Month: November 2018

River Plate deserve to be punished for violence but disqualification is highly unlikely

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I was in the stadium for River Plate’s first game of this overly dramatic 2018 Libertadores campaign — and very few people can say that.

The match was against Flamengo of Brazil, and it took place in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 28 — behind closed doors. Flamengo were serving a punishment for the mass pitch invasion by their fans in the Copa Sudamericana finals the previous December.

It was clear, then, that River would have to suffer some kind of punishment for the action of their fans on Saturday, when, as it approached the stadium, the Boca Juniors team bus was attacked with a shower of stones and bottles. In the wake of this, there was little chance of the second leg going ahead in River’s stadium in front of a packed crowd. Some kind of punishment was clearly applicable.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But CONMEBOL were caught in the headlights of another problem. The organization needs money. Its image, and its commercial possibilities, have been severely hit by the FIFA-gate corruption scandal, in which so many South American directors, and former CONMEBOL presidents, have been implicated.10

A Boca- River final is a financial godsend. It is the biggest occasion in the history of club football in South America, and as such has huge commercial value. TV rights were sold all over the world. CONMEBOL now has to deliver the content.

It would seem that this is the explanation for the strenuous, not to say ludicrous, attempts to force the match to go ahead on Saturday. The CONMEBOL medical staff even issued a statement saying that the injuries suffered by the Boca players were superficial, and need not prevent the game from going ahead — a position that looks, to say the least, bizarre, given the examination the following day of Boca captain Pablo Perez, who had been struck in the eye by fragments of glass from a broken window. The ophthalmologist said that Perez was still suffering a 60 percent loss of vision and that there was a risk of infection if he took the field.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

On Saturday, the clubs agreed to put the game back 24 hours. But once it was clear that Perez should not play, there was no chance that Boca would turn up — and CONMEBOL bowed to the inevitable.

Boca, of course, are looking for payback for 2015. Three years ago, when the teams met in an earlier round of the competition, the River Plate players were attacked, in Boca’s stadium, as they returned to the pitch after half-time. A Boca fan sliced his way through the inflatable protective tunnel and threw pepper spray at them. The match could not continue, and Boca were kicked out of the competition.

Is Aaron Mooy a must-start as a Tier 3 midfielder in ESPN Fantasy Soccer?

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At the start of the season, the third midfield tier was an easy source of points, with exciting players like Ryan Fraser and Andre Schurrle. They have since, rightfully, been promoted out of this group and now selecting the right player out of Tier 3 midfield is more important than ever. While this tier lacks the high-upside, flashy names found in others, this is where you can find the most differential options to make up ground in your matchups and leagues. So, to help you maximize your points potential, let’s try to make sense of the wild west that is Tier 3 midfielders.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Many different players have finished at the top of this tier in different weeks, which has made picking the right player so difficult of late, but there is one player who represents a constant amidst the chaos: Aaron Mooy.

The Huddersfield midfielder is coming off an incredible outing in Matchweek 13, which saw him rack up an impressive 35.9 points. While his two goals made up the majority of those points, he still would have scored a personal high of 15.9 without them. This is very important when considering Mooy’s value, as he is unreliable as a goalscorer, having never scored more than four goals in a season in England. While this would be a damning indictment for many players in our game, Mooy shrugs it off without issue and continues to post solid weeks regardless.9

The Australia international has been the driving force for Huddersfield ever since he arrived in West Yorkshire in 2016-17. During his debut season in the Championship, he not only helped ensure promotion for the Terriers, but also boasted the unique accomplishment of leading his club in both chances created and tackles won. Once he reached the Premier League, Mooy demonstrated these skills yet again as the only player in the league who created more than 50 chances while also winning 60 tackles. The players that led those categories in the league last season were Kevin De Bruyne and Idrissa Gueye respectively, which should help offer context into just how strange and unique Aaron Mooy is as a player.

This diverse skill set was put to fantastic use last season as, in the ESPN game, Mooy would have finished as the fifth best midfielder outside of the top six clubs, and the 28th best outfielder overall. He averaged a very respectable 9.8 points per game, finishing top 25 in a third of our 15 scoring categories. This ability to impact matches in so many different ways gives Mooy an incredibly high floor in fantasy, and makes him a guaranteed starter for Huddersfield.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

These traits certainly have not escaped the eye of manager David Wagner who, realizing Mooy’s broad skillset, has already utilized him at four different positions this season. Impressively, this constant change in usage has yet to negatively impact his usefulness to the club, nor his fantasy value, as he’s averaging between 7.5 and 13.5 points per game regardless of position. Basically, he brings value so long as he’s on the pitch, and he almost always is having logged more minutes than any another midfielder at the club over the past two seasons.

Rob Gronkowski is back to being himself, catching TDs and having fun

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New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has an infectious personality that can uplift teammates, whether it’s on the field or in the locker room. Teammates say his demeanor often stands out in a hard-driving work environment in which levity can sometimes be in short supply.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Because of that, when Gronkowski is hurting physically and not quite himself, as he was for about a month leading into Sunday’s game against the

So while Gronkowski provided a trademark “Wow!” moment with his 34-yard touchdown catch in Sunday’s win, it was everything around that play that seemed to be even more meaningful.10

“He’s ‘The Gronk.’ He looked like he was having fun, and that’s awesome,” noted receiver Julian Edelman. “That’s what we want.”

Gronkowski’s reaction to the touchdown, a double arm thrust and thunderous spike, was reflective of that. It was part of restoring his confidence, which is one critical piece to the team’s hopes of making a strong charge into the postseason.

Then there was the reaction of his teammates, as everyone from Tom Brady to Edelman to Josh Gordon celebrated the play, which showed Gronkowski’s impact on everyone else.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Teammates celebrating someone else’s success is always a positive sign of togetherness, but this one seemed even a little more significant because of what it represented: a signature play to show that Gronkowski — while still a difference-maker on the field at times – is in a much better place emotionally than he had been over the past month or so as he battled ankle and back injuries.

“It felt good,” he acknowledged. “I’ve been putting in the work to get back, and now I just feel like I can keep on improving and do what I have to do to help the team.”

Brady called the touchdown the type of play that only Gronkowski could make among NFL tight ends, while Edelman credited Gronkowski’s blocking as a key on his 21-yard, catch-and-run touchdown in the third quarter.

Le’Veon Bell’s bitter divorce with Steelers was years in the making

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Privately, a faction of the Steelers wanted no distractions after a 2017 season that couldn’t escape them. The team survived a divisive Week 3 anthem sit-out in Chicago, Antonio Brown’s Week 4 sideline flare-up, the loss of Ryan Shazier to a spinal injury and James Harrison’s clumsy exit on the way to a 13-3 season. But the year was long, and the days before a playoff loss to Jacksonville featured Bell’s sit-out comments and a Sports Illustrated story quoting safety Mike Mitchell saying Pittsburgh would beat New England in a rematch.

Teammates valued Bell as a great player and vibrant locker room personality, but they also knew he makes his feelings known on social media. So, on the Monday of Week 1, they made sure not to bash Bell publicly to avoid any clap-back fuel from the player.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

When Wednesday of that week arrived and Bell wasn’t there, several offensive linemen didn’t hesitate to call him selfish. Even if Bell came back, they knew it was pretty much over.9

“After Week 1, there was a calm in this locker room,” guard David DeCastro said. “It had kind of passed. We knew what we had to do. Do our best job, so there were no questions about ‘what if.’ It gave us a chip on our shoulders naturally.”

Things became clouded after that. Bell planned to return in the Week 7-8 period, but something changed. Many believed the Oct. 30 trade deadline became a factor, though the Steelers never got a legitimate offer for Bell. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported Bell and the Steelers discussed a deal that would have Bell report if the team promised not to tag him in 2019, which the team couldn’t promise. The Athletic reported earlier this month that Bell got “new info” in the week before the reporting date that the franchise tag would be too steep (more than $25 million) for the Steelers to use, thus affecting his plans.

Even as of Week 10, though, china nike nfl jerseys cheap Bell was in Pittsburgh and team president Art Rooney II left the door open for Bell to enter.

Now, the stage is set for tense divorce proceedings, and both sides are gunning for the house.

Newcastle revival continues with victory at Burnley

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Newcastle United surged clear of the Premier League relegation zone after a Ben Mee own goal and Ciaran Clark’s header in the first half helped them to a 2-1 win at struggling Burnley on Monday.

Newcastle celebrated a third successive league victory after failing to win any of their opening 10 fixtures and moved up to 13th place on 12 points from 13 games.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

The Magpies are four points clear of the relegation zone and three points ahead of 17th-placed Burnley, who stretched their winless league streak to six games.

Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez praised his team after a solid performance.10

“We had an idea of how to play, we knew crosses would come from everywhere, we defended well, our effort and attitude was great,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“We suffered a bit at the end but we could have scored a third goal. Our defenders did well because the [Burnley] strikers are big and then they put another big lad up front.”

The kick off was delayed by half an hour when the referees’ assessor Eddie Wolstenholme collapsed in the tunnel and was taken to hospital, but once the match got underway Newcastle dominated the opening period.

The Magpies took a fourth-minute lead after a Federico Fernandez shot from 20 metres took a heavy deflection off Mee and Clark then made it 2-0 with a superb header in the 23rd minute as he met a fine cross from the left by Matt Ritchie.

Sam Vokes pulled one back for Burnley shortly before the break with a looping header from 15 metres, with Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka caught out of position after a long ball by Mee.

Ritchie was guilty of an astonishing miss just after the break when he shot wide from two metres with Burnley keeper Joe Hart beaten. Joselu also hit the post for Newcastle with a stinging low shot and they then held on in the closing stages.

Echoes of 2013 as Sporting Kansas City hold out against the Portland Timbers

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As the pregame tifo from the Timbers Army unfurled, it was clear that the home fans at Providence Park were trying to channel the energy from Portland’s run to the 2015 MLS Cup. The message read “We’re Back, You’re Welcome” — a reference to the television show “Eastbound & Down,” which was the inspiration for many tifo from that magical season.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Sporting Kansas City certainly didn’t need any reminders of that campaign. SKC was one of Portland’s victims during that year’s playoffs, falling in the knockout round via a penalty shootout that was immortalized for, among other things, Saad Abdul-Salaam’s attempt at a game-winner that hit both posts and bounced out.8

It was fitting then that not only did Sporting KC deliver a bit of karmic payback with a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the Western Conference finals against the Timbers, but it managed to set the Wayback Machine to its own MLS Cup run in 2013.

The similarities to the current campaign and that year’s playoffs are borderline spooky for Kansas City. Five years ago, SKC opened the conference finals with a similar 0-0 road draw against the Houston Dynamo, surviving an apparent goal from the Dynamo’s Kofi Sarkodie that was waived off by the referee. Kansas City then relied on some gritty defending to head back home level, eventually prevailing in the second leg 2-1.

History repeated itself on this night on multiple fronts. An apparent second-half goal from the Timbers’ David Guzman was disallowed, and there was plenty of stout defending from SKC to secure the scoreless draw.

“It was a frantic game and it never settled down,” SKC defender Matt Besler said. “We expected it to be that way, at least to start, because it’s a playoff game and we’re away from home and it’s a difficult place to play. But at the same time, we expected the game to settle down at some point with a spell of possession here or there, for both sides. I don’t think we had a spell or they had a spell. It was just up and down, up and down.“cheap nfl jerseys china nike

There were some critical differences as well. Most notably the posts that were unkind to Kansas City three years ago came to its rescue this time, as Jorge Villafaña’s sixth-minute strike hit the post and bounced harmlessly away.

Bucs’ Jameis Winston passes first test in regaining starting QB job

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In order for Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to beat the San Francisco 49ers 27-9 Sunday – Step 1 in his quest to re-assert himself as the starting quarterback – he had to recognize that he couldn’t do it trying to be somebody else.

He had to stop chasing backup Ryan Fitzpatrick and his “FitzMagic” reel of highlights that electrified the league while he was home serving a three-game suspension.

“It’s definitely challenging when you have such a wave from a guy who’s doing such an amazing job and you’re trying to fit in. I think it was more trying to prove to everyone what I’m capable of,” said Winston, who was pulled in the second half of Week 8 and benched until head coach Dirk Koetter re-named him the starter this week.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

“Any player, you’ve always got to be yourself. I’ve been playing this game since I was four years’ old. I think the most important thing is to be the best ‘me’ – never try to chase someone else, chase the man in the mirror and compete against him every day.”10

It was the first time he didn’t turn the ball over in a season full of forced throws and sometimes reckless decisions. It was also his first game without throwing an interception since Dec. 24, 2017.

“I think Jameis was more settled in tonight. He knew where he was going with the ball. He made plays with his feet. It was like the old Jameis back there,” right tackle Demar Dotson said. “To me, he looked good back there, he was more poised back there.”

Winston completed 29 of 38 passes for 312 yards and two touchdowns and a quarterback rating of 117.4. He looked far more like himself Sunday instead of the struggling quarterback who matched last season’s 11 interceptions in his first five games this year.cheap nike nfl jerseys free shipping

Winston said it had to do with a simplified approach.

“It’s easier to keep it simple when you’re very decisive,” Winston said. “Making quick decisions, getting the ball out of your hand, trying to execute on every single play and trying to understand that sometimes you’ve gotta check the ball down, sometimes you’ve gotta talk to yourself and say, ‘Hey, I’m just going to take this sack.’”

Sony Michel proves he’s the key to the Patriots’ offense

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The New England Patriots are widely viewed as a contender because of the presence of head coach Bill Belichick, quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski — three of the best ever at what they do.nfl cheap jerseys nike

But the key for the 2018 Patriots to achieve their championship hopes just might be rookie running back Sony Michel.

The first-round draft choice from Georgia, No. 31 overall, was the best player on the field in the Patriots’ 27-13 victory over the New York Jets. His 133 rushing yards were the most by a Patriots player since Jonas Gray totaled 201 in the 2014 season.

“Coach kind of gave us a challenge this week, on being able to run the football – consistently,” Michel said.

Belichick’s challenge reflected how when Michel gets going on the ground, it takes the burden off Brady, Gronkowski, receiver Julian Edelman and others in the passing game.8

Simply put, he settles things down.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Michel’s breakthrough was among the best news for the Patriots from Sunday’s win, which wasn’t as decisive of an overall performance as they hoped to deliver coming off their bye — red-zone struggles on offense, in particular, were notable.

But proving they can successfully turn to the running game — especially as the weather in the Northeast is getting colder and adverse weather conditions are a more likely possibility — is an important ingredient for most teams with championship hopes.

“Any time you can run the ball like we did, it helps a lot of things. You have to play the run, play-action [passes], and we had some chunks [of big plays],” Brady said.

“It always opens up everything else. It keeps you out of those long-yardage situations, which we have been in the last couple weeks,” echoed Belichick.

The Patriots topped 200 yards rushing as a team to improve to 8-3, keeping pace with the AFC’s top seed, the 9-2 Chiefs. The Steelers (7-3-1) and Texans (7-3) are also in the mix.

Vince Carter: Reaching 25,000 career points ‘a special moment’

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Hawks wingman Vince Carter became the 22nd player in NBA history to score 25,000 points, reaching the milestone Wednesday night in Atlanta’s 124-108 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

“It was a great moment for me,” said Carter, who at 41 is playing in his 21st season. “Being around this long, you just want to play and accomplish as many things as you can. But 25K is 25K.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Against a Raptors team for whom he played his first six NBA seasons, Carter crossed the 25,000-point threshold when he slammed home a pass from rookie Kevin Huerter off an offensive rebound in the final second of his 1,423rd career NBA game.

“Everyone in the NBA, we’re all tipping our hats to him because 25,000 is a lot of points,” Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry said. “He’s such a great guy, great individual, great teammate, great person. He’s earned it, deserved it. I think everyone’s really happy for him. He earned it tonight, and to get it on a two-handed dunk like that is pretty cool.”

Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce, well aware that Carter was closing in on the milestone, subbed Carter back into the game in the closing minutes of the blowout.10

“I didn’t want to do that, but I had to do it,” Pierce said. “We had to keep Vince out there to get that milestone, and I feel a lot better for doing it. What a night for Vince, what a night for the NBA. To see a guy with 21 years in the NBA is a long time; 25,000 points is a lot of points.”

With teammates determined to help him to reach the milestone, Carter found himself the focal point of the offense in the final minutes. Carter attempted a shot in six of the Hawks’ final seven possessions, converting a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws in addition to the last-second dunk. After the game, he quipped that it had been some time since he had been the primary option on offense.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

As the crowd at State Farm Arena roared, an emotional Carter gripped the ball after it passed through the rim and closed his eyes. After the final buzzer, Carter was presented with the game ball, after which he walked to center court and waved to the Atlanta crowd.

“I still love it. I still love playing,” Carter said. “I was willing to do whatever it took to stick around. All of the things I have to do to play a game, to be prepared, to get prepared for the season, I’m willing to do. I’m asked constantly, ‘What’s the secret? What are you doing?’ Well, the secret is I’m willing to do whatever it takes.”

OKC rookie Hamidou Diallo has scary fall but avoids serious leg injury

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Despite leaving the floor on a stretcher against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Hamidou Diallo did not suffer any kind of serious leg injury, a team spokesperson said.

The initial fear was a severe injury to his left leg, possibly a break, but X-rays done at the arena were negative. After further evaluation Thursday, the team reported Diallo has a left ankle sprain and will be re-evaluated in 7-10 days.

“I was hoping, praying it was nothing too serious, that it wasn’t his knee,” George said. “I think we can all say it’s the best news that it was his ankle and it was a sprain.“cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Diallo exited the locker room with a boot on his left foot and using crutches, but he was in good spirits after getting what was pretty surprising news considering how scary the play looked.9

Early in the fourth quarter, Diallo jumped for a rebound in transition. After landing, Warriors forward Jonas Jerebko landed awkwardly on Diallo’s legs. Diallo immediately began rolling on the floor in pain and moved himself off the court and under the basket. Teammates had their heads in their hands and appeared visibly shaken by the injury.

“When guys go down, we’re a family here and we have to have our brother’s back, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Thunder guard Russell Westbrook said.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

After Diallo’s injury, the Thunder rallied and blew the game open against the Warriors with a 36-16 fourth quarter en route to a dominant 123-95 win. Dennis Schroder led the way with 32 points on 12-of-19 shooting, with George adding 25 points and Westbrook producing his first triple-double of the season (11 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists).

Diallo, a second-round pick, has been a bright spot for the Thunder, securing a steady spot in the rotation as a defensive spark plug. He started in place of Terrance Ferguson on Monday against the Sacramento Kings and scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting in a loss.

The Thunder have been hit with a wave of injuries in their backcourt recently. After getting Westbrook back from an ankle sprain, guard Alex Abrines has missed the past three games with an illness, and Ferguson exited in the first half against the Warriors and did not return because of a left ankle sprain.