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Marseille fans turn on Evra after attack

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Marseille fans have told Patrice Evra he is no longer welcome at the club after the defender kicked a supporter in the head.

Evra was suspended by Marseille on Friday, a day after he confronted a fan and aimed a kick at his head ahead of a Europa League game in Portugal. Evra, who appeared to make light contact with his foot, had shortly before aimed a punch at the same fan.

Fans held aloft two banners criticizing Evra before Sunday’s home match against Caen at Stade Velodrome.

“This Game Is Over,” read one banner in English, mocking Evra’s regular posts on social media where he films himself talking about football and says, “I love this game,” as he breaks into laughter.

Another banner, in French, read: “Love for the jersey. Respect for supporters. Professionalism. Is that too much to ask?”

Other fans chanted against Evra during the game against Caen, which Marseille won 5-0.

Thursday’s incident before the match against Vitoria caused many other Marseille fans to come down from the stands to try and confront Evra, who was then led away by a teammate.

As the players were warming up before the match, Evra had moved away from the field and toward the away section of Marseille fans where an argument began and then escalated.

The 36-year-old Evra is a controversial and often unpopular figure in French football. He was the captain when France went on strike at training during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in protest after teammate Nicolas Anelka was sent home. He was given a five-match ban by the French Football Federation.

The reaction this time round was intense, with former national team players and television pundits roundly condemning him.

UEFA said Friday that Evra will be banned for at least one game. Its disciplinary body will meet next Friday to rule on the incident. He also faces further sanctions from Marseille, which has opened an internal investigation.

Although Marseille said it accepted Evra received some “hateful insults” from a group of fans, the club said he could in no way “respond in such an inappropriate manner.”

Evra’s temperament has been an issue in the past. He has clashed verbally with former players — especially Lilian Thuram and Christophe Dugarry — and with television pundits, often mocking some of them with invented names as a pun on their names.

The attack-minded left back’s 81st and last appearance for France was a year ago in a World Cup qualifier against Sweden.

Earlier this season, Evra was heavily criticized in some sections of the media, including by Dugarry, for filming himself offering a bag of food to a homeless person on Marseille’s streets and posting a message asking others what they were doing to help.

Mohamed Salah starts for Egypt despite int’l retirement talks

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Mohamed Salah is coming off of his best season as a professional, but reports suggest that his time with the Egyptian national team could soon be coming to an end for reasons that extend beyond soccer.

Salah will however be included in Egypt’s Group A finale against Saudi Arabia on Monday, though, after the team sheet was revealed by the Pharaohs ahead of the match.

CNN reported over the weekend that Salah believes he is being used by Egypt as a political symbol to represent Chechnya, which has sparked talks of the talented Liverpool winger ending his international career.

Egypt has already been eliminated from reaching the Round of 16 after losing its first two matches at the World Cup.

The tides have turned significantly for Toronto FC

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2017 gave Toronto FC its first MLS Cup, as well as significant notoriety for the club’s historic season, but Greg Vanney and his side are in a world of trouble in 2018 for reasons that are still unfathomable.

[ MORE: NYCFC tops TFC in come-from-behind victory ]

A deep run in the CONCACAF Champions League (which ended in heartbeat at the hands of Chivas) and a number of injuries have plagued Toronto this season, and for that, the defending champions find themselves in unchartered MLS waters.

Over the course of Major League Soccer’s 22 previous seasons, only three defending champions have gone on to miss the playoffs the next year (D.C. United in 2000, LA Galaxy in 2006 & Portland Timbers in 2016).

So, how poor has TFC been through nearly half the season?

The Canadian side has acquired 15 points in as many matches, which puts the club on pace to finish with 34 points in 2018.

That total would leave TFC well below the average points needed for a club to get into the playoffs. It varies on a year-to-year basis, but teams typically need somewhere in the range of 45 to 50 points to finish above the red line in their respective conferences.

Last season, three teams in MLS finished with less than 34 points (D.C. United, LA Galaxy & Colorado Rapids), and none of the clubs finished within striking distance of the postseason.

While Toronto wouldn’t be the first team to show signs of struggles in the first half of the season and then proceed to turn things around over the second portion, there are definite concerns for Vanney and Co.

In 2018, the Reds haven’t earned back-to-back victories in MLS play, leaving the club in 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

The talent within the squad remains there, and if TFC gets the rest of its squad healthy there could be a run made by the team, but as things stand, the club’s historic run a season ago looks to be crumbling in 2018.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.