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Professional soccer

5-year drought ends as Chelsea is champion of England again

Chelsea wins Premier League title with 3 games to spare by beating Crystal Palace 1-0
Rob Harris, The Associated Press

LONDON - The five-year drought is over. Chelsea is Premier League champion again — with three games to spare.

Chelsea's players danced around the field after securing the title with a scrappy 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace on Sunday that encapsulated the recent cautious pragmatism of Jose Mourinho's team.

"Today was not a game to enjoy," Mourinho said. "Today was the game to finish the job."

Timbers, Whitecaps play to 0-0 draw in Valeri's return

Valeri returns from ACL injury for Portland Timbers in 0-0 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - As their offensive struggles continue, the Portland Timbers are hoping that the answer to their troubles made his return tonight.

Diego Valeri played 38 minutes as a substitute in what was the highlight of Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

Timbers, Whitecaps play to 0-0 draw in Valeri's return

Valeri returns from ACL injury for Portland Timbers in 0-0 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps
The Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - As their offensive struggles continue, the Portland Timbers are hoping that the answer to their troubles made his return tonight.

Diego Valeri played 38 minutes as a substitute in what was the highlight of Saturday's 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

TFC wraps up 7-game road swing with win

Giovinco's free kick helps Toronto FC win its second straight, 1-0 over Union
The Canadian Press

CHESTER, Pa. - Sebastian Giovinco is settling into Major League Soccer nicely.

Giovinco scored on a free kick in the 34th minute and Toronto FC ended a seven-game trip with a 1-0 victory over the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.

Giovinco put it just inside the left post from 35 yards out for his fourth goal of the season. The MLS rookie also has three assists in seven matches this season. Two of Giovinco's goals have come from free kicks.

3rd successive loss for Man United; 8th in row for Newcastle

Man United's third successive loss boosts Liverpool's hopes of snatching Champs League spot
Rob Harris, The Associated Press

After a third successive loss, Manchester United's bid to return to the Champions League is stuttering.

A 1-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday left United still in fourth place but only four points ahead of Liverpool with three Premier League games to go.

Liverpool relied on Steven Gerrard's late goal after the captain missed a penalty, to beat 10-man Queens Park Rangers 2-1 at Anfield.

Brazil still struggling to deal with World Cup stadiums

Almost a year after World Cup, Brazil still struggling to deal with its new stadiums
Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press

SAO PAULO - Brazil spent billions renovating and building World Cup stadiums that were supposed to help modernize and improve local soccer. Almost a year after the tournament ended, the nation is still trying to figure out what to do with them.

Some of the 12 new state-of-the-art stadiums are just now being completed as originally planned. Others are already up for sale.

Beckham's influence grows as former soccer star turns 40

Beckham's influence continues to grow off the field as former soccer star turns 40
Jerome Pugmire, The Associated Press

PARIS - David Beckham turns 40 on Saturday and while memories of his playing days with England, Manchester United and Real Madrid fade, he remains a captivating figure of worldwide interest.

When he ended his playing career on an unglamorous field in northwestern France two years ago, it brought the curtain down on the career of one of the world's biggest sporting icons.

Premier League coach loses cool as team fights relegation

You are an ostrich: Premier League coach loses cool with reporter as team fights relegation
Steve Douglas, The Associated Press

For a man who once repelled a pack of vicious dogs while hiking in the Carpathian Mountains, handling an innocuous question in a news conference should have been easy for the manager of English soccer club Leicester.

Instead, a lengthy rant at a reporter left Nigel Pearson under more scrutiny in a season in which the normally unflappable coach has lost his cool several times while his team struggles to avoid relegation.

Former Premier League player jailed 2 1/2 years in fixing plot

Former Premier League player Delroy Facey jailed for 2 1/2 years for plotting bribery in England
The Associated Press

BIRMINGHAM, England - A former Premier League player was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in jail on Wednesday after being convicted of plotting to bribe lower-league players in England.

Delroy Facey, who played as a striker for Bolton in England's top division and also for the national team of Grenada, was found guilty by a jury at a court in Birmingham of conspiracy to commit bribery. A former non-league player, Moses Swaibu, was convicted of the same charge and jailed for 16 months.

Sentencing both men, judge Mary Stacey said their behaviour was "like a cancer."

How often are games played with no fans?

How often do teams play before games with no fans? It's rare, but not unheard of
The Associated Press

The Hall of Fame and Major League Baseball historian John Thorn believe Wednesday's game between the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles will be the first major league game played behind closed doors.

The game follows two postponements in Baltimore after the death of a 25-year-old black man who suffered a spinal injury while in police custody. Now, it will be played before an empty stadium because the city is in a state of unrest.

Teams have played before with empty stadiums, but it is rare. Here are some other circumstances where crowds were banned:

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