DENVER (AP):Kaka and David Villa are raising the profile of Major League Soccer (MLS). Clint Dempsey and the US national teams have done their part, too.Buoyed by international football icons and capitalising on recent World Cup success by the American men’s and women’s national teams, the league is drawing record numbers so far this season, MLS Commissioner Don Garber said in an interview with The Associated Press this week.MLS averages 21,109 spectators a game, a figure bolstered by the additions of Orlando City (Kaka’s squad) and New York City FC (Villa’s team). The 20-team league also has new television deals that allow their stars to be seen all over the globe.MLSLOSINGMONEYStill, MLS is losing money – Garber declined to give an exact figure – as teams write big cheques for top players and fund player development through academy programmes to discover the next Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan or Dempsey.”We’re still in investment mode,” said Garber, whose MLS All-Stars beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on Wednesday. “But there’s a lot of momentum for the sport of football in the US and Canada, and that is empowering.”Next on the docket? Expansion. Atlanta is scheduled to join MLS in 2017 and a second team in Los Angeles the following season. Down the road, Miami and Minnesota are expected to come on board as well.Garber threw his support behind a plan presented by retired football icon David Beckham to officials in Miami. Beckham and his partners are looking at the former Orange Bowl site, with the field financed privately and built on city-owned land at an estimated cost of around $200 million.”We believe Miami will be a great MLS market and we look forward to bringing the whole project across the finish line,” Garber said.As for Minnesota, that’s proving a little more challenging. With the passing of an early July deadline for a stadium plan in Minneapolis, the league is turning its attention towards St Paul.”We’ve now become intrigued by a possibility of having a stadium be in St Paul,” Garber said. “Similar with Miami, though, without a stadium, you can’t go forward anywhere. But we remain hopeful.”Other potential markets include Sacramento, St Louis or San Diego, he said.”That speaks to this overall growth period that we’re going through,” Garber said. “You have to do expansion right. There’s no rush. If we have to wait any period of time to get it right, we’re willing to do that.”Garber is encouraged by the number of foreign players headlining MLS rosters – and not just as a last resort.Sebastian Giovinco, the 28-year-old former Juventus standout, has 13 goals and 10 assists for Toronto FC this season.Then there’s Kaka and Villa, a pair of 33-year-old highly decorated players who are demonstrating they still have flashy moves. Kaka scored on a penalty kick in the MLS All-Star game and set up Villa’s goal.
TODAY’S set of matches in the second round of the Inter- Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) Urban Area schoolgirl netball competition will be the most important as four unbeaten senior teams will battle each other as they seek semi-final berths.Defending champion The Queen’s School, along with St Catherine High, are the two unbeaten teams in Group I, and they will face each other at 2:45 p.m. In Group II, Camperdown will clash with last year’s beaten finalist, St Hugh’s, as they seek to keep their unbeaten tag.Queen’s should start as favourites to make it three wins in a row as their two wins so far have been more impressive than St Catherine High’s.In their first match of the second round, they turned back St Andrew Technical 33-16 before getting by Excelsior High 41-20 on Wednesday.On the other hand St. Catherine had to fight hard to get by Excelsior 32-27 and Norman Manley 31-28.The Group II clash between Camperdown and St Hugh’s is worth going miles to see as both teams have been unbeaten so far this season after dominating their opponents in the preliminary round.Both teams have been the most impressive so far in second-round action.On Wednesday, St Hugh’s got by a good Holy Childhood team 51-39 to follow up on their 54-23 win over Campion in their first game of the round.With four national junior representatives in their team, Camperdown has been touted to go all the way this year and give the east Kingston school its first title in the competition. They have shown so far that they have the team to do so, and following a big 29-8 win over Gaynstead and a 52-6 win over Campion, they will be hard to beat.FULL SCHEDULE OF MATCHES TODAYJUNIORSNorman Manley vs Alpha – 2 p.m.Excelsior vs Meadowbrook – 2 p.m.Holy Childhood vs Queen’s – 2 p.m.Ardenne vs Tarrant – 2 p.m.St Hugh’s vs Camperdown – 2:45 p.m.Gaynstead vs Campion – 2:45 p.m.SENIORSSt Hugh’s vs Camperdown – 3:30 p.m.Queen’s vs St Catherine – 2:45 p.m.Excelsior vs Tarrant – 2:45 p.m.Norman Manley vs St Andrew Technical – 3:30 p.m.Holy Childhood vs Gaynstead – 3:45 p.m.Campion vs Meadowbrook – 3:45 p.m.
Two-title winning Tivoli Gardens Football Club coach Glendon ‘Admiral’ Bailey has admitted that he found his former team in a less than ideal state and has been having to teach football tactics from the very basics.Bailey replaced Christopher Bender late this season and got his team off to a come-from-behind 2-1 win over Rivoli United at the Edward Seaga Sports Complex.”There is a lot of work to be done. First and foremost, I have to get them more tactically aware so they understand the role and understand where they are supposed to play on the football field and what time, and then the playing conditions,” Bailey outlined.When asked if his team could rebound to finish among the top four and make it into the semi-final round, Bailey said that he was not looking that far.”There is still a lot of work to be done; there is nothing to celebrate. In terms of the fitness level and the whole understanding role for the football field, there is still a long journey, still a long way to go, but it is always good to start out positive and winning,” stressed Bailey, who admits to taking time away from his musical career to deliver Tivoli from a relegation struggle.Tivoli then rallied to a similar 2-1 come-from-behind win over Harbour View on Sunday, taking them to four points ahead of the relegation zone and one point behind ninth-place Cavalier SC.”It was very important for us. I think it gets us out of the red temporarily. One step, one day at a time, but there is still a lot of work to be done,” Bailey said.
ASTON VILLA VSNORWICH CITYAston Villa have won only one of their past 23 Barclays Premier League games and will be aware that no team with 13 points – Villa’s total – or fewer from 24 games (based on three points for a win) have avoided relegation. However, Norwich last won at Villa Park in the inaugural season of the Premier League, in November 1992. Since that 3-2 victory, Norwich have drawn three and lost three at Villa.LIVERPOOL VSSUNDERLANDLiverpool are unbeaten in their last seven league games against Sunderland, who have gone 284 minutes since scoring against the Reds. The Black Cats have lost five and drawn two since they last won against Liverpool, at the Stadium of Light, in March 2012. Sunderland, are still without Younes Kaboul but Sebastian Larsson undergoes a test after a month out.NEWCASTLE VSWEST BROMNewcastle have lost just once at home to Albion, in December 2011. Overall, the Magpies have won six and drawn two of their nine home Premier League games against the Baggies. Albion have lost only one of their last six league games but three of those were draws. Their goal in the 1-1 draw with Swansea on Tuesday night was their first in three league games.SOUTHAMPTONVS WEST HAMSouthampton held Arsenal to a goalless draw at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, their four successive clean sheet, their best sequence since November 2014. Saints have now gone 388 minutes without conceding. West Ham have lost only one of their last 11 Premier League games, a run extended by the 2-0 midweek win over Aston Villa. However, six of those games were draws.STOKE CITY VSEVERTONStoke City are going through a difficult time. In the space of a week they have gone out of the Capital One Cup – at the semi-final stage – and the FA Cup and, on Tuesday they lost 3-0 at Manchester United, their third game without a win and third without a goal. Everton have a poor Premier League record at Stoke; they last won there in September 2008, while drawing four and losing two of their other six games at the Britannia Stadium.SWANSEA CITY VS CRYSTAL PALACESwansea are unbeaten in their last three games in the Barclays Premier League, winning seven points from a possible nine. Crystal Palace, meanwhile, lost 2-1 at home to Bournemouth on Tuesday, the club’s fifth defeat in a row and seventh game in the league without a win. It is Palace’s worst sequence of defeats since they lost seven in a row between September and November 2013.
They’re off and running for Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA/GraceKennedy Boys and Girls’ Athletic Championships 2016. Calabar High will retain the Boys’ Champs title by a 50-60 point margin, while Edwin Allen High will also repeat as Girls Champs winners by an 80-90 point margin. The more difficult call to make will be who will win the stellar Class One boys’ 100-metre event? All things considered, the race should be fast and the winner will be one of Jhevaughn Matherson of Kingston College (KC), Nigel Ellis of St Elizabeth Technical High School (STETHS) and the St Jago High’s rocket man, Raheem Chambers. This race is Ellis to win. His body of work, but more specifically his 10.20 clocking while running all alone at Western Championships, has quite rightly earned him the favourite’s tag. His blistering top-end speed and aggression over the final 40 metres should render Ellis unbeatable at this level, providing he executes well. Chambers will have to beat them with his strength out of the blocks and hold his form and momentum through to the tape. Due to the minuscule margin for error in this quality field, the St Jago man will have to run a perfect race to win. But Chambers did show signs of returning to his 10.27 best, with a comfortable 10.32 clocking at the recent Carifta Trials. Matherson will be the X-factor in this race. He reminded all and sundry how special an athlete he is with that 10.25 run while easing up and gazing all around the stadium, also at the Carifta Trials. Outside of the sheer class and quality of the Class Three 100m record holder, the dynamics of Matherson wearing the purple of KC cannot be overstated. When it comes to Champs, that energy generated by the constant bellowing of purple support coming from the stands, has discombobulated many opposing athletes over many years. The big question is this: How will Nigel Ellis cope with the ‘purple pressure’ come that final on Friday evening? There is also the burden of expectation on Ellis, not just of winning his first major race at Champs, but also to become the first STETHS athlete to win the prestigious Class One 100-metre event. If Ellis passes those mental tests he will win. He is naturally fastest in the field and with that stunning anchor leg in the mile relay at the Gibson/McCook Relays, he showed that he is not just fast, but also supremely strong. Having listened to him in a couple of interviews, I get the impression that he is quite level-headed, with a near nonchalant dynamic to his easy going, relaxed personality, qualities he will need to cope with those crucial race pressure moments. As is the tradition of this particular event, it will be worth going miles to see. The hope is for a legal headwind of about 1.6 to 1.8 metres per second, which would serve up the necessary conditions for an assault on the 10.12 Champs record by the Anguillan citizen Zharnel Hughes, who competed at Champs for KC. It is quite befitting our legacy in world sprinting that a Jamaican schoolboy retains that record and that honour. All things remaining equal, I predict Ellis to win from Matherson from, Chambers, with the hope being that mother nature will oblige with the necessary conditions for a schoolboy sprinter to dip under 10.10 for the first time in our glorious Champs history.
The Institute of Sports (INSPORTS) will be continuing its initiative to develop track and field in Junior High Schools with the annual staging of the popular INSPORTS Junior High Athletics Championships from April 13-15.The meet, to be held for the second consecutive year at the National Stadium East, will see some 2,000 athletes vying for top honours.Through its regular coaching seminars, the government-run sports agency recognised the necessity for a constant supply of sporting equipment to enhance proper development at this level and as such, they have allocated $500,000 for the purchasing of spikes for the champions.”We’re going to give the winning school half a million dollars’ worth of running spikes,” said Ian Andrews, administrative director, INSPORTS.”That will go towards their development. If they want to keep them or give them to the athletes, it’s up to them,” he added.Andrews noted that their aim is to increase participation on a national scale.”We only have 22 schools participating,” he pointed out. “The number of schools have been dwindling because many have been upgraded to high schools.”Hopefully with this initiative, next year, we will be able to attract other schools from outside the Corporate Area and St Catherine. Right now, Osborne Store is the only school outside Kingston and St Catherine that will be participating,” he observed.In keeping with that plan, the INSPORTS administrative director said they have formed a union with the heads of institutions.PARTNERSHIP WITH PRINCIPALS”We’ve developed a partnership with the principals with a view of developing the meet and, hopefully, they will spread the word and influence other principals for their schools to take part at the meet,” said Andrews, who listed more plans to increase popularity.”We’ll be going into the schools to try to sensitise them between now and next week. We’ll be looking to highlight the top athletes, who invariably will end up going to high schools,” he noted.The majority of those athletes are generally fielded by Windward Road Junior High and John Mills Junior High, which have dominated the championships.During the recent staging, Windward Road successfully defended their title ahead of John Mills, the many-time champions.The top teams prepare at the National Stadium East and meet director, Maureen Chin-Miller, said expectations are high because a larger portion of the student body will now contribute to the overall outcome.”So far, it’s looking good, we’re getting everything in place,” she said about their preparedness.”What has heightened the competition is because we’ve added the primary school component as well.”Windward Road and John Mills will be renewing their rivalry again, and it should be very exciting,” said Chin-Miller.
Last season’s champions, Arnett were knocked out of the race for the national league last Sunday when they drew 2-2 with Montego Bay United in the return-leg semi-final (they had lost the first leg 1-2), while Waterhouse struggled throughout that league and were saved from relegation on the final match day of the season. Now, the teams are ready to continue their long-time rivalry. Also, each team has won the title five times apiece and the winner would move one title behind the team to have won the most, Harbour View FC, with seven titles. Coach of defending champions, Waterhouse Anthony Patrick said his team is looking forward to ending the season on a high. “The team and community are optimistic. After a break, we returned to training last week. We are short on a few players for different reasons. However, the other players are upbeat,” said Patrick, who was in charge when the team won last season. Waterhouse’s self-proclaimed saviour, Jermain ‘Tuffy’ Anderson, Andre Leslie and Kenroy Howell are expected to lead the attack in their quest to retain the title. Meanwhile, Arnett will be coming with the same intention of finishing the season with silverware. “The motivation is always a factor after faltering in the Premier League,” Arnett’s long-serving coach Jerome ‘Jerry’ Waite told The Sunday Gleaner. “We know the importance of winning this trophy in memory of Jackie Bell. The physical condition is there, so we will continue to work on the mental aspect,” he said. Arnett will look to captain Oneil ‘Bigga’ Thompson, Ranike Anderson, Kemal Malcolm, Vishinul Harris, among others, to capture the title for the sixth time. Winthorpe ‘Jackie’ Bell died along with his close friend, Dennis Ziadie, in Mexico City while attending the FIFA World Cup Finals in June 1986. Bell was president and coach of Santos FC at the time. He was also a former national player. Relegation Defending champions Waterhouse and Arnett Gardens will battle today in the teams’ last chance at silverware this season in the Locker Room-Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) Jackie Bell Knockout football final at Sabina Park in Kingston, starting at 4 p.m. Both teams will look to make up for disappointment in the Red Stripe Premier League (RSPL) by finishing the 2015-16 local football season on a high. The winning trophy apart, the teams will fight for the top cash incentive of $400,000 and, of course, bragging rights in the Corporate Area’s premier knockout competition. For the losers, the second place prize is $250,000. Third and fourth-place teams will earn $150,000 and $100,000, respectively.
A declaration that boxing fans will be able to see regular shows, by both professional and amateur boxers over the next 12-month period, was made by Boxing Board president Stephen Jones on Wednesday as he officially launched a Pro-Am Boxing card scheduled for Saturday, November 5, at the Barbican Beach Sports Complex on East Kings House Road. The card will have two professional bouts, with the feature being a six-rounder between Sakima Mullings, the Wray and Nephew 2014 Contender champion and Courtney McCleave from North Carolina. The other fight between two Americans will be announced early next week he said. The joint promoters of this section of the card will be I-Fight Promotions led by Chris Joy from the USA and Creative Sports led by Donald Lyeow from Jamaica. The Jamaica Boxing Board will be promoting the amateur section of the card, which will see five Jamaican boxers going up against boxers from the Cayman Islands. Speaking at the launch at the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records complex at Market Place in St. Andrew, Jones said that the boxing board now has a network of partners who have pledged to work with the board to foster both amateur and professional boxing. The two promoting companies he said, were firm in their promise to get that section of the sport moving once more, and the board was in touch with several sister overseas boxing associations, who have agreed to have home and away cards, so as to get their amateur boxers ready for competition. The Jamaica versus Cayman dual meet, he said, was preparation for a Caribbean tournament that will take place in Barbados in December. Solidifying the pledge, Junior Lincoln who represented I-Fight Promotions, pointed to the fact that his principal Chris Joy, had fallen in love with Jamaica’s boxing, and not only would he be bringing good boxers here, but he would be inviting celebrities such as members of the Floyd Mayweather camp to attend his shows as an added attraction. . Speaking for the sponsors, David Shirley, chairman of the KLE Group under which the Usain Bolt Tracks and Records fall, and who also has links with the Barbican Beach complex, said that his companies were pleased to be associated with the promotion. Boxing he said was one of the sports with which they wanted to be associated, and they would do everything to help it to move forward over the next 12-month period and beyond.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, (CMC):Opener Kraigg Brathwaite has ended 2016 as the West Indies’ highest-ranked batsman in Tests.The 24-year-old opener was 20th in the latest International Cricket Council rankings released on December 31, with fast bowler Kemar Roach, the highest-placed bowler at 28th in the rankings.Brathwaite tallied 613 runs in eight Tests last year, averaging 55 and scoring one century – a magnificent unbeaten 142 in the third Test against Pakistan in Sharjah last October, which West Indies won by five wickets.The Barbadian also scored 60 not out in the second innings to become the first opener to finish unbeaten in both innings of a Test.Left-hander Darren Bravo, currently in a stand-off with the West Indies Cricket Board after being sent home from the tour of Zimbabwe for disciplinary reasons, is the next highest-ranked Windies player at 30th, with Jermaine Blackwood lying 46th and veteran right-hander Marlon Samuels, 49th.Roach, meanwhile, has remained in the top 30 of the bowlers’ rankings despite having played just one Test in the last 12 months.BACK IN ACTIONThe right-armer has struggled with injury and loss of form, but recently returned to action for Barbados Pride in the West Indies first-class competition, and has taken 12 wickets in five outings.Leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, meanwhile, is ranked 29th after taking 23 wickets in six Tests last year, including a career-best eight for 49 against Pakistan in the day or night first Test in Dubai last October.Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel, with 14 wickets in seven Tests last year, lies 40th, while captain and seamer Jason Holder is 50th.Australia captain Steve Smith starts 2017 in the same position he did last year – on top of the rankings – while India off-spinner Ravi Ashwin leads the bowling.In the One-Day International (ODI) rankings updated on New Year’s Day, Samuels was the highest-ranked West Indies batsman at 28th despite opting out of the Tri-Nations Series last November involving hosts Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka.Bravo is the only other batsman in the top 50 at 47th.In the ODI bowlers’ rankings, wily off-spinner Sunil Narine lies third, with Holder in at 16th. They are the only two West Indies players in the top 40.South Africa’s AB de Villiers sits on top the batting while New Zealander Trent Boult holds the number one slot in the bowling.
The Marlon Samuels Foundation marked year three of its contributions to the local blind and visually impaired community, by handing over $1.85 million during a special ceremony at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston yesterday.Samuels, who presented the donations, has been aiding the blind and visually impaired community in Jamaica, through his foundation, following an eye injury he suffered while playing for Melbourne Renegades in the Australia Big Bash Twenty20 tournament in 2013.Samuels was struck by a delivery from Lasith Malinga, which he recalled left him without sight temporarily.”Well, the urge for this isdefinitely two weeks of closing my left eye, and not being able to see anything out of my right eye. It was total darkness, so I can imagine what they are going through for their entire life being like that,” outlined Samuels.”So I will continue to do what I have done today as I know what it feels like to be without sight as I experienced that for two traumatic weeks. If I can raise awareness for this cause, I would have achieved something for the community,” Samuels added.The Samuels Foundation handed over a cheque valued at $1.5 million to the Jamaica Society for the Blind to assist with its operations. The Jamaica and West Indies cricketer also made a presentation of $350,000 to visually impaired student, Garfield Mitchell, who attends Church Teacher’s College. Mitchell was on the brink of dropping out of school because of his inability to pay his tuition fees.GRATEFUL FORCONTRIBUTIONDaemion McLean, chairman of the Jamaican Society for the Blind hailed the contributions.”It’s never easy for a non-government organisation treating with in excess of 46,000 blind individuals, and 80,000 visually impaired individuals, so when a contribution of this magnitude is made it helps us significantly in terms of rehabilitative services,” he outlinedMeanwhile, former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller, whom Samuels says he met at age 15, and who he considers a mother, and mentor, was present yesterday.”You find people that are mentors, this mentor is very special to me,” Samuels said of Simpson Miller, while encouraging other sportsmen to be mentors and give back.Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, lauded Samuel’s for “his support and advocacy for the blind and visually impaired.”Others present included, West Indies Cricket Board president Dave Cameron and West Indies Players Association president Wavell Hinds.The Marlon Samuels Foundation was launched in 2013, and is looking to continue its support of Jamaica’s blind community and fulfilling their mandate of promoting the welfare, education and employment of persons who are blind or visually impaired in Jamaica.