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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.”

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.

Ben Ryan on life after Rio: ‘Base Fiji team in Cornwall – they would love it there’

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There are still some flat earthers out there who think rugby at the Olympics is no big deal. That sevens players are just failed XVs merchants, that there is nothing for the abbreviated game to teach its big brother. They should spend a lunchtime hearing about the assorted offers Ben Ryan has received since his fabulous Fiji squad won their nation’s in Rio.

This week Ryan is in the United States offering consultancy advice to one of their highest-profile basketball sides. If there is a mutual attraction there is the potential of a permanent arrangement. Every self-respecting sevens team in the world has enquired about his availability. Rumour has it that Japan were ready to shower him with yen, with even New Zealanders speculating as to whether he should take over from Sir Gordon Tietjens.

En route back home to Brentford he stopped briefly in the US and encountered complete strangers in Austin and New York who insisted on buying him drinks. They had watched the Olympics on TV and wanted to say thank you to the ginger guru with the glasses. In addition to being honour and three acres of land, the island nation is also introducing a special seven dollar bill with his face on it. There is continuing interest being shown in the US and China in turning the extraordinary Fijian rags-to-riches story into a film. A Bob Marley-inspired remix – – is already out there.

Not bad for a 45-year-old former Newbury director of rugby who was let go from the Rugby Football Union in 2013 after a difference of opinion with the then elite rugby director Rob Andrew. So, as we sit in the hotel bar directly adjoining the RFU offices at Twickenham, how many offers has he had from Premiership clubs to sprinkle a little bit of South Sea stardust on their northern hemisphere skillsets? The answer is one tentative approach from a lower-ranked side seeking an attack coach, subsequently withdrawn because of budgetary constraints. Amid the debate about developing home-grown English coaches, the risk-averse instincts of their employers remains a major hurdle.

There has in fairness been interest from Pro12 teams and the possibility of assistant coach roles with a couple of Super Rugby franchises but Ryan, who has long wanted to return to XVs coaching in some capacity, is clearly wavering. Helping basketball to instil a rugby-style culture would be lucrative and professionally stimulating. “I might know nothing about basketball but I’m looking at relationships; whether they’re overcomplicating things. To be successful you have to play the long game, have good standards and stick with them.”

If the British and Irish Lions need an innovative skills coach next summer with a track record of beating New Zealand, they should look no further. Assuming, that is, the multifaceted Ryan is still available. What a waste it would be if one of England’s brighter coaches were to be lost to another sport at the peak of his powers.

The oenitez has opened the door to future return to Newcastle United.The Spaniard still sees a future for himself in English football.He said: “I expect to do well with Dalian Yifang and after that to come back to the UK.”I don’t know when. But you are alnly consolation is he would love to coach at another Olympics: “I’d like to give XVs a crack and I think I’m a better XVs coach but going to an was amazing. To know you can go to future Olympics is definitely a pull because it’s just another level. Having had success there shows you how global the Olympics is and how small rugby is by comparison.”

Whatever he does next, Ryan can sense the entire sport changing. Sevens may not transform the world but, as with Twenty20 cricket and Test matches, it has the potential to reshape the rugby landscape. “In 2023, if the guardians of the game are doing the right thing, the ball will be in play longer. The sport will be more athletic and it’ll mean you need multipositional players.” It is Ryan’s firm belief, for example, that Tom Mitchell and Dan Bibby, the playmaking energisers of GB’s sevens side, could play in any Super Rugby midfield; most Premiership XVs coaches would declare them too small. “The clubs look at sevens here and think: ‘We’ll send someone if they’re not very good or struggling to make it.’ That’s not the case in New Zealand, Australia, South Africa or Fiji. If it’s for inferior players why do people like Sonny Bill Williams struggle in sevens?”

There is much, much more. Ryan fears for the future of Fiji 15-a-side rugby if urgent measures are not taken by World Rugby to stem the exodus of players to foreign leagues and international squads. He believes there should be a Pacific Islands franchise in Super Rugby, as there now is for Argentina, to develop players, coaches and administrators alike. “Ask the players and the coaches if they would like a Pacific Islands franchise and they would say: ‘Yeah.’ But Super Rugby have been paying lip service to that idea for 20 years and it’s never happened. It needs World Rugby to say: ‘You’ve got to do this’ because that would be a game-changer. For the good of the game you don’t want Fiji getting worse at 15s and better at sevens. If Eddie Jones had 95% of his team not playing in England and he only had them once in a blue moon they wouldn’t be top of the tree. There’s no way.”

Alternatively, Ryan has an even more radical plan, albeit with some logistical hurdles. “If a Super Rugby franchise can’t happen, then transplanting a side into a domestic league in Europe – the Pro12 or the Premiership – would be the second option. Take a team of Fijian players, base them in Kent or Cornwall, and they would go. Look at somewhere like Cornwall. There isn’t a Premiership team and the islanders would love it there.”

So, reckons Ryan, would neutrals worldwide if rugby’s answer to the Harlem Globetrotters played together week in week out. “That’s how I explain it to Americans. It’s like the Harlem Globetors.PSG star Edinson Cavani has recently revealed that one of his dreams is to score a goal for Boca at La Bombonera like former Uruguayan striker Sergio Martinez.”Between River and Boca, I’m going for Boca,” Modric said on Un Metro Adelantado.”I prerotters but they’re in the NBA, winning games. It would be so exciting for the world game.”

Ryan has come a long way in every sense since his first meeting . If he is lured to basketball for a year or two and earns a truckload of dollars it could not happen to a nicer bloke. It would be even nicer to think that, one day, English rugby will wake up to the far-sighted coach right under its own nose.

Time to trust Slade as England No12?

England in Brighton, Eddie Jones’s seaside home from home. Short of relocating everyone back to Coogee Oval in Sydney’s eastern suburbs it is as close as you can get in the UK to the beachfront vibe he used to enjoy in his Randwick days. When it comes to identifying players at openside and inside-centre, however, recreating the grand old days of Wallaby plenty seems to be trickier. For whatever reason, Jones does not seem to be able to find many attack-minded English-reared 7s and 12s who fit his exacting criteria to play Test rugby in those positions. If Owen Farrell remains unavailable along with Manu Tuilagi, for example, will he trust Exeter’s Henry Slade at 12 or plump for the harder-running former league man Ben Te’o, regardless of the fact the latter has barely played this season following a concussion against Gloucester? A midfield of George Ford, Slade and either Jonathan Joseph or Elliot Daly would certainly cover plenty of creative bases, particularly with a powerful winger like Semesa Rokoduguni in the mix. Either way this is the autumn to take a closer look at England’s attacking options as opposed to playing safe.

All Blacks break the mould

People are talking about the All Blacks’ reserve XV being the second best te Napoli right back Elseid Hysaj.Spurs are reeling from the news that Juan Foyth will be out with an injury for several weeks.It leaves them short of defensive numbers, given the sale of Kieran Trippier earlier in the summer.Sky Sportssays a deal for am in the world. They may be right. What is beyond dispute is New Zealand, as the best sides do, are challenging the game’s supposed orthodoxies. When Argentina kicked off deep with 15 seconds left in the first half of Saturday’s 36-17 Test defeat in Buenos Aries, most teams would have caught the restart, taken the ball into contact and then booted it into Row Z to bring the first 40 minutes to a routine close.

Instead the All Blacks launched a thrilling attack from their own 22 that ended with a wonderful try for TJ Perenara. The sequence should be compulsory viewing for every age-group coach and player, not to mention a few Premiership ones.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But he was hooked.

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

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

And look who’s laughing now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief guide to … the complex rivalries of Midlands football

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With the Guardian’s unstoppable rise to global dominance** we at Guardian US thought we’d run a series of articles for fans wishing to improve their knowledge of the sports history and storylines, hopefully in a way that doesn’t patronise you to within an inch of your life. A warning: If you’re the kind of person that finds The Blizzard too populist this may not be the series for you.

** Actual dominance may not be global. Or dominant

Like the Oscar Peterson Trio, we get requests. And here’s reader Grant Tennille of North Carolina with another cutting-edge musical reference sure to go down a storm with the pop pickers of the internet age. “It would be fun to read about the Midlands, and all the rivalries within. I mean, everyone in the USA knows Robert Plant is a massive Wolves fan, but beyond that …”

Let’s start by splitting the region down the middle. To make it simple, we’re dividing the Midlands into two halves, based on the UK government’s . So we know Stoke isn’t really in the West Midlands but just for today we’ll go with .

The big clubs in the East Midlands are two-time European Cup winners Nottingham Forest, 1970s league sensations Derby County, and current Premier League leaders Leicester City. Also in the region: Notts County, the oldest professional club in the world and the team whose black-and-white-striped shirts inspired Juventus; Chesterfield, as a third-tier team, had there been goal-line technology back then; Northampton Town, who in the 1960s went from the lowest to highest divisions of the time, Fourth to First, and all the way back down again; and Mansfield Town, who don’t care for nearby Chesterfield much but keep themselves to themselves.

Nottingham Forest’s biggest rivalry should by rights be with Notts County, situated a stone’s throw away in the city, across the River Trent. But the pair rarely play in the same division, so most of the opprobrium is saved for . Forest and Derby contest the East Midlands derby (and yes, calling it the Derby derby would just confuse things unnecessarily).

Their rivalry today is mainly shaped by , who managed Derby to the 1972 league title and the semi-finals of the European Cup the following season. It was all going swimmingly until Clough had an argument with chairman Sam Longson over the keys to the office booze cabinet – , but not much more – and resigned. After unsuccessful but fabled sabbaticals at Brighton , Clough rocked up at Forest, leading the team to promotion, the league title, and two European Cups. Clough won a couple of League Cups at the tail end of the 80s with Forest, and retired in 1993. Forest haven’t won a major trophy since he left, though Derby landed the 74-75 league title under Dave Mackay (who made more changes to Clough’s team than he was ever given credit for by the neutral, ).

The pair did contest the 1898 FA Cup final, though. Derby were the hot favourites, having got to the showpiece at Crystal Palace after beating a pair of Midlands rivals – holders Aston Villa and – plus the Merseyside duo of Liverpool and Everton. Forest, on the othue semi-finalists are paying 15.7 million euros for Promes, significantly less than the 20.8 million euros that Sevilla paid Spartak Moscow for the winger last summer.However, with variables, the transfer could reach up to 17.2 million euros plus a per hand, had been the beneficiaries of a fortunate draw, West Bromwich Albion their only top-flight opposition en route to the final. Derby also had the double over Forest in the league, winning 4-3 away and thumping the not-so-Tricky-Trees 5-0 at the Baseball Ground on the Monday before the final. Sure enough, Forest ran out easy 3-1 winners and lifted their first FA Cup.

scored Derby’s consolation that day, though otherwise failed to make much of an impression. He’s the second greatest goalscorer of all time in the English top flight, his 317 goals only bettered by the 357 scored by Jimmy Greaves. But he won nothing. Derby made the final again the following year, but Bloomer missed a golden chance with the Rams a goal to the good against Sheffield United, and his team ended up losing 4-1. County made a third final in 1903, but Bloomer was injured and missed that one, which was lost 6-0 to Bury, still an FA Cup final record. There were suggestions that Derby had been jinxed by some travelling types who had been turfed off the land required to build their new Baseball Ground stadium ( of another Midlands team, Birmingham City), but good luck proving that.

Anyway, we’ve gone well off piste here. Forest aren’t wholly enamoured with Leicester either, and vice versa. That state of affairs that may or may not have its historical roots in Forest’s 12-0 win over Leicester in 1909, which remains the Foxes’ darkest day, but can be explained away by the whole team being still half-cut after a player’s wedding the night before. Leicester also keep a pot on a rolling boil for Derby, and they’ve had the better of that rivalry in recent(ish) years: four goals in the first 15 minutes of a 4-0 win the Premier League back in 1998, future Liverpool striker Emile Heskey the star man there, and a 2-1 win the First Division promotion play-off final of 1994, club legend Steve Walsh the two-goal hero.

Time to go west, but before we leave, anyone interested in Northampton Town’s Swinging Sixties – a story which features the captain of the 1958 Wales World Cup team, Barcelona, victories over West Ham’s future World Cup winners and, more importantly, local rivals Aston Villa – should read .

The West Midlands, then. A larger selection of big names here. The behemoth, whether rival fans like it or not, and regardless of how they’re doing right now, is Aston Villa. Also from the Premier League: Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion. Big clubs labouring in the Championship now: Birmingham City and Wolverhampton Wanderers. And other league concerns: Coventry City, the winners of the 1987 FA Cup and scorers of ; Walsall, whose 2-0 FA Cup win over the famous Arsenal in 1933 is still considered by many to be the greatest shock in the competition’s long history; Shrewsbury Town, (another for Grant Tennile there); Port Vale, Stoke’s lower-league city rivals; and Burton Albion, who held Manchester United to a goalless draw in the 2006 FA Cup while a non-league team.

We could draw a map of all the inter-club rivalries, but it’d make look like Route 66. Space and time constricts ently Manchester United striker James Wilson.The on-loan forward has spent this season at Pittodrie and is set to become a free agent.The Aberdeen-transfer-news-James-Wilson-Man-Utd” target=”_blank”>Daily Express says Derek McInnes wants to land the us to the bigger rivalries. We start in England’s second city, and the pretty intense brouhaha between the generally more blue collar Birmingham City and Aston Villa, who draw some of their support from well to do areas of the city such as Sutton Coldfield. Villa, the bigger club (sorry Blues), have registered more wins in the Second City derby. But on the other hand, Birmingham have a few trophies to show for it. They beat Villa in the final of the 1963 League Cup to win their first ever major trophy, Ken Leek their two-goal hero in a 3-1 aggregate win over two legs. Then in December 2010, Nikola Zigic scored late at St Andrews to beat Villa in the League Cup quarter finals; they went on to win .

This one’s got pretty nasty of late, though. Ask most folk of the first thing they think about when the Second City derby is mentioned, and it’ll be September 2002, the first game between the two sides for 15 years, Villa defender Olaf Mellberg throwing the ball back to keeper Peter Enckelman, the hapless netminder letting it roll into the net. Bedlam. Enckelman then had to deal with a Blues fan running onto the pitch and getting right up in his grille. You couldn’t have blamed Enckelman if he’d have battered the fan – professional sports stars tend to be a bit handier than oafs full of ale and pie – but the keeper retained a quiet dignity in the face of extreme provocation. OK, dignity is probably the wrong word, but you get the point. He didn’t retaliate, and .

Enckelman went on to play well for the next six months, restoring his reputation, only to make a perhaps worse blunder when Villa faced Birmingham again, bottling out of a headed backpass and allowing Geoff Horsfield to round him and roll the ball into an empty net. Sssh, nobody mention E, the man’s suffered enough.

Over to , up the road from Birmingham. Historically, their animosity was saved for Villa, this one going back a long way. The two teams contested the 1887, 1892 and 1895 FA Cup finals. West Brom were hot favourites for the first, but were defeated 2-0, losing the place completely after Dennis Hodgetts scored an unchallenged opener from an offside position. Having expected the referee to stop play before Hodgetts netted, or at least rule the goal out, the Baggies threw a three-minute tantrum. The referee didn’t budge. They never budge.

Five years later it was Villa’s turn as hot favourites. Sure enough, the result again went the other way, West Brom battering their Midlands rivals 3-0. John Reynolds was man of the match, and was absurdly accused by his own board of only putting in a shift at the big events, in the hope of getting a transfer. Reynolds, understandably piqued, left in high dudgeon. No guesses who he signed for: yep, Villa. Also plumping for the “bugger this” option was Villa keeper Jimmy Warner, who left England for good after being accused of throwing the Cup final on purpose, having bet heavily on West Brom.

Another three years on, and the 1895 final was decided in the first minute, the ball pinballing around the Albion area and clanking off a surprised John Devey. Reynolds was in the Villa winning side, a fact presumably noted by the Baggies board. Villa then proudly put the FA Cup on display in the window of local cobbler William Shillock, only for it , melted down for coins.

West Brom also enjoy locking horns with Wolverhampton Wanderers, and this rivalry – the Black Country derby – has probably superseded the Baggies-Villa one, simply because the teams, having both spent plenty of time out of the top flight during the last few decamp; Star reports that Podence is the main target for the Premier League side in the remaining days of the transfer window.The 24-year-old striker is much sought after, and he is preferred to Nelson Oliviera, who is another Wolves target.Wolves are hades, meet more often.

But despite it being primarily a lower-division phenomenon, the signature season came back in 1953-54. West Brom were under the yoke of Vic Buckingham, a coach heavily influenced by the famous Hungary team that thrashed England 6-3 and 7-1 and should have won the 1954 World Cup. Buckingham would go on to coach Ajax and Barcelona, but right now he was going for the English league title, and his West Brom team came within a hair’s breadth of becoming the 20th-century’s first league and FA Cup double winners. West Brom were a pretty pass-and-move team. Ronnie Allen and Johnny Nicholls had scored 55 goals between them by March, and the title looked on. But injuries scuppered their chances, they crumbled on the run-in, and were pipped at the post by a more tactically prosaic side: Wolves. West Brom did win the cup that year, at least, while Wolves went on to dominate the rest of the decade along with Manchester United.

So there you have it. Or at least some of it. Villa and Coventry don’t get on. Birmingham dislike Wolves, Stoke don’t have much time for Wolves or West Brom, Birmingham and West Brom don’t mind each other too much, Walsall get a few too many patronising pats on the head for their own liking, and everyone has it in for poor old Villa – something not helped in modern times by the fact that ever popular PM David Cameron is among their fans (). Yes, we’ve only just scratched the surface here.

A special Thanksgiving hat-tip to Matthew Lutz, , for his help with this article.And if you have any topics you’d like covered for future Field Notes, jot a note to

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andy Murray warms up for US Open by reaching Cincinnati semi-finals

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After a week playing in the dark, with thunder and lightning for occasional companions, burst into the warm midwest sunlight on Friday afternoon and heads for New York this week with renewed vigour and a smile on his face.

The glow of victory was still hard won, Richard Gasquet delaying by a set Murray’s progress into the semi-finals of the Cincinnati Masters, but the Scot looks good for a shot at his third title here.

Less than 16 hours after that finished closer to midnight than he would have liked, 10 days before the US Open – – Murray overcame early jitters to win 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in just over two hours.

If Murray reaches Sunday’s final, he will squeeze out Roger Federer from the second seeding and that will considerably boost his chances of adding to his 2012 breakthrough major at his favourite tournament outside Wimbledon. He won that with a bad back, against a rampaging Novak Djokovic; after surgery and a long recovery period, Murray is as fit now as he has ever been. His odds, surely, have shortened since then. It could be his time again.

“I think I did well to come through that one,” said Murray after the game. “I wasn’t feeling great last night. I had a much shorter warm-up today [after his late finish against Dimitrov]. I only hit fs of the Carabao Cup after beating Burton Albion.Despite making nine-changes to the side that beat Southampton 9-0 on Friday, the Foxes were dominant against the League One outfit.Kelechi Iheanacho opened the scoring after seven minutes, with Youri Tor like 50 minutes.

“It’s important in terms of seeding for the US Open. That would be nice, to have that locked up, knowing I’ll be on a separate side of draw to Novak and possibly Roger. It could still turn out I don’t have to play either of them, as I may notthis summer.The Mirror says Bournemouth are eying another raid on the Championship for Leeds midfielder Phillips.The Cherries have already signed defender Lloyd Kelly from Bristol City for £13m and are keen to add Phillipfailing to qualify for the Champions League this season.Tuttosport says Juve are eager to bring Paul Pogba back to Turin this summer and are concerned by reports the Frenchman is prepared to now stay and sign a new deal at Old Trafford.However, whiles, 23, to their rostrum of r make the semi-finals. I don’t take anything for granted. But if you do get there it’s slightly easier if you don’t have to come up against one of those two.”

Djokovic, , will still start as favourite at Flushing Meadows but he has to manage the sore elbow that inhibited him in Montreal and again in the third round here – which did not prevent him for defeat in the French Open final.

Djokovic has an unexpected opponent in the semi-finals, Alexandr Dolgopolov, whose quirky game was too much for the sixth seed, Tomas Berdych, the Ukrainian qualifier winning 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and a quarter.

• This article was amended on 25 August 2015 because Alexandr Dolgopolov is Ukrainian, rather than Russian as an earlier version said.

US Open 2015: order of play for Saturday 5 September

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Play begins on all courts at 11am ET/4pm BST

Arthur Ashe Stadium

(5) Petra Kvitova (Cze) v (32) Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (Svk), (29) Philipp Kohlschreiber (Ger) v (2) Roger Federer (Swi), (20) Victoria Azarenka (Blr) v (11) Angelique Kerber (Ger), Shelby Rogers (USA) v (2) Simona Halep (Rom), (30) Thomaz Bellucci (Bra) v (3) Andy Murray (Gbr)

Louis Armstrong Stadium

(18) Andrea Petkovic (Ger) v Johanna Konta (Gbr), (13) John Isner (USA) v Jiri Vesethout each other.Chris Wood and Ashley Barnes have been excellent playing up front together this season.”A lot has been made of me playing two centre forwards, but I think centre forwards are the best players, in that it’s the hardest job, so if therly (Cze), Varvara Lepchenko (USA) v Mona Barthel (Ger), (5) Stanislas Wawrinka (Swi) v Ruben Bemelmans (Bel)

Grandstand

(24) Bernard Tomic (Aus) v (12) Richard Gasquet (Fra), (16) Sara Errani (Ita) v (22) Samantha Stosur (Aus), (20) Viktor Troicki (Ser) v Donald Young (USA), Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Cze) v (24) Sabine Lisicki (Ger)

Cour new goal-kick rules.A significant change is coming to the Premier League this season, with defenders allowed to come into their own penalty box during a goal-kick.Opposition players must remain outside the box, but can stand right on the edge to attt 5

Eric Butorac (USA) & Scott Lipsky (USA) v Gilles Muller (Lux) & Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi (Pak), (1) Martina Hingis (Swi) & Sania Mirza (Ind) v Timea Bacsinszky (Swi) & Chia-Jung Chuang (Tpe), Jeremy Chardy (Fra) & Lukasz Kubot (Pol) v (9) Daniel Nestor (Can) & Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra), Sachia Vickery (USA) & Francis Tiafoe (USA) v Su-Wei Hsieh (Tpe) & Henri Kontinen (Fin), Eugenie Bouchard (Can) & Nick Kyrgios (Aus) v (4) Martina Hingis (Swi) & Leander Paes (Ind)

Court 6

Aliaksandr Bury (Blr) & Denis Istomin (Uzb) v Dominic Inglot (Gbr) & Robert Lindstedt (Swe), (3) Timea Babos (Hun) & Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) v Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) & Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk), Frantisek Cermak (Cze) & Jiri Vesely (Cze) v (3) Jean-Julien Rojer (Ned) & Horia Tecau (Rom)

Court 7

(7) Marcel Granollers (Spa) & Marc Lopez (Spa) v Lucas Pouille (Fra) & Sergiy Stakhovsky (Ukr), (6) Rohan Bopanna (Ind) & Florin Mergea (Rom) v Mariusz Fyrstenberg (Pol) & Santiago Gonzalez (Mex), Lisa Raymond (USA) & Jamie Murray (Gbr) v (6) Yaroslava Shvurgen Klopp admits he’s a big fan of Leicester City striker Jamie Vardy.The Reds go to Leicester on Boxing Day having won the Club World Cup.”We will try [to stop him],” Klopp said of Vardy.”He is one of the top three strikers in England since I haveedova (Kaz) & Juan Sebastian Cabal (Col), Alla Kudryavtseva (Rus) & Alexander Peya (Aut) v (2) Yung-Jan Chan (Tpe) & Rohan Bopanna (Ind)

Court 11

(4) Marcin Matkowski (Pol) & Nenad Zimonjic (Ser) v Marco Cecchinato (Ita) & Andreas Seppi (Ita), Samuel Groth (Aus) & Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) v Colin Fleming (Gbr) & Treat Huey (Phi), Eugenie Bouchard (Can) & Elena Vesnina (Rus) v (6) Raquel Kops-Jones (USA) & Abigail Spears (USA), (11) Sara Errani (Ita) & Flavia Pennetta (Ita) v Asia Muhammed (USA) & Maria Sanchez (USA)

Court 13

(17) Karin Knapp (Ita) & Roberta Vinci (Ita) v Margarita Gasparyan (Rus) & Alexandra Panova (Rus), Adrian Mannarino (Fra) & Fabrice Martin (Fra) v (15) Raven Klaasen (Rsa) & Rajeev Ram (USA), Leonardo Mayer (Arg) & Joao Sousa (Por) v Federico Del Bonis (Arg) & Diego Sebastian Schwartzman (Arg)

Court 17

(6) Tomas Berdych (Cze) v (31) Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Spa), (26) Flavia Pennetta (Ita) v Petra Cetkovska (Cze), Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) & Sam Querrey (USA) v Daria Gavrilova (Aus) & John Peers (Aus), (15) Kevin Anderson (Rsa) v (20) Dominic Thiem (Aut)

Tim Howard makes USA return for Brazil and Peru friendlies

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Tim Howard has returned to the roster for the first time since tak no plans of losing Martin Odegaard.The Real Madrid midfielder is on a two season loan with La Real, though there’s talk of Madrid cutting short the arrangement due to hil James as their first summer signing.The Manchester Evening News says United will complete their first summer signing in the middle of June.The Red Devils are expected to splash the cash this summer as United hope to finish in the top four next seass outstanding form.For the moment, there’s been no contact between the two clubsing a break from international football following last year’s World Cup.

Jurgen Klinsmann named the Everton goalkeeper in an experienced squad for the upcoming friendly matches against Peru and Brazil. Howard is considered USA’s second-choice keeper behind Brad Guzan but was .

Howard is not the only player making a return: Matt Besler and Jermaine Jones are in line to make their first appearances since February. USA play Peru on 4 September in Washington DC and Brazil in Foxborough four days later. Two key players – Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey – will miss the Peru match before returning to face Brazil.

“The bigger picture is to get some answers for how we put things together for the Mexico game a month from now,” said Klinsmann. “Obviously we want to continue to have a good flow of guys from the Gold Cup, but also to bring back guys who are in position to compete for a spot on the roster for 10 October. Our message to these guys is simple: prove a point that you want to be at the Rose Bowl.”

USA squad to face Peru and Brazil

Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

Ventura Alvarado (Club America), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Greg Garza (Atlas), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Ream (Fulham)

Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Joe Corona (Veracruz), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (New England Revolution), ne Mings.The two were involved in an incident at the end of the first half, when Mings had words with El Ghazi about not tracking back.But Grealish says the issue was resolved in the dressing room between the two players, and it will not linger any fAlfredo Morales (FC Ingolstadt), Danny Williams (Reading), DeAndre Yedlin (Tottenham Hotspur)

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen), Bobby Wood (Union Berlin), Andrew Wooten (SV Sandhausen), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Longtime nemesis Antonio Cromartie says Tom Brady shouldn’t be suspended

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Tom Brady received support from an unlikely quarter on Thursday when New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie came out in defense of the embattled quarterback during an appearance on ESPN.

“Honestly, I don’t think he should be suspended,” Cromartie , ESPN’s two-hour weekday morning debate program, when asked about the fairness of the NFL’s punishment for Brady’s role in Deflategate. “Nobody is safe no matter who you are. Roger [Goodell] is going to do what he wants to do. It don’t matter what the rules say, he’s gonna make his own rules as he goes, and it shouldn’t be like that.

“But at the end of the day, we as players gave him the freedom to do whatever he wants to do. We signed the [current Collective Bargaining Agreement]. So we had our own fault for doing it. We should have been more detailed. We shouldn’t have rushed into things. We should have pushed it to another month and a half and made the owners lose money, and then you go from there.”

Four years ago, when Cromartie made headlines by calling Brady an “asshole” ahead of a playoff game between the Jets and Patriots, it would have been difficult to imagine support coming from a less likely figure.

“Fuck him,” Cromartie . “I hate [him].”

On Thursday, it was Goodell who bore the brunt of Cromartie’s anger. Perhaps, as they say, the enemy of my enemy really is my friend.

“In the rulebook, ths been left out of the club’s preseason tour.The left back will remain in England, while the rest of his teammates head to Asia for their preseason preparations.Per The Telegraph, Rose is set for a move away from Tottenham in the coming weeks.The 29-ere’s no suspension in the rules,” Cromartie said. “There’s only a $25,000 fine, so I don’t see how you can try to lay the hammer down on someone when the rule states for itself there’s no suspension for it. Are we trying to go back to the Spygate and get more from ity.The Arsenal-next-manager-Mikel-Arteta-Man-City-assistant-Pep-Guardiola-EXCLUSIVE”>Daily ExpressArsenal-next-manager-Mikel-Arteta-Man-City-assistant-Pep-Guardiola-EXCLUSIVE”> says Arteta is in the middle of a tug of war between Manchester City andthat? Or are we just leading back to us, saying ‘Well, I have full control of everything. I made the rules as it goes, rather than follow the rules of what’s already been written.’”

Cromartie is not the first Patriots rival to back Brady. Bernard Pollard and Terrell Suggs have also come out in support of the Neify for the Champions League.“Deciding to leave the Milan bench isn’t easy, but it’s a decision I had to make,” Gattuso told La Repubblica.“There wasn’t a precise moment when I came to this decision: it was the sum of these 18 months as coach of w England quarterback.

New England Patriots woken by second fire alarm at Super Bowl hotel

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As the debate over the Patriots , it appears Tom Brrsenal.The former Atletico Madrid winger has been eyed by Unai Emery and Arsenal for a while, with the Gunners expressing an interest in signing him in January before moving for Denis Suarez instead.But they have moved for him again as they look to iady and Co may be on the end of subterfuge themselves.

When the fire alarm in the Patriots’ hotel sounded in the early hours of Tuesday morning, staff called ii Matteo says John Terry will be the next manager of Chelsea.Terry is currently an assistant coach at Aston Villa.Di Matteo told The Athletic: “If you can sign JT, you get him.”He’s a guy who makes things easierg world-class talent, says the Football Association’s Kelly Simmons, reports BBC Sport.English top-flight sides are currently permitted to spend 40% of their turnover on wages, under FA rules.The USA’s NWSL has upped its salary cap by nearly 20% to $ for the manager. “He, too, will be thet “an anomaly”.

That anomaly looked more like a trend when the same thing happened at 5am on Thursday.

Rob Gronkoswki said he slept through the alarm, and many of the players will be used to such tactics from their time in college football.

NFL addresses domestic violence with Super Bowl ad

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For many, this past season won’t be remembered for the quality of its games but the wave of domestic violence that has tarnished the league’s image. Two of its most high-profile players – Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice – were suspended for domestic violence. Rice’s case attracted particular attention after the league initially gave him just a two-week suspension for knocking out his fiancee in a casino elevator.

The league has started to push back against accusations that it doesn’t take the isscke £30million-rated Serb striker is wanted by a host of clubs across Europe, including Real Betis.But Khan wants him to lead the Cottagers promotion push next season.Khan told the Fulhamish podcast: “I would like to retain as many of our key playerer Raheem Sterling.Fashanu is impressed by Sterling’s stoush with England teammate and Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.He told the Daily Star, “Raheem would have been a great Crazy Gang player – just the sort we looked for.“You have to give him ue seriously, so it’s little surprise that the NFL has chosen to air an anti-domestic violence ad on Sunday. As well as an unofficial national holiday, it is also a day when rates of domestic violence spike.

The ad is part of the , which the league has promoted during games throughout the season. The league says it has devoted $50m worth of airtime to anti-domestic violence ads over the season. The ad itself is simple but unsettling. As the camera pans through a house that has been the scene of domestic violence, a woman’s voice is heard calling 911. It’s clear that she is too afraid to tell the operator what has happened to her, instead pretending to order a pizza. The operator eventually understands the reason for her call and the ad ends with the words: “When it’s hard to talk, it’s up to us to listen.”

Whether the ad is enough to change people’s minds about the NFL’s policies is another question.

The NFL highlights domestic violence on a day when the assaults spike

The league has struggled to convince observers – including some sponsors – that it is doing enough to tackle the issue

Advert placed on YouTube, with the ad to run in the fi is backing his old club to win the Champions League tonight.The Uruguayan spent three seasons at Spurs before bringing his playing career to an end in 2004 and the club is still close to his heart.Ahead of tonight’s final against Liverpool, Poyet sarst quarter of Sunday’s game

The gifs that keep on giving: Garrincha, Lionel Messi, Eli Manning and Willian

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Leave it all on the fieldLionel Mn Williams is ith victory over friendly opponents Inter Milan on Saturday.After coming off the bench to add plenty of passion and energy to the proceedings, thonship.Villa know they will face a tough task as they hope to maintain their newly achieved Premier League status next season.The Daily Mirrorsays they are hoping to follow up the signing of Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge with other bold moves.They ae Brazil international was happy to take three points from a difficult fixture in sweltering conditions.Mcapable of filling in for injured left-back Luke Shaw.Shaw has been out for two months and missed eleven games with a hamstring injury – and in his absence 19-year-old local lad Williams has looked a star in the making in the games heessi nutmeggedThrough the legs Great save, great save, great saveGarrincha ()Guess whoFace offTo the right (to the left)See you later…