Torres

Getty Images

Ex-Mexico coach denies involvement in match-fixing in Spain

1 Comment

MADRID (AP) — Former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has denied taking money that was allegedly used to fix the result of a Spanish league game eight years ago.

Aguirre testified Thursday in the match-fixing trial involving a game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Aguirre, Zaragoza’s coach at the time, is one of more than 40 people who could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty.

Prosecutors said there is evidence that 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Zaragoza’s squad and later transferred to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season.

Zaragoza won 2-1 to avoid relegation. Deportivo La Coruna was demoted as a result.

Former Zaragoza officials said the money was paid to motivate players, not fix the result of the game.

Aguirre and some of the players who have testified denied Zaragoza’s version that the money was paid as an incentive.

Aguirre said he received a deposit without his consent and returned the money to the club because it was not part of his contract.

Some of the players said they were asked as a favor to the club to withdraw the money deposited into their accounts and return it in cash, which they said they did. A few players said they kept the deposits because they believed the money was owed to them.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Herrera, Ponzio and Fernandez were among the players who testified on Thursday.

Former Levante player Xavi Torres was asked why he went more than two months without making any cash withdrawals following the match against Zaragoza. The midfielder said he didn’t need to make any withdrawals because he was on vacation, travelling to different countries and at his parents’ home.

Torres, who played the whole match against Zaragoza, denied the result was fixed.

“You can see during the match that we created several scoring opportunities and tried to win,” he said.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the alleged match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

Torres beaten by friends Iniesta, Villa in final game before retirement

Photo by Masashi Hara/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fernando Torres made the final appearance of his 18-year career as a professional footballer on Friday, as his Sagan Tosu side suffered a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Vissel Kobe, led by friends and international teammates Andres Iniesta and David Villa.

[ MORE: Top Premier League storylines: Matchweek 3 ]

Torres, 35, starred for a handful of Europe’s biggest clubs — Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea and AC Milan — and was a key figure during the Spanish national team’s run of winning back-to-back European Championships (2008 and 2012) either side of the 2010 World Cup. His 110 international caps rank ninth all-time for Spain, while his 38 goals put him third behind only Villa (59) and Raul (44).

Ahead of Torres’ farewell, Iniesta spoke glowingly of his dear friend in an open letter published in El Mundo:

“Football brought us together more than 20 years ago, when we were children. Well, you will always be El Niño. And it will never separate us.

“We began away from spotlights and cameras until we came to share thousands of experiences before winning a World Cup for our country.

“When we meet in Spain, I’ll show you that shirt, that treasure that nobody else discovered. Although, it is true, there is no greater treasure than your friendship, Fernando.”

Torres announced in June that he would play his final game on Friday, given the opportunity to say goodbye after sharing the field with Iniesta and Villa one last time.

“To say goodbye to football next to my dear friend Iniesta is something I could never imagine. Also my friend David Villa, with whom I share probably the best moments in Spanish football history.

“I tried to find an iconic moment to play my final game and I think that is perfect timing.”

Vela makes history in LAFC’s victory over Red Bulls (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The game in 200 words (or less):  A new king has been crowned. Following a two-assist, one-goal performance against the New York Red Bulls, there is no Mexican-born player in league history with more goals than Carlos Vela. With 37 goals in 51 games, the 30-year-old Cancun native surpassed Erick “Cubo” Torres, who tallied 36 goals throughout five seasons. Overall, it was a special night for Vela and LAFC. Despite giving up two goals right before halftime, the Supporter’s Shield contender took control of the game in the second half, dominating the Red Bulls in practically every department except yellow cards. Bob Bradley‘s side, like Vela, are riding high.

Three moments that mattered

23′ — Harvey’s first goal in over 720 days  — A bit surprising that with those abilities inside the box it took Jordan Harvey so long to score.

61′ — Vela clinches the record books —  Record-breaking goal for Vela.

72′ — Segura ends it once and for all — Goal no. 1 for Eddie Segura in MLS. Assist no. 14 for Vela this season.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres suspended 10 games

Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

NEW YORK (AP) Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres has been suspended 10 games by Major League Soccer after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Green scores ]

The league handed down the suspension Friday, two days before Seattle hosts Sporting Kansas City. The Sounders currently sit in second place in the Western Conference standings.

Along with the suspension, Torres has been fined 20% of his annual salary. According to the MLS Players Association database, Torres is scheduled to make a base salary of $670,000 and guaranteed compensation of $740,000 for this season.

Torres may not participate in team training or use team facilities during his suspension. He may train with Seattle’s USL affiliate two weeks prior to the first MLS game he’s eligible to play – Sept. 29 against San Jose.

Torres has appeared in 15 matches and started 11 for Seattle this season. He has played 1,035 minutes this season, eighth on Seattle’s roster.

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

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]

The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.