FINALISTS ANNOUNCED: Juan Pablo Angel of New York, Cuauhtemoc Blanco of Chicago or Luciano Emilio of D.C. United could win two of Major League Soccer's most prestigious year-end awards next month.

All three were announced Monday as finalists for MLS Most Valuable Player and Newcomer of the Year, punctuating the most influential class of new talent in the league's 12-year history.

Emilio led the league with 20 goals in 29 games, one ahead of Angel, who scored his 19 goals in 24 games.

Blanco had four goals and seven assists in 14 games since joining the Fire midway through the season, transferring to Chicago from Mexico's America after the CONCACAF Gold Cup in June.

The Newcomer of the Year award is a new creation this year, available to players in their first year in the league but with previous professional experience.

The New England Revolution had nominees in every other player category. Michael Parkhurst is a finalist for the defender of the year and fair play awards; Adam Cristman is up for rookie of the year; Matt Reis is a finalist for goalkeeper of the year; and Pat Noonan has a chance for Comeback Player of the Year.

Other finalists included Chivas USA's Brad Guzan and Houston's Pat Onstad for best goalkeeper; Eddie Robinson and Chivas USA's Claudio Suarez for top defender; and Toronto's Maurice Edu and Dane Richards of New York for rookie of the year.

ROTATION DISCONTINUED: The World Cup will no longer be rotated among continents, a decision that throws open the race for the 2018 tournament. South Africa already has been awarded the 2010 tournament and soccer's governing body is expected to announce Brazil — the only candidate — as the 2014 host today. FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Monday the executive committee rejected a proposal from CONCACAF that would have ensured the 2018 event going to the region representing North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Auto racing

RACE WATERLOGGED: NASCAR has its own "Water-gate."

The racing organization conceded Monday that water got into the fuel supply of more than two cars during the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, apparently leading to a crash that took out several top contenders in the closing laps.

Denny Hamlin was leading the Pep Boys Auto 500 with three laps to go when his car stalled while taking the green flag after a caution period. Martin Truex, who led the most laps Sunday, smashed into the back of Hamlin's car and finished 31st. Hamlin slipped to 24th.

Both were in the Chase for the championship.

"There are multiple teams that are showing positive for some level of water contamination level in their fuel," said John Darby, NASCAR's Nextel Cup director. "I can't tell you the exact number. It's more than two and less than (the full field of) 43 at the moment."


NHL PUNISHES JONES: Another brutish blow, another opponent left dazed on the ice, another remorseful Flyer.

Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones was suspended two games by the NHL on Monday for his violent hit on Boston's Patrice Bergeron, making him the third Philadelphia player suspended for a dangerous play this season.

"I'm disappointed," Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said. "I think it is a situation that we see — minus the injury to Patrice Bergeron — I think we see quite often."