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Bradley, short-handed Toronto give Columbus loss number one (video)

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Major League Soccer’s final perfect side has fallen, with a hamstrung Toronto FC overcoming the absences of Jermain Defoe, Jonathan Osorio, and Steven Caldwell to take a somewhat surprising 2-0 result out of Columbus. Then again, with Michael Bradley in tow, perhaps the result shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. The U.S. international, coming off a big night on Wednesday against Mexico, is starting to make the league his own, helping his team overcome its slew of absences to claim its third win of the season.

Granted, his team did take some its lumps last Saturday at Real Salt Lake, but quietly, Bradley was still very good at Rio Tinto. This week, against a second straight tough challenge, Bradley took matters into his own hands early, going five-hole in the 11th minute on Steve Clark for his first goal since returning to Major League Soccer.

From there forward, the match reportedly played out as you would expect a Crew-TFC game where the Reds claim an early goal. The Crew dominated possession but often saw a Bradley-led midfield create chances and get into transition. As the game went on and Toronto became more conservative, Columbus was able to push its guest toward its own goal, yet Júlio César was still relatively untested. Despite some late pressure, a punch on a Bernardo Añor direct kick may have been the Brazilian’s biggest test of the match.

Late, after Ryan Nelsen had brought on reinforcements, TFC sprung the counter that sealed the game. Set up by Álvaro Rey, Issey Nakajima-Farran scored his first Major League Soccer goal in the 85th minute, giving the Reds their 2-0 result.

Given how these teams matched up and who was missing for Toronto, the result is a bit of an eye-opener. Columbus should have been expected to use their numbers and skill in midfield to take a better, earlier control of play. But in the rare case early goals don’t change matches, great players do. On Saturday, Toronto had both.

They also had a steady performance from their understudies in central defense. With Caldwell and Doniel Henry both out, Bradley Orr and rookie Nick Hagglund started in the middle, levying Toronto with a potential weakness. But that weakness never materialized. Instead, one week after conceding three times in Utah, Toronto kept its second clean sheet of the year, going joint-top of the Eastern Conference in the process.

Atleti’s Torres ready for “game of his life” in UEFA Champions League final

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Atletico de Madrid players Saul Niguez (L) and Fernando Torres (R) stretch during the training session during the Club Atletico de Madrid Open Media Day ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match against Real Madrid CF on May 21, 2016 in Majadahonda, Spain.
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Fernando Torres has won the UEFA Champions League before, but a victory on Saturday would ring as true as ever.

Calling it the game of his life, the Atletico Madrid striker spoke about this year’s final against Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determined UCL final ]

A lot has changed since the 2012 victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, when Torres subbed into Chelsea’s comeback win.

His decline at Chelsea found him on loan to Milan, where he transferred before finding another loan back home to Atleti. Now 32, Torres has his most goals since 2013 and is preparing for a Madrid Derby final.

From Sky Sports:

“Tomorrow [Saturday] is the game of my life, without doubt,” said Torres. “To me it means everything. Everything you dream when you’re a kid, I have the chance tomorrow to make this dream come true.

“I’ve played for great teams, and won many things, but this one is special, it is different, it’s what I wanted when I was a kid.”

Later lauding Atleti for giving him the chance “to come back and fight for what I wanted”, Torres is clearly hungry for a bit of redemption. And if his side comes out on top, he’ll likely be a big part of it.

Costa injury sends Kaka into Brazil’s Copa America squad

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 06:  Kaka (R) is seen on the field prior to a MLS soccer match between Real Salt Lake and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 6, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Kaka will not start the season opener due to injury. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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Orlando City is losing its wizard for a bit.

Kaka, 34, has been called into Dunga’s Brazil squad for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The move was made after Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa picked up an injury that will cause him to miss the tournament.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]

The 2007 Ballon D’Or winner didn’t play in that year’s Copa America, which Brazil won.

Kaka has two goals and five assists in 7 MLS matches this season, a year after netting nine times with six assists in 28 matches.

Evans to face new rape trial in October

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  Sheffield United player Ched Evans in action during the npower League One game between Sheffield United and Chesterfield at Bramall Lane on March 28, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former Premier League player whose rape conviction was overturned will face a new trial in October.

Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, appeared in court in Cardiff on Friday and pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hotel in May 2011.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed | Speaks more ]

Evans had already served half of a five-year sentence before being released from prison and getting the conviction overturned in April following an appeal.

Evans only spoke briefly to confirm his identity before entering his plea.

The new trial will start on Oct. 4 in Cardiff.

Mourinho: “I prefer to forget the last three years” of Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho is asked for his autograph by fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 26, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has immediately begun courting the fans of his new club.

The 53-year-old Portuguese manager may’ve run rivals Chelsea on two occasions, but claims he’s always had empathy with United even when defeating the Old Trafford club.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

In an interview with Manchester United TV, Mourinho issues some high praise of the club while also managing a bit of classic “The Special One” ego in saying, “Giant clubs must be for the best managers.”

As for the disappointing trio of years between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, Mourinho says he’d rather consider his tenure in line with the run of Alex Ferguson.

From the BBC:

“I think we can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and another is the history. I prefer to forget the last three years. I prefer to focus on the giant club I have in my hands now. “

Mourinho has had some time to calculate the best way to endear himself to United supporters, and playing to their belief as the most historic club in the world sure pushes the right buttons.

Now comes the task of delivering titles in a climate more competitive than any other time in modern history.