Josef Martinez brace powers Atlanta past New York City FC, into Eastern Conference final

With a hop, skip and a jump, Josef Martinez helped put Atlanta United FC through to the MLS’ Eastern Conference final.

Martinez scored twice, including on a penalty kick in the 25th minute, and host Atlanta defeated New York City FC 3-1 on Sunday to claim the home-and-home semifinal series by a 4-1 aggregate.12

Atlanta held the edge in the tie after winning the first leg 1-0 last weekend at Yankee Stadium.

Martinez, who set an MLS record with 31 goals in the regular season, was awarded the penalty kick after NYCFC defender Ismael Tajouri-Shradi was called for taking down Atlanta’s Franco Escobar in the penalty area. Escobar drove the right wing to the end line and then tried to turn around, bumping into Tajouri-Shradi.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Martinez clinched the victory with a goal in the 83rd minute off a pass from Eric Remedi, who lobbed the ball over the NYCFC back line to spring Martinez. His 15-yard shot beat Johnson just inside the right post.

Atlanta will play either the New York Red Bulls or the Columbus Crew in the conference final. Those two teams were slated to meet Sunday night.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal


Paul Pogba dismisses Juventus return, says Manchester United is ‘home’

Paul Pogba has ruled out a return to Juventus and reiterated his commitment to Manchester United by describing the club as his “home.”

Pogba joined United’s youth academy in 2009 but having failed to break into the first team, joined the Serie A champions in 2012 where he established himself as one of the game’s leading midfielders. He made his return to Old Trafford for a then world record £89 million deal in 2016.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

In recent months, there have been question marks over Pogba’s United future following various bust-ups with manager Jose Mourinho. The midfielder has been linked with a return to Juventus but Pogba said his stint with the Bianconeri was like a “holiday” rather than anything long term.11

“When I came back to United, it was the best feeling ever,” Pogba told Inside United. “I came back home.

“I always dreamed of playing for United, to have many games and score goals. Nothing had really changed, except for maybe the team and the manager, but the rest of the club was the same.

“I just came back home, it was like I didn’t really leave — I just went on holiday. It was a great feeling to come back home.”

Pogba started the campaign as United’s vice-captain, as he wore the armband for the opening matches in the absence of skipper Antonio Valencia.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

However, following comments about the club’s playing style, Mourinho stripped the France international of the vice-captaincy role.

Pogba missed Sunday’s 3-1 defeat in the Manchester derby through an injury which also forced him to pull out of the France squad, having been called up for the upcoming internationals against Netherlands in the UEFA Nations League as well as the friendly with Uruguay.


The final days of the Butler saga, and why it could cost Thibodeau his job

As Tom Thibodeau’s plan disintegrated, owner Glen Taylor lost his last remnants of belief in this crumbling regime. Taylor had delivered Thibodeau a long and rich contract as the Minnesota Timberwolves president and coach, control of basketball operations and the trust to be a steward of a franchise forever in disrepair.

Taylor’s judgment has been perpetually suspect, from a secret Joe Smith deal that cost Minnesota draft picks to wasting Kevin Garnett’s prime to the David Kahn catastrophe. In getting things wrong, Taylor has been spectacular in his mishaps.

In the end, Taylor didn’t sign off on a Jimmy Butler trade as much as he surrendered to one of the most embarrassing episodes in franchise history.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Thibodeau sold Taylor on trading a starry young core and a high lottery pick to Chicago for Butler on draft night in 2017, sold him on waiting out Butler’s preseason trade demand for two months.

He sold him a strategy of publicly excusing Butler’s disruptive behavior, compromising his own credibility within his locker room, because Thibodeau believed he could navigate the dysfunction and win games.12

Thibodeau sold Taylor on passing on a strong Miami trade package, because he was sure Pat Riley would come back with a better offer, and the league would chase in a bidding frenzy for Butler.

Taylor kept doubling down, and when he hung up the phone with Philadelphia owner Josh Harris on Saturday morning, Minnesota had lost everything — the four-time All-Star in his prime, the trade standoff, and ultimately, the trust to stay with Thibodeau and GM Scott Layden beyond this season.

Even at the expense of sullying his professional standing, Butler played them all in Minnesota — and shamed the Timberwolves into trading him to a big market contender. The Timberwolves couldn’t find a team to bail them out of this debacle, and Thibodeau couldn’t sell Taylor on one more basketball game with Butler in a Timberwolves uniform.

Eventually, Thibodeau had lost hope that he could convince Butler to stay for the long term, but his ego still believed he could coach these Timberwolves into playoff contention before the February trade deadline. He underestimated this saga’s impact on the rest of the team, especially his young max-contract players, as they watched Thibodeau excuse behavior and beg Butler to play games.cheap nfl nike jerseys free shipping

Minnesota desperately tried to cobble together trade offers in the past week, including extensive discussions with New Orleans, league sources said. The Pelicans are limited on tradeable assets, but desperate to find star power to keep Anthony Davis for the long run. The Pelicans wouldn’t include point guard Jrue Holiday in its offer, nor multiple draft picks, league sources said.


Adam Silver supports ‘Enough’ T-shirts, players speaking out

With NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the stands and supporting the cause, the Los Angeles Lakers and Atlanta Hawks honored the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting by wearing black T-shirts with the message “Enough” on the front.

The Lakers and Hawks followed what the Clippers and Milwaukee Bucks did on Saturday when players from both teams first wore the T-shirts.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“As I’ve always said, our players aren’t just ballplayers, they’re citizens,” Silver told ESPN after watching the Lakers beat the Hawks 107-106 on Sunday. “They have strong feelings about what’s happening in society and they react to them. I think this was something that was a groundswell within the league. It came from the players and it spread by word of mouth from one team to another.11

“It obviously began here in California and other teams around the league supported them,” Silver continued. “Again, I support our players’ desire to speak out on issues that are important to them and important to society.”

The T-shirts also had the names of all 12 people killed by a gunman who opened fire inside the Borderline Bar & Grill, a popular local spot about 40 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

LeBron James, who has been outspoken on several issues pertaining to social injustice, said he felt the same feelings of outrage that so many have repeatedly felt following a mass shooting.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“Probably the same that went through everybody’s mind: ‘Not again.’ Or: ‘Wow. What the hell?'” James said of what he initially thought when he heard the news of the shooting not far from where he plays and lives. “Probably some more explicit terms that I won’t say right here. It’s just how do we clean up this. … It all comes back to this gun situation that we have in America and gun violence. I don’t want to go into that right now, but I can do it at a later point. We know that these people are just being able to go and buy guns and do things with them, and innocent lives are being taken at young ages. Young ages.”

James then reflected on his youth while growing up in Akron, Ohio, and how it felt like a much more innocent time.


Saints’ offense erupts with five first-half TDs in win vs. Bengals

Bold prediction: The New Orleans Saints will keep their spot as the No. 1 team in ESPN’s NFL Power Rankings this week.

The Saints (8-1) scored on each of their first nine possessions Sunday in a 51-14 rout of the Cincinnati Bengals — – making them just the third team to do so since 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

The only thing that stopped them was the clock. Backup QB Teddy Bridgewater started taking a knee after the two-minute warning.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Apparently the Saints’ offense was just getting warmed up during the first half of the 2018 season.

They scored touchdowns in each of their first five possessions Sunday to take a 35-7 halftime lead. And they have now scored a total of 96 points over the past two weeks to leapfrog the Kansas City Chiefs as the top-scoring team in the NFL this season (36.7 points per game).12

“We just found our swag, we found our stride,” said Saints running back Alvin Kamara, who scored two more touchdowns to bring his season total to 14. “This team is persistent, consistent, we take advantage of opportunity. The schemes that Sean [Payton] and those guys upstairs, the offensive coordinator [Pete Carmichael Jr.] put in place, we execute. We execute and we make sure we handle our business, from top to bottom, no matter who’s in.

“Everybody knows their role and plays their role. Nobody’s trying to one-up each other.”

The Saints have now won eight straight games as they head toward a showdown with the reigning Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in New Orleans next week.

But they took it up a few notches on Sunday.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Drew Brees was 22 of 25 passing for 265 yards and three touchdowns — including two to receiver Michael Thomas. Mark Ingram had 162 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. And Kamara had 102 yards from scrimmage, along with his two TDs.

Ingram, Kamara and Thomas were all throwing up “Xs” in the end zone during the first half as an homage to receiver Dez Bryant, who tore his Achilles tendon Friday just two days after joining the team.


After tragic week in L.A., Rams do their best to rally the community

For the last several days, football – even for the Rams — became somewhat of an afterthought as tragedy and a natural disaster swept across the greater Los Angeles area.

“Hoping today provided a little bit of joy,” Jared Goff said after the game. “And regularity.”

Last Thursday, the Rams organization awoke to the news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill, located just over four miles from the team’s practice facility in Thousand Oaks and seven miles from their business headquarters in Agoura Hills.

A gunman killed 12 people, including Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was on duty and rushed into the bar to save lives.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

During a team meeting this week, Whitworth implored teammates to wrap their arms around the community. Then the 13th-year pro set the example.11

Whitworth’s game check from Sunday – about $60,000 – will be donated to the Ventura County Community Foundation’s Conejo Valley Victims Fund, a fund to support the families of the victims.

“I texted my wife that day and just said, ‘We’ve been blessed by this game and so many millions of things have been just amazing, that I’m glad to be a part of,’” said Whitworth, who lives in Thousand Oaks with his wife and four children. “The least I can do is say, ‘I can give away the financial reward of playing this game this week to try and just put my arms around, our love and appreciation for what people are going through and what they’re feeling.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Then, on Thursday, the Rams took to the practice field Thursday afternoon, as smoke plumes began to fill the air.

By early Friday morning, wildfires raged across Ventura County and eventually spread to Los Angeles County, invading communities where many in the Rams’ organization live. Sean McVay was on a text-message chain with assistant coaches, including defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and defensive line coach Bill Johnson, who informed McVay that they were being evacuated from their homes.


Warriors’ Draymond Green leaves with foot injury; X-rays negative

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green left Monday night’s 117-101 win over the Memphis Grizzlies after injuring his right foot in the first half.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“They took X-rays. X-rays were negative,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “But it didn’t make sense for him to go out and play in the second half. He sort of tested it out, and we decided to shut him down. We’ll see what happens — hopefully, we got a couple days before our next game. But we’ll see what happens.”12

Green injured the foot in the first quarter and had it checked during the game, but after coming back into the contest in the second quarter, he did not return following halftime.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I hope he’s all right,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said. “I think he’s all right. He came back out there after he did it and then sat out the second half, but hopefully he’s all right. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him.”


Lakers make Tyson Chandler deal official

Center Tyson Chandler has signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after clearing waivers on a contract buyout with the Phoenix Suns, general manager Rob Pelinka announced Monday.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

The new contract for Chandler will pay him $2,109,867, according to ESPN’s Bobby Marks, with the Lakers incurring a cap hit of $1,333,140. Chandler agreed to shave $2.1 million off his $13.6 million salary with Phoenix. He is eligible to be traded Feb. 6, one day before the trade deadline.11

Chandler, 36, will be a backup to starting center JaVale McGee for the Lakers, who are desperate for an infusion of size and defensive rebounding.

A native of Los Angeles, Chandler is considered one of the strong, veteran leaders in the league — a welcome addition to a largely youthful Lakers locker room.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

Chandler is in his 18th season after entering the NBA draft out of high school in 2001. His productivity has been on the decline in recent years. He averaged 6.5 points and 9.1 rebounds in 46 starts for the Suns during the 2017-18 campaign.


Falcons regain some swagger with three-game win streak

Anytime a team goes into an opposing stadium and converts eight of its first eight third-down attempts, it speaks to how well prepared the team was to face adversity. Crowd noise wasn’t a factor, in part, because plenty of Falcons fans found their way into Redskins territory. But the biggest factor that made it a non-hostile environment was the Falcons’ ability to convert third downs, sustain long drives and finish with touchdowns rather than field goals.

With 36 seconds remaining in the first half, Matt Ryan found rookie wide receiver Calvin Ridley going down the middle on a third-and-9 from the Redskins’ 40-yard line. Ridley turned on the jets and left four defenders in the dust for his team-leading seventh touchdown reception of the season. All Redskins fans could do was shake their heads as the Falcons celebrated what was then a 21-7 edge.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

“It’s huge,” Ryan said of that score to Ridley. “I mean, points before the half have such an impact on wins and losses. And for Calvin to give a great explosive, come out the back end and score, was awesome for us. And then to turn around and get the ball at the beginning of the second half, when the game goes from a seven-point game … then it’s a 21-point game, that’s tough. That’s tough on a team. And to do that on the road is fantastic.”12

Then when Ryan hit Julio Jones with a 35-yard touchdown off a screen late in the fourth quarter — Jones’ first touchdown reception of the season and first regular-season TD since Nov. 26 of last season (Week 12) — the Falcons pretty much sent all the Redskins fans scurrying to the exits with long looks on their faces. The Falcons smacked the home team with 491 total offensive yards, including 350 through the air for Ryan with four touchdowns.cheap official nike nfl jerseys

Playing with that type of confidence is what now has the Falcons riding a three-game winning streak heading into the second half of their schedule. At 4-4, they essentially can start over and erase the bad vibes from a 1-4 start. At the same time, they surely can’t afford to get too comfortable. They’re still trailing NFC South leader New Orleans and are not exactly projected to be one of the top wild-card teams as of right now. But the playoffs are well within reach.

“Listen, I don’t even know our record,” Jones said. “It’s just one game at a time, one play at a time, one practice at a time, one day at a time. That’s my full approach. I never look ahead. I never look behind me. And the guys on the squad as well, we know we just have to keep putting that work in, keep gelling, go out there and have confidence, and just keep working.”

The Falcons still strike fear in their opponents primarily because they boast so many different offensive weapons. One of them came to the forefront against the Redskins in Tevin Coleman, the explosive running back who can take it to the house in one touch. Coleman resuscitated what had been a slumbering running game with 88 rushing yards on 13 carries. That’s eight more yards than the Redskins’ second-ranked run defense surrendered per game entering Sunday’s contest. Tag-team partner Ito Smith added a 12-yard touchdown run where he leaped a defender and carried another into the end zone.


Just another week for Patrick Mahomes in the greatest season for a Chiefs QB

The greatest quarterback year in the 59-season history of the Kansas City Chiefs continued on Sunday for Patrick Mahomes. His teammate, running back Kareem Hunt, said he isn’t surprised by how well the first-year starting quarterback is doing.

“I just know what type of player he is and how competitive he is and he’s going to take chances,” Hunt said. “Most of the time they’re good chances.“nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Mahomes was almost all good again, this time against the Cleveland Browns. He was 23-of-32 for 375 yards and three touchdown passes as the Chiefs went to 8-1 with a 37-21 victory.11

Mahomes, with 29 touchdown passes through nine games, is one away from the 54-year-old team record. Len Dawson, who later was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, threw 30 touchdown passes for the Chiefs in the old AFL in 1964.

Mahomes has 2,883 yards, which puts him on a pace for 5,157. That would easily break the Chiefs’ record of 4,591 set by Trent Green in 2004.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Mahomes also had his eighth straight game with at least 300 passing yards. Drew Brees has the NFL record with two streaks of nine straight games with 300 or more passing yards.

To Chiefs coach Andy Reid, Mahomes’ contributions go beyond the numbers.

“You appreciate him when you’re around him every day and just the spirit that he brings, the attitude he has,” Reid said. “You don’t even worry about him getting a big head or getting complacent. It’s a weird deal. He just goes out and he plays. He works hard and he loves doing it. He just goes about his business the way you’re supposed to do it.”

Mahomes threw two touchdown passes to Travis Kelce and one to Kareem Hunt, who scored Kansas City’s two other touchdowns by run.

Mahomes, as he usually does, deflected all credit for his accomplishments to his receivers.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “It makes my job a lot easier knowing I can trust these guys. They’re going to be in the right spot. They’re taking care of their business. They’re running the routes and making route adjustments on the fly. They’ve looked at the film and know how to do those things. Them having that much talent as well as really studying the film so much, that’s what really makes our offense so good.”