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Charles Rogers, second overall pick in 2003 NFL draft, dies aged 38

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Charles Rogers, the wide receiver chosen second in the 2003 NFL draft after a prolific career at Michigan State University, has died aged 38.

The Detroit Free Press after a number of his former teammates on social media.

No cause of death has been reported, but several of his former coaches said .

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Charles Rogers,” the Lions said rsenal manager Unai Emery has admitted that losing the Europa League final is a blow for his team.The Gunners were routed 4-1 by Chelsea in a game where they never looked competitive.It means they will be unable to qualify for the UEFA Champions Leagin a statement Monday. “From Saginaw, to East Lansing, to Detroit, Charles’ connection to the state of Michigan and its football community was felt by many during the course of his life. We extend our heartfelt sympathies and condolences to his friends and family during this difficult time.”

Rogers set a school record with 27 career touchdowns that still stands at Michigan State despite playing only two seasons at the Lansing school, winning the Fred Biletnikoff award as the best college wide receiver in the nation during his junior season.

The 6ft 3in, 220lb star was chosen with the No 2 pick in the 2003 draft behind only Carson Palmer and almost immediately made good on his $9.1m signing bonus with the Lions, catching 22 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns in his first five professional games, but his rookie year was abruptly cut short when he broke his collarbone during a speed drill.

Rogers broke his collarbone again on the third play of the 2004 campaign, ending his second season. By the end of year three, he was out of football entirely, finishing with 36 receptions for 440 yards and three touchdowns in 15 appearances.

The Saginaw native was arrested at least six times from 2008-12 on charges ranging from assault and battery and probation violations to DUI, open container violations and marijuana possession.

In 2017, Rogers that he became addicted to Vicodin during his time with the Lions. He also said he smoked marijuana throughout his time in college and the pros.

“I am getting my life together. … A fresh start,” he said in that interview. “Do I need a little love? Yeah. Am I still trying to find Charles Rogers? Yeah. I stay optimistic and positive. I’ve been to hell and back, but I stay strong. I still have faith. I’m still a young man. It ain’t over. I’m going to be all right, you know? I’m going to be all right.”

Donham boss Harry Redknapp believes Paul Pogba could yet stay with Manchester United.Pogba continues to be linked with Real Madrid and Juventus.But Redknapp told Sky Sports, “I wouldn’t think they’ll take a loss – I think he is a great footballer.”Maybn Durrett, who coached Rodgers at Saginaw High School, told the Free Press he was the best athlete he’d any seen across spo confirmed the club is under an English Football League transfer embargo due to an unpaid tax bill, reports BBC Sport.The Shrimpers will owe £668,000 to HM Revenue and Customs by 11 March, with a further month “stacked up behind”.Sol Campbell’s siderts.

“I’ll tell you, he was – and I’m including Flint, too, since I coached at Flint Northern all those years – he’s the best athlete I ever seen. I mean, honestly,” Durett told the newspaper. “We’re talking about basketball, football and track together. He could have had a scholarship in all three sports. That’s how good. … I haven’t seen nobody that fast that could do it all. He was just a blessed athlete that could do it all.”

Brandon Brooks says he had to leave Eagles’ loss to Seahawks due to anxiety

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Brandon Brooks said he had to leave the Philadelphia Eagles’ loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday due to anxiety.

The guard, who joined the Eagles from the Houston Texans in 2016, has been open about his struggles with anxiety in the past, and said he was not ashamed of his decision to leave the game.

“I’d like to address what happened yesterday,” . “I woke up, and did my typical routine of morning vomiting. It didn’t go away like it eal Madrid.The 18 year-old Japan international will join Real after the Copa America from FC Tokyo.Kubo had been with Barca since he was eleven years of age before he was forced to return to Japan after a FIFA crackdown on the recruitment of junior pnoid have confirmed coach Zinedine Zidane’s brother has passed away.Zidane left Los Blancos’ training camp on Friday to fly back to Spain and be with his family.In Montreal, the players and coaching staff all observed a minute’s silence before startingrmally does, but I figured it would calm down once I got to the stadium. It did, but I felt exhausted. The nausea came back, and I tried to battle through it and went out for the first drive. The nausea and vomiting came back until I left the field, and tried everything I could to get back for my teammates but just wasn’t able to do it.

“Make no mistake, I’m NOT ashamed or embarrassed by this nor what I go through daily. I’ve had this under control for a couple of years, and had a set back yesterday. The only thing I’m upset about is that when my team needed me, I wasn’t able to be out there with and for them. Lastly, I appreciate the support of my coaches, teammates and fans. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

Brooks has missed five games during his career due to anxiety, and was given a formal diagnosis in 2016. Until Sunday, he had not missed time due to anxiety since the diagnosis. One of his fellow offensive lineman on the Eagles, Lane Johnson, also suffers from anxiety and the two have said they joke with each other about vomiting before games.

The Eagles’ head coach, Doug Perderson, said he fully supports Brooks. “This is not a football issue with Brandon; y came from behind to beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu in their Champions League last-16 first-leg clash.Isco had given the hosts the lead but Gabriel Jesus and a Kevin De Bruyne penalty, before Sergio Ramos’ late red card, ensured the Premier Lethis is a real-life issue that he has come out and publicly acknowledged and kind of shared his story a few years back,” Pederson told 94.1 WIP on Monday. “It’s something that he’s dealing with each and every day of his life. You never really know what triggers it. We’re here to support him. We love him. It is unfortunate that it happened, but it’s something that he deals with every single day. We’re just going to continue to support him.”

The 30-year-old is considered one of the best guards in football, and signed a four year, $56.5m contract extension in November. He won Super Bowl LII with the Eagles in February 2018.

Canelo Álvarez edges Gennady Golovkin by majority decision in epic sequel

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The Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Álvarez scored the signature win of his career in Saturday night’s long-awaited rematch with , capturing the WBC and WBA middleweight titles by a majority decision in a classic encounter that all but guarantees a third installment in May.

Two of the finest pure fighters of their generation treated a sellout crowd of 21,965 at the T-Mobile Arena to a contest of extreme physical and psychological intensity that managed even to surpass their , which ended in a widely derided split draw. This one was just as close and not entirely beyond dispute, merely flecked by controversy rather than defined by it. Ringside judges Dave Moretti and Steve Weisfeld scored it 115-113 to Álvarez, while Glenn Feldman had it 114-114. (The Guardian 116-112 to Golovkin.)

Álvarez (50-1-2, 34 KOs), the popular red-haired puncher from Guadalajara, now adds Golovkin’s belts at 160lbs to the lineal middleweight title he earned .

“I showed my victory with facts,” the 29-year-old Álvarez said afterward through an interpreter. “He was the one who was backing up. I feel satisfied because I gave a great fight. It was a clear victory.”

For Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs), the razor-thin verdict marked his first defeat in 40 professional fights, the first at any level since the 2005 amateur world championships, and ended his division-record streak of 20 consecutive middleweight title defenses on level terms with Bernard Hopkins, who incidentally is a minor stakeholder in Golden Boy Promotions, which promotes Álvarez. Afterward the 36-year-old from Kazakhstan, the sport’s longest tenured active champion no more, walked solemnly to the dressing room without remaining in the ring for the customary in-ring interview.

Their first clash, 364 days ago in the same building, had seen Golovkin spend the night methodically cutting off the ring with deft footwork while Álvarez fought off the ropes with varying results. But from Saturday night’s first bell the action took on a radically different geometry, playing out almost exclusively in the center of the ring with neith Javier Zanetti says the board are excited by their prospects under new coach Antonio Conte.The Argentine says it’s the beginning of a new era.Zanetti said, “He is a coach who knows Italian football well and has a lot of experience. “He is a winning er fighter’s back touching the edge even once until the middle rounds. Golovkin didn’t wait long to establish the jab as his weapon of choice, doubling and tripling it up early while refraining from the heavy-handed combinations that have been his calling card in a career which, until Saturday, saw him finish 34 of 39 fights inside the distance.

A highly tactical opening, with neither man backing down and so little to separate them, began to heat up in the second and third as the fighters started to open up and trade harder shots. Golovkin continued to score at will with the jab, but Álvarez’s varied attack appeared to move the Kazakh backward and keep him off balance while the Mexican’s educated combination punching laid bare the difference in hand speed.

Álvarez’s dedicated body work, which would come to yield dividends in the later rounds, was effective in stemming Golovkin’s offensive, yet the longtime middleweight champion absorbed his opponent’s bestJuventus coach Maurizio Sarri says Andrea Barzagli is proving crucial in the progress of Matthijs de Ligt.Having retired last season, Barzagli was added to Sarri’s coaching staff this term.He revealed: “Clearly, Barzagli is a precious resource for shots with little apparent effect. Both men were countering exquisitely in a series of skirmishes that took on the feel of bullet chess: this was expert-level work from two top operators.

A thudding uppercut by Golovkin rocked Álvarez early in the fourth, prompting a roar from the crowd. He followed it with three straight jabs, then made his opponent pay with a compact left followed by a right square in the stomach. Yet right when it seemed Golovkin was taking over, his work rate began to slow and Álvarez was right there to take advantage.

By the sixth and seventh Canelo was commanding the pace and geography of the two-way action even as Golovkin’s jab continued to score, negotiating inside with hooks to the body and combinations upstairs. They traded hellfire in the eighth, showing incredible punch resistance. But it was Golovkin who betrayed signs of fatigue near the end of the frame, breathing with his mouth open and stepping away from the exchanges with atypical consent. Álvarez moving backward landed a left hook flush on Golovkin’s jaw, followed by three more shots that whipped the partisan Mexican Independence Day audience into a frenzy. When the bell rang to signal the end of the eighth, Canelo appeared in command.

By then a cut opened had above Álvarez’s eye and he appeared to flag early in the ninth, but Golovkin soldiered through his exhaustion. Back and forth it went into the 10th, when Golovkin moved Canelo backward with a four-punch combination then briefly stunned his opponent with a right hand. Golovkin was landing the cleaner punches and by the 11th was on the clear attack, evoking the seek-and-destroy modus operundi that had become his signature, but Álvarez held his ground and refused to back down, never allowing the older champion to land without proper recompense.

Both fighters entered the final round with the belief the outcome was in doubt – correctly, as Canelo led by a slight 105-104 margin on all three cards – but it was Golovkin who demonstrated the stronger finishing kick, striking with a left hook and an uppercut to open the frame and pouring on the punishment as the crowd roared chants of “Tri-ple G! Tri-ple G!”, for the first time on the niea’s transfer ban was overturned on appeal on Friday.And the Chelsea-transfer-news-Man-Utd-Liverpool-Jadon-Sancho-January-Borussia-Dortmund”>Daily Express says Chelsea have put Sancho at the top of their January shopping list after their transfer banght not shouted down by the Canelo faithful. When the bell sounded the fighters embraced, then returned to their corners to await the official scores.

(If there was a controversy, it’s that Moretti and Weisfeld found a way to award the outcome-swinging 12th, as clear as Golovkin round as there was, to Álvarez.)

“I’m not going to say who won tonight, because the victory belongs to Canelo according to the judges,” Golovkin said after receiving eight stitches for a 5cm cut along his right eye. “I thought it was a very good fight for the fans, and very exciting. I thought I fought better than he did.”

Golovkin threw and landed with greater frequency on the night, connecting with 234 of 879 punches (26.6%), compared to 202 of 622 for Álvarez (32.5%). But the resolve and adaptability of the younger, primer Álvarez was enough to carry the day, if only by the slimmest of margins.

“I can’t complain, that’s what we have the judges for,” Abel Sanchez, Golovkin’s trainer, said. “We had a great fight, the one we expected the first time around. I had it close going into the 12th round. We had good judges who saw it from different angles. I can’t complain about the decision, but it’s close enough to warrant a third fight. Canelo fought a great fight.”

When asked if he would consider a third meeting, Golovkin, now twice denied what could or should have been the defining moment of a prolific career spent largely outside of the mainstream spotlight, was to the point.

“Under the right conditions, yes,” he said.

Álvarez didn’t back down from a third fight, where he would almost surely enter the favorite after playing the underdog role in the first two.

“That was a great fight, but in the end, it was a victory for Mexico,” Alvarez said. “And again, it was an opportunity, and I want to shout out to my opponent, the best in the sport of boxing. I am a great fighter, and I showed it tonight.

“If the people want another round, I’ll do it again.”

Serena Williams beats Kristyna Pliskova in triumphant return to French Open

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It is not often a player ranked 70 in the world gets to play on Court Philippe Chatrier – against someone ranked 381 points adrift of her.

Nevertheless, there was no more fitting stage to welcome back the game’s most regal presence, , on a day that began under cloud and ended in uplifting sunshine as the American survived a searching examination of her credentials and resolve. She said later she fantasises about being “a warrior princess” and she was exactly that again, as she has been so many times.

It made a nonsense, though, of the tournament’s decision to deny a former champion with such a distinguished pedigree a seeding, yet cash in on her celebrity by putting her and Kristyna Pliskova on the show court, packed on day three, with television ratings no doubt soaring by the point.

Wallowing for now at 451 in the rankings after her long absence but leading Pliskova by 71 career titles and, after an hour and 45 minutes on a sultry afternoon, a winning score of 7-6 (4), 6-4, she showed she is back, at 36, a mother and an athlete ready to resume her day job.

For how long and with what potency she will be a force in the game she has dominated for two decades we will not know until she scores a more emphatic win against a better opponent than Pliskova, or goes deep in a major – and maybe even adds to the 23 she has already accumulated, most recently last year in Melbourne when seven weeks pregnant.

John McEnroe was not alone in thinking that a miracle will not occur in Paris this fortnight but observed: “If she’s hungry enough, she will win again.” She cannot play at anything less than full throttle but she was -adamant her priority is her young daughter, born last September.

“I want to get home and see -Olympia, because I have been here all day. If I’m not practising, we’re hanging out. I’m concerned how that’s going to work out for me, because normally in grand slams, I do spend a lot of time at the site. She’s so young, I don’t really bring her. This is definitely going to be interesting.”

There were more than a few eyes agog at her outfit on a warm afternoon, a skintight, Wakanda-style, black -catsuit, designed by Nike to capture the moment, but intended also to help her faltering blood circulation after a difficult childbirth.

“The new version, 2.0, it’s cool. It’s really fun. We designed it way before the movie [Black Panther]. I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess. I had a lot of problems with my blood clots. God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So there is definitely a little functionality to it. I have been wearing pants a lot when I play so I want Paul Pogba sold.Pogba is set to start for Manchester United in their season opener against Chelsea despite going public with his desire to leave the club. But Souness told The Times: “If I’m sitting in United’s dressing room, I’m glad Lukaku hacan keep the blood circulation going.”

After Olympia and before Paris, there was Windsor and the royal wedding – and Williams was among the most prominent African-American guests there to celebrate with Meghan Markle and Harry.

“It was exciting to see so much African-American culture impacted in the wedding,” she said. “I was really happy Meghan wanted to incorporate thatn Newcastle United.The 27-year-old forward was linked to a move to Tyneside following the Magpies’ promotion to the Premier League under Rafa Benitez in 2017.Jose told Marca: “For me the best team is Real Madrid and then Barcelona. I could be in the into it. I think it was just a whole cultural shift and change. It was seeing how far African-Americans have come. I thought it was an incredibly inspiring and beautiful and really motivating thing.”

As for the tennis, Williams played a little Fed Cup towards the end of last year, has won two of four Tour matches this season and withdrew from Madrid and Rome to ensure she was ready for a grand slam. So this was her proper comeback match, in a city where she always has felt comfortable with the language, the culture and the tennis.

In an engrossing first set, Pliskova needed an ace – her 10th of 15 – to stay in the first set and was relieved when Williams hit long to take them to a tie-break but the Czech could not sustain her charge.

The second set followed the pattern of the first until the 10th game. Serving for the match, Williams slipped and fell near the net at 30-all, got up smiling to grab match point, made a mess of a drop shoith Bayern Munich actively looking to bring the winger back to Germany.However, Julian Draxler is unsure of what the future may hold for his former Schalke teammate according to Goal.”I don’t feel like he is forcing a transfer, but in football, anytht and had to save three break points before putting a seal on her glorious day when Pliskova dumped a forehand.

Next up is the multisport -Australian phenomenon, Ashleigh Barty, who beat Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-3, 6-1. Asked what she thought about playing Williams four years after losing to her in two quick sets at the -Australian Open, she said: “I’m in a very different place. I think Serena is also in a very different place. But what an opportunity. She’s a genuine champion. What she’s done to be able to get back – along with Vika [Azarenka] and a lot of the other girls who are coming back after pregnancy – is a pretty amazing thing.”

Joe McKnight: murder trial begins over shooting of former NFL player

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The trial in a road-rage shooting began on Tuesday in a New Orleans suburb, where a judge and attorneys were questioning dozens of potential jurors.

Ronald Gasser, 56, is charged with second-degree murder in the December 2016 shooting of the player who began his career as a local high school football star. , Gasser was indicted on the more serious charge last February. He has pleaded not guilty. Gasser, who remains jailed with bond set at $750,000, was dressed in a dark blue pinstripe suit as he entered the courtroom, accompanied by sheriff’s deputies.

McKnight, 28, was a running back and played college football at Southern California before three seasons with the and one with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Jury selection was set to begin in the courtroom of state District Judge Ellen Kovach. Gasser’s attorneys have cast McKnight as the aggressor and are expected to argue Gasser fired in self-defense.

If convicted as charged, Gasser would face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.Police said the confrontation goalkeeper Dean Henderson on a season-long loan.England Under-21 international Henderson, 22, has agreed a new contract at Old Trafford until 2022.He played all 46 league games for Sheffield United last season as they won promotion to the Premier Leatook place as the men traveled across a Mississippi River bridge in and on roads in neighboring Jefferson Parish. Authoriidfielder Scott McTominay says they need to find a winning consistency next season.United will play in the Europa League for the third time in six years next season after last Sunday’s 1-1 draw at relegated Huddersfield confirmed their failure to secties said the shooting happened after both cars had stopped and McKnight approached Gasser’s vehicle. Gasser shot McKnight three times.

Defense attorneys said last year that they believe McKnight tried to enter Gasser’s car through the passenger window. They noted that Gasser stayed on the scene after the shooting and said he cooperated with police.

The case bore striking similarities to an earlier 2016 shooting death involving another former player. Odds BK striker Filip Moller is attracting Premier League interest.Fotospor says City have registered an interest in Moller.The Blues are keeping tabs on the 18-year-old who has scored three league goals this season.The report states that Trabzonspor and Paris Saint-Germain are also keen.Will Smith, who retired after starring on New Orleans Saints teams that inspired the city after Hurricane Katrina with winning seasons and a 2010 Super Bowl victory, was shot to death during a confrontation following a traffic crash. A 29-year-old New Orleans man, Cardell Hayes, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury convicted him of manslaughter.

The fight for potty parity: how sports venue toilets value men over women

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To pee or not to pee?

It’s a question we ask ourselves at concerts, sporting events and other times we don’t want to miss a minute of the action. And when women decide we can’t hold it any longer, we often have to wait longer than men in those daunting arena lines.

Female sports fans were in an uproar after the Edmonton Oilers converted during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Female fans were upset that they weren’t informed of the decision ahead of time, and some said the wait time was up to half an hour.

“When you purchase a ticket, you should expect to get access to a bathroom,” Kathryn Anthony, a professor and author of books such as that discuss gender bias in architecture, said of the wait times. “It’s just unfair, and it makes women feel unwelcome.”

The team said that a survey showed playoff attendance skewed male – a tough thing to prove when you account for re-selling tickets and who ticket holders bring as guests. Representatives for the Oilers did not respond to a request for the survey results or information about ticket holders.

“You’ll never make everyone happy,” Oilers general manager Susan Darrington about the change, adding: “The men are getting through faster, the women are seeing a little more of a delay.”

There are biological reasons why women’s bathrooms lines are typically longer: we need to sit; we menstruate; we pee more often than men, especially when we’re pregnant. Then there are societal reasons: we’re more likely to have children with us; we need to take off more clothing than men, which is often tigoalkeeper Mark Travers admits he’s been working on his passing game to fit into manager Eddie Howe’s system.Travers found the spotlight during the latter stages of last season, having been handed Premier League starts against Tottenham and Crystal Pahter and takes more time.

“People make jokes that we’re vain,” said Soraya Chemaly, an activist whose . “But we’re not standing in line for mirrors. We just need to use the bathroom.”

when renovations brought relief for some female baseball fans, “potty parity” isn’t measured by having the same number of toilets – it’s measured by wait times. Equal speed of access is the key, Anthony argues.

If the problem is so bad, why haven’t we done anything about it? Partly it’s because we are conditioned to think this is normal.

“Women are constantly standing in line, sometimes 60 people deep, and they do it quietly while men breeze through, and you have to ask how it’s possible that we’re still at this stage,” Chemaly said.

When men have to wait in longer lines and they make enough noise about it, the rules change. We’re seeing it now with the Oilers, and we saw it when male Chicago Bears fans were upset about new equal bathroom rules and to men’s at Soldier Field.

from fans, players and staff. Female journalists are at an alarming scale. And when teams do try to include us, we get mansplainy events like – complete with complimentary beauty treatments! – or featuring a soap opera star.

Women on the Seattle city council were told to “rot in hell” and “go back to the kitchen” when they rejected a land-use deal that would have allowed tster City’s clash with Norwich City.Stones has been out of action for the last month with a thigh problem and Nicolas Otamendi was Pep Guardiola’s only senior centre half.But Stones has taken part in full training and is ready to make his comeback athe creation of a pro-basketball stadium, . (Seattle doesn’t even have an NBA team any more and there are no promises they’ll get one anytime soon, which was their main argument for shooting it down.)

Soriller with Ajax.James made history by becoming the youngest Chelsea scorer in the Champions League.Lampard said, “Reece is a fantastic young player. He gives what you saw, and he will get much better because he’s 19.”I felt we needed to change to ge, how can we make these spaces more welcoming for women?

These spaces will become more accommodating for women when building codes and legislation improve, but groups are still pushing to improve the facilities at existing arenas. The American Restroom Association has worked to create more family restrooms in public spaces such as arenas, which can be used when children or people with disabilities need assistance. They have also been used as gender-neutral bathrooms.

Many argue that a gender-neutral bathroom system could alleviate unequal wait times. In such a system, “the next available toilet would go to the next available person,” Brubaker said. “It wouldn’t matter what their gender is.”

And that’s what we should strive for: to have equal and shorter wait times for all. Because we all have to use the bathroom, but nobody wants to miss a goal.

Phillies prospect Matt Imhof quits baseball at 23 after losing right eye

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Philadelphia Phillies pitching prospect Matt Imhof has announced his retirement from baseball at the age of 23, just seven months after losing his right eye in a freak training accident.

, Imhof confirmed he was walking away from the game young, but insisted that it wasn’t because of his injury. “My injury is not whcelotti can bring the glory days back to Goodison Park.Sharp’s goals helped the Toffees to two titles, an FA Cup triumph and success in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in a ­decade in which Merseyside led the way, Liverpool winning the First Division at’s stopping me,” Imhof wrote. “The truth is I need a change of pace after 20 years of doing the same thing.”

In June last year, Imhof was taking part in a resistance-training exercise in Florida, where he was playing for the Clearwater Thrashers, when a metal hook broke away from the wall and slammed into his face. He fractured his nose, broke two orbital bones and severely injured his right eye. “Everything went numb as I hit the ground screaming. I could feel the warmth of the blood running down my face and taste it in my mouth,” he wro Marc-Andre Ter Stegen insists there’s no problem between the players and the board.Gerard Pique has accused board members of planting stories in the local press blaming the players for their poor start to the season.But after victory in the Championte.

Doctors in Miami did their best to repair the damage to his e Arsenal legend has just taken charge of Roots Hall.He told the Mirror, “I don’t want to be pigeon-holed as a firefighter. I had a couple of interviews in the summer, at clubs whose natural habitat was mid-table, but this job was like a ­boomeraneye, but after learning of the seriousness of the injury, Imhof chose to have it removed. He now wears a prosthetic eye.

published on 30 June, five days after the accident, Imhof revealed the extent of the damage.

“Doctors informed me that the damage to my eye was extreme, and essentially that my eye had been crushed like a grape,” he wrote. “The doctors told me they were going to do everything possible, but in all likelihood I would never regain the sight in my right eye. After discussions with my family, it was decided that the best chance I had to live a normal life was to have my right eye removed and a prosthetic eye put it.”

In his ESPN essay, Imhof said it had been a difficult few months, and recounted the tears and the anger and confusion – but said he was determined not to let the injury define him.

“I had two options,” he wrote. “I could let this injury define me. I could be angry – no one would blame me for that. I could be depressed, feel sorry for myself and live in the past. I could let the rest of my life be defined by the worst day of my life. Or, I could pick myself up, dust myself off and move on.”

Imhof was taken 47th in the 2014 draft. He played two-and-a-half minor league seasons with four different teams, and posted a 13-10 record with a 3.69 ERA.

“I am blessed that I was able to play this game for 18 years and will never forget the lessons it taught me along the way,” he said. “Although I am stepping away from playing the game, baseball will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Ryder Cup 2016: US face pressure test as Darren Clarke backs young team

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For all that the involves two sides, it is difficult to deviate from the notion that the narrative of this, the 41st playing of the event, focuses mainly onone.

The desire of the United States to end a dismal run against Europe has taken them from one luminary, Tom Watson, to a taskforce and renaissance man in the form of . The US wildcard process has been modified, Tiger Woods has completed a journey of full circle from Ryder Cup indifference to the heart of the backroom team and an already fevered scenario has been ramped up even further. One is left to wonder what on earth the Americans will do if they have not wrestled back the Ryder Cup when time is called at Hazeltine next Sunday. Abandon all hope, perhaps.

US favouritism may be merited on the basis they have, on paper, the stronger team. They are also at home, but determination can become desperation pretty easily and to a team’s detriment. The involvement of Woods and Phil Mickelson may present Love with an issue over strong personalities above whom he should, in theory, exert authority. One glance at US preparations reveals a seriousness that has so often proved their undoing.

The Europeans have no need whatsoever to modify a team approach that has leaving Tottenham.Kicker says Vertonghen has not featured under Mauricio Pochettino this season despite making 22 appearances last term.Pochettino seems to have axed the Belgian from his first-team plans after several contract refusals from the playereturned the Ryder Cup three times in succession. In Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Martin Kaymer and Sergio García they have a formidable backbone. Lee Westwood would cherish celebrating his 10th appearance with yet another win. For all the fresh-faced nature of the European contingent has been heavily played upon, there is a natural team evolution that need not necessarily be harmful. One of Darren Clarke’s rookies, Daity are moving for PSG striker Kylian Mbappe.El Pais says, however, PSG will attempt to block a huge offer from City for Mbappe by offering him a whopping £860,000-a-week new contract.However, it all depends on Barcelona buying back wantaway Neymar nny Willett, is .

“It’s unquestionable that it’s going to be a very, very big task ahead of us,” Clarke said. “Davis’s team is also shaping up very, very strongly. But with this team, those guys have earned their right to be on the team. They have embraced the challenge. They have got on there and they are world-class players in their own right.

“With adding Thomas Pieters to that list, there are six rookies there, but with the talent that they all possess, I’ve got no worries at all about the strength of that team going to America. I’m proud of that team. It’s a team that’s going to go there and do everything we possibly can to bring that trophy back home again.”

The fearsome length of Hazeltine – it can stretch to 7,600 yards – will only have been intensified by the deluge of rain that has battered that corner of Minnesota in recent days. Still, it would be curious if Love insisted upon the venue playing at its full distance. A slog fest appeals to nobody; birdie and eagle putts to win holes provide enduri form slump after defeat at home to Tottenham.The Hammers held their own for 36 minutes in Jose Mourinho’s first game in charge of the visitors, only to concede twice before half-time to Heung-min Son and Lucas Moura.Harry Kane’s header seemingly putng Ryder Cup memories.

“If we don’t win, if Europe doesn’t win, Darren and I are going to have a lot of explaining to do,” said Love. “That’s part of it. But we’re used to the pressure. We’re used to wins and losses. One thing [the sport psychologist] Bob Rotella told me: if you’re going to base your happiness on winning and losing, golf is not a good sport to be in because you’re going to lose a lot. Tiger Woods has won more than anybody but he’s lost a lot of tournaments.

“But we enjoy the challenge and we love being on the stage and you’ve got to take the wins with the losses. I certainly hope that these 12 guys understand that this is their team. It’s not about me. I’m not playing. Tiger Woods is not playing.”

Mickelson is and, coincidentally, the USA’s horror shows have matched the left-hander’s involvement. Mickelson first featured in the Ryder Cup of 1995; in 10 appearances, the USA has won twice. Two years ago Mickelson’s provided an epic Gleneagles denouement. But here is the crunch; having been so outspoken and taken on increased prominence thereafter, Mickelson has a pressure of his own to deliver.

Since announcing his captain’s picks in late August, Clarke has been absent from the public eye. A perfectionist to the point of obsession on occasion – there is no chance whatsoever of a Medinah/Rory McIlroy-esque timing issue at Hazeltine – Clarke will leave nothing to chance. By his own admission, though, the challenge is a formidable one, not least because the next European captain who does not continue a run of glory will automatically be criticised.

There is logic behind bookmakers having a fancy for the US. There is considerably more in the sense that such an outcome would benefit the Ryder Cup as a whole. Nonetheless, recent history has served valuable lessons; they all intensify focus on Love and his players. Three intense days will tell whether or not Europe can quietly benefit from that.

Woeful Ryan Fitzpatrick throws six interceptions in Jets loss to Chiefs

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Ryan Fitzpatrick is not known for his accuracy and he excelled himself against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, throwing six interceptions as the New York Jets lost 24-3 to the .

Fitzpatrick was coming off a good game against the Buffalo Bills, in which he threw for two touchdowns and 374 yards. But against the Chiefs completed telli could’ve been a worldbeater.Eto’o was still with Inter as Balotelli, now with Brescia, was breaking through as a teenager.He told Gazzetta dello Sport: “Mario loves me like a little brother, but he never showed even 10% of his qualities.”The Majust 20 of his 44 attempts and was picked off six times. He does, at least, find himself in good company: Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Joe Namath (three times) .

Elsewhere, Russell Wilson threw for 243 yards and a tore leading the race to sign Lemar.Lemar, 24, has been a long-term target of the Gunners after a bid while he was at Monaco in 2017.He joined Atletico a year later in a £60m deal but has failed to live up to expectations since moving to the Spanish cuchdown before suffering a left knee injury as the rolled to a 37-18 rout of the .

Wilson was injured with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter getting pulled down awkwardly on a sack by San Francisco’s Eli Harold. Harold was called for a horse collar penalty, but the bigger concern was how he fell on Wilson’s left leg.

Wilson stayed down on the field for a few moments before walking off. Wilson missed the first play of his career due to injury, but returned to throw one more pass. The completion led to the third of Steven Hauschka’s three field goals for a 27-3 lead and after that Wilson’s day was done.

Wilson had a brace placed on his left knee, and he never saw the field again, giving the fio land Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish this summer.The Mirror says United are preparing to pay up to £70million to land Grealish this summer.The attacking ace has been in superb form for Villa this term after inspiring them to promotion last seasonal 1 ½ quarters of the blowout to rookie Trevone Boykin.

Wilson finished 15 of 23 passing, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham. Boykin also threw the first TD pass of his career, hitting Doug Baldwin on a 16-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Baldwin had eight catches for a career-high 164 yards.

It was a big day for Seattle’s offense that slogged through the first two weeks, in the first 120 minutes of the season. The Seahawks nearly matched that total in the first 11 minutes of the game thanks to the first two touchdowns of Christine Michael’s career.

Getting the start with Thomas Rawls out because of a shin injury, Michael had TD runs of 41 and 4 yards on Seattle’s first two drives. Michael rushed for 106 yards on 20 carries, the second 100-yard game of his career.

Carlos Hyde two TD runs in the fourth quarter for San Francisco, but the 49ers had just five first downs entering the fourth quarter and missed on their first 10 third-down attempts. of 12 straight games with a touchdown pass ended as he was 14 of 25 for 119 yards and an interception.

In Philadelphia, Carson Wentz threw for 301 yards and two touchdowns, a fierce defense shut down Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown and the Eagles beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-3 to remain unbeaten.

The rookie No2 overall pick connected with Darren Sproles on a and tossed a to Jordan Matthews.

After beating the Browns (0-3) and Bears (0-2) in the first two games, the Eagles (3-0) proved they could compete with the big boys. The Steelers (2-1) averaged 31 points the first two weeks and are considered Super Bowl contenders.

Pittsburgh was 19-2 against rookie quarterbacks since 2004. But Wentz is no ordinary rookie.

Everyone is jumping on the Wentz wagon in Philadelphia. And he was the No3 quarterback until Sam Bradford was traded to Minnesota just eight days before the season opener.

Sproles finished with six catches for 128 yards and Kenjon Barner and rookie Wendell Smallwood each had their first career rushing TDs.

Roethlisberger had 257 yards passing, one interception and no TDs after tossing six in the first two games. Brown caught 12 passes for 140 yards, most of which after the outcome was decided.

The Hunters 2016: a look back on a thrilling NBA season

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As we mentioned , the Guardian prefers to wait until the end of the playoffs before handing out our NBA awards. This season ended up being a perfect example of why we wait. Prior to the NBA finals, this year was all about the Golden State Warriors’ quest to put together the greatest season in NBA history. Instead, they ended up being the heavies in the story of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ remarkable comeback.

Most valuable player: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

An unfortunate result of the Cavaliers’ Finals victory was that that Steph Curry’s unprecedented season may end up being because his team fell short.

Curry didn’t become the first unanimous MVP in NBA history by accident. At his best, which he was at for practically all of the regular season, Curry looked like he was playing an entirely different sport than the rest of the league. His otherworldly shooting stretched courts to their breaking points. Curry made 402 three-pointers, blowing away the record he set in the previous season (where he hit a mere 286). There were many reasons that the Warriors were able to win in a season, besting the single-season wins record set by Michael Jordan and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls, but nobody can deny that Curry was the most important element.

The problem was that unanimous MVP Curry only made occasional appearances in the playoffs after he suffered a knee injury in the Warriors’ first-round series against the Houston Rockets. Whether it was due to that injury, exhaustion after a season where nearly every regular season game had a playoff feel or just an ill-timed slump, Curry clearly wasn’t the same player in the postseason. Even so, the Warriors might have been able to win their second straight championship if they weren’t facing the winner of our next award.

Most valuable player, playoffs: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers

wins this distinction for the second straight year. Last year, James almost single-handedly pushed the NBA finals to six games, despite the fact that the Warriors looked practically unbeatable and the Cavaliers had lost Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries. While Andre Iguodala ended up being named the MVP, voters tend to go with someone from the team that actually won, there was no question in who was the best player on the floor.

James was even better during these finals, 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. He was the leader, MVP and partial architect of a Cavaliers team that beat the team with , came back from a 3-1 series deficit for the first time in NBA finals history and brought the city of Cleveland their first major sports championship since 1964. This was the most impressive accomplishment of James’s career, which is saying something considering that his career was pretty darn good heading into this postseason.

Least valuable player: Kobe Bryant, LA Lakers

Maybe no player in the history of sports has ended his career with a more appropriate final game than Kobe Bryant. In the last game of the season, the last day of his HOF career, Bryant in a win over the Utah Jazz. This sounds like a perfect Hollywood ending unless one looks at the box score and sees that Bryant needed 50 shot attempts to get there.

To his credit, that was still one of the few games this year where Bryant managed to be productive enough to actually help, rather than harm, his team. Certain metrics labeled Bryant as in the league for the first half of the season. Bryant’s game was the same as it ever was, but time clearly had taken its toll to the point where his high-volume shooting finally made him a liability as the clangs continued to outnumber the made baskets. The Lakers ended up winning 17 games; only the failed experiment that was the Hinkie-era Philadelphia 76ers won fewer.

In a way, though, Bryant ended up being valuable in his own way. The Endless Kobe Farewell Tour ended up being a huge success attendance-wise while the Lakers ended up being bad enough that they were able to keep their lottery pick, which they turned into Brandon Ingram.

Worst social media user: D’Angelo Russell, LA Lakers

Heading into this season, many believed D’Angelo Russell would compete for Rookie of the Year. Instead, his most notable accomplishment was that he accidentally helped to break up a B-grade celebrity couple via a poorly conceived .

Coach of the year: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers

The were, before the season began, almost a lock to finish their season well out of the playoffs. LaMarcus Aldridge signed with the San Antonio Spurs, Robin Lopez went to the New York Knicks, Wesley Matthews left for the Dallas Mavericks and Nicholas Batum was traded to the Charlotte Hornets. By all available evidence, it looked as if the Trail Blazers were rebuilding around Damian Lillard.

Then something odd happened: the Trail Blazers kept on winning. Lillard thrived as the team’s undisputed MVP, while CJ McCollum won most improved honors. Not only were the Trail Blazers relevant they ended up clinching the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Once in the playoffs, the Trail Blazers made it to the second round before the Warriors dispatched with them in five games. It was an impressive run for Portland, in the it’s incredibly difficult to rebuild on the fly while still being competitive.

When a team out-performs expectations to this degree, the team’s manager receives a lion’s share of the credit for getting the most out of his roster. Unfortunately for Trail Blazers had coach Terry Stotts, this was the year of the Warriors, so he ended up in place behind Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, despite the fact that Luke Walton was Golden State’s acting coach for the first half of the season when Kerr was recovering from surgery. Stotts really deserved this nod.

: Byron Scott (Los Angeles Lakers), George Karl (Sacramento Kings), Kurt Rambis (New York Knicks)

Rookie of the Year: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

There is no legitimate argument for putting any other player in this category, a fact which the voters recognized by unanimously naming Karl-Anthony Towns as Rookie of the Year. Towns averaged 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game and was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month every month of the regular season. When you factor in that the Timberwolves’ also have last year’s Rookie of the Year, Andrew Wiggins, he future in Minnesota looks brighter than it ever has.

Defensive Player of the year: Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs

The debate about this award could end up coming down between Kawhi Leonard and the Warriors’ Draymond Green for the next few seasons. This time around we’re going to go with the guy who didn’t hurt his team by after one too many groin-kick attempts.

Disappointment of the year: New Orleans Pelicans

This was supposed to be Anthony Davis’s year to shine, with even predicting that he would win MVP. Sadly though, injuries once again decimated the Pelicans, who fell well short of the playoffs, and having to practically carry the team on his shoulders may have partially stalled Davis’s development.

Game of the year: Warriors v Thunder, 27 February

In the wake of the Warriors’ failure to win a championship, it’s hard to remember just how gripping their quest to beat the Bulls was. Every Warriors game felt like a playoff game, to the point where there was grumbling whenever it wasn’t covered by national television.

While their regular-season record now feels rather hollow, that shouldn’t take away from just how great some of the individual games were. Most notably, Golden State’s overtime win over the on 27 February. It was an instant classic. The Thunder were in control for much of the game, and they managed to build up a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. The fact that the Warriors were in trouble was enough to make the game feel like a rarity: they had only lost five games all season before heading into this contest.

The Warriors, as they did many times during the season, rallied late to make it a one possession game. Still, it looked like the Thunder were just about to pull away with a victory when they fouled Andre Iguodala with just 0.7 seconds left on the clock, putting him on the line with 0.7 seconds left in the game. Iguodala, normally not one of the team’s best free-throw shooters, sank two free throws to tie the game, sending it into overtime.

That’s where Curry hit the shot of the year:

Curry’s three, which was from about 37 feet away, was one that no other player in the league would even attempt in that situation, let alone make. It ended up being the game-winner as the Warriors escaped Oklahoma City with a 121-118 win.

It ended up being a crucial victory, or at least it seemed so at the time. A loss here, and it felt certain the assumed they would be hosting a lot of non-football events at the stadium as a way to pay off the building costs.They will be hosting several NFL games from next season, while the Saracens will play a Premiership match there every year from 2020 forWarriors would end up tying the Bulls record rather than breaking it. The game also became one of those rare playoff previews that actually predicted how their postseason series would play out. When they faced each other again in the Western Conference Finals, the Thunder took an early lead in the series only to see the Warriors battle back and pull of a thrilling comeback.

Play of the year: LeBron James’s block

Of course, the Warriors ended up being on the wrong end of the biggest comeback of the year. The enduring image of the Cavaliers’ Finals run happened in the last few minutes of Game 7, when LeBron James, materializing on the other end of the floor like , violently blocking an Andre Iguodala shot that would have given the Warriors a lead with under two minutes remaining.

It’s a fantastic play just on its own, but it’s also almost symbolic scene, with James coming out of nowhere to reject the shot that represented the Warriors’ last best and fitness of Liverpool ace Mohamed Salah.Garcia has claimed Egypt have had to alter their tactics from the Africa Cup of Nations as Mohamed Salah continues to feel the effects of his long season with Liverpool.The forward made 52 appearances in alchance of getting the lead or maybe even a win, the win that would have solidified their place among the greatest teams of all-time. Instead, with one quick forceful swipe, James flippders are desperate to set up a Europa League playoff against Wolves.Crusaders face Faroe Islands outfit B36 Torshavn in the first qualifying round of the Europa League next month – with the winners facing Wolves in the second round.Belfast-based Cred the script of the entire NBA season.

LeBron James put on the kind of show we’ve been craving from Steph Curry

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If I wanted to be a real jerk, I’d say I predicted most of th Athletic boss Lee Bowyer is disappointed by Chelsea recalling Conor Gallagher.The midfielder is now set to join Championship rivals Swansea City.Bowyer told the club’s official website: “I’m disappointed. I didn’t see this coming if I’m honest, whis. in my finals preview column, but in truth, this series has gone beyond prognostication. Have any of us actually been right even once? I wouldn’t call any of the six games in this NBA finals series a classic, in the traditional sense, unless your idea of a good time is thorough do the ordeal of conceding eight goals to Manchester City.The Hornets were embarrassed away from home by City on Saturday, losing 8-0 in the Premier League.City were five up with less than a quarter of the match played.And Foster believes they are goodmination and .

For a moment, this looked to be a simple coronation. The won Game 1 by 15 points and Game 2 by a massive 33 points. The mood in Oakland was about as light as possible for a championship round. After Game 1, people were dancing and repeating yelling “Warriors!” at anyone who walked by, like it was a threat or something – maybe if you say it three times, Festus Ezeli appears and boxes you out. Maybe I should have known this was going to turn after all that celebrating. You’re thumbing your nose at the basketball gods, and they’re a vengeful lot. But I also probably should blame the city of Oakland for expecting a parade. Fans of the Warriors had gotten used to it looking easy, like the delicate swish of a mMiguel Almiron amongst the goals.Almirón’s brace against West Brom in the FA Cup on Tuesday night saw the Paraguayan establish himself as the Magpies’ leading goalscorer this season, taking over the mantle from Jonjo Shelvey.“We’ve played him in hade Steph Curry three-pointer. Nothing was easy in Game 6, which will forever be remembered for Curry’s insolent tossing of his mouthguard into the stands after fouling out of the contest.

Yeah, Steph Curry fouled out. The Steph Curry who is so accustomed to galavanting around the court, miraculously finding space, and heaving up heat check shot after heat check shot. Sure, Curry was a major part of the Dubs easing their way back into the game after a stunningly awful 11-point first quarter, but the sight of him truly losing his cool (and then the meltdown his wife, Ayesha, had on Twitter) has to have shaken the confidence of this team. The champs are rattled. LeBron James coaxed a Game 5 suspension out of Draymond Green. Harrison Barnes, so vital to Golden State’s balanced offense, imploded last night – a woeful 0-8 that allowed Cleveland to ignore him on defense. Their superior bench, which I have been hyping up for the majority of this series, did just about nothing, save for 14 points from Leandro Barbosa.

Sure, the Cavs’ bench sucked too, but does it matter when they have a player of LeBron James’s caliber? I suppose that’s the one thing we should have been able to predict. LeBron was going to will his team back into this series. As much as his detractors his alleged lack of “clutch” he nearly single-handedly pushed the Warriors to six games last year, despite having no Kyrie Irving. This year, his handicap has been the presence of Kevin Love, rather than anyone’s absence. Irving’s emergence in Games 5 and 6 have given James the sidekick he so badly needed last year.

As much as I, and countless other basketball critics, have gleefully pointed to Cleveland’s lack of depth, they possess a weapon that nullifies all of that. James’s back-to-back 41-point performances will surely go down in history as some of the best basketball to ever be played in the Finals. If he is able to drag these Cavaliers to a championship and avenge 2015, his legacy will truly be undeniable. No team has ever come back from down 3-1 to win the title. He will have vanquished what many were calling the greatest team of all time. And he will have done it playing absolutely sublime basketball.

It’s the kind of performance we’ve been craving from Steph Curry. Whether it’s injuries, fatigue, stress, or some combination of those factors, he’s seemed decidedly mortal. His defense in the last two games has been rough, especially on pick-and-rolls. His finishing at the hoop is average. It seemed too obvious to make this a battle of Curry and James. What a tidy, simplistic narrative that is. Well, it’s exactly what will likely decide Game 7. Can LeBron put together a third MVP-caliber performance? Will Curry respond to the pundits saying he’s not up to the challenge? Like I said, I’m not even going to bother trying to understand this series anymore. I could make myself crazy attempting to unravel Game 7. These situations defy expectation and usually come down to some unholy combination of luck and fate and bloody momentum. The only thing I know for sure is that, like Jon Snow, I know nothing.

USA Sevens brings world’s finest to Vegas – but can US rugby live with the best?

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“Imagine what it’s going to be like in 2020 if we’ve got some kids from the Bronx and Brooklyn, playing in the in Tokyo.”

In his spare office in New York City, on 9th and West 45th, trophies stacked with bags of rugby balls on the metal shelves behind him, Mark Griffin smiles and takes a sip of water. Griffin is the , an inneuito midfielder Jose Cifuentes admits he’s had an offer from Manchester City.The 20-year-old never made the move but he has revealed that City were interested but he wasn’t allowed to leave the club.“All contacts are closed, it was published by ther-city nonprofit which is now joint-operator of America’s first community Olympic development programme (CODP) for rugby union. The sport returns to the Games in Rio this summer but Griffin is looking four years ahead.

In Las Vegas, meanwhile, the best men’s teams in the world are looking only to the next three days, in which they will contest .

The big teams are attacking Olympic year in earnest: New Zealand will field , while is in South Africa’s squad.

The US Eagles do not have such superstars, though they do have , and , crossovers from football who have made themselves increasingly well known. In Vegas, they will be contenders for a knockout place, for a tournament win, for points on the HSBC World Series.

In this Olympic year, though, the Eagles’ job extends beyond the field of play. They must begin to win the attention of the American sporting public – both TV viewers and, perhaps more importantly, striving young athletes.

That is where Griffin and others come in. When it comes to the effect the Games can have on American youth rugby, most such operators agree with , a former Eagles prop turned entrepreneur who will on Friday stage an awareness-raising event at Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas, under the title “”.

“Rugby is ,” James says, down the phone from San Francisco, citing a familiar statistic from the which says participation in US youth rugby grew by 81.6% from 2008 to 2013.

James then cites a familiar view in rugby, bolstered by the same survey finding that in the same period youth participation in tackle football fell by 21%: “We need to seize that Olympic s they need to find some arrogance to convert draws into wins.Maguire claims that United are missing the self-belief needed to control games.He said: “It’s another game where we’ve deserved to win. We’ve created the majority of the chances and we’vmoment with parents who maybe don’t want theo land Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish this summer.The Mirror says United are preparing to pay up to £70million to land Grealish this summer.The attacking ace has been in superb form for Villa this term after inspiring them to promotion last seasoir kids playing football.”

Rugby, it should be said, . But James continues: “Just the fact that rugby is included is a game-changer. The US public are very keen on the Olympics, it brings exposure, funding from the government and other bodies too. This is the very tip of the iceberg for what that’s going to mean.”

Griffin, after on the cracked asphalt of Queens and Manhattan now taking a big step through the CODP, puts the same point another way.

to provide a pathway from inner-city, school or rugby club to elite Olympic competition.

Rugby now has a foothold in America. Or, to stay with the dubious moutaineering analogies, potentially frightening exposure. The performance of the Eagles’ men’s and women’s teams in Rio will help determine how fast and safe the climb can be.

So will the many stakeholders of American rugby. In terms of developing the men and women who will play in Tokyo and beyond, governing body USA Rugby supervises, from Colorado, as a number of organisations seek out talent. There is also and , and more. The English are interested too: Premiership Rugby recently launched its programme, also in New York.

In Play Rugby USA’s case, though, four young women who discovered the game with the programme will this weekend represent in the , a huge club, high school and college event that runs alongside the international tournament. None of the New York girls had seen a rugby ball till relatively recently; one will go on to play for the in Vancouver next week.

“We’re at the forefront of girls’ rugby,” Griffin says, “and we equally promote it with the boys. It’s about equal opportunity, although our high-school program is now 51% girls.”

James adds: “Olympic inclusion is because with Title IX, colleges are looking for women’s sports. This is a massive opportunity for rugby.”

That sense of opportunity is not confined to the Olympics: in 2018 the men’s and women’s World Cup Sevens and in the full 15-a-side version of the game, , a five-team professional league, is due to kick off next month.

But most observers agree: come , if the American men and women are on the podium, the game at home will receive a tremendous boost. A gold medal may be, in Griffin’s words, “Miracle on Ice sort of stuff”. But if nothing else, his reference to shows the stakes for which American rugby is playing.

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.

NCAA Tournament 2015: Wichita State roll past Kansas as No7 beats No2

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No wonder Kansas never wants anything to do with Wichita State.

Behind another steady performance from Fred VanVleet and the hot shooting of Evan Wessel, the No7 seed Shockers rolled past the second-seeded Jayhawks 78-65 on Sunday, earning a trip to the Sweet 16 at the expense of the school that has caused them so much chagrin.

Tekele Cocht.Former City skipper Vincent Kompany became player-manager at the Belgian club in May and Sandler will be able to continue learning from one of Europe’s best defenders on a daily basis.He passed a medical yesterday ahead of the two clubs confirmintton led the way with 19 points for the Shockers (30-4). VanVleet finished with 17 aken aim at the Premier League’s foreign managers.Allardyce, 65, has been out of management since 2018, when he left Everton as the Toffees turned to Marco Silva.It was a similarWilliam Saliba’s agent has been spotted in the UK.The Saint-Etienne defender is being targeted by Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City.The Mirror says his agent Djibril Niang posted a photo on Instagram at the Ivy Asia in Manchester.The Ligue 1 outfit rate 18-year-old Saliba at £26M. tale at Crystal Palace in his previous job, having kept the Eagles in thnd Wessel hit four three-pointers to score 12, sending the Missouri Valley champions to Cleveland for the Midwest Regional semi-final against third-seeded Notre Dame.

Devonte’ Graham and Perry Ellis had 17 points each, and Frank Mason added 16 for the Jayhawks (27-9), who blew an early eight-point lead and never really threatened in the second half.

USA bids to host 2024 Olympics and Paralympics, with four cities in running

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The United States Olympic Committee has confirmed its intention to bid for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington DC are in the running to become the bid’s host city and a decision on which city will spearhead the campaign will be made early next year.

Larry Probst, the Usoc chairman, said: “We are excited to announce our plans to put forth a bid for the 2024 Games and look forward to taking the next step of selecting from a group of four world-class cities to present a compelling and successful bid.

“We’re grateful to the civic and political leaders in each of the four cities for the partnership that’s been demonstrated thus far, and confident that the deliberative process we’ve put in place is going to result in a strong US bid that can truly serve the athletesount is full of praise for his young teammate Fikayo Tomori.The latter has emerged as a sensation for the Blues in defence this season.The 19-year-old has less senior football experience compared to Mount and fellow youngster Tammy Abraham.But he has and the Oock Origi has aims of winning a new deal.He is hopeful his Champions League heroics will earn him a new deal at Liverpool.There were suggestions he would only be offered a one-year extension but he is now set to be rewarded with a new long-term deal.lympic and Paralympic movements.”

Usoc’s chief executive, Scott Blackmun, said: “All four cities have presented plans that are part of the long-term visions for their communities. At our request, and because of the preliminary nature of our discussions, the cities have not spoken about their bids publicly in great detail. That will be an important part of the process after we make our selection in January.”

The United States last staged the Summer Olympics in 1996 when Atlanta was chosen as host city, while Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics six years later. Should Usoc’s 2024 bid be succs Jurgen Klopp will refuse to let any of their first team squad players leave this month.Xherdan Shaqiri is the latest to be linked with a move away, with Roma suggested to hold an interest in taking the Swiss international on loan, with a view to a essful, it would be the fifth time the United States has hosted the Summer Games.

The deadline for applications to the International Olympic Committee is 15 September, with a decision due in 2017.

Earlier in the week Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister,.