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Canada beats Latvia to open world junior hockey

Published in Hockey
Wednesday, 10 August 2022 22:52

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor Bedard had a goal and an assist and Canada opened play in the postponed world junior hockey championship with a 5-2 victory over Latvia on Wednesday night.

The tournament was rescheduled after being called off Dec. 29 after four days as rising COVID-19 cases forced games to be forfeited.

"It always feels good to score, especially that first one of the tournament,'' said the 17-year-old Bedard, the early favorite to go first overall in the 2023 NHL draft. "I think it's always exciting no matter who gets it. So definitely felt good. And it was cool to kind of be going to the corner and seeing some fans.''

Ridly Greig and William Dufour also each had a goal and an assist for Canada in the Group A game. Lukas Cormier and Olen Zellweger also scored, captain Mason McTavish had two assists and Sebastian Cossa made 24 saves.

"I know a coach is never happy with the game, but considering the time of year and where we're at in this tournament, I think it was good,'' Canadian coach Dave Cameron said.

Rainers Darzins and Bogdans Hodass scored for Latvia, a 6-1 loser to Finland in its opener Tuesday. Patriks Berzins stopped 39 shots.

The Canadians will continue round-robin play Thursday against Slovakia.

Earlier in Group B, Daniel Torgersson scored twice in Sweden's 3-2 victory over Switzerland.

Isak Rosen also scored for Sweden, and Jesper Wallstedt made 21 saves. Attilio Biasca and Dario Allenspach scored for Switzerland.

In the late game, Alexander Blank had a natural hat trick in Germany's 4-2 victory over Austria in Group B. Blank scored the three goals in an 8:26 span of the second period, with the last two on power plays.

The United States, a 5-1 winner over Germany on Tuesday, will face Switzerland on Thursday night.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It’s not often legal wrangling in a courtroom 2,000 miles away pulls the attention of some of the game’s top players, but Tuesday at TPC Southwind the scene in the locker room was surreal.

Before Judge Beth Labson Freeman in the U.S. District Court Northern District of California, teams of lawyers from the PGA Tour and a threesome of suspended players seeking a temporary restraining order to play this week’s FedEx St. Jude Championship argued their cases. Freeman ultimately denied the suspended players – Talor Gooch, Matt Jones and Hudson Swafford – relief, but the two-hour hearing was appointment viewing in Memphis.

According to numerous sources, the likes of Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm and Will Zalatoris huddled around an iPad to watch the proceedings in San Jose, Calif., via Zoom. “They were all nervous until the ruling,” said one person who was in the locker room. “Pretty wild scene.”

According to another source, Freeman’s ruling was met with happy relief. The Tour’s lead attorney, Elliot Peters, argued that the alternative would be an unprecedented disruption if the suspended players were allowed to play the first playoff event. “The Tour would be creating a stage for the competition [LIV Golf],” Peters said.

The suspended players were also likely drawn to the hearing, and according to one source, two of the players who were suspended by the Tour for violating the circuit’s policy and playing the Saudi-backed LIV Golf league, Swafford and Gooch, were spotted in Memphis late Tuesday.

SAN ANTONIO – Kamaiu Johnson hit a 97-yard bunker shot to a foot for birdie on the final hole and a 5-under 67 that gave him a one-shot victory Tuesday in the Mastercard APGA Tour Championship and made him the top player on the circuit geared toward minorities in golf.

Along with winning $50,000 – the largest in the history of the Advocates Professional Golf Association history – Johnson won the Lexus Cup and was APGA Tour Player of the Year.

He finished at 7-under 137 at the TPC San Antonio. Marcus Byrd and Daniel Augustus each missed birdie putts on the 18th hole and tied for second.

With the win, the 29-year-old Johnson earned an exemption into early-stage tournaments on the PGA Tour Latinoamerica. The Lexus Cup title gets him into Korn Ferry Tour qualifying in September.

“Things have been trending in the right direction and I’m happy that it came together today at the Tour Championship,” Johnson said. “My goal was to win twice on the tour this year and take the Lexus Cup. I’ve been working hard with my team and I got it done.”

He now has four APGA titles in the last three years.

Byrd and Augustus each won $15,000 from the $150,000 purse. Willie Mack who won the Lexus Cup last year, finished fourth at 140.

The Tour Championship was the 12th tournament of the season. TPC San Antonio is the eighth TPC property to host the APGA Tour this year as part of its partnership with the PGA Tour.

Several players, from Rory McIlroy to Justin Thomas, offered their reactions to Tuesday’s court ruling that denied temporary restraining orders for three LIV Golf players – Talor Gooch, Hudson Swafford and Matt Jones – wishing to compete in the FedExCup Playoffs.

The district judge’s decision upheld the Tour’s suspension of Gooch, Swafford and Jones, which prohibits the trio, and other former members who have signed with LIV or teed it up in a LIV event, from playing Tour-sanctioned events, including the three-event postseason that begins this week in Memphis.

Said McIlroy on Wednesday from TPC Southwind: “From my vantage point, common sense prevailed, and I thought it was the right decision.”

And Thomas: “I wasn't super one way or the other, I just was worried about myself. Obviously, as a player on the PGA Tour and the ruling going in favor of the PGA Tour, I'm in favor of that.”

And Will Zalatoris: “Once the judge denied the TRO, we were all pretty relieved. … One thing that I really liked that Mr. Elliott, who’s representing us, said is part of the TRO is [the LIV players] wanted to recoup some of their financial losses, and Mr. Elliott said, well, they made their decision and they’ve made more money in the past three months than they’ve made in their entire careers.”

No response, though, stood out more than Billy Horschel’s.

“I said to some of the guys personally, I think they’ve been brainwashed by the way they feel so adamant that they’re going to be back out on the PGA Tour,” Horschel told Golf Channel’s Todd Lewis. “I’ve had some of them tell me … ‘I’ll see you Tour again,’ and I say, ‘No, you won’t.’ A couple of them are pretty brainwashed in the way they’re thinking and what they’ve been told.”

Horschel continued: “I just feel, as do a lot of members of the PGA Tour and a lot of employees of the PGA Tour, a small vindication at this point because it’s not over, but everything that’s been done is correct, and we [the Tour] are within our own right to do what they’ve done.”

Jon Rahm took to twitter Wednesday afternoon to announce the birth of his second child.

Eneko Cahill Rahm joined the family August 5th, and is Rahm and his wife, Kelley’s, second child.

Kelley was already outnumbered in the Rahm house and will be even more after the arrival of the couple’s second boy.

The Rahm’s have a knack for timing the birth of their boys just before the biggest tournaments of the year.

Eneko, of course, showed up just in time for Rahm to play this year’s FedExCup Playoffs worry-free, and older brother, Kepa, was born April 3, 2021, just in time for Rahm to play that year’s Masters.

Rahm will tee off at 12:44 p.m. ET Thursday afternoon in the FedEx St. Jude Championship at TPC Southwind.

For the third straight year, the LPGA has canceled its annual tournament in Taiwan.

The LPGA announced Wednesday night that the Taiwan Swinging Skirts LPGA, set for Oct. 27-30, will not be played this season “due to ongoing COVID-19-related travel restrictions.”

“We are thankful to Swinging Skirts Golf Foundation and our partners across the region for their continued support and all the hard work involved in staging this event,” the tour said in a statement. “While we are disappointed to have to make this decision, the LPGA Tour and Swinging Skirts Golf Foundation look forward to returning in 2023.”

The cancellation of the Taiwan event comes about a month after the LPGA canceled the Oct. 13-16 Buick LPGA Shanghai (also for COVID-related reasons), marking the third straight year that that event hasn’t been contested.

This season’s fall Asia Swing now features only stops in South Korea (BMW Ladies, Oct. 20-23) and Japan (Toto Japan Classic, Nov. 3-6).

Christensen, Kessie could leave Barca on free

Published in Soccer
Wednesday, 10 August 2022 20:58

New signings Andreas Christensen and Franck Kessie could both leave Barcelona for free if they are not registered before Saturday's LaLiga opener against Rayo Vallecano, various sources have confirmed to ESPN.

Christensen and Kessie both joined Barca on free transfers earlier this summer from Chelsea and AC Milan respectively. With three days to go until the new campaign starts, however, neither has been registered with the Spanish league.

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Sources have told ESPN that if they are not registered before Barca's opening fixture against Rayo, both players could choose to execute a clause that allows them to leave for free.

Fellow summer arrivals Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Kounde are also yet to be inscribed with LaLiga, while the contract renewals signed by Sergi Roberto and Ousmane Dembele have not been registered either.

ESPN understands Christensen and Kessie's situations are slightly different, though, given they joined Barca for free. Therefore, if they so choose, they would be entitled to leave for free before the transfer window closes.

Sources say at this stage there is no indication it will come to that and president Joan Laporta continues to transmit optimism that all seven players will be registered in time, but Barca are cutting it fine before the start of the season.

In the worst case scenario, sources told ESPN Barcelona would seek to speak with the players' agents to avoid such an extreme outcome because they have until the end of the month to register signings.

Barca have spent over €150 million this summer and have raised over €600m by selling 25% of their domestic television rights for 25 years and a 24.5% stake in Barca Studios.

A league source has told ESPN that is still not enough incoming cash for Barca to be able to register all of their signings and contract renewals, although some could be registered now. This would depend on the cost and combination of the deals.

Therefore, Barca are looking to sell a further 24.5% stake in Barca Studios and continue to negotiate wage adjustments with other players, including Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique.

It was Pique's wage cut last summer which allowed Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia to be registered on the eve of last season, while similar actions from Busquets and Alba permitted Sergio Aguero to be signed up with the league before the transfer window closed.

Barca's LaLiga-imposed spending cap was -€144m at the end of last season, the only negative limit in the league, and will have to be increased substantially to register all their summer activity.

The Catalan club hope that the sale of club assets, coupled with a sponsorship deal signed with Spotify earlier this year, will eventually increase their cap to allow them to register everyone.

Ancelotti: Benzema world's 'most efficient player'

Published in Soccer
Wednesday, 10 August 2022 20:58

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said he has no doubts that Karim Benzema deserves to win the Ballon d'Or, calling the France forward "the most efficient player in the world" after scoring in his team's 2-0 UEFA Super Cup win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Captain Benzema scored Madrid's second goal in the 65th minute -- after David Alaba had put them ahead with a first-half header -- to claim the first trophy of the season in Helsinki on Wednesday.

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It was Benzema's 324th goal for Real Madrid, taking him above club legend Raul Gonzalez into second place in their list of all-time goal scorers, behind only Cristiano Ronaldo's 451.

"[Benzema] is a leader," Ancelotti told Movistar. "If we're here, it's partly because of him. He scored a lot of goals. Now for the Ballon d'Or... Are there any doubts? I don't think anyone has doubts about that."

Benzema, 34, is favourite to win the Ballon d'Or later this year after scoring 27 goals in LaLiga last season -- and 15 in the Champions League -- to fire Madrid to the double.

"For us he's the most important player, he's the most efficient player in the world in this moment," Ancelotti said in his post-match news conference. "He was important to win the Champions League. He didn't score in the final but with his goals, we played the final.

"He scored against [Manchester] City, against Chelsea, against Paris [Saint-Germain]. He's so important for us, there's no doubt that at this moment he's the best."

President Florentino Perez agreed that Benzema -- who is beginning his 14th season at Real Madrid -- would be a worthy winner of football's top individual prize.

"From my point of view, he already deserved [the Ballon d'Or] last year, and this year even more," he told Movistar.

Perez also suggested that Madrid would not look to bring in a forward before the transfer window closes, despite missing out on Kylian Mbappe.

"Right now we aren't contemplating anything else," he said. "Look at all the forwards we have. We have so many forwards that if [Benzema gets ill] it won't notice."

Vela strikes in MLS All-Star win over Liga MX

Published in Soccer
Wednesday, 10 August 2022 22:09

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The MLS All-Stars beat their counterparts from Liga MX of Mexico 2-1 here on Wednesday night, thanks to goals from Carlos Vela and Raul Ruidiaz.

"I've been in America now 13 years, and this is the closest [MLS and Liga MX] have been," MLS and Minnesota United manager Adrian Heath said after the match. "I think if you'd have gone back 10 years, I think Liga MX win these types of games."

It took just three minutes for the scoring to get underway, with LAFC left-back Diego Palacios standing up a cross to the back post for club teammate and former El Tri star Vela to head beyond the reach of Camilo Vargas of Atlas.

There would be a wait before the second was scored, though.

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Nearly 10 minutes into the second half, the MLS side had the ball in the back of the net to double its advantage, with Brandon Vazquez making a run down the right flank and pulling the ball back for FC Dallas winger Paul Arriola to slot home from the edge of the 6-yard box. The celebrations were brief, however, with the linesman ruling that the FC Cincinnati forward made his right-wing run from an offside position.

The All-Stars from MLS eventually found a second in the 73rd minute, though, when Raul Ruidiaz slotted a penalty past Santos Laguna No. 1 Carlos Acevedo. The Seattle Sounders FC frontman took the spot kick after reigning MVP Carles Gil was clumsily brought down in the area, leaving referee Joe Dickerson no choice but to award the penalty.

Liga MX pulled a goal back as full-time approached with a thunderous strike from Pachuca right-back Kevin Alvarez from the end of the penalty area to breathe life into his team and energize the crowd for the game's closing moments.

"Every time the U.S. plays Mexico now, I'm not sure who's going to win the game," Heath added. "That speaks volumes of the ownership groups of these clubs in MLS who've invested sums of money into the quality that you see on the field."

The Liga MX regular season resumes on Thursday, when Queretaro hosts Atletico San Luis, while 24 MLS sides will be in action Saturday with the remaining four squaring off Sunday.

Real Madrid down Frankfurt to win Super Cup

Published in Soccer
Wednesday, 10 August 2022 20:58

Real Madrid beat Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 to win the 2022 UEFA Super Cup at Helsinki's Olympic Stadium on Wednesday night as Karim Benzema moved past Raul into second on the Spanish club's all-time scoring list behind leader Cristiano Ronaldo.

The sides traded good chances in the early stages of the annual match between the winner of the Champions and Europa Leagues, with Thibaut Courtois doing well to snuff out Daichi Kamada's chance for Frankfurt on the break and Vinicius Junior's goal-bound shot for Madrid swept off the line by Almamy Toure.

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Carlo Ancelotti's LaLiga winners took the lead shortly before half-time through David Alaba, who tapped home from close range after Casemiro headed the ball back in front of a wide-open goal following a corner kick.

Real stayed in control after the break, forcing another good save from Kevin Trapp in the 55th minute, knocking away a deflected Vinicius shot before Casemiro rattled the crossbar with a strike from the edge of the box two minutes later.

Benzema added Madrid's second in the 65th minute -- his 324th goal for Los Blancos -- and Real saw out the rest of the match with little threat from their Bundesliga opponents.

"He's a very important player, a team leader," Ancelotti said. "If we're here it's largely due to his merits, he scored a lot of goals, he finished the season well, he scored a goal today and now he's going for the Ballon d'Or award."

The victory means Ancelotti becomes the first coach to lift the trophy four times. The Italian had named the same starting 11 that began their winning Champions League final in Paris in May.

"Eintracht were very closed and we found it difficult to find our rhythm, but we did it well then," Ancelotti said. "It's difficult at the beginning of the season to be in top form but we now have won to start the season well."

Eintracht were without playmaker Filip Kostic who is close to a move to Juventus, but looked more disciplined than in their 6-1 loss to Bayern Munich last week in their Bundesliga season opener.

The win brought Real level with AC Milan and Barcelona who have also five Super Cup wins.

Madrid open LaLiga play on Sunday away to Almeria, while Frankfurt play their second match of the season in Germany's top flight on the road against Hertha Berlin.

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