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Portland Timbers
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Timbers announced new DP striker from Legia Warsaw

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The Portland Timbers added another intriguing piece to their attack on Thursday with the unveiling of Polish striker Jaroslaw “Jarek” Niezgoda.

Niezgoda will be a Designated Player.

The 24-year-old striker joins recently-reupped Diego Valeri and new signing Yimmi Chara as key pieces of a Portland attack which also includes USMNT hopeful Jeremy Ebobisse and Peruvian international Andy Polo.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Niezgoda comes from Legia Warsaw, where he’s scored 29 times in 60 matches with the club. That includes 14 goals in 18 matches this season.

The numbers aren’t far off from one of the Polish league’s best exports: Nemanja Nikolic, who went on to a successful few seasons as a Designated Player for the Chicago Fire. Given the age and experience, this is close to an ideal MLS transfer aside from the big-name marketing appeal.

Timbers coach Giovani Savarese details a striker prepared to score plenty of goals in Major League Soccer, filling a dire need after the unfortunate exit of Brian Fernandez.

“He’s quick,” Savarese said, beginning his scouting report. “He’s a player that can sense inside the box where the ball is going to end up, and has a good knack [of finding] the ball and [scoring] goals … He’s elusive at finding space. He’s good with the head, reads the game very well.”

Watch our transfer deadline day show from 6-8 p.m. ET on Jan. 31, live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com.

UEFA charges Polish club over banner honoring Nazi victims

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA hit Polish football club Legia Warsaw with a disciplinary charge Friday after its fans displayed a vast banner commemorating Poles killed by the Nazis.

Legia fans displayed the banner, which was the width of an entire stand, during Wednesday’s Champions League qualifier against Kazakh team FC Astana.

It marked the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, when Polish resistance fighters captured large parts of the capital city but were eventually crushed by occupying German forces.

“During the Warsaw Uprising Germans killed 160,000 people. Thousands of them were children,” the banner read, below a picture of a German soldier with a gun to the head of a child.

UEFA, which often punishes clubs for political symbols at games, said Legia faces a disciplinary charge relating to the “illicit banner” and another because stairways at its stadium were blocked.

Legia could face a heavy fine because it’s been punished by UEFA several times before over fan violence and, on one occasion, a giant banner which claimed UEFA put money ahead of football.

Legia was beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Astana and eliminated from Champions League qualifying. Its next European game is a Europa League qualifier against Moldovan team Sheriff Tiraspol.

UEFA Champions League: Celtic, Legia Warsaw advance

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We’re one round of matches away from finding out who will face Liverpool, Sevilla, Napoli, Hoffenheim, and Sporting CP in the playoff round of the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League.

The second qualifying round finished Wednesday, with Celtic among the sides advancing to the third round.

The unbeaten Scottish champions battered Linfield 4-0 to win 6-0 on aggregate, with Scott Sinclair scoring twice in the second leg.

[ MORE: Where does Morata rank in PL? ]

Joining Celtic in the second qualifying round is Legia Warsaw, who cruised 9-0 on aggregate over Finland’s IFK Mariehamm.

Familiar UCL names BATE Borisov, Copenhagen, and APOEL Nicosia also won, while Sweden’s Malmo was bounced by Macedonian side Vardar.

Third qualifying round
Nice vs. Ajax
Club Brugge vs. Istanbul Basaksehir
AEK Athens vs. CSKA Moscow
Dynamo Kyiv vs. Young Boys
Steaua Bucuresti vs. Viktoria Plzen
Slavia Parague vs. BATE Borisov
Astana vs. Legia Warsaw
Maribor vs. FH
Copenhagen vs. Vardar
Celtic vs. Rosenborg
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Ludogorets Razgrad
Vittorul Costanta vs. APOEL Nicosia
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Rijeka
Qarabag vs. Sheriff Tiraspol
Partizan Belgrade vs. Olympiacos

San Jose adds Designated Player from Legia Warsaw

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Valeri ‘Vako’ Qazaishvili is the latest MLS Designated Player, as the Georgian will hit the pitch for San Jose this season provided his visa and ITC go through.

Qazaishvili comes from Legia Warsaw after five seasons with Vitesse in the Eredivisie. The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has been capped 24 times, and scored in Georgia’s 2-2 draw with Moldova earlier this month in World Cup qualifying.

[ MORE: Fabinho has interest in Man Utd ]

Equally adept at right or left wing, Qazaishvili posted a goal and two assists for Legia following his transfer from Vitesse. He scored 28 goals and added 13 assists in 121 matches for the Dutch side.

From SJEarthquakes.com:

“We were looking for a player, a younger, offensive player, that really excites the fans and has the possibility to stay with us for a long period of time. That’s what we found with Vako,” said Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. “We wanted a player that knows how to take on a defender one-on-one, that sees the goal and that also wants to bring a spark to our game.”

San Jose sits seventh in the Western Conference table, and only two teams — Colorado and DC — have scored fewer goals in MLS. Jahmir Hyka and Cordell Cato have been fine, but San Jose needed a better chance creator.

Qazaishvili, in theory, fits the bill. If he has half the impact of fellow Legia export Nemanja Nikolic, San Jose is cooking with gas.

UEFA Champions League qualifying draw

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The draw for the first two rounds of UEFA Champions League qualifying has been made in Nyon, Switzerland.

Scottish champions Celtic were among the seeds for the draw as Brendan Rodgers‘ men will arrive in the second qualifying round and face either Northern Irish champs Linfield or SP La Fiorita of San Marino.

Other seeded clubs in the draw include Malmo of Sweden, Rosenberg of Norway and Polish outfit Legia Warsaw.

Below is the draw for the first two rounds of qualifying in full.

The first round games will be played on 27/28 June and 4/5 July. The second round games will be played on 11/12 July and 18/19 July.


Champions League first qualifying round

Vikingur (Faroe Isles) v Trepca ’89 (Kosovo)

Hibernians (Malta) v Tallinn (Estonia)

Alashkert (Armenia) v Santa Coloma (Andorra)

The New Saints v Europa (Gibraltar)

Linfield v SP La Fiorita (San Marino)

Champions League second qualifying round

Group 1

Apoel (Cyprus) v Dudelange (Luxembourg)

Zalgiris (Lithuania) v Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)

Qarabag (Azerbaijan) v Samtredia (Georgia)

Partizan (Serbia) v Budućnost Podgorica (Montenegro)

Hibernians (Malta) or FCI Tallinn (Estonia) v Salzburg (Austria)

Group 2

Sheriff (Moldova) v Kukes (Albania)

Astana (Kazakhstan) v Spartaks Jurmala (Latvia)

BATE Borisov (Belarus) v Alashkert (Armenia) or FC Santa Coloma (Andorra)

Zilina (Slovakia) v Copenhagen (Denamrk)

Hapoel Beer-Sheva (Israel) v Budapest Honvéd (Hungary)

Rijeka (Croatia) v The New Saints or Europa (Gibraltar)

Group 3

Malmo (Sweden) v Vardar (Macedonia)

Zrinjski (Bosnia and Herzegovina) v Maribor (Slovenia)

Dundalk (Ireland) v Rosenborg (Norway)

FH Hafnarfjördur (Iceland) v Víkingur (Faroe Islands) or Trepça ’89 (Kosovo)

Linfield or SP La Fiorita (San Marino) v Celtic

IFK Mariehamn (Finland) v Legia Warszawa (Poland)