Toronto FC fire Ryan Nelsen thanks to disappointing position and disparaging comments

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With the club teetering on the edge of an Eastern Conference playoff spot, Toronto FC management has fired coach Ryan Nelsen, reports The Canadian Press and Yahoo! Sports.

The reports also make mention of a “major shakeup” suggesting other changes could be made as well.

Just days ago, General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko told the media he was challenging the club to “step it up a notch” ahead of their fixture with New England.

Nelsen didn’t take kindly to the comments, and when asked after the 3-0 loss to the Revs if the challenge helped the club, he fired back. “Not at all, absolutely not.”

He went into a semi-tirade, criticizing Bezbatchenko for going to the media with his challenge.

“I’ve won this league, played in it for four years, been in the (English) Premier League for 10 years, played in a World Cup, Olympics,” said Nelsen. “I’ve played in some pretty hot pressure games. One thing that I do know is this [match with New England] was not one of them. It affected the guys. What we do at Toronto FC is we keep it in-house — everything we do, we keep inside the four walls. And the players, coaching staff, everything, stays within the four walls.”

Clinging to fourth place by just their games in hand, Toronto’s position is deemed unacceptable by management after a spending spree in the offseason saw them bring in USMNT star Michael Bradley and English international Jermain Defoe.

The offseason master plan seems to be falling apart, with rumors that Defoe could be headed back to England to join former manager Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers.

The home crowd showered the team with boos at the halftime break, with Toronto down 2-0 after giving up a goal within two minutes of the opening whistle.

Nelsen, a New Zealand native, played in Major League Soccer for four years with DC United before moving to England for an eight year span that ended in 2013.  He joined Toronto FC as manager soon after retiring,

Toronto has a midweek fixture at Philadelphia coming up before coming home with a rematch against the same opponent on the weekend.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET