Josef Martinez thanks Atlanta United teammate Miguel Almiron for making him a champion

MLS Cup Most Valuable Player Josef Martinez was in a thankful mood following his team’s 2-0 triumph over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, shouting out everybody from coach Tata Martino to teammate Miguel Almiron.

The Venezuelan forward didn’t go as far as to call out every one of the record 73,019 who attended the championship match at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, cheap official nike nfl jerseys although for portions of his post-match news conference it felt as though he was headed that way.

“It’s been a special week for me,” Martinez said through an interpreter. “Before the game, I had a moment with Miguel, and I just thanked him for all of the help that he’s given me over these two seasons. I told him that he was going to make me a champion today, because I had never been a champion before, so I want to thank him for that.12

“I want to take this opportunity to thank everybody: the coaching staff, the players, the fans, the city. I know it’s been a long time since they had a championship, and I think they deserved it.”

The title was Atlanta’s first in a major professional sport since the Braves won the World Series in 1995, and won in large part thanks to Martinez’s contributions.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Martinez, who was also named the league’s overall MVP earlier this week having netted 31 regular-season goals, opened the scoring in the 39th minute and played a key role in the second, too. He won the foul that resulted in the free kick that he then headed into Franco Escobar’s path to double the lead, sending the home crowd into further hysterics.

“I was feeling a lot of pressure for this game,” Martinez said. “Neighbors were putting flags all around my house, and pushing notes under my door. I had a lot of pressure to deal with. But I just wanted to say thank you again to everyone, to the fans, who deserve it, and to be able to do it in this building.”


The Sixers being this good is a minor miracle

Philly arrives in Toronto on Wednesday essentially in a second-place tie in the Eastern Conference standings. That’s a minor miracle. The past nine months have seen an incredible streak of bad luck and, for lack of a better term, uncontrollable happenstance that has threatened to wreck the momentum that took so many years to craft.

It hasn’t been framed that way because the Sixers and their fans maybe haven’t stopped to consider it; they’ve just dealt with one trauma after another. But what a run.nike nfl jerseys wholesale cheap

It seems like it started in late March against the tanking New York Knicks on a simple give-and-go with Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz. Fultz’s shoulder — yes, that shoulder — ran into Embiid’s face and fractured his orbital bone. Watch the replay, it was crazy; they weren’t even in traffic. It was just a horrid bit of fortune.

At that point, the Sixers had won seven in a row and were just laying waste to teams. They were ramping up to their finest ball of the season. Heck, they were ramping up to their finest ball of the decade.9

Embiid needed surgery and missed 10 games. The Sixers kept winning, eventually getting to 17 in a row, but that belied the fallout. When Embiid came back in the playoffs he wasn’t himself. He had a few good games, but his shooting, rebounding, scoring and efficiency plunged in the postseason. Against the Boston Celtics they needed their best player because Ben Simmons was frozen and Embiid just couldn’t deliver.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Then, of course, we have the great Bryan Colangelo twitter fiasco of 2018. There was so much scrutiny and stress as amateur and professional investigators combed through the internet that it might have been lost on the masses just how ludicrous the entire scenario was.

It is incumbent on any major business to prepare contingency and disaster-response plans. But even in the world of the NBA — in which there seem to be disasters of some sort every few weeks — there was nothing in the handbook for this one. Even now, months later, it still isn’t totally clear what happened as Colangelo has gone underground and no one wants to talk about it. The upshot is the Sixers lost their GM days before they were about to embark on arguably the most important offseason in franchise history.

Would having Colangelo at the controls instead of the front office scrambling to hold things together have made a difference? Would the Sixers have landed a free agent instead of striking out and having to absorb Wilson Chandler as their major offseason move? Would they have been able to close the Nemanja Bjelica deal instead of it falling apart? We don’t know.

What we do know is that it was a letdown of a summer as their competitors made major moves. It created pressure for them to make the in-season move for Jimmy Butler, rolling the dice that he’ll re-sign.


Brighton overcome red card to swat aside poor Crystal Palace in southern derby

Replays appeared to show the Palace man had touched the ball before the Colombian went down, but Glenn Murray converted the spot kick for his ninth league goal of the season. Only Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has a better return this campaign than the 35-year-old.

Brighton and Palace share a feisty rivalry with the fixture dubbed the “M23 derby” after the road that links the two clubs and last season’s fixture was marred by crowd disturbances.cheap wholesale nfl jerseys china

Those violent scenes were not repeated on Tuesday but Brighton were reduced to 10 men four minutes after going ahead when Shane Duffy was shown a straight red for attempting to head butt Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt.12

The decision did not halt their momentum, however, as substitute Leon Balogun, brought on to compensate for the dismissal, drilled the ball in from the middle of the area.wholesale cheap nfl jersey china

The home side lost Murray to an injury and his replacement Florin Andone scored Brighton’s third in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time. The Romanian finished off a fast break by striking the ball into the far corner past Wayne Hennessey.

Balogun conceded a penalty 10 minutes before the end by fouling Wilfried Zaha and Luka Milivojevic stepped up to pull one back, but it was not enough to stop Chris Hughton’s side from sealing all three points to rise to 10th in the standings.

“When it was 11 vs. 11 we were the best side. I thought we were outstanding. It’s shame their penalty went in,” Brighton boss Hughton told BBC Sport.

“All first goals are decisive. Anyone who has seen the replay of the penalty will have seen what I have seen so there is no point commenting. That wasn’t the crucial factor. The second goal was the really decisive moment.”


Mariners discussed Robinson Cano trade with Yankees, Mets

The Seattle Mariners are actively trying to trade Robinson Cano and reached out to the Yankees and Mets about possible blockbusters that would have sent the star second baseman back to New York, according to a recent report by The Athletic.

Citing multiple sources, The Athletic reported that the Mariners and Yankees briefly talked about a potential trade involving Cano and veteran outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury in a swap of lucrative contracts.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But those talks fizzled, in part, according to the report, because the Yankees wanted the Mariners to include cash that would offset some of the $120 million that Cano will make over the final five years of his contract.i

The Mets would be interested in acquiring Cano only if Seattle included a prospect and cash in the trade, according to the report.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

The Mariners have already completed one trade with the Yankees this offseason, sending ace left-hander James Paxton to New York earlier this month for a trio of minor leaguers, including top pitching prospect Justus Sheffield.

Cano, 36, batted .303 with 10 home runs last season but was suspended 80 games for violating baseball’s joint drug policy.

The eight-time All-Star spent his first nine years with the Yankees before signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners before the 2014 season.


Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho targets Axel Witsel from Borussia Dortmund – sources

Jose Mourinho has reignited his interest in Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel, with sources telling ESPN FC that the Manchester United manager’s trip to Belgium during the international break centred around scouting the 29-year-old.

Mourinho told reporters on Friday that he had travelled to Brussels for the UEFA Nations League clash with Iceland in order to monitor Romelu Lukaku’s fitness following a hamstring injury. But, although Lukaku was ruled out of the game before travelling to Antwerp for further treatment, Mourinho remained in Belgian capital to watch Witsel win his 100th cap in the 2-0 victory for Roberto Martinez’s team.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Mourinho has been a long-term admirer of Witsel and had been keen to sign the former Benfica and Zenit St Petersburg player last summer.12

United instead spent £52 million to sign Fred from Shakhtar Donetsk, with the Brazilian midfielder’s age — 25 — a key factor in him being preferred ahead of Witsel, who completed an £18m move to Dortmund from Chinese Super League outfit Tianjin Quanjian after helping the Belgians to third place at the World Cup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Witsel has made an impressive start to life in Germany with Dortmund, helping the club to the top of Bundesliga — nine points clear of fifth-placed Bayern Munich — at the same time as being a key figure in their Champions League campaign.

Mourinho is determined to improve his midfield options at Old Trafford and he believes that Witsel possesses the quality and experience to make a significant difference to his team. United have no plans to make a move for Witsel in January, with Mourinho instead planning for summer reinforcements.

Paul Pogba’s long-term future at Old Trafford remains uncertain, while Nemanja Matic’s loss of form this season has also raised questions over the Serbia international’s prospects at United. Mourinho will, however, have to convince United that a move for Witsel would make financial sense with the player due to turn 30 in January.

But while Dortmund would be resistant to selling Witsel after just one season at the club, a significant fee for the player next summer could persuade the Bundesliga leaders to sell.


LeBron James scores 51 in first win at Miami since 2014 departure

LeBron James scored 51 points Sunday in the Los Angeles Lakers’ 113-97 win over the Miami Heat, marking James’ first victory in Miami since leaving the Heat franchise in 2014.

He also became just the fifth player in league history to score 50-plus points with three different franchises.

“[My] environment is a basketball and a hoop,” James said when asked how playing against his former team factored into his performance. “That’s my environment, that’s my comfort zone. But it’s always great to be here, come back here and see a lot of familiar faces. We had some not-so-good times, we had more great times. So it’s always a respect factor and a love for the people of Miami, especially the people who work here. We put in a lot of time.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

James wasted no time with his scoring barrage, pumping in 19 points on 8-for-10 shooting in the first quarter.

“I felt pretty good. I felt pretty good,” James said, playing on the second night of a back-to-back after mustering just 22 points on 8-for-19 shooting in a loss to the Magic on Saturday. “I think we were all kind of shell-shocked in Orlando from that cross-country flight, getting in late to Orlando and just having the time difference. … But we was able to get some good rest last night and feel pretty good about today’s game.”11

James’ teams hadn’t felt too good after playing in Miami in the past. He came into Sunday’s game on a four-game losing streak as a visiting player, and his all-time record at AmericanAirlines Arena as an opponent is still just 5-13, according to research compiled by ESPN Stats & Information. Prior to Sunday, his last time winning in Miami as a member of the visiting team was Jan. 25, 2010.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Eleven of James’ 12 career 50-point games have come on the road. His 12th 50-point game moved him into sixth place on the list of most career 50-point games, breaking a tie with Allen Iverson. And he joined Jamal Crawford, Bernard King, Moses Malone and Wilt Chamberlain as the only players to score 50 or more for three teams.

“I’ve played for three very, very historic franchises in the time that I played,” James said. “Obviously, in Miami we did some historical things. In Cleveland we was able to do some historical [things]. And obviously the Lakers [name] speaks for itself, what they’ve been able to do. And so, my teammates, my coaching staff, they just put that trust in me to go out and make plays, and I just try to be as efficient as possible when I’m on the floor and make things happen.”

James pointed to one teammate in particular, Lance Stephenson, after drilling his final shot of the game — a 32-foot 3-pointer with 16.5 seconds left over a double team by Miami’s Derrick Jones Jr. and Rodney McGruder, to take him from 48 to 51 points and settle his final shooting line at 19-for-31 from the floor.


This is the David Johnson we’ve been waiting for

Coming into 2018, and off a season in which he missed 15 games with a fractured wrist, Johnson shouldered the expectation that he’d return to his 2016 level with the Arizona Cardinals. That season the running back led the NFL with 2,118 all-purpose yards and 20 touchdowns, rushing for 1,239 yards to go along with 879 yards receiving. He was an All-Pro and a Pro Bowler.

The bar was set. And it was high.

But through the first seven games of this season, Johnson’s performance dipped. He was a casualty of offensive coordinator Mike McCoy’s stagnant offense, producing just one game with 100 yards from scrimmage. In the other six games he never got above 71. He never caught more than five passes in a game. His runs were becoming predictable. He wasn’t used like he had been in the past.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Johnson had 100 yards from scrimmage against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 8 and then topped that in the next game. Johnson had the best game of his season Sunday in Kansas City, running for 98 yards and a touchdown in addition to 85 receiving yards and a score. The 183 all-purpose yards on a season-high 28 touches were his most since Oct. 6, 2016.12

“It made me feel like it was back to … two years ago — the 2016 offense,” Johnson said after Sunday’s game. “We got some momentum going as an offense running the ball. We got some good confidence going, as well.”

As the Cardinals prepare to play the Oakland Raiders this Sunday, coach Steve Wilks didn’t mind one bit that Johnson was taken back in time against the Chiefs.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“As long as David is getting yardage and he’s getting in the end zone, I don’t care what it feels like,” Wilks said.

Getting Johnson involved is the only thing Leftwich said he knows to do. Against the Chiefs, Johnson had his second-most carries this season (21) and most catches (seven) on his most targets (nine).

“I know what he is,” Leftwich said. “I’m just trying to put these guys in position. I’m not really thinking about 2016. I’m just trying to use the guys and what I know of the playmakers and just put them in position to make plays and if it turns out to be him playing like he was in 2016, that’d be good for us.”

Johnson has been implored by running backs coach Kirby Wilson to run more downhill and not bounce outside as much. The goal, Johnson said, is to turn 1-yard runs into 3-yard gains. While he did it more Sunday in Kansas City, it wasn’t easy. One of Johnson’s favorite moves is the jump-cut. Lowering his shoulder and bulldozing a defender isn’t natural for him, he added. He’d prefer to create with cuts, moves and jukes.


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


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.


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.