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Unyielding dominance: Jozy Altidore thunders TFC to MLS Cup Final

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Jozy Altidore took brash to the next level, in turn driving Toronto FC to its first MLS Cup final.

The American striker knew his team was down 3-2 after one leg. He also knew that Montreal’s defenders didn’t like his physical play in Quebec.

So he dug in.

[ MATCH RECAP: Toronto 5-2 (7-5 agg.) Montreal ]

Altidore told Montreal defender Victor Cabrera to “do more curls”, unapologetic for using his massive frame and electric athleticism to boss the Impact’s back line.

When play opened at a raucous BMO Field on Wednesday, Altidore delivered an irrepressible performance. From minute one, the 27-year-old USMNT striker was throwing his body around and daring someone to catch it.

This wasn’t the man who struggled to justify his $13 million price tag at Sunderland; It was the evolution of a man who bagged goals for fun at AZ Alkmaar and has a legit chance to chase down Landon Donovan as the USMNT’s all-time leading goal scorer.

There was Altidore, plowing his way through defenders to catch a ball near the end line and challenge goalkeeper Evan Bush. There he was again, going 100mph into a card-worthy collision with Hernan Bernardello.

And it wasn’t strictly enforcer business. Altidore scored a goal scorer’s goal with his header of a Sebastian Giovinco corner, then supplied an extra time assists as Tossaint Rickets put this one to bed.

Like he had done all season, Altidore celebrated with the fans and praised their fortitude following the win. TFC hadn’t just been bad for most of their existence; The Reds were awful. A passionate fan base had learned to expect very little from big name signings, at least until the past two seasons.

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore (17) reacts after scoring against the Montreal Impact during the first half of the second leg of MLS Eastern Conference championship series, in Toronto on Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
(Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)

“It’s all for their fans. They suffered a long time. To deliver the type of season we had, it means a lot.”

And the fans had. They needed a bull to pull them through their struggles. While Toronto as a city likes to think of itself as the playmaking wizardry of Sebastian Giovinco, Altidore did it for the blue collar types.

For my Ontario hockey types, he rolled Wendel Clark, Mats Sundin, and Gary Roberts into one package, and spit out something Leafs fans haven’t seen since 1967: an appearance in a championship game.

TFC will be at home come Dec. 10, and the focus will be on electric imports Sebastian Giovinco (if he’s healthy) and Nicolas Lodeiro. Fans will bring up the names of Michael Bradley and Jordan Morris.

But it’s the big striker, on the heels of a roller coaster European adventure, who got them there. On Wednesday night in Canada, Josmer Volmy Altidore was an absolute monster.

Follow @NicholasMendola

Coutinho rocket helps LFC to PL Asia Trophy (video)

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Goals from Mohamed Salah and Philippe Coutinho helped Liverpool come back from an early deficit to win the PL Asia Trophy on Saturday in Hong Kong.

Islam Slimani gave Leicester City an early lead in front of a heavy pro-Liverpool crowd at Hong Kong Stadium, but Coutinho delivered the goods on both goals in a 2-1 win.

The tournament win is Liverpool’s first in its second trip to the PL Asia Trophy Final.

[ EXCLUSIVE: Strootman talks Roma w/ PST ]

First he crossed for Salah to head home, and then he scored the above goal by cutting in from the left and lashing a shot past a flailing Kasper Schmeichel.

We’ve seen this one before from Coutinho, just not on this particular continent. The Brazilian remains a Barcelona target, but looks prepared for the season in whatever land he sets foot.

Transfer rumor roundup: Latest on Alexis, Neymar to PSG; Van Dijk

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Neymar and Alexis Sanchez to Paris? Brazil and Chile’s finest living as one? Reunited and it feels so French?

The latter’s talents will see Arsenal’s resolve tested by a $46 million bid, according to Sky Sports, though Gunners manager Arsene Wenger has been adamant that Sanchez will not be sold this summer.

Reports circled last year that Arsenal was prepared to offer Sanchez and Mesut Ozil record deals to stay at the club, though PSG has reportedly met with Sanchez and his agent with ideas of incredible $650,000 per week wages at the Parc des Princes.

[ EXCLUSIVE: Strootman talks Roma w/ PST ]

A source also told Sky Sports that it would take “a miracle” for Neymar to remain at Barcelona, so that Sanchez/Edinson Cavani/Neymar trident could be coming to a theater near you.


Southampton manager Mauricio Pellegrino is hopeful of convincing Virgil Van Dijk to stay at St. Mary’s, but for now he’s been forced to ask the defender to take time away from the club.

Van Dijk, hopeful to engineer a move to a UEFA Champions League club, has not been in the preferred mental state for Pellegrino.

“When I was talking with him, the boy said that he is not available to play because he wants to leave. I need to work with a player that works at 100 percent to defend Southampton. This is the decision. I had to say: ‘OK, if you don’t want to be involved because you don’t feel OK, you have to train alone until this period of time.'”

Liverpool publicly ended their interest in Van Dijk following Southampton complaints, and the club maintains it will not sell the influential center back.


West Ham’s loan move for Joe Hart could see both of its 2016-17 goalkeepers leaving the London Stadium. Multiple reports say Darren Randolph could be off to Middlesbrough, with Adrian also heading to the Northeast to play for countryman Rafa Benitez at Newcastle.

Must watch Milivojevic free kick leads Palace past WBA (video)

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Goals from Luka Milivojevic and Bakary Sako led Crystal Palace to a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the third place game of the PL Asia Trophy.

Palace had lost 2-0 to Liverpool in its semifinal, while West Brom fell to Leicester City in penalty kicks after trading goals over 90 minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Milivojevic’s free kick, won by Wilfried Zaha, was super. Whipped in with force and a wicked curl, Baggies keeper Ben Foster didn’t have a chance to reach it with his dive.

Sako created his goal with a darting move off a long dribble, though it needed a pair of deflections to get behind Foster.

The Baggies had their chances, and Julian Speroni made an outstanding save on Matty Phillips late in the match.

STREAM LIVE: Liverpool-Leicester duel for PL Asia Trophy

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Goals from Bakary Sako and Luka Milivojevic spearheaded Crystal Palace’s 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion in the PL Asia Trophy third place game, and now Liverpool and Leicester City tangle for the title.

The final will be staged at 8:30 a.m. ET, when Liverpool will hope to build on a 2-0 semifinal win paced by Divock Origi and Dominic Solanke goals.

[ LIVE: Stream PL Asia Trophy here ]  

West Brom lost to Leicester City in its semifinal when youngster Sam Field missed the side’s seventh attempt in penalty kicks. Jay Rodriguez scored the Baggies goal in regulation of a 1-1 draw.

Here are the lineups for Leicester City and Liverpool: