a threat for England in Brazil.

Defoe doesn’t have to prove himself to anyone, he has scored 19 goals in 55 games for England and with Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert and Andy Carroll as England’s other options up top, apart from superstar Wayne Rooney who is a shoe-in to start, surely Defoe is in with a shout at playing for the Three Lions this summer?

“At the age of 31, I would like to think that the England manager [Roy Hodgson] and everyone in England knows what I can do, what I bring to the team. If selected I’ll be ready.”

MLS won’t suddenly turn Defoe into a bad player. The Republic of Ireland have persisted with Robbie Keane after his move to the LA Galaxy and he’s been great for club and country. So why can’t England use Defoe if he’s playing for 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.