Ukrainian midfielder dies after long battle with brain tumor

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FC Zorya Lugansk of the Ukrainian Premier League announced on its website Saturday that 24-year-old defender Maksym Bilyi died of what is believed to be a brain tumor.

Bilyi died of a “long and protracted illness,” according to a club statement. “All of us have always known Maksym as a very good man, a decent family man and a loyal friend. FC Zorya expresses its sincere condolences to the family and relatives of Maksym.”

Maksym Ivanovych Bilyi (not to be confused with 23-year-old defender Maksym Ihorovych Bilyi, who also plays for Zorya) made his last appearance on a soccer field on Dec. 11, 2011, against Metalurh Donetsk, coming on as a 46th-minute substitute in a 3-0 loss.

A head-to-head collision in that match left him complaining of constant headaches. Although it was never made public, rumors in the Ukrainian press circulated that Bilyi had developed a brain tumor. What role that collision played in it is unknown, but the tumor was likely discovered as a result of tests conducted after the injury.

On Saturday, the occasion of Bilyi’s death was marked by a minute of silence before Zorya’s league match at FC Illichivets Mariupol.

Bilyi was considered to be a promising young prospect, alongside current Ukrainian national team players Andriy Yarmolenko and Yevhen Konoplyanka. In the 2011 UEFA Under-21 Championships, Bilyi scored Ukraine’s only goal, providing the only bright spot in a painful three games for the team.

But he never saw the field again after his collision in 2011, spending time in hospitals in multiple countries, seeking treatment for his tumor, according to reports. According to an obituary published in the Ukrainian online newspaper Football Club, written by Yulia Dyadechko — who was the last reporter to interview Bilyi — he never gave up hope of being cured.

Bilyi, born April 27, 1989, in Novomoskovsk of the former Soviet Union, is survived by his wife and two preschool-aged children.

MLS Best XI unveiled with awesome foosball video

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Major League Soccer, wow, this is terrific #content.

MLS released its Best XI on Monday with a dynamite video of the players passing the ball from Zack Steffen in goal to Josef Martinez up top… via a virtual foosball table.

[ VIDEO: An unprecedented goal ]

The XI is set in a 3-4-3, with the New York Red Bulls, DC United, and Atlanta United leading the way with a pair of players each.

My predictions? Well, I only got six correct. Whoops. The only absence that really surprises me is Graham Zusi, and Sporting KC not having representation at all. I guess that explains why SKC manager Peter Vermes is going to be announced as the next USMNT– Wait, what’s that? Oh. I’ll stop talking.

2018 MLS Best XI

Goalkeeper: Zack Steffen (Columbus)

Defenders: Kemar Lawrence (RBNY), Aaron Long (RBNY), Chad Marshall (Seattle)

Midfielders: Miguel Almiron (Atlanta), Luciano Acosta (DC), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal), Carlos Vela (LAFC)

Forwards: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (LA Galaxy), Josef Martinez (Atlanta), Wayne Rooney (DC)

WATCH: Striker scores potentially unprecedented goal while helping teammate

Photo by John Thys/EuroFootball/Getty Images
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“Look, I know you’re injured, but I’m gonna be right back. Got a goal to score for us.”

Maccabi Petah Tikva forward Habib Habibou scored what can only be described as an unprecedented goal — at least in terms of being captured on video — Israel this weekend.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Habibou, 31, and his club were locked in scoreless tussle with Maccabi Netanya on Saturday when one of his teammates was injured in the box.

The CAR striker, formerly of Zulte Waregem and Royal Charleroi, was taking care of said teammate when he spotted an 87th minute spilled rebound.

What was he gonna do, really, other than dart onto the loose ball, score the match-winner, and then return to his ailing mate?

Petah Tikva won 1-0.

Juventus executive: Bring season Serie A game abroad

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
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Juventus chief revenue officer Giorgio Ricci likes La Liga’s idea of taking a regular season match outside of its domestic borders.

Ricci would like Serie A to explore a similar move, saying Italian soccer can only benefit from putting its brand in other markets.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Serie A lags behind other top European league in TV money, which has hindered its ability to recruit top end talent relative to its competitors.

Ricci says if American sports see value in bringing their top leagues to Europe, it holds that the reverse would be true. From the BBC:

“If we look at some other more developed leagues in terms of commercial strategy; the NBA and NFL, they are exporting one or two of their matches abroad, to the UK or elsewhere in Europe. I think it is a good strategy. It is a way to export something that is not an exhibition.”

Would a regular season match bring any more eyes or attention than the International Champions Cup, at least enough to offset the sacrifice of atmosphere? It seems doubtful, but the money is the key here. Italy wants to catch up with Spain, Germany, and England.

FC Cincinnati switches crest ahead of MLS debut

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FC Cincinnati has unveiled its crest for 2019’s maiden voyage in Major League Soccer.

[ MORE: PL Club Power Rankings ]

Sticking with the orange and blue color combination which has served them since inception, the shield has FC in the top left corner, Cincinnati running diagonally left-to-right in blue script on white, and a winged lion holding a sword as the primary icon.

FCC will draft up to five current MLS players in the Expansion Draft on Dec. 11. Teams will announce their protected lists on Dec. 10.

Cincinnati will play in the Eastern Conference. It won the USL regular season championship under coach Alan Koch in 2018.