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Altidore, Kljestan react to wild tunnel fracas by blaming each other

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Toronto FC’s MLS Cup Final hopes have taken a big hit after the Reds barely escaped New York Red Bulls’ stiff test at BMO Field on Sunday.

Leading 2-1 after one leg and carrying a pair of away goals, TFC lost a scrappy 1-0 second leg at home to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against Columbus.

[ RECAP: TFC 1-0 (2-2) RBNY ]

The Reds won’t have Sebastian Giovinco for the first leg after a late card for dissent, his second of the tie, and also won’t have Jozy Altidore after on- and off-field skirmishes with USMNT teammate Sacha Kljestan.

Altidore did not cover himself in glory. After Giovinco fouled Red Bulls youngster Tyler Adams, the teams came together in an incident that ended with Kljestan and Altidore going head-to-head before the big TFC forward comically hit the deck after a shove from the Red Bulls midfielder.

Altidore initiates the contact by leaning into Kljestan’s face, and then goes down like the 150-pound diminutive player he is. Oh, that’s right, he’s 6-foot-1 and essentially carved like the response to Michelangelo being asked by an American investor, “Hey, buddy, can you make me a soccer god out of this here marble?”

Those were just a pair of yellows, and life got real nutty for both teams in the tunnel at halftime. There’s a lot of salty language in this video, and it’s NSFW so we won’t embed, but if you want to watch head coaches Greg Vanney and Jesse Marsch yell at each other in the middle of what looked like a wild night at the club, feel free.

Both players were sent off with second yellows after either (thanks to intrepid Toronto Sun reporter Kurtis Larson for the quotes):

A) Altidore shoved Kljestan into a wall

“At halftime he shoved me into the wall. I have a clear conscience,” Kljestan said. “I don’t feel like I deserved a red card. So it’s a pretty helpless feeling to not be able to play in the second half.”

and/or

B) Kljestan went at Altidore from behind

“Yo, Sacha Kljestan, why you snitching bro?” Altidore tweeted. “You tried to pull up on me while my back was turned and almost got that work. Safe flight.”

Cool stories, fellas. For what it’s worth, and it’s not much even if the staffer is a true gem, Larson tweeted that a Toronto FC staffer says Altidore was pulled into the fracas from behind while heading to the dressing room.

Again, it’s someone who works for TFC, the Reds would like to have Altidore for the Conference Finals. So, about 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of salt that fill BMO Field, but something to consider.

I say the following as someone who if anything would feel a bit of bias as a former season ticket holder ages ago — Toronto was the closest MLS team to my hometown of Buffalo — TFC put forth a display that will turn itself in a villain for most neutrals (and the officiating was admittedly abysmal and let the match out of control). There was plenty of flopping even apart from Altidore’s play acting.

Here’s the MLSSoccer.com take:

Hope the guys sort this out before the World Cup…

Reports: Bellerin to miss rest of season with ACL tear

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Arsenal’s fears regarding Hector Bellerin‘s leg injury were founded in truth, as the Spaniard is set to miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

[ MORE: Juve wins again ]

Bellerin, still just 23, was stretchered off of Arsenal’s 2-0 defeat of Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium this weekend after his knee appeared to buckle during a non-contact play.

He’s already made 181 appearances for the Gunners, with seven goals and 24 assists.

Stephane Lichtsteiner and Carl Jenkinson are in Arsenal’s right back corps, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles capable of logging minutes, too.

US investors take over Spanish 2nd-division club Reus

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MADRID (AP) American investors are taking over Spanish second-division club Reus, keeping it from being dissolved and dropped from the league.

The club says real estate investment bankers Russell Platt and Clifton Onolfo have purchased 99.7 percent of Reus’ shares.

[ MORE: Barca signs Prince-Boateng ]

Financial details were not immediately released, but local media say the club’s debt has reached 5 million euros ($5.7 million).

The statement by Reus on Monday says the new group plans to build an 18,000-capacity stadium and an entertainment complex.

The club says Platt was a founder of Morgan Stanley Real Estate, while Onolfo was a former owner of the Connecticut Wolves, a team which used to play in the United Soccer League.

The takeover will allow Reus to keep playing in the second division and avoid the immediate risk of extinction. Last month, players demanded out of their contracts because they hadn’t been paid in months.

The new owners will have to show the club from near Barcelona is in compliance with rules by the Spanish league and other stakeholders.

Reus’ match against Las Palmas on Saturday was suspended because of the team’s situation.

The Catalan club is 20th in the 22-team second-division standings.

Among the players affected by Reus’ situation was young United States defender Shaq Moore, who was playing on a loan from Levante. He returned to Levante this month.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Juve wins again, AC Milan cruises while waiting on Higuain replacement

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Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty, but that didn’t stop Juventus from taking another step toward another scudetto.

Paulo Dybala assisted two goals as Juve kept its unbeaten Serie A season in tact with a 3-0 win over Chievo Verona on Monday.

[ MORE: Barca signs Prince-Boateng ]

Douglas Costa, Emre Can, and Daniele Rugani scored as Juventus stayed nine points clear of second place Napoli.

It was one of two Serie A matches on Monday, with AC Milan winning the other to pull back ahead of AS Roma and into fourth place.

Suso and Fabio Borini netted as Milan won 2-0 at Genoa with Gonzalo Higuain out of the 18 ahead of a reported move to Chelsea. Higuain is reportedly waiting for Milan to find his replacement, and the club hopes it’ll be Krzysztof Piatek.

Genoa’s general director Giorgio Perinetti has told Italian radio a meeting over Poland international Piatek, 23, will take place after today’s game and a conclusion is expected one way or another within 48 hours.

Both Juve and Milan face tests next weekend, with the leaders off to Lazio and Gennaro Gattuso’s Milan tangling with Napoli at the San Siro.

Bojan Krkic again linked with move to Major League Soccer

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Bojan Krkic‘s disappointing 2018-19 season may be switching venues.

Stoke City’s Spanish 28-year-old has started just three matches in the Championship this season, scoring one goal amongst his 13 appearances.

[ MORE: Barca signs Prince-Boateng ]

Multiple reports say that the New England Revolution is actively pursuing a big money contract for Bojan, a reported target of Brad Friedel‘s since the summer.

Last season was also a poor one for Bojan, who did not score on loan at Alaves in La Liga.

Bojan is three seasons removed from scoring seven times for Stoke City in the Premier League, and produced similar numbers earlier in his career at Barcelona and Roma.

The move represents a significant risk for the penny-pinching Revs. While his pedigree suggests he’d be a sure thing for success in Major League Soccer, his recent struggles say otherwise.