Influential CEO Tim Leiweke to leave Toronto FC, MLSE

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After rumors about his future, the President and CEO of Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment will leave the company.

On Thursday MLSE confirmed that Tim Lieweke, the former President and CEO of the Anschutz Entertainment Group, will step down by June 2015 and will continue his role between now and then until a successor is found.

Leiweke, 57, has played a prominent role in the development of Major League Soccer and was pivotal in the LA Galaxy’s rise as a superpower in North America.

He arrived in Toronto back in June 2013 but will now be stepping away from the emerging MLS club as he aims to run his own business after 30 years as a sports executive.

In a statement released on MLSE’s website, Leiweke had the following to say.

“It’s an honor to lead MLSE, a world-class organization in a city and country so passionate about sports. But with new opportunities on the horizon it is time for me to transitions from sports and entertainment executive to entrepreneur,” Leiweke said. “Right now my total focus is here at MLSE and I look forward to working with the board and MLSE team to continue strengthening our franchises while ensuring a smooth transition to a new leader.”

Leiweke’s strong links with the soccer world has helped turn Toronto FC into one of the most talked about franchises in MLS, as they’ve acquired the likes of Michael Bradley and Jermain Defoe over the past six months. The club is going places with plans for stadium expansion, a talented squad in place and a young, ambitious head coach in charge in Ryan Nelsen, but losing Leiweke will be a big blow for TFC. His name resonates strongly in soccer circles in North America and further afield, helping to grow their brand beyond the shores of Lake Ontario.

Under his stewardship MLSE pumped plenty of money into TFC and now only time will tell if the new man in charge is set to do the same. With Leiweke moving on, the search for his succesoer at MLSE has already begun.

WATCH: Spain’s Saul smashes a shot past Italy’s Donnarumma

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Since returning from a loan at Rayo Vallecano, Saul Niguez has been a somewhat under the radar star at Atletico Madrid.

Coming off his best season with Atleti, the 22-year-old Saul is making an even bigger name for himself at the U-21 EURO this summer.

Spain’s Saul scored a hat trick past Gianluigi Donnarumma and Italy on Tuesday, and the second goal was laced with venom.

Getting onto the ball from 30-plus yards out, Saul smashed his shot with enough power that the ball barely had occasion to rotate.

Saul is under contract at the Vicente Calderon through 2022, and has three caps for Spain’s senior team, too. He was rated Atleti’s third-best performer by WhoScored this season.

Men in Blazers podcast: Transfer window, USMNT at Gold Cup, RBNY-NYCFC

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Men In Blazers are back with their latest podcast, and the boys are hitting club soccer here and abroad as well as Bruce Arena’s men in the red, white, and blue.

Rog and Davo break down transfer window activity, rumored and real; get a heat check on the USMNT heading into the Gold Cup; and recap the (Ray) Hudson River Derby.

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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Agent Jorge Mendes appears before judge in Falcao tax probe

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MADRID (AP) Football agent Jorge Mendes has told a Spanish judge that he had no involvement in the financial planning of client Radamel Falcao, who has been accused by a state prosecutor of tax fraud.

Mendes, who is not accused of any wrongdoing, appeared before a judge in a Madrid court for 45 minutes on Tuesday as part of the probe into whether there are grounds for the case against Falcao to go to trial.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Mendes’ agency, Gestifute, released a statement saying that “neither he nor his employees have ever intervened in the creation of corporate structures for his clients and much less provided any tax advice to them.”

Last month, a state prosecutor accused Falcao of defrauding Spain’s Tax Office of around $6 million from 2012-13. The alleged unpaid taxes were from money the Colombian player made from endorsement deals through image rights, not from the salary he was then being paid from club Atletico Madrid. Falcao now plays for Monaco.

Arfield, Adekugbe on Canada’s Gold Cup roster

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Burnley midfielder Scott Arfield and on-loan Brighton defender Samuel Adekugbe are among the players who will represent Canada in this summer’s Gold Cup.

Arfield, 28, was born in Scotland and earned the first of seven Canada caps in 2016, and Adekugbe returns to Vancouver from a year-long loan to Brighton and Hove Albion on June 30.

The pair join nine MLS players, two NASL player, and a USL player, with the rest of the group based outside North America.

[ MORE: Lampard linked with manager opening ]

Notably, Orlando City players Will Johnson and Cyle Larin were not called up by coach Octavio Zambrano.

Goalkeepers: Maxime Crepeau (Montreal), Milan Borjan (MKS Korona Kielce), Jayson Leutwiler (Shrewsbury Town)

Defenders: Samuel Adekugbe (Brighton and Hove Albion), Fraser Aird, Manjrekar James (Vasas Budapest), Dejan Jakovic (New York Cosmos), Adam Straith (FC Edmonton), Steven Vitoria (Lechia Gdansk), Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Midfielders: Scott Arfield (Burnley), Patrice Bernier (Montreal), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver), Raheem Edwards (Toronto FC), Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Louisville City FC), Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal), Jonathan Osorio (Toronto), Michael Petrasso (QPR), Samuel Piette (CD Izarra), Russell Teibert (Vancouver)

Forwards: Lucas Cavallini (CA Penarol), Tosaint Ricketts (Toronto)