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Can the Las Vegas Raiders replace the fanaticism of the Black Hole?

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Mark Acasio says he and his gorilla suit are joining the Las Vegas Raiders this fall. Acasio, a long-time fan from Brentwood, California, known far and wide as Gorilla Rilla, has shelled out $3,500 for home-game tickets and $8,500 for a (PSL) for a front-row seat at Allegiant Stadium, the Raiders’ posh new home.

Acasio has not missed a Raiders’ home game in 25 years. Just because the Raiders will now be a one-hour flight from his home instead of a one-hour drive, he is determined to stay loyal to the team and to his comrades moving to Vegas from the Black Hole, the NFL’s most infamous cheering section, at dingy Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

“On the other hand, many other friends of mine have not, and will not, step foot in ,” Acasio tells The Guardian.

They won’t because Las Vegas is not exactly around the corner from the Bay Area, and because tickets in the sections at Allegiant Stadium envisioned as a New Black Hole are about double what they were in Oakland – $218.75 in Vegas, up to $110 in Oakland. There was a PSL in , but as far as anyone can remember, it was not much more than $500.

But that is only half of the issue. Oakland had the Raiders twice: from 1960 until 1982, when they moved to Los Angeles for 13 years, and then again from 1995 through last season. The Raiders won two Super Bowls in their first stinter Danny Murphy has slammed the work of Arsenal boss Unai Emery.Murphy reckons the Gunners would be better off with another man at the helm – and has suggested there is a lack of faith in Emery among the Arsenal players.He told talkSPORT: “[Granit] X in Oakland and another in Los Angeles, but the second stay was pretty bleak, .

Although they knew that Mark Davis, the Raiders’ owner and son of Al Davis, the legendary former Raiders’ coach and owner, had tried in vain for years to replace the obsolete Coliseum, many of the team’s long-suffering fans were enraged that the team abandoned the Bay Area again – and that Davis was hardly nostalgic about Oakland.

“I have a football team, but it’s going to be the Raiders,” Wayne Deboe, a fan for 60 years and the president of the Oakland Raiders Booster Club, tells the Guardian. “They’re called the now, but they’ll always be just the Raiders to me.”

The Black Hole had consisted of four lower-deck sections at the Oakland Coliseum where fans dressed up in freaky silver-and-black outfits and loudly cheered the Raiders: “positive fanaticism”. The Black Hole is also a global fan club with thousands of members.

But the Black Hole is, well, :

We are a STATE OF MIND. Our state of mind has united the entire Raiders Nation over the years. We have grown from a few friends to a worldwide family made up of generations of fans young and old, from all ethnicities, races, and sexes. If you bleed SILVER and BLACK, then we are connected and you are spiritually part of us.

Rob Rivera, a resident of Hayward, California, who is the president and co-founder of the Black Hole, tells the Guardian, “The move has broken our hearts, pissed us off. They proved loyalty is a one-way street in the .”

Deboe was not a Black Hole denizen: “They stand up too long for me,” says Deboe, who is retired and lives in Castro Valley, California. But he feels burned, too. Like Rivera, Deboe figures he will go to one or two Raiders’ home games per season in Las Vegas, probably using tickets purchased by a season-ticket holder (with a PSL).

Deboe is sure he won’t become a San Francisco 49ers’ fan. “That’s definitely out of the question,” he says, laughing. “Nobody will do that.”

The Raiders did not return several emails from the Guardian about duplicating the Black Hole in Vegas. Marc Badain, the team president, : “A lot of the folks that sit in the Black Hole in Oakland bought tickets in the south end zone at Allegiant. Whether that happens organically, we’ll see what happens.”

Deboe, for one, is Champions League winner Harry Kewell says they’re a striker short.Rather than look to strengthen their attacking options in the summer, Liverpool opted to hand Divock Origi a new deal, shortly after he scored the goal to seal victory in the Championsnot optimistic that will happen. He says that is “because Las Vegas is a destination city. A lot of people take trips there from all over the country. Fans of other teams will see a road game in Vegas and will want to make a weekend of it. Oakland was a sold-out stadium of locals.”

There is a Black Hole chapter in Las Vegas, a good start. The chapter president is Cisco “Kid” Ortega, whose job was relocated from the Bay Area to Vegas before the Raiders made Mundo Deportivo says La Real sports chief Robert Olabe is seeking a new left-back and is prioritising Monreal.The former Osasuna defender enjoys great support inside the board room of La Real, where they have been trying to bring the 32 year-old backtheir move. Ortega says the team has not been in touch with him, but when asked about a Black Hole II, he says “We are going to do our best to duplicate that.”

The chapter threw a Super Bowl party at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas just to get the ball rolling, although the coronavirus pandemic scuttled plans for the NFL to host its draft in Las Vegas in April, denying the Black Hole club some inevitable TV screen time and valuable publicity. Ortega is still optimistic for success in Vegas, though he understands the challenges.

“I know I can speak for many of us Oakland fans when I say this second relocation will always hurt,” he says. “Many of us, including myself, will not wear any Raider gear that says ‘Las Vegas’. However, what’s done is done, and we, The Black Hole, have to continue on with what we’ve built in the past 25 years.”

When plans for Allegiant Stadium were revealed, Raiders fans were horrified to note that an area in the stadium outside the north end zone that would be ideal for another Black Hole was taken up by club seating. But the Raiders said there could be a Black Hole at the other end. About 15% of the season tickets in Vegas were sold to fans from northern California.

But will the Black Hole, or can the Black Hole, really ever be the same? Gorilla Rilla will be there, and he is determined to make the place look and sound like Oakland. All the team has to do, whenever or however the NFL season starts, is to win more games and give whoever shows up at its new stadium more to cheer.

“I will continue pounding my chest to the Silver and Black among our Raider Family from Vegas to around the country,” says Acasio, ever the noble warrior to the cause. “I’ve visited 30 stadiums and have stepped foot in Mexico City, London and Germany, and I have always represented my Black Hole Banner and Raider Nation.”

St Louis Blues silence Boston Bruins to move to brink of first Stanley Cup

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Jordan Binnington stopped 38 shots, and Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron scored for St Louis on Thursday night to give the Blues a 2-1 victory over the and a 3-2 lead in the Stanley Cup Final.

The Blues have won two straight since a and return to St Louis with a chance to clinch the first NHL championship in franchise history. Game 6 is Sunday night and the Blues are riding a red-hot goalie of late.

“Unbelievaaccording to reports.The former Gunners midfielder is currently with the general co-ordinator of the Brazil national team, who won the Copa America final against Peru on Sunday.He has been granted permission to speak with the club’s hierarchy and wilble. He won one for us,” defenseman Colton Parayko said of Binnington.

Tuukka Rask stopped 19 shots and Jake DeBrusk scored for Boston. The Bruins were lifted by the return of captain Zdeno Chara, who left dripping blood after taking a deflected puck off his face. He wore a full-face shield on his helmet, but was unable to provide more than an emotional boost.

Chara followed Rask onto the ice for the pregame skate, and he got a lengthy cheer for his introduction. The Bruins played a video of his highlights during an early whistle, and he went out of the way to deliver the game’s first hit, just 15 seconds in, on Brayden Schenn.

When things United striker Romelu Lukaku has been offered to Napoli and Juventus.The Belgium striker held talks last week with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and told he is no longer first-choice at Old Trafford.But a £75million dream move to Inter Milan with Antonio Co went bad later, the crowd tried to spur the team on with chants of “Chara!”

But the 42-year-old defenseman’s toughness could only carry so far.

O’Reilly scored in the opening minute of the second period, backhanding in a rebound for his third goal in his last five periodsb at Juventus ahead of their Champions League clash at Lyon.Lyon host Juve in the first-leg of their Champions League round 16 tie on Wednesday night.Sarri said, “I feel frankly even more responsibility in Italy to achieve every result. You all see. It was still 1-0 midway through the third when the referees disregarded a leg sweep by Tyler Bozak that knocked Noel Acciari out of the game.

Perron followed with a shot that banked off Rask’s pad and into the net. The fans responded with a vulgar chant and a shower of rally towels; the public address announcer eventually asked them to stop.

Boston did seem inspired – or at least desperate – and cut the deficit to one goal on a delayed penalty with about six and a half minutes left. Torey Krug took a high stick to the face at the blue line but he played on, straightened his helmet and dished the puck to DeBrusk for a one-timer past Binnington.

Boston pulled Rask with a little more than a minute left and earned several chances, but couldn’t get the puck past Binnington.

Are cities starting to see World Cup hosting duties as a poisoned chalice?

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The North American bid for the 2026 World Cup, a joint venture between the United States, Canada and Mexico, with 23 cities listed as potential venues.

But behind the fanfare, four major cities – Chicago, Minneapolis, Vancouver and Glendale– told Fifa and the United Bid they didn’t want to be part of a . Local authorities from those cities cited heavy-handed requests from Fifa and the United Bid that included potentially huge taxpayer bills, as well as hosting contracts that exposed their cities and residents to immense financial and legal risk.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Wednesday that Chicago was out – even if the bid was successful. A city official told the Guardian that although Chicago considered itself a “big event city” the requirements for the 2026 tournament “just didn’t feel right”. One demand from Fifa was that the organization could require Chicago to construct a dome over Soldier Field, the venue that hosted and would have hosted matches in 2026.

Fifa’s requirements also included an open-ended ability to modify the agreement at any time; no indemnity to protect the city or taxpayers from legal and financial risks; for to meet requirements that fall outside of its jurisdiction and authority and therefore could not be ensured; and for contracts to be governed and interpreted under Swiss law (Fifa is headquartered in Zurich).

The cities may well have looked at warnings from the past before pulling out: some venues used for recent World Cups in Brazil and South Africa stand as publicly-funded monuments to a demanding and brief affair with .

Cape Town Stadium, for example, on the local government with calls for the 2010 World Cup venue to be demolished and replaced with affordable public housing. The stadium is losing a reported $10m annually and a recent idea to offer naming rights to a sponsor led internet jokers to suggest renaming the stadium “The Lonely Elephant” or “The Money Pit”.

Rio’s famed Maracana was a global icon used during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics . A year after the 2014 tournament, Brasilia’s stadium was converted to a bus parking lot and Cuiaba’s never-quite-completed stadium hosted homeless people after standing idle – arguably both better uses for public money.

Stadiums are not just a problem for World Cups. Ten years after the 2004 Games, Olympic , while in Australia to tear down the Sydney Olympic Stadium, which is now considered obsolete less than 20 years after it opened for the 2000 Games.

It’s something Chicago seems to have noticed. “After conducting a robust due diligence process and participating in the World Cup 2026 United Bid Committee bid process, Fifa could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk,” Matt McGrath, a spokesman for Mayor Emanuel said in an email to the Guardian. “The uncertainty for taxpayers, coupled with Fifa’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”

Hosting World Cup matches could have provided soccer around Chicago with a legacy for generations – many American fans claim the 1994 tournament was a game changer for personal engagement – but Emanuel’s decision was applauded by the president of MLS club Chicago Fire.

“We fully support Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision, one that he made in the best interest of the city,” said Fire’s Nelson Rodríguez. “In the end, this is the event’s loss not to have games in one of the world’s greatest sports cities.”

Minneapolis, Vancouver and Glendale (home to the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals) cited similar concerns with Fifa’s policy that demands cities hand over powers to an organization .

A Fifa spokesperson did not directly respond when asked if its World Cup demands were too demanding, instead referring the Guardian to titled “Overview of Government Guarantees and the Government Declaration”. The document outlines Fifa’s need to establish a legal framework when it imports its own infrastructure to operate within a host nation and the need for a local government to accommodate football’s governing body (, for example, attracted raised eyebrows in 2010).

“An son was proud of his players after their 0-0 draw at FA Cup opponents Newcastle United.The result will mean a fourth round replay at Kassam stadium.Robinson said, “It’s incredible. We’ve played three Premier League teams this season and only one of tis intensifying.Manchester City and Manchester United are both chasing the teen, along with Anderlecht and Ajax.City and Ajax have been in recent contact for Evjen.However, HLN says Anderlecht have now jumped ahead in the race, with player-manager Vievent of the magnitude of the Fifa World Cup cannot be organised without the broad support of the relevant government authorities in the Host Country,” the document reads.

Fifa’s requirements for host nations also demand that the US, Canada, and Mexico guarantee a visa-free environment or “issue non-discriminatory entry procedures” for representatives of Fifa nations during the World Cup. The demand effectively grants close-to-diplomatic status to anyone connected to a national federation or Fifa. Work permit, labor law, and tax exemptions are also required from national governments.

Fifa also requires the agreements must be signed by the “highest national government executive authority” meaning, in the US, Donald Trump must sign off on the tournament if the joint bid receives a majority vote from the 211 Fifa members.

Of course, some may welcome US cities dropping out. The dominance of US cities – 17 of the 23 candidates are in the States – in a shortlist to be cut to 16 underlines the widely-held perception that the United Bid is a US-hosted tournament with Canada and Mexico as junior partners.

Sources close to both the United and Morocco bids say Trump is . With global politics, foreign policy, and tweets spilling into football politics, 57 African nations are expected to back Morocco, Asia’s diverse 47 votes are split, and there remains resentment among some Uefa and South American nations in in exposing Fifa corruption. The three United Bid co-chairmen – from the US, Canada, and Mexico – have spent the past weeks crisscrossing the globe lobbying for votes hoping to minimize the Trump effect.

Morocco is the sole rival to North America, and June’s vote will be the first time all 211 Fifa members have had a direct say on the host rather than a 24-member committee vulnerable to claims of corruption and vote rigging.

Still, even if the US were to bid alone for the 2026 Woease clause for Maxi Gomez, according to reports.Sky Sports says the two clubs are now discussing the method of payment for the £44.85m fee.According to La Liga rules, West Ham will have to pay the release clause in full at the competition’s headquarld Cup, its immense geography means it can still host a strong and successful tournament even without several major cities agreeing to host. It is, with no irony, too big to fail. The concern for the US Soccer Federation is that MLS cities such as Chicago, Minneapolis (and Vancouver) are disinclined to be part of what should be a soccer homecoming. Fifa and the International Olympic Committee should pay attention, too. Being the TV backdrop to a sports event, even one with a global audience, is not the big deal it once was.

— The United Bid 2026 and US Soccer Federation declined multiple requests to comment for this story. Soccer Canada referred requests to comment to the United Bid 2026.

Innovation helps Emirates Team New Zealand take 3-0 lead in America’s Cup

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Peter Burling and Emirates Team are threatening to sail — and cycle — away with the America’s Cup.

The 26-year-old Burling calmly steered the New Zealanders’ 50-foot catamaran to two more dominating victories against Jimmy Spithill and two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA on Sunday to remain undefeated in the showdown on the Great Sound.

Although they’ve won four races, the Kiwis lead Oracle 3-0. Because Oracle won the qualifiers, the challenger started the 35th America’s Cup match with a negative point.

Burling, an America’s Cup rookie who has won Olympic gold and silver medals with grinder Blair Tuke, steered the Kiwis to victories of 49 seconds and 1 minute 12 seconds on the turquoise waters of the Great Sound.

Team New Zealand need to win four more races to return the Auld Mug to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in d ahead of Manchester United in the battle for Sporting CP midfielder Bruno Fernandes.Real Madrid are also in contact with Sporting, though it’s Spurs which are regarded as favourites, says Record.Spurs made a €60m offer last week, which was turnedAuckland, where it resided from 1995-2003. Oracle need to win seven to keep the trophy in the hands of .

Oracle Team USA now have five days to try to come with some answers to counter the design innovations of the scrappy New Zealanders, who are getting by with much less funding. Racing resumes on Saturday and Sunday.

This is anston Reid is set to make a playing return with New Zealand.Reid has been sidelined by a knee injury since March last year, but is poised to pull on his boots once again in Dublin on Thursday evening as he captains New Zealand in their friendly clash rematch , when Team New Zealand, then skippered by Dean Barker, reached match point at 8-1 before Spithill lead Oracle Team USA to eight straight victories on San Francisco Bay to retain the oldest trophy in international sports.

So far, the New Zealanders and their cycling grinding system have proven too fast for Oracle in light, shifty wind. They’ve also made the right choices on which foils to use on the ends of their daggerboards. The New Zealanders used the same foils they did in speeding to two victories on Saturday while the American-backed crew appeared to use two different foils.

Burling and his team are using a “cyclor” grinding system. They’ve built four stationary cycling stations into each hull to tap leg power instead of traditional arm power from the grinders to power the hydraulic systems that control the wing mainsail and the daggerboards. Simon van Velthooven, who won a bronze medal in cycling at the London Olympics, was aboard for Race 3. Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan replaced him for Race 4.

Spithill, an Australian, is trying to win his third straight America’s Cup before he turns 38.

Oracle made an unforced error when its catamaran came off its foils early on the downwind second leg. That was enough for Burling to speed awa.City assistant manager Arteta is in advanced talks to take the manager’s job at Arsenal this week.And should Arteta leave the champions, former Feyenoord coach Van Bronckhorst is available to step in to fill the void.The Dutchman is now part of the y around the seven-leg course for a 49-second victory. In Race 4, the Kiwis held a slim lead at the first mark and simply sped away.

Alex Rodriguez to be released by Yankees, ending controversial career

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Alex Rodriguez, one of the most talented and controversial players in the history of baseball, will be released on Friday by the effectively ending his playing career.

He will take up an advisory role with the team after his final game on Friday night.

The New York Yankees slugger announced the news at a press conference on Sunday morning, bringing an end to in which he recorded 696Paul Pogba about the public criticism from his agent Mino Raiola.Raiola recently held an inteBesiktas are pushing for Burnley defender Ben Gibson.Sky Sports says Burnley have rejected a loan offer – with a view to buy – from Besiktas for Gibson. The former Middlesbrough captain struggled to force his way into Sean Dyche’s team last season after suffering two separate hernia injuries. Gibson arrived from Boro for £14m last summer.rview with Italian publication La Repubblica, in which he stated he would not send any of his other clients to United.He also insisted United are “a club out home runs (), 2,084 RBIs and a batting average of .295. He was a 14-time All Star, a three-time American League MVP and led the AL in home runs on five occasions. He won his sole World Series with the Yankees in 2009.

“We all want to keep playing forever,” said a tearful Rodriguez on Sunday. “But it doesn’t work that way.”

Rodriguez also reflected on the game he is stepping away from. “This is a tough day. I love this game and I love this team,” he said. “And today I’m saying goodbye.”

However, the 41-year-old has been in a slump this season, batting just .204 with nine home runs in 216 at-bats. The signs that Rodriguez’s career was coming to an end have been clear since the end of last month. He has started only once in 14 games since 22 July, and has homered just twice since 3 June. He is owed $21m this season and was due to make $21m in 2017, the final season of a $275m, 10-year deal with the Yankees. It is believed the Yankees are contractually obliged to pay Rodriguez his full salary for both 2016 and 2017.

Many considered Rodriguez’s deal, the biggest in baseball history when it was signed, an albatross round the neck of the Yankees who have been paying a huge salary to an ageing player.

“After spending several days discussing this plan with Alex, I am pleased that he will remain a part of our organization moving forward and transition into a role in which I know he can flourish,” said Yankees managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner in a statement. “We have an exciting group of talented young players at every level of our system. Our job as an organization is to utilize every resource possible to allow them to reach their potential, and I expect Alex to directly contribute to their growth and success. runs through his blood.

“He’s a tireless worker and an astute student of the game. Alex has already proven to be a er Tuesday’s Champions League win.Saul Niguez’s fourth minute goal was enough to hand Atleti the advantage in the last-16 tie.Liverpool were left fuming when Diego Simeone’s men celebrated wildly at the final whistle.And on Wednesday Atletico were kewilling and effective mentor to many players who have come through our clubhouse, and I am confident that this next phase of his baseball life will bring out the best in Alex and the next generation of Yankees.”

But while Rodriguez’s talents are undeniable his career will always be associated with performance enhancing drugs, something that will always raise questions about the legitimacy of his remarkable achievements. He for his part in , in which MLB players were accused of involvement with performance enhancing drugs allegedly supplied by the now defunct South Florida anti-aging clinic.

“No matter what happens, I’m at peace with myself,” Rodriguez said on Tuesday. “I think I can contribute. I think I can help out in the clubhouse but if not, I have two beautiful daughters waiting for me in Miami.”

Rodriguez returned last season, and enjoyed initial success before a late slump left him with a .250 average for the year with 33 home runs and 86 RBIs.

UFC 199: trash talk picks up before Rockhold-Bisping duel

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When Dana White stands at a dais to promote the , the organization’s charismatic president tends to leave an impression.

On Thursday, he didn’t – mostly because it wasn’t necessary.

As has become common among fighters engaged in the Octagon, a visceral lack of respect was on display at the beautifully restored Forum in Inglewood, California, which this weekend hosts the UFC for the first time in nearly 400 fight events at the building.

To the Whs six Premier League clubs are chasing Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson.Wilson, 22, has shone on loan at Derby Couill finish in the top-four this season.Chelsea have now won their last four games in all competitions and sit just outside the Champions League qualifications spots in fifth place in the table. Speaking to Betdaq, Johnson said: “If Chelsea can keep gnty from Liverpool this season.The Mirror says Bournemouth, Newcastle, Southampton and Brighton are the top-flight contingent asking foite’s right: champions Luke Rockhold and Dominick Cruz.

To the White’s left: challengers Michael Bisping and Urijah Faber.

Ready. Set. Go.

In the aftermath of Chael Sonnen and the midst of Conor McGregor, UFC fighters seem to let loose tirades designed to rile up fans as much as the person on the opposite side of the cage with regularity.

This can often be construed as insincere, yet the rampant hostility ahead of UFC 199 comes off as if it’s grounded in something more real than ticket sales or showmanship.

Rockhold, the 185lb champion, is genuinely chippy – perhaps the chippiest person on the UFC roster. A California surfer with model looks, Rockhold is perceived as annoyingly confident, so to stick it to the Eintracht Frankfurt away support during last night’s Europa League shootout victory.The away support tried their best put Chelsea’s stars off their stride as they attempted to put their penalties past Kevin Trapp.Frankfurt fans bome might say egotistical. One thing is certain, he maintains a high opinion of himself and his status among middleweights.

After Chris Weidman dropped out of the card’s main event due to a scary neck injury two weeks ago, Bisping, the wisecracking veteran from Manchester, England, who lives in Los Angeles, was picked to replace him and, no surprise, trash talk picked up.

Will it mean Bisping can produce a competitive fight? Most observers suspect not.

The British fighter has agonized over receiving a UFC title shot since his earliest days with the organization.

Both times Bisping had a chance to rise to top contender status he failed – Dan Henderson famously starched him at UFC 100, and Chael Sonnen won a tight decision three years later. So when a title opportunity presented itself, it didn’t matter that Bisping’s last loss, his seventh, came versus Rockhold in 2014 following a lopsided affair that saw the British fighter mounted and choked with one arm.

Bisping, a Manchester United supporter, rebounded from the Rockhold setback with three straight victories, including a five-round decision over aging all-time great Anderson Silva in February. This performance at the O2 Arena in London did nothing to make the 31-year-old champion cautious of Bisping in the short-notice rematch.

Rockhold claimed he nursed his left leg through much of his training camp because of an issue with his meniscus. After hearing this (despite the fact Rockhold said the same on his Instagram account weeks ago) Bisping was incredulous, as if the cocky champion maligned an unwritten rule among fighters not to disclose bumps and bruises before a fight.

“You’re just an average bloke,” Rockhold explained to Bisping. “I’m a fucking samurai.”

After taking pot shots at Rockhold, who earned the belt last year with an impressive stoppage of Weidman, Bisping (28-7) acknowledged the champion’s status and accepted the notion that despite his optimism at the age of 37 he’s supposed to lose.

Again.

“Fingers crossed I’ll get the job done and go back to England,” he said.

Bisping offers quality MMA in many areas, but nothing stupendous. He steps in against the tall, athletic Rockhold in good form, and could make a contest of it as long as he doesn’t make a mistake. One hiccup would be enough for Rockhold to make good on his promise of showcasing what he characterized as a widening gap between himself and competent fighters like Bisping.

In the night’s co-main event, Cruz and Faber will meet for the third time. The rubber match of two of California’s finest mixed martial artists is likely to settle their years-long feud inside the cage. Reconciliation of another kind feels like a lost cause, especially after Cruz and Faber hurled enough insults at one another at the Forum to make a fight night feel like professional wrestling.

Free from having to give a hard sell on this weekend’s UFC pay-per-view, White was able to enjoy the back-and-forth as he swiveled his shaved-and-polished head during the verbal volleys between fighters.

Rockhold and Bisping certainly entertained, but the real sparks were ignited by a pair of 135lb rivals.

Cruz, 30, has suffered one loss in 22 fights. That came against Faber at 145lbs in 2007 when he tapped to a guillotine choke. Four years later, at bantamweight, Cruz secured a unanimous decision and defended his UFC belt over Faber. By that time Cruz had developed into a much more complex competitor, adding layers of blistering footwork, off-angle movement and counter-striking to an under-appreciated wrestling game.

With or without his nemesis in action, Faber has remained an important fighter but never the breakout star he might have been had he captured a UFC title. A month after turning 37, this challenge could represent the California Kid’s last stand.

Cruz, a highly-regarded analyst for UFC on Fox events, said Faber (33-8) can’t touch him. And he was cocky about it, too.

“He fights exactly the same,” Cruz surmised. “Big shots, one at a time. He’ll go for a submission and conserve his energy looking for a finish. He’ll miss often. I’ll connect often. And I’ll beat him.”

Saturday’s pay-per-view also features an important contest in the featherweight division, as Max Holloway takes on Ricardo Lamas. Veterans Dan Henderson and Hector Lombard tussle at 185 pounds. And Dustin Poirier meets Bobby Green in a lightweight clash.

Stephen Curry named NBA MVP after helping Warriors beat Trail Blazers

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nailed a three-pointer in overtime and gestured to the crowd, exclaiming over and over: “I’m back! I’m back!”

Curry returned from a sprained right knee to score an NBA-record 17 points in overtime, finishing with 40 as the Warriors rallied to take a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference semi-finals with a 132-125 victory ove Sanchez insists Inter Milan are capable of winning the Champions League.On-loan from Manchester United, the striker is ready to face former club Barcelona this week.He stated, “Every player would like to win a Champions League. You play to win it, nr the on Monday night.

And then on Tuesday, to no one’s great surprise, . Curry swept all 131 first-place votes, including 130 from a panel of sportswriters and broadcasters and one from the fan vote. Curry is the 11th player to win back-to-back MVP awards.

“I love this game, I love playing and love competing. And really, really missed being out there with my team-mates,” Curry said. “To help our team get a win tonight and in that fashion, that was a good feeling in that moment to be back on the floor and playing.”

Playing for the first time since he was injured in Game 4 of the first-round series against Houston, Curry was rusty for three quarters and sensational down the stretch after the Warriors trailed by as much as 16 points.

Originally expected to play about 25 minutes off the bench, Curry picked up a heavier workload in the second half after Shaun Livingston, who had been starting in his absence, was ejected in the second quarter after arguing a call and picking up two technical fouls.

The Warriors can win the series Wednesday night at home in Game 5. A news conference announcing Curry’s award is scheduled for 5pm ET in Oakland on Tuesday.

Curry was followed in the vote by Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio, LeBron James of Cleveland and Oklahoma City pair Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant. Curry’s Warriors team-mate Draymond Green was seventh.

Damian Lillard finished with 36 points and 10 assists for Portland.

Curry’s fast-break lay-up gave the defending champions a 120-118 lead with 2:21 left in the extra period. He followed with a three-pointer, strutting and pumping his fist in celebration.

“You knew he’d catch his rhythm eventually,” Klay Thompson said. “He’s probably the best player in the world, the best shooter of all-time. He was getting good looks. We’ll take those all day.”

Harrison Barnes’ layup extended the lead to 125-118 and Portland couldn’t catch up. Thompson finished with 23 for the Warriors.

Curry finally made his first three of the game to give the Warriors a 103-100 lead with 4:35 left in regulation, but Pesses in training.The striker could see action tonight against Chelsea.Arteta stated on Monday: “Well, it will depend on the circumstances: the players we have available, his performance, the way he trains, the impact that he makes every time he playortland was ahead in the final minute before Barnes tied it at 111-all with a three-pointer with 51 seconds left. Both Lillard and Curry missed to force the OT.

Curry led the Warriors to an NBA-record 73 wins in the regular season, a year after leading the team to its first NBA championship in 40 years. He averaged just over 30 points per game this season.

“Remarkable,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “I mean, he looked fresh. He had his rhythm. He made tough shots, he made nice passes, he fought through screens. Obviously 17 points in overtime. It was a hell of a performance.”

The Trail Blazers narrowed the series to 2-1 on Saturday night when Lillard scored 40 points in a 120-108 Portland victory while Golden State was still without its star guard. The Blazers became the only team to defeat the Warriors twice this season.

Curry came off the bench with 5:56 left in the first quarter and Portland up 16-2. His only points in the quarter came off a pair of jumpers before he went back to the bench.

Livingston felt he was fouled just before halftime and was thrown out after arguing with referee Scott Foster. The 12-year veteran guard was averaging 12.1 points and 5.Oxlade-Chamberlain up and running in preseason.The 24-year-old managed just a pair of substitute appearances last season after suffering a devastating knee injury the previous April.Jurgen Klopp has described the England midfielder as a new signing a5 assists in the playoffs. He had started six of the eight playoff games while Curry nursed his knee injury.

Portland led 67-57 at the half, scoring a franchise playoff-record 41 points in the second quarter alone. Lillard led all scorers with 17 points.

Curry said his legs were sore after the game.

“To be expected,” he said. “I pride myself in the work I put in in the offseason to get through the 82-game schedule and be fresh for the playoffs. I was off my feet for a week and some change. You obviously lose a little bit but deep down when I got the work the last four days and broke a sweat and put the time in, that helped me get through these 38 minutes.”

Is surfing ready for Kelly Slater’s ‘perfect’ artificial wave project?

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The wave curls, whip-fast and flawless; it goes on, and on, and on. Inside it, surfing in the barrel of the wave – the feeling, the high, that surfers yearn for – is , an American pro-surfer, ranked ninth in the world.

Above him, a drone films his run – 10 se at Manchester United can “get hot”.The Sweden defender was reacting to the England bust-up between Raheem Sterling and Joe Gomez last Monday. Manchester City attacker Sterling missed England’s 7-0 Euros qualifying win against Montenegro on Thursday conds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds. It was the longest barrel of his life. Young had never surfed a wave like this before. Yet this was 110 miles from the ocean, in farm country in a specially constructed, exquisitely engineered freshwater pool. And it was perfect. “It’s an awesome feeling,” Young told the Guardian.

The pool was built by 11-time World Surf League champion , who for 10 years had been focused on an idea that many thought was impossible – building a machine which could reproduce the ideal wave, and create it on command.

Few people thought it was possible. But in December, after two years of construction in near perfect secrecy, Slater released an extraordinary of his machine in action. The excitement the video caused in the surfing community is hard to overstate. “That thing basically broke the internet,” said Craig Brokensha, surf forecaster for surfing news site Swellnet.

In that video, the wave curls over silently, dark and mys Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech has an offer to return to Stamford Bridge once he retires.Cech has been offered a sporting director role at Chelsea after he retires – which will happen following the Europa League final.”I feel sorry for some Chelsea anterious in the early morning light. The water from which it rises is glass-flat; the wave’s curling edge is smooth, sharp, almost sculptural. “It is,” Brokensha said, “almost too perfect.”

“It’s the most bizarre-looking thing you’ve ever seen,” said Tom Lowe, a Brester United are eyeing Norwich City fullback Max Aarons.The Mirror says United have identified Norwich’s teen-talent Aarons as a cheaper alternative to Crystal Palace starlet Aaron Wan-Bissaka.United are considering the other names on their shortlisitish professional surfer. “A robotic wave which goes forever.” Lowe watched the first video, when it came out in December, 20 times over.

“It was kind of like, just a normal day on a surf trip,” said Young of his day riding the machine that Slater calls his “freak of technology”. “We woke up pretty early, 6 or 6.30, had some food, some coffee, got the wave pool up and running, and we went and we surfed.

“I couldn’t believe it when Kelly gave me a call and invited me to come up there,” he said. “I felt honored that I was one of the people he invited; it’s amazing to be one of the first people to surf it.” Young was joined by WSL women’s champion Carissa Moore, Californian pro and Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, a veteran American surfer who starred in the 1994 surf movie Endless Summer II.

Young said the narrowness of the pool – 700 yards long, but only 40 or so yards wide – struck him when he saw it in person. “My first impression, when I saw the first wave come through, was disbelief,” he said. “It’s a flat pond, and then, all of a sudden, you’re watching a perfect wave.”

Slater’s machine is powered entirely with solar energy, and the wave itself is created with a specially shaped foil or plough, which is pulled along mechanically beneath the surface, shaping the wave and pushing it forward.

Nick Houndsfield is founder and CEO of , a British-based company currently constructing their own artificial surf pool in Bristol. He said that wave machines have been around for 40 years, but that it is only in the last 15 years or so that the technology has been good enough to make waves suitable for surfing.

over the past 20 years, with an estimated 500,000 regular surfers in the UK alone. “It’s completely crossed over into mainstream culture,” said Matt Barr, the director of All Conditions Media, an action sports agency. The perfect predictability of Slater’s wave means that the final piece of that puzzle – the fact that competitive surfing has relied, to a greater or lesser degree, on the luck of the wave – can now be overcome. “The problem with surfing is it’s so unpredictable,” Barr said. “If you can build this at an Olympic city, you’ve got a surfing event.”

Young, who rode Slater’s wave this week in a VIP session along with several other pro surfers and executives in the World League, also agreed. “It has a set running time, instead of waiting for the swell and conditions,” he said. “So, that’s huge. And being able to recreate the same wave over and over gives people an even playing field – because it’s sometimes a bit of luck catching waves [in the ocean].”

For some surfers, the very idea of the artificial, man-made wave is problematic. “I think a big part of surfing is reading waves and being in the ocean,” said Andrew Cotton, a professional big-wave surfer who famously took on the monster waves at Portugal’s Praia do Norte, 80 miles north of Lisbon.

“The one in California looks absolutely amazing – it’s like the dream wave. Any surfer would be excited to surf it,” said Cotton. “It’s amazing to watch Kelly Slater ride that wave, because he rides it as best as anyone could ever ride a wave. But it’s amazing watching Kelly Slater ride, full-stop. I don’t think anything makes up for learning to surf, or having the skill of reading the ocean. That’s surfing.”

Jarryd Hayne and Fiji take World Series title but Scotland win London Sevens

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If the London Sevens were the Olympic rugby tournament in Rio, Scotland – read, Great Britain – would have taken the gold medal, South Africa silver and the USA bronze. and Fiji would have gone home with nothing at all.

The former San Francisco 49ers running back got on the field as Fiji lost 26-19 to the USA in the third-place game. The Eagles had lost to Scotland in the semi-final, ending their attempt to defend the .

The tournament was the last on the before rugby’s return to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August. Fiji did enough to secure a second World Series title in a row, while Scotland caused a huge upset in a thrilling final against the Blitzbokke, winning 27-26.

Hayne made the Fiji squad a week after his . Used as a substitute throughout the event – though not in the semi-final defeat by South Africa – he said: “At the moment, I’m behind the eight ball and I’ve got no problem with that. It’s about working hard and getting there.

“They’re the world champs. Sometimes in lifedy to sign for Tottenham.The Sun says, however, chairman Daniel Levy is refusing to meet a £60million asking price for Lo Celso.The Argentine playmaker has told the Seville-based La Liga club that he wants to join Tottenham even though Manchester Un, it’s not about success, but it’s about the experience and just being part of that team.

“[It is the] first Fijian team to win back-to-back titles and they’ve got a bunch of superstars who are going to be a joy to train with and a joy to play with. It’s not about coming over and making the team, it’s about giving me an opportunity to make a team.”

Hayne now faces six weeks of intense training in Fiji to prove to coach Ben Ryan that he’s not only fit enough for Rio, but good enough to displace one of the team’s established stars.

“Our cupboard is not just deep, it’s absolutely littered with fantastic talent,” Ryan said. “We had a very light week this week … when we’re running up 100-metre sand dunes, when these guys are the fittest rugby players Fiji has ever had and they’re still throwing up after sessions, his lactate’s going to be going into overdrive.

“Whether he’ll be able to tolerate that in a short timeframe is a serious question.”

Hayne had a huge amount to do to compete, Ryan said. “This isn’t just a random side, this is the best side in the world in the last two years. A Fijian side that plays a very high-tempo, high-risk game that requires enormous amounts of skill and he has that, and enormous amounts of fitness, and he hasn’t got that at the moment.”

On Sunday, the USA had a startling 42-14 win over New Zealand and another multi-sport superstar aiming for an Olympic place, the erstwhile league and boxing standout .

It was the Eagles’ highest points total against the All Blacks Sevens, a team they beat for the first time ever . There were four tries from the former football player Perry Baker, two in each half, and one each for Ben Pinkelman and Madison Hughes, who converted all six scores.

Asked about the New Zealand win, USA coach Mike Friday said: “That was the sort of performance we’re capable of if they listen and execute. We are a seriously dangerous team, we can hurt anyone on our day.

“We have to focus the full 14 minutes. This sevens game is brutal, absolutely ruthless, if you’re not quite on your game.”

Of the defeat by Scotland, Friday said: “We were in control and it was an appalling two minutes, gift-wrapped, under the Christmas tree, whatever you want to call it, you name it they took it.

“But my boys fully deserved that win against Fiji as we move into Olympic preparation.”

Looking towards the Olympics, Friday identified the Sunwolves flanker Andrew Duratolo, Saracens wing Chris Wyles and the injured Carlin Isles as players set to come back into contention.

He did not single out Nate Ebner, the New England Patriots special teams player who spent this weekend with the second-string Falcons, .

“We need to be 12 hungry players ready for war when we get to Rio,” Friday said. “It will be a monumental event.”

Competition on the World Series has intensified as the Olympics approach: Scotland’s tournament win, their first ever, featured a win over hosts England in the last eight and followed triumphs for Samoa in Paris and Kenya, also a first-time winner, in Singapore.

Hayne’s switch from San Francisco caused surprise in rugby union, rugby league and American football. It also led some to question wheplayer-coach in January from MLS side DC United, reports BBC Sport.Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers is eyeing a reunion with Jordon Ibe.The Bournemouth winger broke through the ranks at Liverpool while Rodgers was first-team manager.Having paid Liverpool £15m for Ibe in 2016, the Cherries would not be willing to sell him on the cheap.The Englishman played 23 times for Eddie Howe’s side this season.The 33-year-old forward, who is Manchester United and England’s all-time record goalscorer, will join the Rams on an initial 18-month contract.He signed for Washington-based DC from Ether he would be eligible for the Olympic Games , given his recent residence in the non-compliant NFL.

He was before the London tournament, and in a statement issued by World Rugby sought to underline his commitment to his new team.

“My dad is Fijian and we watched a lot of [Waisale] Serevi games,” he said naming , “and William Ryder was a big idol of mine.

“I have always dreamt about playing sevens for Fiji and I’ve been given the opportunity.”

The Australian Associated Press contributed to this report

Leicester City and Carolina Panthers: a friendship founded on underdog success

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Their bandwagon has beer. Charlotte gets the swag and the bromance, but Leicester City’s true Carolina hearts actually rest two hours north and west of Bank of America Stadium, nestled in a mountain range.

If ever an official mid-south Foxes supporters group were to see the light of day, the odds are good it would probably spring from Asheville, North Carolina, , a soccer-friendly burg of 83,000-plus that’s home to more than a dozen craft breweries. A burg where Chris Watts has been preaching the gospel of blue for more than 15 years now.

“It’s like a dream,” says Watts, a Leicestershire native who has called Asheville home since moving to the States almost two decades ago. “My brother’s a season-ticket holder and he gets to the games. I was over there in October, against Crystal Palace and Watford, and it was just unbelievable to see where we were. And you keep thinking, ‘Is this going to keep going?’ It’s a bit like a dream. At the same time, it’s brilliant.”

Pinch him, he giggles. And why the hell not? Watts has been a fan for more than 10 years and a Foxes fan for pretty much the last five decades, through thick, thin, and thinner. Some eight years earlier, he had shepherded a group of US friends back to Leicestershire for his 50th birthday and a series of matches in the Midlands, including a pair at the King Power, then the Walkers Stadium.

“Five minutes into the [match],” one of those friends, Tim Branson, recalls of his initial Foxes experience, “I saw four guys carrying out two.”

But he was hooked.

The second game, they got the skybox treatment. Watts landed a program signed by the team — which, as it turned out, would become the first Foxes side ever to be relegated from the Championship to the third tier of the English football pyramid.

“I’ve still got it,” Watts chuckles. “I’ve got a signed program, in a frame, of Leicester at their lowest.”

And look who’s laughing now.

The Panthers prepping for the biggest single event in North American sport, Super Bowl 50’s NFC gatecrashers. The Foxes are atop the most popular soccer league on the planet. First, they were cute. Then a curiosity. Then a fluke. Then a stubborn anamoly. They weren’t supposed to here, either of them.

The parallels are valid and real enough: they’d finished their previous seasons on an unexpected, almost desperate hot streak. They’d been dismissed by the experts, were under-appreciated outside their own province, middling brand names turning in gold-caliber performances, week after week, month upon month. looked at the Carolina Panthers, 3,924 miles and an ocean away, and saw — well, themselves.

“The beginning of the year, [Leicester City] didn’t have great expectations … and kind of the same goes for us,” says Panthers kicker Graham Gano, one of four Carolina players to receive customized Leicester City shirts from the surprise leaders last month. “They’ve done really well this year, and so have we. So they kind of thought their season was similar to ours and they pulled fArsenal hero Martin Keown has urged the club to move for Manchester United defender Chris Smalling.Smalling is currently on-loan with AS Roma.“Smalling is doing exceptionally well – £13 million, the price they are putting on his head, that’s not enough,” Keown said on BT Sport.”Arsenal could maybe do worse than to take him.”Smalling’s loan runs to June.or us and that’s how we got the jerseys.”

Before their NFC Divisional Round test against Seattle on 17 January, Panthers players turned up at work to find that the Foxes had sent over customized blue shirts for quarterback Cam Newton, cornerback Josh Norman, linebacker Luke Kuechly and Gano.

“Carolina have had an incredible season,” the Leicester left-back Christian Fuchs . “Like us, they ended last season really well and again, like us, some people didn’t expect them to do what they’ve done this season, even after the great start they had.”

Before long, they shared a narrative and a hashtag: #KeepPounding. The Panthers returned the favor, and Leicester shared pictures and videos on social media of striker Jamie Vardy, centre-back Wes Morgan, Fuchs and goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel decked out in Carolina black, tossing and kicking an football around.

“They were natural at it,” Gano says. “It would be interesting to see them kicking field goals and what it would look like. Obviously, their form looks good, but I never saw the ball going through the uprights. It’s a little different swing than [it takes] to keep the ball under the posts. But I’d love to have an opportunity sometime to have a kick around with some of the pros over [there], and compare how I match up with those guys.”

But he thinks they’d probably be thick as thieves, espack from his shocking knee injury.The setback means Chambers’ season is over, with the defender to be sidelined for six to nine months.He posted on Twitter: “Devastated to end 2019 like this! If there’s one message I’d like to get across it’s that I’ecially after the Foxes posted a video to YouTube of Fuchs attempting a series of “keepy-uppis” with the oblong American ed to a multitude of Premier League clubs. The Ivorian wide man has been a key player for Crystal Palace since returning to Selhurst Park in 2014, and is perennially touted for a step up.Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur are among the clubs to hfootball.

“I was in the airport in Chicago and I’m sitting at the bar and got talking about football – American and English,” Watts recalls. “And I pulled up [the Fuchs video] to show a few others. It’s pretty neat to see an English soccer player, albeit an Austrian, keeping up an American football. They thought it was pretty cool.”

In one corner, the Panthers, unloved, slapped with 22-to-1 odds to win the NFC back in May and 40-1 to win the whole shebang. In the other, Leicester, dismissed almost universal preseason favorites to be relegated this term, 2000-1 odds to win the league at the start of the campaign.

“It’s not quite the same,” Watts says of the two franchises and their comparative roads. “But nobody was expecting the Panthers to be where they are. A lot of my friends, when they saw the stuff about the shirts [coming over], and then the Panthers sent shirts back the other way, it’s been neat.”

Carolina are playing in their first Super Bowl in 12 years; since 2003-04, 13 different NFL teams have qualified for the title game. Leicester are the first squad other than one of the “Big Five” clubs [Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea] to be leading the Premier League in the last week of January since Newcastle in 1995-96.

“Being on both sides, [the more remarkable story is] Leicester City, for me, just because of what they’ve had to do, the fight, where they’ve had to come from,” says Branson. “Going down to the third division and going back into the second and having to fight their way back to the top. Asheville’s got a single-A [baseball] club. It would be like them somehow winning and if they did promotions, getting promoted to the majors. In a little city like Asheville, it doesn’t happen very often.”

“You’ve got to have respect for them,” Gano says of the Foxes’ rise. “I haven’t been able to catch a ton of their games – we’ve been pretty busy over here, so I haven’t really had the opportunity to catch up with them.”

And, full disclosure, Gano is a Bayern Munich fan, having grown up bouncing from Scotland to Germany to Scotland to Canada as a Navy brat (“I used to have a thick accent,” he notes, without a trace of burr.) Born in Scotland, he also maintains a bit of a soft spot for Rangers.

“But I didn’t have a favorite English team,” the kicker says. “So I guess I can pull for [Leicester] now.”

After all, there’s plenty of room on the wagon. And in Asheville, the best beer on the continent never tasted better.

Kansas City Royals roar back to level ALDS at one game each

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The whipped out the same formula that carried them to last year’s World Series to turn back the Houston Astros and tie their AL Division Series at a game apiece.

Some clutch hitting. Stingy defense. An unflappable bullpen.

Even a little help from replay.

“Just battling,” first baseman Eric Hosmer said. “That’s what this team does so well.”

The Royals rallied from a three-run deficit ase a top four finish.They play Watford at home on Sunday with the final league game to come after the Europa League second leg. That is away at Leicester.”We are going to take one after the other one,” said Giroud. “We have our destiny in our hands Friday, getting a go-ahead single from Ben Zobrist in the seventh inning, and then watched Wade Davis and the bullpen make it stand in a 5-4 victory that brought back memories of their nip-and-tuck postsee his move to Manchester United.The former Sporting CP captain made the switch yesterday.And Carvahal, who coached in the Premier League with Swansea City, declared: “He goes to a league where the level is high, but I think he has value in being a reason of a year ago.

The Royals knotted the game at 4 off Scott Kazmir and relievers Oliver Perez and Josh Fields in the sixth. Kansas City took the lead in the seventh when Alcides Escobar led off with a triple against Will Harris (0-1) and Zobrist followed with his single through the left side.

Kelvin Herrera (1-0) and Ryan Madson each tossed a scoreless inning for the Royals, and Davis came on to close it — though the real drama was only beginning.

Davis walked Preston Tucker with one out, and speedy Carlos Gomez came in as a pinch-runner. Davis snapped a throw to Hosmer at first, and he neatly snagged it on one hop as Gomez made a dive back to the bag. Gomez was initially ruled safe, but the call was overturned upon review.

“That play that Hos made on the pickoff, I don’t know if there’s a lot of first basemen that can make that play,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “It was tremendous.”

Jose Altuve then grounded out to end it, giving Davis the save.

It was a crucial victory considering what awaits Kansas City in Game 3 on Sunday: Astros aceDallas Keuchel, who was 15-0 at home this season. Edinson Volquez will start for Kansas City.

“We were in position to win that game. Their bullpen did a very good job of shutting us down,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve got some work to do to win this series. It’s going to be a good series. These are two really good teams.”

Two starters acquired with October in mind, Kazmir and Royals counterpart Johnny Cueto, pitched mostly to a stalemate Friday, which meant the outcome hinged on the bullpens. Kansas City’s relief corps was simply better, preserving the first win by a home team this postseason.

“They compete,” said Salvador Perez, who homered for the Royals. “Pretty good stuff.”

Colby Rasmus homered, doubled and drove in two runs for Houston, becoming the first player in major league history with an extra-base hit in his first six postseason games. George Springer had a pair of RBI after hitting a solo shot in the series opener.

“Just to let it slip away late is kind of a downer,” Astros reliever Tony Sipp said. “We had a lead late and let it slip away. We had the momentum going.”

The Astros jumped on Cueto right from the start, just as they did Yordano Ventura in Game 1 on Thursday night. Rasmus doubled in a run in the first inning, and Springer added a two-run knock in the second as restless Royals fans began to shower their ace with boos.

Perez got one back for Kansas City with his homer to left in the bottom half, but Rasmus matched him with his third home run in three games this postseason.

Cueto finally settled in, but it looked as if it would be too late. Kazmir allowed a run in the third, but otherwise had Kansas City off balance until the sixth inning.

Still trailing 4-2, Lorenzo Cain got the Royals’ tying rally started with a double, and Hinch called for Oliver Perez. He alndly with Napoli is set to be arranged.Napoli legend Diego Maradona was appointed coach of the Argentine club.“We’d been asking for some time if Diego could do well with us and we asked an intermediary if he was available,” Pellegrino told Radio CNlowed back-to-back singles and a walk to leave the bases loaded for Fields, who walked Salvador Perez on four pitches to tie the game.

When the Royals took the lead the following inning, their shutdown bullpen made it stick.

“I’m happy we’re going home,” Hinch said. “We’ve got home-field advantage for the rest of this series. We have to take care of business in our own yard.”

Abby Wambach, world’s all-time leading goalscorer, announces retirement

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Abby Wambach, the predatory forward whose 184 goals are the most scored by any man or woman in the history of international soccer, has announced her retirement.

Wambach, 35, has made 252 appearances for the United States women’s national team since debuting against Germany in September 2001.

“After much deliberation and talking with my friends, family, teammates and our coaching staff, I’ve decided to finally bring my soccer career to an end,” Wambach said in a statement. “While we still have more work to do for women’s soccer, after bringing the World Cup back to the United States this summer, I’m feeling extremely optimistic about the future of our sport. It’s been an amazing, wonderful ride and I can’t wait to see what the next chapter of my life brings.”

Wambach will appear with the team for all four of its scheduled matches in December, with her farewell appearance coming on 16 December against China in New Orleans, the final leg of the US team’s 10-city victory tour to celebrate their .

Wambach appeared in four World Cups over a decorated 15-year international career and won gold medals in both her Olympic appearances at the 2004 and 2012 Games, scoring 23 goals in 35 appearances in those six tournaments. She missed the 2008 Olympics with a broken leg.

The most famous of her 184 international goals came in stoppage time of a 2011 World Cup quarter-final against Brazil with the United States trailing 2-1. Wambach’s 122nd-minute header off a 40-yard cross from Megan Rapinoe sent the match to penalties, where the US prevailed to book a place in the last four.

The Rochester, New York native was named Fifa World Player of the Year in 2012, becoming only the second American to capture the sport’s highest individual honor after Mia Ha fringe player who is expected to play at Celta Vigo and his coach is happy with the season he’s having.”[Malcom] has improved, as mucinho has won his first two games in charge after replacing Mauricio Pm France.The former Lille man arrived with a big reputation and for a club record fee.But he has failed to show the kind of form that made him one of the most wanted attackers of the summer transfer window.And Pepe admits the language has been a barrochettino last week.Lo Celso, on loan from Real Betis, told Sky Sports News: “We know that it takes time when you’ve got a new coaching staff, a new head coach.”It takes time for thh playing as training,” he said. “He hasn’t had as many opportunities as others and he’s good enough to be here. He’mm. A three-time All-American at the University of Florida, Wambach helped the Gators to the program’s first NCAA championship in 1998.

“Abby is a player who has transcended our sport and her legacy as one of the world’s greatest players is set forever,” USA coach Jill Ellis said. “What she has done for women’s soccer and women’s sports overall with her amazing talents on the field and her personality off it has been inspiring to watch. I am just extremely happy that she could end her career with that elusive World Cup title and go out on top, right where she deserves to be.”

Wambach will speak publicaly on her retirement on Thursday at the National Press Club Luncheon at the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies in Washington DC.

Safety is paramount but motor racing will never be run without element of risk

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That Justin Wilson was aware of the dangers involved in motor racing does not make any easier to cope with. It does, as with all fatalities in the sport, however, raise again the question of how to best manage what will always be a fundamentally difficult proposition – that of making frail bodies safe in vehicles designed to run at high speed in close proximity to one another. Perhaps the most difficult part of coming to terms with such a tragedy is that the nature of motor racing means that goal is simply unreachable.

“You’ve got to know the risks and work out if those risks are acceptable – to me, it’s acceptable,” Wilson said, after breaking a bone in his back in an accident in 2011. “But I’m not going to stop trying to improve it. All the drivers, this IndyCar, we’re always trying to make it safer but at the end of the day, it’s a race car. We’re racing hard, we’re racing Indy cars and it’s fast. When it goes wrong, it can gntus.Juve and Milan drew 1-1 in the first-leg of their semifinal at San Siro on Thursday.Ante Rebic saw his opener cancelled out by a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty in the final minute, while Theo Hernandez was sent off.“I told my lads to leave the pitcet messy.”

The 37-year-old British dri of Aleksey Miranchuk.Miranchuk scored in defeat to Juventus in this week’s Champions League clash, with the Bianconeri said be considering him for the January market.Asked about the rumours, Semin stated yesterday: “Miranchuk and Lokomotiv are verver had been in a coma after being hit on the head by a piece of debris at Pocono Raceway on Sunday and it was announced that he had died of his injuries on Monday night. Wilson competed in 16 races and achieved seven wins durinSterling’s development.Sterling scored 25 goals last season and has already has six to his name this term.Xavi worked under Guardiola at Barcelona and knows his methods inside and out, and he says the Spaniard’s close guidance has benefited Sterling.g 12 seasons of US open-wheel racing, which included two championship second places in the Champ Car series. He also won the Daytona 24 Hours in 2012. An investigation into the crash will take place and changes will likely be made, not least in IndyCar, which already has many critics over safety issues.

The previous driver to die in an IndyCar race was Britain’s Dan Wheldon, twice a winner of the Indianapolis 500, who was killed when his car went airborne and crashed into the catch-fencing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011. The IndyCar of the next season was named after him as the DW12 and incorporated safety features designed to prevent a similar accident.

After Wheldon’s death, Wilson was a driver representative who liaised between competitors and the series organisers on safety issues. Yet only two years later, in the new car, Dario Franchitti suffered an accident similar to Wheldon’s at the Houston IndyCar Grand Prix, an airborne incident into the catch-fencing that broke his back and injured 13 spectators, after which he retired from racing. In this case one of the specific dangers the car had been designed to avoid had happened again. Three cars went airborne in practice for the Indy 500 this year.

There are technical ways of addressing that risk and IndyCar have being doing so but in Wilson’s accident he was also terrifically unlucky. He appears to have been hit by a piece of the nose from the car of Sage Karam, who had crashed at turn one. The debris was there because the cars are designed to break apart, to dissipate energy, in order to protect the driver. It worked for Karam but Wilson took a huge blow. Inches to the right or left and it may have missed him.

The concept of fitting canopies then will doubtless be raised again. It has come up before not least after Felipe Massa was hit by a spring at the Hungaroring in 2009. The FIA tested canopies in the aftermath but they were not brought in. Impact tests revealed that a hard polycarbonate version shattered and an aerospace canopy flexed too much. An alternative, placing a roll hoop in front of the drivers was rejected by the F1 strategy group as too ugly to implement. That, too, is a factor that cannot be downplayed – part of the appeal of open-cockpit racing is the open cockpit – many believe that is an integral part of the sport and thus a risk that must be borne.

Nor would they necessarily guarantee a driver’s safety. Such was the force of the crash in 2014 that ultimately led to Jules Bianchi’s death in July, the FIA concluded a cockpit canopy would not have saved him.

What then of tethering more parts to the car so heavy items such as the nose cone cannot cause further damage? It will, rightly, be looked into but again the forces involved mean no system is foolproof. Six days before Massa’s incident John Surtees’s son Henry was killed at Brands Hatch in a Formula Two race. He was struck by a wheel from another car that had broken its tether in an accident.

Nonetheless, the sport will always strive towards greater safety and lessons can be learned. A year after Massa’s was struck almost all of motor racing’s sanctioning bodies brought in mandatory improvements to helmet design. Wilson’s impact was too hard for them to make a difference but they may have been a factor when James Hinchcliffe was hit by debris at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis last year. He suffered only concussion.

Equally, in 2013, the deaths of Allan Simonsen at the Le Mans 24 Hours and Porsche Super Cup driver Sean Edwards at a private test in Australia were both due to sudden deceleration injuries when hitting barriers that did not have enough give – Simonsen from a tree behind the Armco and Edwards a concrete barrier behind a tyre wall. Circuit design can directly influence such accidents and the next year the Le Mans organisers ensured there were two separate tyre barriers before the repositioned stretch of Armco.

Yet, ultimately, there remain no guarantees. Changes in the interests of safety to the racing, the cars and the circuits have been going on apace since Ayrton Senna was killed in 1994 but as fatalities prove they have failed to take the risk out of racing.

Wilson’s team owner, the former driver Michael Andretti, called the accident “a perfect storm”, which does not make his death any more palatable but it does say something about the nature of the sport in which he adored to compete – one where sometimes the very nature of the beast means events are beyond your control. He knew that, as Andretti pointed out: “Motor racing is never going to be 100% safe.”

The gifs that keep on giving: Cristiano Ronaldo, Cafu, power play and a golf trick

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Show offNo one man should have all that powerCafu’s keep-upsBallsIf at first you don’t succeed…SliderA few clas Saint-Ges’ move to VfB Stuttgart was influenced by manager Jurgen Klopp.Phillips, the son of Bolton Wanderers hero Jimmy Phillips, is on a season-long loan with VfB.”My relationship with Jürgen played a role in this transfer,” VfB sports director Sven Mislirmain superstar Kylian Mbappe.Mbappe has been strongly linked with a big-money move in the summerholes has been fined after admitting breaking Football Association betting rules.The Mirror says he has been hit with an £8,000 fine and warned over his future conduct after admitting breaking Football Association betting rules.United legend Scholes, with Real Madrid and Liverpool among the teams understood to be keen on signing the French World Cup winner.The French World Cup winner, 20, isy touches from the U20 World CupThe short gameBe better than the gap

USA at the Women’s World Cup: what we learned from the group stage

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1) USA’s attacking prowess isn’t what it used to be

Here’s a fun fact: Going into their easiest match of the group stage against Nigeria, the Americans had been shut out five times in their previous 13 games since December. But before that, it took them 176 games to be shut out five times, stretching all the way back to 2007. Against a Nigeria team that appeared to have a pretty poor defense in their previous group games, the Americans managed just one goal – even after Nigeria went down to 10 players for 20 minutes.

There’s no question that the world’s competition is getting stronger. All we have to do is look at upsets in the group stage and the struggles of the top teams, such as Tuesday’s other results, which saw Sweden draw to Australia and Cameroon beat Switw Real Madrid fullback Ferland Mendy has been ruled out for a month after picking up a thigh injury in pre-season.The latest blow for Los Blancos comes just days after Marco Asensio suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament which will keep him on thzerland. And as the rest of the world improves, the numbers suggest USA are having trouble maintaining the performance gap they’ve enjoyed throughout the years. The big question going into this Women’s World Cup was to win the toughest World Cup to date. Early results suggest the answer is perhaps not.

2) Abby Wambach is still an important player

We know some things about Wambach that might make it seem like she shouldn’t play a huge role in this World Cup. She is 35 years old and visibly slowing down. She is less productive than she has been in the past. The team has plenty of other talented, young, productive forwards that can play big roles. But when the USA needed a goal to top the Group of Death and advance to the knockouts, Wambach could be counted on to make it happen.

As good as Wambach is on set pieces – she scored Tuesday’s game-winner over Nigeria off a corner – she has a toolkit of intangibles the team seems to rely on, such as her experience and leadership. The team played with a spark against Nigeria that they didn’t have straight out of the gate against Sweden. Maybe Wambach is that X-factor or maybe she’s not, but it’s hard to argue that she didn’t score the most crucial USA goal of the group stage. Her role with the team , and she seemed to provide an answer.

3) Hope Solo’s off-the-field distractions don’t matter

This shouldn’t be news to anyone, but Solo has been involved with some off-the-field issues. Her personal problems have been distilled into one code word: “distractions”. That’s a good code word when there seems to be a new detail or wrinkle, and a new article or column everyday about her arrest, which took place nearly a year ago. For some reason, Senator Richard Blumenthal didn’t think there were more important things going on in Connecticut during this World Cup and asked US Soccer to investigate her arrest.

But it’s now safe to say, these distractions simply don’t matter. Firstly, they aren’t affecting Solo’s on-field performance. She came up with two massive saves against Australia that were probably responsible for securing USA’s win to open the tournament. The reaction from the players was universal: Only Solo could have made those big-time saves. That leads into the second point, which is that with the way Solo is playing, she is worth every bit of trouble she causes for US Soccer’s public relations team. Solo is simply too valuable to bench.

4) The USA defense may be what wins them the World Cup

Can the Americans win a World Cup when arguably their two best players are their two starting centerbacks, Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston? USA coach Jill Ellis thinks so: “If you don’t give up any goals, you have a hell of chance,” she quipped after USA beat Nigeria, in another performance where the biggest plays seemed to happen in the Americans’ half.

When it’s not Sauerbrunn and Johnston tracking back and beating some of the fastest forwards in the tournament, it’s Meghan Klingenberg making a monster save off the line with her head. Add in nham star Harry Kane has been ruled out of action until April with a hamstring injury. The 26-year-old suffered the injury during Spurs’ loss to Southampton on New Year’s Day.He will return two months before Euro 2020 commences.”Following ongoing assSolo and her heroics, and USA are looking defensively more than capable of helping secure a World Cup come 5 July.

5) The real tournament begins now

The Group of Death didn’t end up that deadly. Indeed it probably earned its name in large part because No5-ranked Sweden were controversially not seeded. But Sweden did not live up to theiral Madrid, the Croatia international completed his spell a Europa League title winner last night.The midfielder is now due to return to Madrid, though AS says Kovacic’s preference is to stay with Chelsea next season.His situation raises the prospect responsibility, drawing with both Australia and Nigeria, teams the USA managed to beat, albeit unconvincingly. To compare it to the men’s World Cup last year, Sweden were like Portugal in the USA’s group – uninspiring where they were supposed to be deadly.

So what lies ahead for the Americans? A team like Germany that beat Ivory Coast, 10-0 and Thailand 4-0, maybe. Perhaps a team like reigning world champions Japan, who have swept their group. The last 16 should gift the USA a low-ranked team, but after that, all bets are off. USA won’t be able to afford another subpar showing once the win-or-go-home format kicks in.