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Warriors’ Stephen Curry scores 23 in long-awaited return from broken hand

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scored 23 points for Golden State in his anticipated return after missing more than four months with a broken left hand, but the Toronto Raptors beat the Warriors 121-113 Thursday night to clinch a playoff spot.

After being sidelined 58 games, Curry led Golden State out of the tunnel to a big ovation – as loud as his neon sneakers, one pink and one yellow. He missed his first two shots but had three quick assists, including a no-look, behind-the-back dish to Andrew Wiggins. He finished with seven assists in 26 minutes.

The two-time MVP hit a 17-footer for his first basket early in the second quarter, then got a huge reaction for a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc shortly before halftime. He was 3 of 11 from 3-point range for the game.

“It feels like the first day of school pretty much all over again,” the 31-year-old Curry said earlier in the day after shootaround. “It’s kind of just getting back to enjoying playing basketball at the highest level. There’s a process to that.”

Norman Powell scored a career-high 37 points for Toronto, which clinched a playoff berth with the win in a rematch of last year’s finals. The Raptors won that series in six games, finishing with a victory in Golden State’s final game at its old arena in Oakland.

Kyle Lowry added 26 points and 10 assists, and Serge Ibaka had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors, who won at Phoenix on Tuesday night to end a three-game losing streak.

“Knowing that Steph was coming back, we knew it was going to be a great night, a great atmosphere,” Lowry said. “One of the best players in the league was coming back from injury, we wuitting for Bordeaux.The 33-year-old signed for Bordeaux on Tuesday having previously refused to travel on Arsenal’s pre-season tour to the USA. On social media, Koscielny explained, “I have spent wonderful years with this club, nine years during whiere a little more focused and concentrated on him, but coming in here, it’s a great regular season game.”

Damion Lee scored 23 points and Marquese Chriss had 17 points and 12 rebound for the Warriors, who have lost 10 straight at home.

Golden State trailed 62-55 at halftime but took an 85-83 lead in the third on Eric Paschall’s three-pointer – with Curry on the bench, no less.

After Toronto regained the lead, Paschall tied it at 95 on a free throw with 9:39 left in the fourth quarter, but the Raptors countered with five straight points. A three-pointer by Lowry and a powerful dunk from OG Anunoby helped Toronto stretch the lead moments later.

Curry checked back in with 3:51 left and hit a falling layup with two minutes remaining that pulled the Warriors within 113-108. Wiggins added a three-pointer to make it 113-111, but Pascal Siakam made two baskets in 15 seconds to keep Toronto’s lead safe.

Lee stole the ball from Powell with 25.8 seconds left and was fouled by Powell. But he missed both free throws and then two three-point tries after consecutive offensive rebounds.

Curry practiced Monday with the G League Santa Cruz Warriors, then was recalled later in the day in a most anticipated promotion. His return to action came without most of his familiar supporting cast — Draymond Green missed his fourth straight game with a left knee injury, and Klay Thompson remains out with a torn left ACL.

Box-and-one D?

Curry and Lowry chatted recently, and Lowry kidded about pulling a box-and-one defense against Curry again.

“I’m expecting anything,” Curry said. “I talked to Kyle the other day and he joked about it, he might throw it back out there. Obviously last time we played them it was a terrible feeling losing in the finals, but obviously the situation’s different this year, but there’s excitement about what tonight’s going to be, me getting back out there and guys coming off a huge win in Denver, trying to build momentum.”

Tip-ins

Toronted boss Ole Gunnar is eager to get a deal for Leicester City defender Harry Maguire settled.Solskjaer spoke of the England international after their friendly shootout win over AC Milan in Cardiff.”Hopefully, the last little details will be in place to had lost 13 of its last 14 on the Warriors’ home court. … The Raptors are 8-3 on the road v the Western Conference. … The Raptors are the only opponent that swept the season series from the Warriors last season.

Golden State hasn’t won at home since beating Orlando 109-95 on 18 JanuaNew Bordeaux sports chief Hugo Varela has expressed interest in Chelsea striker Olivier Giroud.Off contract in June, Giroud has emerged as a confirmed target for Olympique Lyon and Olympique Marseille.And now Varela has revealed Bordeaux are also keery. They 7-25 at home overall and 2-9 against the Eastern Conference.

Up next

Visit the Kings on Sunday night.

Host the 76ers on Saturday night having lost 115-104 at Philadelphia on 28 January.

Wayne Rooney scores stunning goal from beyond halfway line for DC United

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continues to add to his highlight reel in Major League Soccer. On Wednesday night he scored for DC United from beyond the halfway line for one of the best goals of his long career.

The goal came in the 10th minute of DC’s game against Orlando City. Rooney picked up the ball in his own half and say Orlando goalkeeper Brian Rowe well off his line. He proceeded to drive the ball over Rowe, and was promptly mobbed by his teammates. It proved to be the only goal of the game.

Roor and RB Leipzig have undergone managerial change this season. Julian Nagelsmann took charge of the German club last July and turned them into Bundesliga contenders. Around four months later Jose Mourinho arrived ati Emery rather than a seek a transfer.Ozil has been frozen out by Emery, but will wait to see whether the Arsenal boss lasts beyond the end of this season before deciding on his future.The midfielder is Arsenal’s highest-paid player on £350,000 a we Spurs and galvanised them, taking ney joined last year with the club bottom of the Eastern Conference. He then inspired them to the playoffs. This season they currently sit third in the table.

Three former Manchester United players are now in MLS’s top-five scorers this season. As well as Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Nani are also in the top fivates after skipping out on them this weekend.Against AC Milan, Ronaldo was hooked on 55 minutes for the eventual matchwinner Paulo Dybala on Sunday and is said to have left the ground before the final whistle.Gazzetta dello Sport says Ronaldo did note.

Angelique Kerber’s title defence ends but Serena Williams rallies to victory

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It is well over two decades since any woman other than Serena Williams and Venus Williams successfully defended the women’s title at Wimbledon. Angelique Kerber, in such style 12 months ago, will not be joining them after she was ousted 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 by the American Lauren Davis in the second round.

Davis, at 5ft 2in one of the smallest players on the Tour, only got into the draw as a lucky loser. A brilliant mover, she chased down everything and made the usually rock-solid Kerber miss, with 31 unforced errors from the German telling their own story.

“I was trying to find my game the whole match, actually,” said Kerber, who will drop out of the world’s top 10 after . “I was not really feeling good from the beginning. I don’t know why. The energy was not there. I tried. She played well. She was going for it. She took the match in her hand. I was too defensive in the important moments. Of course I’m disappointed. It’s not the way I would like to finish here or to play here. But you have sometimes days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it, try to forget this as soon as possible.”

Davis was ranked inside the top 30 just two years ago but injuries have dropped her down to her current mark of 95. Here, though, with Kerber off-colour, she took full advantage to take her place in the third round, where she will play Carla Suárez Navarro, the No 30 seed from Spain. Having lost in the final round of qualifying, it is almost like she’s playing with house money and she is enjoying the ride.

“It’s definitely been incredible,” she said. “I was super-disappointed, having lost last round of qualies. I found out less than two hours later that I got into [the] main [draw]. I was ecstatic about that. It’s honestly a dream being here. I played qualies last year, so I wasn’t able to come here. It feels amazing.”

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, was there to watch in her second-round match against Kaja Juvan, an 18-year-old Slovenian who likes the philosophy of Socrates and Descartes. Her tennis wasn’t bad, either, as she took the opening set against a rusty-looking Williams but the American, trying to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 grand slams, pulled her game together when she needed it. Her 2-6, 6-2,abao Cup semi-final is evenly poised after the first-leg finished 1-1 at King Power Stadium.”I thought we played well,” Rodgers told LCFC TV. “In the first half, we were too slow both in attack and when we pressed the game. We were too passive.”They 6-4 victory sets up a third-round meeting with the 18th seed, Julia Görges of Germany. “It was definitely coming together as the match went on,” Williams said. “I’m just low on matches basically. I could feel it. But I’m getting there.”

She will get plenty of matches if she keeps going deep into the second week as she partners Andy Murray . While the media might like to claim credit for putting the pair together, W-1 defeat of Bournemouth.The Magpies made it successive wins in the Premier League wins thanks to goals from DeAndre Yedlin and Ciaran Clark who helped cancel out Harry Wilson’s opener.Bruce admitted there was still room for improvement, he said: “Ifilliams said she and Murray had discussed it a few days before and were excited to get on the court together. “It made sendy on a six-month deal after he was released by Wolves.The 21-year-old Scot began his career with Rangers before moving to Spain with Real Murcia.He joined Bury in 2014 before a three-year stint at Molineux that included loan spells with Oldham, Ayr se for me because I really could use some matches at this point,” she said. “It made sense for him. We both want to do well. We both love Wimbledon. Playing with a British icon like Andy is going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to sharing the court with him and maybe I can learn a thing or two from him.”

Petra Kvitova, meanwhile, continues to defy expectations as she battles the arm injury that forced her to miss the French Open. The Czech, whose two grand slam titles came here in 2011 and 2014, beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, serving a whole game of aces early on and saving three set points before pulling away for victory. She will play Mandy Minella, of Poland, a surprise winner over American teenager Amanda Anisimova, who reached the semi-finals at the French Open last month.

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.

Stubbornness and lack of talent: the factors that doomed USA’s World Cup

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The shock is just now beginning to subside after the US men’s national team was eliminated from contention for the next summer’s World Cup in Russia. Every result that could have doomed them on Tuesday night came about, with combining with to knock Bruce Arena’s men out.

The list of what didn’t doom the United States’ qualifying campaign is lengthy – vastly greater resources and spending power relative to the rest of the Concacaf region, first and foremost – but before the autopsy begins in earnest, below are four things that consigned the US to desperate failure.

Coach Bruce Arena’s comment that the , and the insinuation that it is somehow more challenging than in other federations, inspired much guffawing.

Those scorning Arena had justification. (Good luck surviving a bad draw in Uefa or CAF, Bruce). There’s a case to be made that Concacaf has the most lenient road to the . In few other regions could Mexico have made it to Brazil three years ago with just two wins out of 10 qualifiernal to the end of the season.Aubameyang pulled out of talks with the club over a contract extension.He won the Premier League golden boot last season and is Arsenal’s top scorer again this term, with 13 goals in 20 Premier League games so far despites, for example, or with just three, as the US would have if El Tri and Costa Rica had done them a favor on Tuesday night.

What Arena was alluding to, however, were the logistical and practical concerns that are unique to Central America and the Caribbean. In few other regions, for example, do visitors have to to get to practice the day before the match. Stories of inhospitable kickoff times and late-night phone calls to team hotels .

What that all means is that taking care of business at home is paramount. Win your home games, and you’re in, no matter what happens on those pesky road trips.

The United States failed to obey that cardinal rule. in what had previously been the fortress of Mapfre Stadium – two days after the election of President Donald Trump, some of a certain political persuasion will remind you with the same dark comedy that inspired Omar Gonzalez’s own goal on Tuesday – and in New Jersey last month.

That Costa Rica loss, especially, coming when it did, put the US in a position in which they absolutely needed an away result. As we saw so vividly, that can come back to bite teams.

earlier this month, the USMNT are plagued by a puzzling dearth of talent between the ages of 23 and 27. The reasons behind that glaring development gap are myriad – that players those ages were born before Major League Soccer came into existence, that every nation ebbs and flows with its talent production – but its impact was clear enough this campaign.

The US leaned too heavily on veterans who had clearly lost a step, like poor Tim Howard, who was so lauded for his heroics against Belgium in Brazil but has lacked his former reflexes for a while now. It has also heaped far too much responsibility onto the shoulders of 19-year-old Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic has legitimate, game-changing quality. He’s already as gifted as just about any other American soccer player, ever, and it is a great shame for football fans everywhere was that he has been robbed of a turn on the World Cup stage. Pulisic was dominant last Friday night against Panama and . He’s also young, and sometimes inconsistent, like when he struggled to establish himself in that aforementioned Costa Rica match.

Such are the dangers of leaning too heavily on players either on the back end of their careers or still growing into their prime.

To write off this collapse as merely a function of a down talent cycle is to be far nager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to get his side back firing and be better than they were last term.”I understand that we’ve only picked two points up from three games but it feels like we should have a lot more,” the former defender said.”We might have totoo lenient on the powers that be. Even without difference-makers in that age group, this team had more than enough talent to qualify. MLS, the domestic league, is as strong as it’s ever been. Pulisic plays for Borussia Dortmund, one of the biggest club teams in the world.

Blame should also be pointed squarely at Arena, at former coach Jürgen Klinsmann, who oversaw the home loss to Mexico and the 4-0 hiding in Costa Rica, as well as at federation president Sunil Gulati, who hired both of them.

This has been a trend since the first time Arena was in charge.

His 2002 squad made the deepest run of any US team in the modern era, in the World Cup quarter-finals. At the end of his second cycle in 2006, though, the team flopped, going three-and-out in Germany. Bob Bradley also guided the US to the World Cup knockout rounds a year after a stirring run to the 2009 Confederations Cup final … and was let go midway through his second cycle after the team’s form fell off.

So Klinsmann’s trajectory should’ve been easily to chart when he inked a contract extension the year before his USforward Lucas Boye on a season-long loan from Italian side Torino.The 23-year-old spent last season on loan at Greek club AEK Athens, playing in four Champions League group games.Boye has made 41 Serie A appearances for Torino and has also previously team reached the round of 16 in 2014. Instead, he stuck around long enough to dig the hole this group could not climb out of.

Any of the three fluky plays that sank the US would’ve been extraordinary on its own.

First, Gonzalez sliced an attempted clearance off the outside of his boot and into his own net, an own goal that would’ve been stylish even if he had been attempting to score. Then Honduras boinked their game-winner off the crossbar, off the back of the Mexican goalkeeper’s head and over the line. didn’t even make it that far – replays conclusively showed that Blas Perez’s shot next made it completely over the goalline – but it was credited anyway (fans hoping for a reprieve on that one may well be disappointed: it sounds like US Soccer won’t appeal. “As far as I know there is no recourse. Decisions of the referee are final,” spokesman .)

Taken together, it’s fine to acknowledge that this was a remarkable bit of ill fortune to strike in the same night.

It’s also fair to point out that the US has so much going for it relative to its peers that it never should have been so susceptible to bad luck so late in the campaign – and that this result will have repercussions for years to come.

USA World Cup winners Rapinoe and Morgan join Mata’s charity wage project

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Two members of the World Cup-winning USA women’s team of 2015 have signed up to for footballers to donate 1% of their wages to charity.

Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan have joined Manchester United’s Mata and the Bayern Munich defender to Common Goal, which supports global football initiatives for disadvantaged children.

“Myself and Alex felt it was important that women’s football was represented from the outset,” said Rapinoe, a midfielder with Seattle Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League. “We’re really looking forward to building the movement with Juan and Mats from here.”

Rapinoe and Morgan each have more than 120 caps and have played in two World Cup finals, suffering defeat by Japan in 2011 before beating the same opponents four years later. Morgan, a striker with Orlando Pride, was recently .

“As the global profile of women’s football continues to grow, players like myself and Megan will have an increasing number of opportunities to use our status for good,” Morgan said. “I’m thrilled to join Common Goal at this early stage and hope we can inspire many others to become part of the movement.”

Mata is aiming to put together an XI of professional footballers for the project, which is overseen by , a group of more than 120 local charities.

“In Europe, we’ve just experienced a record-breaking transfer window,” Hummels said. “I think some fans are starting to feel alie Ballon d’Or.The Barcelona star was this evening named the Ballon d’Or winner for 2019 – for the sixth time.Yet Bordas feels the gap with Juventus ace Cristiano Ronaldo, who has five, should be far greater.”MessDavid Silva as one of the best players he has seen.The Spaniard managed his 400th game for City, helping them to a 3-1 win at Bournemouth.The fact that Silva has maintained his excellent standards for nearly a decade at City is unbelievable to his mai should have ten Ballon d’Or [prizes]enated from the gameo win the Premier League title with Liverpool.The Swiss proved his worth to the Reds after capitalising on a rare start by scoring in Wednesday’s 5-2 win over Everton.Speaking after the game, Shaqiri said: “Obviously I am really happy. Especially aga in light of these kinds of developments. But as more players join Common Goal, we hope to show the world that football still has its heart in the right place.”

Why are foreign soccer stars buying up lower league teams in the US?

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For years, the foreign soccer star was a fleeting sight on American soil: they came, they partied, they played a few games and then … they left. Now though, they’re not just passing through on an or seeing out their careers in MLS. A new wave of stars are putting down roots by investing in America’s professional game.

But it’s not the top league – MLS – that they’re interested in. They’re throwing themselves into second-tier competitions such as the and . They’re either joining fledgling, ambitious outfits, as , or creating new clubs altogether: , while Demba Ba, Eden Hazard, Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sow recently co-founded a San Diego club .

Many American fans, to the extent that they think about the lower rungs of professional soccer at all, imagine ropey matches played in front of sparse crowds at small-college stadiums. The reality is that the experience varies widely: FC Cincinnati, for example, regularly pull in more than 20,000 fans. Still: for stars used to playing in massive stadiums to a worldwide audience, why start so small (Drogba’s Phoenix Rising play in a stadium with a capacity of 6,200)? The answer lies not only in the game’s potential in America, but also the idiosyncrasies of Stateside soccer.

For starters, MLS is a single-entity structure. It’s centrally owned and shares revenue among its teams. This business model, created from lessons learned in the aftermath of the supernova-like collapse of the Pelé and Johan Cruyff-era , has ensured the long-term health of the league. Its critics, however, say that “owning” an MLS team really means owning the rights to a team: owners essentially buy membership into the league, and agree to its terms. Likewise, every MLS player technically has a contract with the league, not with his club. For European-based players who’ve spent their lives in the system used by the rest of the world, where branding, commercialization and player transfers are the revenue-generating engines of clubs, this can all seem especially – yes – foreign.

And then there’s the cost: the franchise fee to join MLS is $150m. In addition to that, the league demands that expansion teams play in a soccer-specific stadium. In other words, to simply get a meeting with Major League Soccer requires proof you have over $100m at your disposal; the ability to build or renovate a stadium; and the full cooperation of a city government. And that’s before you put together a team of players technically owned by someone else.

Now compare that with the second-tier. For less than $10m and an agreement to rent a stadium, you’re in business. The most vivid real-world juxtaposition between MLS and the lower leagues is David Beckham’s , while across town, Italian billionaire Riccardo Silva and Paolo Maldini launched Miami FC in the NASL within one year. The club plays at Florida International University’s stadium, employs Alessandro Nesta as its coach, and recently won the league’s first-half championship in only its second season.

But it is in player acquisition and development that the differences are starkest. In transfers involving an MLS player to an outside league, the league office has a seat at the bargaining table — and it’s hard to imagine it wants its best players to leave. (this proportion rises in favor of the club if the player is “homegrown”). But of the club’s takeaway, anything beyond $650,000 must go toward team operations.

In nearly every other league around the world, player movement is one of the main drivers of revenue, since players are contracted to their team current predicament.United find themselves two points off the bottom three places in the league after a 1-0 loss away to Newcastle United.While many believe boss Ole Gunnar S Frenkie de Jong at Barcelona.The teenage defender joined Barca last summer from MVV Maastricht and has regularly been invited to train with De Jong, Lionel Messi and the rest of the first team squad.”He took me aside a little bit that (first) day anolskjaer is out of his depth at United, Neville believes the Glazers and Eds. And in America’s lower leagues, the reality is if a club sells two or three players they’ve developed, they can pay their bills for two years. And it just so happens that places like San Diego, Phoenix and Miami are not only great cities to retire for a moneyed professional athlete – Drogba is said to love life in Arizona, and has brought his family out to live with him – they’re also among the most fertile soccer regions in the country.

“You’ve got Demba Ba and looking at this and going, OK, where’s the most talent in America?” says Eric Wynalda, the TV analyst and former US international. “Well, it might be the Hispanic kids living right next to the border. OK, let’s move there.”

In fact, Ba’s San Diego team arose from an initial attempt to create a youth academy in southern California. In 2013, Alexis Gallice, the son of former France international Jean Gallice, started the French Soccer Institute in San Clemente. According to his associate, Pascal Soares, finding the money was a challenge — as was convincing local youth clubs that they wanted to work with their coaches and players, not steal them.Right call. Right tone. Right time. Kia Joorabchian had to act. The chatter was getting out of hand. It’s been humiliating. Malicious. And all designed to belittle his client, Philippe Coutinho…Someone. Maybe more than one? But there is a heavy inf Eventually the group realized that, for developing talent, a professional team was the way to go. For that, they needed stars with name recognition and money to invest.

They contacted an acquaintance, Alex Gontran, Demba Ba’s adviser. Ba in turn recruited his friends Hazard, Cabaye, Sow and Vagno Chandara, a French futsal player. , intricate network of youth clubs, and a huge hole in the city’s professional sports scene – the NFL’s Chargers recently relocated to LA – made the choice simple. Soares put Ba’s group in touch with local entrepreneur Bob Watkins, who has been involved with developing rugby in the US but was unfamiliar with soccer. He quickly saw an opportunity.

“The day I met Demba, I took them out to a soccer complex [nearby] in Del Mar,” Watkins said. “We pulled up to the field unannounced, and as we walked across the fields there were about 1,000 children playing soccer in ages from 10 to 15. As we walked closer, they all stopped playing soccer and they said, ‘That’s Demba Ba!’ They ran over and basically smothered him, while the coaches were saying, ‘Hey, you gotta go back and play!’ and the referees were blowing their whistles, and parents were saying, ‘Who is this guy?’ I said to myself, ‘There’s something magical about this.’”

After learning about the entrepreneurial limitations of MLS, Watkins said his group agreed that NASL was a better fit for their ambitions. That league, though, . Several clubs left, the league parted ways with the troubled Traffic Sports and reorganized as an owner-run operation. It currently has eight teams, with at least two (San Diego, Orange County, and possibly more to come) scheduled to start next year. The league needs to get back up to 12 teams, and be in three time zones, to have waivers removed by US Soccer that officially recognize NASL as the nation’s second-tier league. From this perspective, it’s hardly a safe investment. Ronaldo certainly couldn’t save the troubled Fort Lauderdale Strikers .

“It was an entrepreneurial risk,” Watkins said of his San Diego project. “And Demba is a very entrepreneurial fellow.” He says Ba and his group saw an untapped market: Americans are good athletes for the most part, and soccer in the US is becoming more organized. What could they accomplish if they applied the French approach to player development to the US?

While Drogba’s and Maldini’s shares of their clubs aren’t public, sources speculate that their ownership stakes are more symbolic than material – the value they bring is in their technical expertise and marketability. But according to Watkins, Ba is actually the lead investor in the San Diego team. He owns the mandated 35% minimum for a lead owner, and Ba and together, the players are majority owners of the team.

But of all the ways for an athlete to spend their wealth, why put it into soccer? Peter Wilt is a longtime soccer executive who’s currently managing director of Club 9 Sports, an investment bank and advisory organization who assisted Ba’s group with its application. He says that investing in second-tier soccer is a long-term strategy.

“There’s opportunity, whether it’s as a business or a challenge,” Wilt says. “They recognize that pro soccer in the US is not a mature industry yet, and there’s an opportunity to invest in it at a relatively low level and build it. To a certain extent, MLS is becoming a mature property, but when you look at lower division soccer in America, there’s tremendous room for growth. And I think these guys recognize that.”

So will any of these player-owned, lower-tier clubs make the leap to MLS, as many of the league’s clubs, such as Minnesota, Orlando, Portland and Vancouver did? That’s exactly what Drogba’s Phoenix side are aiming to do. MLS has visited with the team, and Phoenix is now a fixture on the shortlist of rumored expansion teams. Silva has said elsewhere that he’d consider MLS for his Miami club if the league would change some of its rules.

At the very heart of it though, owning your own soccer team is for enjoyment. Be honest: every fan has dreamed about it at some point. “To these players, the idea of owning a football club just sounds fun,” Wynalda says. “We all chip in a little bit, and we have our own team. We play games. We find talent. We create a culture. And it’s ours. It’s our club. You can’t really say that if you go the MLS route. It’s a franchise that’s part of a bigger plan, but it’s not yours, really.

“Even if you’re not part of the big show, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a show.”

Serena Williams confirms pregnancy and expects her first child ‘this fall’

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is pregnant with her first child, her spokesperson has confirmed.

The tennis star hinted at the good news when she posted a photo of herself on ain coach Robert Moreno hailed Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga after victory over Romania.For the fourth successive international match, Kepa Arrizabalaga was selected over David de Gea as the starting goalkeeper and Robert Moreno has explained Snapchat wearing a swimsuit and revealing what appeared to be a large baby bump with the caption “20 weeks” on Wednesday. The snap was deleted less than a half hour later.

top-four after beating Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday.The Red Devils moved up to fifth with the 2-1 victory, taking them five points behind Chelsea.”The top four is in sight but we need to look after our own results and keep trying to get

However, Williams’ team confirmed the implications of the photo later in the day.

“I’m happy to confirm Serena is expecting a baby this fall,” a spokesperson for Williams told the Guardian by email.

The Women’s Association, which listed Williams as scheduled to enter next month’s Madrid Open as recently as Monday, said they had yet to be contacted by anyone from the American’s team regarding her status.

“We have not been informed, nor do we have confirmation,” a tour spokesperson told the Guardian. “We will let you know once we have further information.”

Williams, 35, to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in December. The announcement left the sport’s chattering class wondering to what degree she was looking ahead to life after tennis.

She answered that speculation with brio at the Australian Open, capturing her 23rd major singles title without dropping a set, to eclipse Steffi Graf’s record for grand slam titles in the Open era and regain the No1 rankingteta does not need his help.The Spaniard left Guardiola and his job as City’s assistant coach to join Arsenal as their manager midway through the season.As the two sides prepared to meet on Wednesday, with the match since cancelled due to coronavirus she had ceded in the fall to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

But she has been inactive since her win over elder sister Venus in the final at Melbourne Park. Last month, Williams pulled out of Indian Wells and Miami, citing a left knee injury. That enabled Kerber to retake the top ranking, though Serena is assured a return to No1 in next week’s table when the points from last year’s Porsche Grand Prix drop off.

The announcement comes one week after Victoria Azarenka, the former world No1 and two-time grand slam champion, announced she will return to the tour after 14-month layoff that included the birth of her son, Leo, in December.

Williams’ win at Melbourne Park made her the oldest player to win a major singles championship in the Open era, breaking a record she set herself last year – and again the year before that. She has won grand slam titles in her teens (one), 20s (12) and 30s (10, more than triple the previous mark). No one could think less of Williams, now closer to 40 than 30, if she called it a career.

But there’s equal if not more reason to believe Williams has unfinished business.

She remains tantalizingly close to the all-time grand slam record held by Australia’s Margaret Court, whose 24 major titles were split between the amateur and professional eras. She still plays at an extraordinary high level, having won 125 of her 138 singles matches since Wimbledon 2014. And while there are no shortage of young lions on the tour, among them Garbiñe Muguruza, Karolína Plíšková and Madison Keys, none has offered a sustained challenge of Williams’ dominance the way Monica Seles swiftly ended Graf’s stranglehold on the sport.

Nor would Williams be the first mother to excel on the tour.

Kim Clijsters was already a borderline Hall of Famer when she retired abruptly at 23, having won the 2005 US Open and spent 19 weeks atop the women’s rankings. But the Belgian was even better after a 28-month layoff that included the birth of her daughter, winning once more at Flushing Meadows as an unseeded wild card in only her third tournament back. That made her the first mother to win a major singles title since Evonne Goolagong Cawley at Wimbledon in 1980, setting the stage for a final act that included two more grand slam titles and a return to the No1 ranking.

Sergio García shines at Masters to raise hopes of end to major drought

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If the weight of experience lurking with intent did not pose such a threat, this Masters could be characterised as a weekend chase for major number one.

Charley Hoffman, , Thomas Pieters and Rickie Fowler head the event at half way on four under par. At differing ages, positions in world ranking and career victory levels, their combined major haul? Zero. Hoffman is the surprise package, Pieters the surly young pretender, García the routine bridesmaid and Fowler the form horse. Cases can be made for each of them but, crucially, for another 25 competitors, too.

The cavalry in pursuit includes Phil Mickelson, Jordan Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose and Adam Scott. Ths always confident the Barcelona starlet would make it.Fati made his debut at 16 for Sunday’s 5-2 defeat of Real Betis.Luis Pérez Mena, the director of the Seville-based Escuela de FútbolPeloteros, coached Fati as a junior and told Efe: “I’ve been e leaders are not likely to enter relaxation mode.

García’s case, in his 71st consecutive major, is without question the most fascinating. The late, great Seve Ballesteros, who lit up Augusta National when claiming two Green Jackets and triggering a European stampede on the Masters, should be celebrating his 60th birthday on Sunday. If García, forever linked to Ballesteros not only on grounds of Spanish nationality but the level of mesmerising talent as demonstrated from his youth, were to prevail here, one of the great golf storylines of our time would have unfolded. does have a habit of throwing them up.

García returned a terrific run, of 21 opening tournament holes without dropping a shot. On Friday he birdied Augusta’s first three for the first time. At the 12th he conjured up a bunker shot from a plugged lie that he considered “hands down, the best of my career”. So far, so good.

One must, nonetheless, give strong consideration to an alternative outcome, the sort García has become ominously accustomed to. García has never made much secret of his indifference towards Augusta National as a venue despite, it must be stressed, always insisting he tries his best to win here. Essentially García believes the Augusta set-up means even good shots are occasionally not properly rewarded.

Matters seemed to be conspiring against him on Friday as a scoreboard error meant he was awarded a seven rather than the five he did produce at the 10th. “The most important thing is I knew where I stood,” he said. “I knew I wasn’t one under for the tournament, I knew I was three.

“Shane Lowry hit two balls to the left and we were looking for one, we couldn’t find it, we found the second one. We are all dressed light coloured pants and blue sweater, so I can see why they might have made the mistake. But it was fine.”

The number was duly amended, Garcia later signing for 69. It should have been better but for a lame birdie attempt from all of 4ft on the 18th.

Further bad news arrives for García from a key statistic. His third-round scoring average at the Masters is the worst of anyone in three decades, at close to 75. Perhaps if he can get through Saturday, when conditions are predicted to be far more favourable than days one and two, even García himself will take his Augusta challenge seriously. Part of the intrigue around the 37-year-old is that, for one so gifted, he never appears fully confident in his own ability.

“In a lot of these shots there’s such a thin line between a good shot being next to the hole and a good shot being 40 feet away and then having a very difficult two putt,” García explained. “You try to not think about those and try to be as positive as possible.

“Things are happening at the moment. I want to make sure that I keep riding that wave and go out there tomorrow and be positive, be like I’ve been the first two days.”

There is a parallel for García to dratheir clash with Villarreal.The Croatian has started just once this season — at Granada — and has now been replaced by Carles Aleña. “Every week I am asked about those not called up,” the coach said. “If Rakitic is not [in the squad], it’s becausew on. Danny Willett, last year’s Masters champion, had claimed the Dubai Desert Classic two months earlier. It was García who lifted that trophy in the Middle East a matter of weeks ago. García is not carrying the Spanish flag alone. Jon Rahm’s outstanding 2017 shows no sign of slowing down, the rookie signing for a 70 to sit at one under par.

McIlroy was the victim of dreadful misfortune on the closing hole. An apparently perfect approach shot from 140 yards r Milan are ready to slap in a bid for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen.Off contract in June, the Dane has refused to consider new terms proposed by Spurs and is ready to leave the Londoners.PSG have been in contact, however Corriere dello Sporhit the pin, causing the ball to bound back down the fairway. McIlroy could understandably barely conceal his rage at making a bogey from there, meaning a 73 and plus one aggregate.

The Northern Irishman has not fully kicked into gear, a fact that should give him confidence given a position within touching distance of the lead with half of the Masters to play.

McIlroy has his mind set on a big Saturday move. “I’m a little disappointed with what happened at the last but these things happen and, if I can get off to a fast start tomorrow, a couple under through three, I’ll be right there,” he said.

“There are still 36 more holes left to go, a long way in this tournament. I know what can happen, good and bad, around this golf course.”

Willett was among those to encounter the negative, with a defence that ended on Friday at plus seven. A quadruple eight on the 1st fatally impacted on his cause.

A year ago Ian Woosnam insisted his Masters playing days were over on what marked the 25th anniversary of his victoryhere.

The Welshman, now 59, duly returned for 36 holes, his Friday 78 meaning a missed cut at 10 over par. “My wife made me come back,” Woosnam said. But will he – or she – do so again? “I haven’t ruled it out.” Wonderfully confusing.

USA’s Kayla Harrison wins second straight Olympic judo gold

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This time was nothing like 2012. But nothing would ever be like 2012. For on that July day in London when Kayla Harrison went from unknown to American judo sensation, everything exploded inside her: the sexual abuse from of a previous coach, the years of fighting to prove herself strong and the realization that she was the first US woman to win a judo gold. She ran. She jumped. She screamed. She cried. Rare has been the Olympian who celebrated the way Kayla Harrison celebrated when she got her first gold medal.

On Wednesday she still ran and jumped and screamed. Just not as much. Instead, she stood on the medal stand and sang the Star Spangled Banner. The women beside her must have heard. Half the arena might have heard. But she has long shed any sense of shame. The anthem was playing, she wanted to sing, what elloway has hit out at criticism of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Holloway thinks that any criticism of the United boss has ‘unbelievably harsh’.He told the TheSackRace: “I’m a bit sick and fed up of it to be honest. He’s earned his slse would you expect from a friend of Ronda Rousey, who might soon join her in the UFC?

“I’m a woman of many talents and singing is one of them,” she said. “You should have seen me dancing.”

Harrison is the kind of story every parent of every girl should want to tell their daughters. Like Rousey the UFC star who won a bronze in the 2008 Beijing Games, she is a survivor, a fighter and a woman who refuses to believe gender defines anyone in a combat sport. Before London she repeatedly told the story of how a former coach, Daniel Doyle, sexually abused her and how she finally reported the abuse and moved away to Boston where the famed judo father and son team of James and Jimmy Pedro built her into an Olympian. After London she became an essential voice on sexualalks with Carlo Ancelotti to become their new manager.The Italian was sacked by Napoli just an hour after he helped the club advance to the Champions League knockout stages.Ancelotti was with the Serie A club for 19 months.Sky Sports says Arsenal are abuse, starting a foundation for victims that she called “Fearless”.

Her fights on Wednesday in the 78kg division were indeed fearless. Her Olympicond half of the Club World Cup final against Flamengo.Before victory was secured in extra-time, the midfielder appeared to suffer an ankle injury in a tackle and was on visible distress on the turf.A stretcher was brought on and it looked as if Oxlacs was fearless. Her closest fight was the gold medal match when she forced France’s Audrey Tcheuméo to tap out with only three seconds left. She ran off the mat and leaped into Jimmy Pedro’s arms. She tried to jump into the stands. She draped herself in an American flag and she threw back her head and screamed.

When she finally stopped she said the last four years since London had been “the hardest of my life”. There had been the pressure to repeat, the demands she appear at every judo tournament everywhere and push and struggle to maintain her elite status. There, too, was the aching left knee that turned out to be a ligament issue and required a reconstruction in 2013. Nothing was easy. Everything hurt. Many times she wanted to stop. “I didn’t think she would come back from that,” Pedro said. And yet she did.

“When I showed up today I knew I had worked harder than everybody and no one was going to take that away from me,” she said.

Then came the UFC questions. Harrison gets these almost daily now. Given the way Rousey has gone from a judo bronze to superstardom, the natural assumption is that Harrison will too. Back in March she told the Guardian she had two post-judo career choices She did not say what the other was then, though she has talked in the past about wanting to be a firefighter. She was uncharacteristically vague about a UFC future on Wednesday, saying she wanted to enjoy her second gold medal for a few days before deciding on her next pursuit. Whatever that is, it won’t be judo. “I’m retired,” she said.

She may have to decide if she likes hitting people or being hit. Many non-boxers cannot adjust to this aspect of MMA fighting. She has said in the past that this is something she was still getting used to during her few ventures into the sport.

But all of that is for another day. The UFC can wait.

“I’m sure they were watching today,” she said. “If they weren’t, they were missing out.”

Someone asked about the “Fearless” shirt some family members wore in the stands on Wednesday. She smiled and she said this was a constant reminder for not only herself but the children who who are helped by her foundation. The words is more than just a collection of letters, she said, it’s a mindset, a belief, a beacon.

“I want these boys and girls to feel fearless and to know there is a light at the end of the tunnel and a gold medal too,” she said.

“And maybe two gold medals.”

Then she laughed again.

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.”

Deflategate: Tom Brady’s four-game suspension upheld by NFL

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Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension over the Deflategate scandal has been upheld, and the Super Bowl champions will be without their best player for a quarter of the regular season.

The league said in a statement Tuesday that “Brady wre beaten 3-1 by AFC Bournemouth thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, Callum Wilson and a Pascal Gross own-goal, and the Australian says it is vital the team uses this break in action to learn where they can improve.He said, “It was disappointing becas aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules,” based on evidence presented at an appeal hearing and the 243-page report compiled jointly by executive vice-president Jeff Pash and prominent attorney Ted Wells.

NFL commissioner , who heard the appeal, cited “important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing” that had previously been withheld.

The league confirmed that Brady “directed the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed” on the day of his 6 March meeting with Wells and his colleagues, adding the destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until 18 June, or nearly four months after the electronic information (including nearly 10,000 text messages) had been initially requested.

“The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relvant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs,” the league said.

The NFL’s report into the Deflategate scandal, , had found “it is more probable than not” that at least two Patriots employees improperly deflated footballs in the team’s over the Indianapolis Colts and that Brady was “at least generally aware” of the wrongdoing.

That led to a four-game suspension for Bradinsists he’s happy to stay with Manchester City next season.Despite there being just over a year to run on his current deal, the midfielder says he wants to stay”Personally, I do not set a deadline for day X or Y, I’m relaxed as I still have a year. y and a $1m fine for the Patriots. The team was also stripped of two draft picks.

It’s now expected that Brady will challenge the as and they have been unsuccessful in their search thus far.Names such as Chris Hughton and Lee Bowyer are being linked to the club.According to Sky Sports, West Brom want Northern Ireland boss O’Neill to take the job.He has already met with the club’ppeal in federal court. An NFL Players Association source that Brady’s argument for a reversal would center on five points:

The league’s policy for ball inflation pertains to club personnel and not players and thus doesn’t apply to Brady.The Wells Report’s finding that Brady was “at least generally aware” of the wrongdoing is an insufficient legal standard.If it’s determined the league’s policy for ball inflation did apply to Brady, he was issued a punishment without precedent, which is illegal under the collective bargaining agreement.The NFL will argue the punishment was arbitrary citing the example of the Minnesota Vikings, who last year received a letter from the league and no further reprimand after being caught playing balls in a dryer.The NFL doesn’t have proper techniques and standards for measuring the inflation and deflation of footballs.

While the Patriots accepted their punishment, Brady chose to contest his suspension with the backing of the NFLPA.

Boston’s $63m splash on Yoan Moncada exposes flaw in system: the MLB draft

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Thirty-one and a half million dollars for a 19-year-old infield prospect.

Sixty-three million dollars, when you count the hit the Boston Red Sox had to take in luxury tax payments to sign Cuban super-prospect Yoan Moncada away from his other major-league suitors in the , the Los Angeles Angels, the Brewers (well, sort of; Milwaukee made a valiant “We Tried” offer of a “mere” $12-15m) and elsewhere. New York were involved in talks with Moncada and his representation up until the last minute, but in the end the Yankees were unwilling to go over $27m in bonus money for a kid who will start the season in the low minors.

How ridiculous, right? Especially when, as Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Drew Smyly : “It’s not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that. Everyone should have to go through same process”

Sure. It’s ridiculous. But not for the reasons most people, Smyly included, seem to think it is.

The international free agent status accorded to young Cuban players like Moncada who have defected to the United States (or more specifically, established residency ithe departure of Real Betis coach Quique Setien.The defender says the decision was “unfair”.Firpo told Marca: “I think maybe it was a little unfair when you consider what he achieved in two years at Betis; he did things that haven’t been seen for a ln another Latin American country then been admitted to the United States by OFAC, the Office of Foreign Assets Control) is not true free agency – Moncada’s money is entirely received in bonus form instead of a full major league contract, and he will be subject to the same service time and arbitration rules as any other player entering professional baseball from “amateur” play. He is, however, accorded the most important part of what “free agency” implies: the ability to choose, for himself, to whom he will bend his labor – in this case, playing baseball, which is very lucrative labor indeed, and not only for Moncada but all the people who profit off of actual baseball games being played: coaches, executives, and eventually and most importantly, team owners.

When Smyly points out that Moncada’s bonus is six times (really, more than six times) what a 19-year-old American-born phenom would get in the draft, he’s completely correct. But that’s not an indictment of the free agency system that allowed Moncada to get the highest amount of money that the market for his services will bear. That’s an indictment of a draft system that has always been a tool to drive down the cost of labor: the amount of money being paid to actual baseball players.

Everyone is familiar, surely, with how the league following Curt Flood, the death of the reserve clause, and then Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally’s decision to play without contracts in 1976 and thereby become free agents. It’s taken a while, but Major League Baseball has realized it just has to live with paying veteran players what the market allows for their services – which is a lot of money, given the popularity of the game they play and the insane profitability to be had from owning and running a professional sports franchise in America. And so, eventually, as salaries soared in the late 1990s thanks to attendant soaring revenues, the eyes of management shifted away from stimying veteran paychecks – and the cult of the prospect began.

Originally, it was just teams like the Oakland Athletics, Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers spending relatively vast sums of money in the draft or on young international players in lieu of spending even larger sums on veteran free agents. Then the teams with the most money – the Yankees, the Red Sox, now even the Chicago Cubs – realized that they could do both. And suddenly teams like the Atlanta Braves, and then-team president John Schuerholz, realized that they were at a significant competitive disadvantage … and that players were getting too much of the pie. Because let’s be honest: as far as maffield United boss Chris Wilder is holding back goalkeeper Michael Verrips.Voetbalnieuws says the Blades are choosing not to name the 22-year-old in their matchday squads because they are worried it could lead to an automatic forfeit of a game they anagement is concerned – not just in Atlanta, but in Tampa Bay and Chicago and Boston and New York and everywhere else – labor is always getting too much of the pie.

So in the most recent renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement – the document that controls the relationship between the league and the MLB Players Association – the league and the union made a deal: they instituted caps on draft bonuses. Now each pick in the draft had a monetary value stapled to it, and teams that spent more than the combined value of all their picks had severe penalties assessed; some penalties were monetary, while other, more severe penalties could lead to the forfeiture of picks in future drafts. The union happily allowed this – after all, draft picks aren’t card-carrying members of the MLBPA. They’re minor leaguers. They might eventually become MLBPA members, but until the day they’re placed on a 40-man roster, they’re ; they just got a larger signing bonus up front. Well, some of them did, anyway.

That’s the system some people want to bring to young international talent like Moncada. Now that their grip on the domestic market is secure, the league is eyeing the internatCelso wants to taste the ‘magic of the FA Cup’ as attentions turn to today’s fourth round tie at Southampton.“We know how important this cup is and we’ll give our best to advance,” he said. “We know that it’s a competition that has a lot of prestional markets, and the possibility of extending its control there, too – dismantling the concept of international free agency for everyone but players coming out of the Asian professional leagues. MLB has already instituted bonus capping for this group of players in general – but it obviously wasn’t enough, as Boston paying a $31.5m penalty for signing Moncada shows. And so in the wake of Moncada’s payday, : isn’t this unfair? How could this kid deserve this much money? Wouldn’t it be better if we just had an international draft?

To which I respond: wouldn’t it be better if we had no draft at all? This country claims, after all, to be all about free markets. And the reason that Moncada’s bonus is so high is because, if you’ll recall your basic economics, he’s the sole current provider of a service that’s in high demand. Were he forced to compete in the marketplace against all 1,215 players selected in last year’s draft – or even just the top 50 high-school seniors in the country, to be more realistic given his talent – not only would his bonus be lower, but those kids would be getting paid more.

After all, to paraphrase Drew Smyly, what’s less fair: Yoan Moncada getting paid $31.5m by an industry that took in over $9bn in revenue in 2014 alone? Or some kid from Oklahoma with the same amount of talent maybe getting one-sixth of that?

Abolish the draft.

Sergey Kovalev too powerful for Bernard Hopkins in title fight

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Never in an unparalleled 26-year career had Bernard Hopkins been on the losing end of a definitive beatdown. Until Saturday night.

Time didn’t catch up with the 49-year-old Hopkins, who lost every minute of a light heavyweight title unification fight with Sergey Kovalev at Boardwalk Hall. The north Philadelphian’s skills and reflexes are still intact. Instead, it was a stronger, primer fighter who appears poised to dominate the division for years to come.

Kovalev dropped Hopkins in the opening round and outboxed him comprehensively in the middle stages before hurting him badly in the final round. When the bell sounded with Hopkins in full retreat, the judges’ scorecards were merely a formality. All three gave the fight to Kovalev, who unified three of the major 175lbs titles and redoubled his reputation as one of boxing’s most formidable seek-and-destroy punchers.

Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KOs), who turns 50 on 15 January, entered with the WBA and IBF versions of the 175lbs championship, which made him the oldest champion in boxing history. No longer.

“He was a really tough opponent.” said Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), who added Hopkins’s titles to his WBO belt. “He is very good at keeping distance. I really respect him for the fight, but he needs to stop his career, because he’s already done a lot in the boxing world and he needs to give an opportunity to younger fighters to be champions. I’m next.”

Saturday marked Hopkins’ eighth consecutive fight against an opponent born in the 1980s, but none of those foils were considered as dangerous as Kovalev, a heavy-handed Russian who had never been defeated, scored all but two of his victories by knockout and literally less than three years ago.

The 31-year-old’s power was beyond dispute – the oddsmakers had installed him as a 3-1 favourite – but some believed he was too linear and plodding to solve the slippery defence of the man formerly known as “The Executioner” and now known as “The Alien.”

Yet Kovalev, improbably, managed to outbox a master boxer. “He used his reach and his distance and that was the key to the victory,” Hopkins said. “He has very good mechanics and patience.”

A cautious opening round for both fighters rapidly gave way to a flashpoint of action when Kovalev connected with a right hand to the temple that sent Hopkins to the canvas for the fifth time in his career. He was up quickly, but absorbed another punishing right hand shortly after that made him hesitant to open up.

Early on, Hopkins succeeded in using deft footwork and veteran wile to make Kovalev appear less than his best, no small task against a knockout machine whose previous 13 fights had ended inside the distance. Yet after two rounds, he had landed only six punches.

By the fourth, Hopkins was in survival mode, moving laterally on the ropes and slipping punches in the corner but offering little in return.

As the rounds wore on, it became clear Kovalev was too much for Hopkins. No amount of smoke and mirrors could solve his opponent’s relentless advance. Occasionally, the Philadelphian scored with a slick counter or shrewd lead, but the moments of success proved too sparse.

Kovalev had never been taken past the eighth round in 26 pro fights. These were the rounds Hopkins had been waiting for — the opportunity to drag his opponent into deep waters aafter defeat at Brighton.Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have all been linked with moves away in the summer but none of those outgoings came to fruition, leaving their Spurs careers in limbo.Jenas said: “I love Mauricio and rend test his conditioning — yet he was no closer to solving Kovalev in the final act than in the first.

Not content to sit back in the final round despite a wide lead on the scorecards, Kovalev instead went for the knockout. Both fighters exchanged fire with the crowd of 8,545 on its feet, yet it was Hopkins — appearing truly vulnerable for the first time in 66 pro fights — who caromed off the ropes in wait of the final bell. Never in six previous losses had Hopkins, a stingy dictator of pace even in defeat, been in serious trouble. Not so Saturday night.

Kovalev landed 38 punches in the final round, the most in a single round against Hopkins in 41 fights tracked by CompuBox. The future Hall of Famer finished on his feet. Barely. Another 15 seconds might have demanded the referee’s intervenAmazon’s December 2019 debut as a domestic broadcast partner for the Premier League peaked with an audience of approximately two million viewers for the Merseyside derby between Liverpool and Everton, according to online media outlet Digiday, reports, /.The figure is comparable to the audience on pay-TV broadcaster Sky Sports when the two clubs last played each other in March.tion.

“Tonight he was the better man,” said Hopkins, who landed 65 of 195 punches (33%), compared to 166 of 585 for Kovalev (28%). “Cut and dry.”

For Kovalev, a unification bout with the WBC champion Adonis Stevenson makes sense, though it’s doubtful the Canadian will be in a hurry to make that fight after watching Sez.The Sun says the Gunners have reportedly joined Inter Milan in the race for £25million-rated Perez .Napoli are also thought to be chasing the Spanish forward, 25, after netting a career best 12 Premier League goals this term.Arsenal boss Unai Emeaturday’s dominating performance against one of the finest technical boxers of his generation.

When pressed on his future, Hopkins – less than 10 weeks from – was glib. “Asking me to fight again right now,” he said, “is like asking a woman who was just in nine hours of labor to have another baby.”

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As expected, starting pitcher (triceps) was Tuesday to start against the Giants. Johnson was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and .267 opponents’ batting average in three rehab starts (Class A and Double-A).

More News 09/16/2015 • by Marty Gitlin 09/06/2015 • by Sean D’Oliveira n their upcoming Champions League clash.The Blues are facing off against Lille in the second game of the group stages.And they know that it is crucial for them to get a win, given they lost theier Matthew Upson insists Carlo Ancelotti would be entering new territory at the Emirates, despite his extensive resume.The Italian is reportedly holding talks with both Arsenal and Everton after he was sacked by Napoli this week.Ancelotti has won titr first game at home to Valencia.Two defeats would put t 09/04/2015 • by Sean D’Oliveira 09/04/2015 • by Marty Gitlin 09/01/2015 • by Sean D’Oliveira mer Barcelona and PSG fullback Alves’ signing presentation was held yesterday by Sao Paulo and he was asked about their deal for ex-Atletico Madrid fullback Juanfran.Alves said, “I placed myself at his disposal to help him, he is a person who is chan 07/26/2015 • by Sean D’Oliveira