9

LAFC resumes home success with shutout of the Colorado Rapids

Lee Nguyen and Diego Rossi scored second-half goals on Sunday night, and LAFC got back to their winning ways at home with a 2-0 victory over the Colorado Rapids.

LAFC was unbeaten in 10 home MLS matches and 14 home matches across all competitions when it was defeated Aug. 11 by Sporting Kansas City. Sunday was LAFC’s first match at Banc of California Stadium since that defeat.

The Rapids saw their three-match unbeaten streak come to an end. Colorado had two victories in that stretch, including a win and a tie against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

With the three points, LAFC moved it into a tie for second place in the Western Conference with Sporting Kansas City, which holds the tiebreaker edge based on goal differential. Both teams are three points behind first-place FC Dallas.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

Four minutes into the second half, Nguyen worked his way through the left side of the box in tight traffic, switching from his right to his left foot before poking a quick shot past Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and into the upper left corner of the goal. It was Nguyen’s second goal of the season.9

Rossi’s breakaway from near midfield came in the 80th minute, as he changed direction to beat defender Danny Wilson and put a right-footed shot past Howard. It was Rossi’s eighth goal of the season.

The teams were unable to produce in a scoreless first half despite solid chances.wholesale nfl jerseys cheap

Colorado’s Niki Jackson had a shot on goal from outside of the box in the 35th minute that was saved by Tyler Miller. Jackson then sent a diving header off target less than a minute later. Miller earned his eighth clean sheet of the season, making five saves.

In the 36th minute, LAFC’s Carlos Vela took a left-footed shot from inside the box that was deflected over the goal by Howard. In first-half stoppage time, LAFC’s Laurent Ciman blasted a curving free kick from 30 yards out that Howard redirected away from goal.

Adama Diomande, LAFC’s leading scorer, came on as a second-half substitute after missing the previous two MLS matches with a hamstring injury. Diomande got an assist for setting Rossi free on his breakaway goal.

5

Daniel Royer earns draw vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, keeps New York Red Bulls’ run alive

Daniel Royer scored his second goal of the game in the 90th minute to give the visiting New York Red Bulls a 2-2 tie with the Vancouver Whitecaps at B.C. Place Stadium on Saturday.

The game-tying goal came while the Red Bulls were shorthanded following the ejection of defender Michael Murillo in the 84th minute.

The Red Bulls have now earned points in nine of their last 11 games, though this was the first tie in that span. The Red Bulls are also in a tie for the most points in MLS with Atlanta.

The Whitecaps managed to remain unbeaten in five games, though the lost points cost them a spot in the playoff field as the things stand now.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Kendall Waston headed in both Vancouver goals off corner kicks, the central defender beating former partner Tim Parker for the ball both times. This was Parker’s first game against the Caps since joining the Red Bulls in a preseason trade. Felipe, who went the other way in the trade, sent the second corner to Waston.5

Yordy Reyna set up Vancouver’s first goal as the Whitecaps rallied from an early 1-0 deficit. But Royer enabled the Red Bulls to have the last laugh.

He opened the scoring only five minutes into the game, putting in a Bradley Wright-Phillips cross from the right flank. Wright-Phillips has hit the scoresheet in each of the last six games in which he has started.

Waston drew the Whitecaps even in the 42nd minute as he out-jumped Parker to nod in Reyna’s corner-kick from the left flag. In the 60th minute, things got physical as Waston sent Parker to the turf while still managing to head in Felipe’s cross.new nike nfl jerseys for sale cheap

The goal came after Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic stopped Wright-Phillips on a point-blank save after falling on the ball in a scramble after it rebounded off the crossbar.

On their Twitter page, the Whitecaps likened the save to a hockey goalie smothering the puck in his crease.

The Red Bulls could not muster similar pressure following Waston’s second goal. New York’s comeback hopes were seemingly hampered in the 84th minute as Murillo was ejected for taking a second yellow card for knocking down Whitecaps 17-year-old sensation Alphonso Davies as he rushed with the ball. Murillo was initially cautioned on a similar play against Davies in the 70th minute.

But Royer chipped a shot over Marinovic from just a few yards shy of the near post after taking a free kick from Tyler Adams, denying the Whitecaps a win before a sellout crowd.

9

Vikings honor Tony Sparano before preseason game

Surrounded by her children, Jeanette Sparano stood at the 40-yard line before kickoff at U.S. Bank Stadium for nearly an hour. One by one, the widow of Tony Sparano Sr., the Minnesota Vikings offensive line coach who died unexpectedly last month, was greeted by players and coaches who offered hugs and words of encouragement before the family served as honorary captains ahead of the Vikings-Jaguars preseason game.

Sparano died from arteriosclerotic heart disease at his home in Eden Prairie two days before rookies and quarterbacks reported to camp. He was 56 years old.

Jeanette proudly donned the name she was given by the man she fell in love with as a teenager, a cursive “Sparano” decal with glitter surrounding the letters stuck on the outside of her tote bag. Standing with her arms around daughter Ryan and son Tony Jr., an assistant offensive line coach for Jacksonville, the three joined the rest of the 66,637 in attendance to honor their father and husband with a moment of silence followed by a tribute video that played on the jumbotron.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

The video opened with a scene of Sparano inside the locker room at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum giving a heartfelt speech to his players after the Raiders beat Kansas City in Nov. 2014. It was the first of three wins for the Raiders that season after Sparano was named interim head coach, tasked with guiding Oakland through murky waters during an 0-10 start.

Moments from Sparano’s time as a coach in Minnesota, Miami and Oakland played on screen, encapsulating the love he had for his job and how proud he was of his players.

“He loved them like they were us,” Tony Jr. said.9

Testimony from Jeanette, Tony Jr., Mike Zimmer and Rick Spielman painted the picture of a coach whose tireless work ethic was second to none; a man who prided himself on bringing out the best in his players.

“Let’s get the details right! Pay attention to the details!” Sparano Sr. said to his players in Miami.

After the emotional ceremony, Jeanette linked arms with her children as they made their way onto the field. Walking on either side of the Sparano family was the Vikings offensive line, who stood in unison at midfield as the family called the coin toss.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

These players were more than that for Sparano. They were an extension of his family.

His starting offensive linemen from the 2017 season — Riley Reiff, Nick Easton, Pat Elflein, Joe Berger and Mike Remmers — along with Rashod Hill served as pallbearers at his funeral. Berger, who played for Sparano in Dallas, Miami and Minnesota, was on hand Saturday to cap off the ceremony by sounding the gjallarhorn before kickoff.

6

NFL’s biggest, quietest, most tantalizing defender is changing his story

The Pittsburgh Steelers call him “Big Dan.” They perceive the 6-foot-7, 352-pound Big Dan as giving questionable effort at times, and he’s earned at least some of that perception. He is big-bodied potential unfulfilled after four seasons, re-signed on a minimal one-year deal for depth.

His family calls him “Daniel Ray.” Daniel Ray is sweet-natured. Behind a sad face is a shy, gentle man who wants to play football and video games and chill out. He wants to go hard every snap, but sometimes he gets tired.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

Big Dan needs to be pushed and told repeatedly to get nasty. Daniel Ray isn’t mad at his parents for bouncing in and out of his life. On and off the field, riling him is an arduous task.

But Dan McCullers is tired of watching teammates get rich, so he’s bringing Big Dan and Daniel Ray together, hoping to find his edge on the field and get angry for good.6

“They signed me back to a one-year deal — well, I want a multiple-year deal,” McCullers said. “I just have to work hard and grind my ass off so they can sign me for multiple years and I can make that money, set up my family to be good.”

A motivated McCullers is exactly what the Steelers want. A former fifth-round pick with 28 career tackles in four seasons, he has earned some first-team reps in this week’s practices after an active performance in the preseason opener in Philadelphia. And he impressed on Thursday against the Packers, starting the game and driving an interior lineman back and into the turf on two of the first three snaps.

Players and coaches are forecasting greatness — with a qualifier.

“If that guy can get his motor running like we see it do sometimes, he can be a dominant force,” defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said.

“Once it clicks for him, it’s going to be dangerous,” defensive tackle Tyson Alualu said.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal
The NFL’s biggest defender has teased them before, surging into the backfield one play and getting moved by an undersized center the next. The Big Daniel Ray transition has McCullers viewing bigness no longer as unrealized potential or judgment but as a great way to make a living.

“We’re really trying to figure that out for him, how to turn it on and off,” said McCullers’ older sister, Deonica Sanders, whom McCullers nicknamed “Nuk.” “He’s had to realize, ‘[Getting angry] is what I need to do for my job.'”

8

Heat center Hassan says he’s in a better place with team after meeting with Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra

Center Hassan Whiteside told reporters Wednesday that he met with Miami Heat president Pat Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra last month and he is in a better place with the team now.

“We had a great talk,” Whiteside told reporters on a conference call to discuss Saturday’s NBA game in Africa, in which he plans to play. “I just think it’s trust on both sides. I think that’s the biggest thing … It was about a four-hour meeting. It was a lot about life. It was two hours basketball, two hours life. It was a good meeting.”nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Whiteside, who has two years remaining on his four-year, $98.4 million deal with the Heat, had publicly complained about his role and his lack of playing time in the playoffs after Miami’s loss in Game 3 to the Philadelphia 76ers. Whiteside played just 76 minutes total in the five games.8

After the series, Riley told reporters that Whiteside wasn’t “ready” for the playoffs and that “he wasn’t in great shape.” Last week, Riley insisted that the Heat weren’t widely shopping Whiteside in trades this summer but said the center “has a lot of work to do.“cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Whiteside, 29, who dealt with a knee injury last season and was limited to 54 games in the regular season, said Wednesday that he “wasn’t healthy all last year.”

“I was in and out of the rotation with injuries. Just coming back healthy. Coming back from a bone bruise, it takes months to heal,” he told reporters.

However, Wednesday he declared himself “completely healed” and said “I feel great.”

6

Did the Home Run Derby ‘fix’ Bryce Harper?

Rhys Hoskins is convinced that the Home Run Derby helped him. Bryce Harper, not so much.

It’s been exactly one month since Harper staged an epic comeback on his home turf to defeat Chicago’s Kyle Schwarber in the final round of the Derby in D.C. Schwarber’s opponent in the semis was Hoskins, who’s already gone on record as saying the Derby jump-started his second half.
“Hundred percent,” the Phillies slugger said late last month. “I think it kind of forced me to be aggressive to the pull side. I haven’t done that very well this year. For whatever reason, I’ve been a little more passive on the inner half of the plate. In the Derby, I was able to pull balls more true and keep the ball a lot straighter instead of hooking the ball. It seems to be carrying over.”

Hoskins has an OPS of 1.001 since the All-Star break, nearly 200 points higher than in the first half. After hitting 14 home runs in 86 games prior to the break, he already has nine homers in just 24 games since.new nike nfl jerseys cheap

As for Harper, heading into the All-Star break there were whispers that maybe the Derby was just what the doctor ordered — that contrary to the recent trend of superstars skipping the contest for fear of ruining their swings and/or injuring themselves, the most well-known National might actually benefit from it. After all, he had nowhere to go but up. Following a first half in which he hit an anemic .214 and struck out more than 100 times, the Derby might actually snap him out of his funk. Or so went the thinking.6

The way the Home Run Derby played out, with Harper captivating the capital en route to hoisting the hardware, only added fuel to the fire. The way Harper came out of the break hasn’t done anything to douse those flames.buy nike nfl jerseys cheap

Since the Midsummer Classic, the former MVP is hitting .337. His slugging percentage is more than 200 points higher than it was before the break. His 1.115 OPS is up nearly 300 points. His swing-and-miss rate is down (from 33 percent to 30 percent), as is his chase rate (28 to 22). Perhaps most important, he’s using the whole field.

“Better approach,” says one National League scout who’s watched Harper recently. “He’s staying on the ball, using the opposite field, not pulling everything.”

The numbers back up the scout’s take. During the first half of the season, 24 percent of Harper’s batted balls went to the opposite field. Since the break, that number has spiked to 35 percent, a telltale sign he’s feeling more comfortable at the plate.

8

Bengals look to fix big-play element that was broken in 2017

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green should have had a touchdown connection in the second quarter of their Week 13 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

Dalton had good protection and dropped back to his own 45-yard line to make the throw, finding Green one-on-one racing down the sideline. The ball flew 50 yards through the air.

As Green reached the Steelers’ 5-yard line, the defensive back had fallen down and the Bengals had a chance to extend their lead to 17-0.

Instead, the ball sailed somewhere over Green’s head right and out of bounds. Cameras caught both players grimacing over the missed opportunity.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

This type of missed opportunity became routine during 2017, and the answers aren’t so clear as to why. It would be easy to point to the offensive line struggles or the change in coordinators after Ken Zampese was fired after the team failed to score a touchdown in the first two weeks.8

Sometimes Dalton just plain missed. At other times, it was clear the protection had broken down. Sometimes the receivers simply didn’t run crisp enough routes or get open in time to make the catch.

“It’s a two-way street,” new quarterbacks coach Alex Van Pelt said. “Obviously, we don’t want to throw them out of bounds, but we also have to have the space out there.”

It’s not that Dalton doesn’t have the arm or the capabilities to make the deep pass. He routinely has found Green in stride for a touchdown or watched John Ross turn on the jets to shoot past defenders for a big gain in training camp.

In the Bengals’ scrimmage earlier in camp, Dalton hit Green for a 50-yard bomb that probably would’ve been an 85-yard touchdown had they been playing by the rules of a normal game.

But it’s easy to do those things in August when the quarterback knows he won’t get hit and the star receiver routinely gets single coverage. The real test comes in September, and the Bengals’ clearly failed that test last season.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

So what was the problem? Bengals offensive coordinator Bill Lazor smiled slightly one day when he was asked if he could pinpoint that answer.

“Yeah [I can], but I won’t,” he said to a reporter. “Statistically, it looks just like it felt. You were there.”

Lazor is expected to put his stamp on the offense after taking over for the fired Zampese. The Bengals’ offense hasn’t been the same since Hue Jackson left after the 2015 season, and Lazor is under a lot of pressure to right the ship.

7

Call of (double) duty: Patrick Ricard is NFL’s top two-way player

Patrick Ricard finished off the Baltimore Ravens’ first drive in last Thursday’s preseason game by catching a 6-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco.

Four days later, Ricard reached the end zone again, grabbing a deflected pass in practice and running back the interception for a touchdown.

Ricard is pulling double duty for a second straight season as a fullback and defensive tackle in an experiment that went by the name “Project Pat” last year. This summer, it’s more like Playmaker Pat.

Using athleticism, opportunity and a good number of burritos to bulk up, Ricard is looking to make an increased impact on offense and defense. He could become the first player in nine years to record over 100 plays on both sides of the ball.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

“It’s almost like playing in high school again, because in high school, I never came off the field,” Ricard said. “I was playing both ways. It’s just a way higher level, and I have to know way more. It’s way faster, but it’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun.”7

Two-way players have become a rarity in the NFL since the days of Sammy Baugh and Chuck Bednarik. Ricard was one of five players last season to line up for double-digit snaps on both sides of the ball, participating on 143 plays on offense and 37 on defense.

Leading the way for Alex Collins, Ricard replaced Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk and became the NFL’s top-rated fullback last season by Pro Football Focus. He still believes he could do more on the defensive side of the ball.cheap new nike nfl jerseys

Ricard added 10 to 15 pounds this offseason to help his chances of getting into the defensive line rotation. He put in long hours at a sports performance center in Indianapolis as well as Chipotle, where he scarfed down burritos every day.

The early results have been impressive for the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Ricard, who wanted to find the happy medium of being able to physically take on blocks on defense while being able to move around as a fullback. In last Thursday’s preseason game, he scored a touchdown, made four tackles and recorded a quarterback hit.

“I graded the tape [and] I don’t think I gave him a minus the whole time,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I think it was all pluses. That’s pretty remarkable for a guy playing offense and defense.”

8

Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone out to emulate father’s success

Fiorentina forward Giovanni Simeone said he has had to work hard to emerge from the “burdensome” shadows of his father, but believes his determination to have a similarly successful career.

Simeone is heading into his second season with La Viola having scored 14 goals in 38 appearances last term, following a move from Genoa — his first club in Italian football.

His father, Diego, had three spells in Italy — with Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio — and Giovanni admits his father’s success means he could just sit at home with his feet up, without worrying about earning a living.

However, he says he is out to prove that he can have a successful career of his own accord, and not be known merely as Diego’s son.8

“It’s not true that footballers who come from poor families have more hunger compared to those with rich parents,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I have the right ‘garra’ [drive], even if my parents are well off.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“Hunger is something which should come from your heart, and you need it to excel in any walk of life. Lots of people have asked me: ‘why don’t you just relax on a beach in the Caribbean for the rest of your life instead of working so hard? It’s not like you have a money problem.’ But I’ve set myself objectives and I’m ready to work hard for them.

“My father has also been a burdensome figure. I got into River’s youth system because I was called Simeone and at the start, everybody was giving me suspicious glances. It was like I was walking in the shadows of my father. It was tough, believe me.

“The starting point is in your mind. In my case, also my feet. I was not born a champion, but thanks to my mentality, I’ve succeeded where players who were potentially better than me have failed. The finest example of my philosophy has now arrived in Italy — Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He wasn’t born a phenomenal player, but he became it with his work and his desire. CR7 is a model to follow. Humility is my best ally. I’ve not done anything yet in my career.”

He hopes that will change on an individual and club level in the near future, predicting an improvement for his club Fiorentina on last season, when they finished eighth.

“On paper, we are better than we were a year ago, but let’s not get carried away,” he said. “Lazio, AC Milan, Atalanta and Torino have improved. We’ve got to set European football as an objective, but not as an obsession.cheap youth nfl jerseys

“With Federico [Chiesa], we’ve taken big steps forward in getting to know each other, also off the field. We’re a great three-pronged attack [with Marko Pjaca] and I am aiming to score 15 goals.”

7

Lionel Messi’s Argentina retirement ‘would be understandable’ – Carlos Tevez

Former Argentina international Carlos Tevez would not be surprised if Lionel Messi decides to permanently retire from the national team.

Messi, Argentina’s captain, is expected to take a break from international competition for the rest of the year and will miss the friendlies against Guatemala and Colombia next month.

“It would be understandable if Messi doesn’t return to the national team,” Tevez told TyC Sports. “When you give and then you are criticised, it becomes very difficult. I’ve been through that and at times you don’t want to go [to the national team].”cheap new nike nfl jerseys

Argentina football federation (AFA) president Claudio Tapia said last month that it is important for his organisation to have Messi play for the national team for financial reasons, but that he would give Messi time to decide if he will return.

Pressure led Messi to quit the national team, albeit briefly, in 2016 after Argentina lost to Chile in the Copa America final.7

Messi’s mother, Celia Cutticini, said during the World Cup that Messi has been deeply affected by criticism of his performances with Argentina, and former Barcelona forward Hristo Stoichkov also believes Messi has been unfairly treated by some fans and media.

Messi has been accused of selecting coaches and influencing which players do and do not make the squad, and Stoichkov, who is close friends with Messi, denied he makes those decisions for the national team.

“That’s a lie that someone invented a while back,” Stoichkov told TyC Sports. “If that were the case, I would be the coach of Argentina because I’m Lionel’s friend. It’s a complete lie.

“A lot of people don’t know Messi. I know him very well and I can say that he never got involved in the construction of the national team. It’s all lies.”

It will not be Ricardo Gareca, who was considered the top candidate after leading Peru to their first World Cup appearance in 36 years. After signing a new contract with Peru last week, he said he was never contacted by the AFA.cheap nfl jerseys nike china

“I never got a call, not even an informal one, to guide Argentina,” Gareca told TyC Sports. “I took time because I wanted to listen and see what was there [before signing a new contract with Peru]. If Argentina called me up, things would have changed.”

The AFA has turned to Lionel Scaloni and Pablo Aimar to guide Argentina for the friendlies, which will be played in the United States.