Jermain Defoe expected to return this weekend for Toronto

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With all the adulation Clint Dempsey has received during his recent surge, it’s easy to forget that’s another former Tottenham attacker is also scoring at a better than goal-per-90 rate. That Jermain Defoe hasn’t played since the fourth week of the season has helped keep him from competing with Dempsey’s feat, but now having recovered from his hamstring injury, Defoe may be ready to resume his initial, torrid pace.

The aspiring England international declared himself “100 per cent” at training on Wednesday. From reporting by the Canadian Press:

“It’s been really frustrating because when you get off to a good start, you just want it to continue as long as possible …”

“But it happens. It’s football, you get little niggles. Luckily enough it wasn’t something that was too serious. It was just a case of resting and doing your rehab stuff. But yeah it feels fine now. I feel 100 per cent. I’ve worked really hard. So maybe I’ll come back stronger than I was before, which is important for the team.”

Stronger than before would be a scary notion for Major League Soccer, with Defoe already having scored three times in his first 242 MLS minutes. A brace in his debut performance in Seattle hinted at the impact the 31-year-old can have in North America, with only Real Salt Lake (in Defoe’s third game) having successfully kept him off the scoresheet.

After Toronto lost two in a row before its bye week, Defoe’s return is as needed as it is welcomed, yet his is not the only improvement the Reds might see Saturday against New England. Michael Bradley, who underwent a foot procedure last week, is expected to be better, while Jonathan Osario, Alvaro Rey, Dwayne De Rosario and Doneil Henry are all approaching full health. Osario is back training, while the other three are “very close,” according to Nelsen.

Regardless, the hobbled team that lost to Colorado and FC Dallas will get a boost Saturday at BMO Field. With Defoe back to full strength, Toronto will have all of its high-priced talents at Nelsen’s disposal.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.