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15 Jun

SAO PAULO (AP) — The Copa America opener on Friday yielded a box-office record for Brazil with gate receipts of more than $5.7 million.

It was the atmosphere in the stands, though, that captured most attention, with some players complaining about a lack of support from the crowd in the home team’s 3-0 win over Bolivia.

More than 46,000 fans paid an average of $125 per ticket, but at least 22,000 seats were empty at the Morumbi Stadium for a match that organizers initially said was a sellout.

The volume only went up in the stands when there was jeering after Brazil’s lackluster first half, during homophobic chants when the Bolivian keeper took goal kicks, and after the three second-half goals.

“It’s normal to be like that in Sao Paulo, many fans are more concerned about their clubs, so it is always tough for Brazil to play here,” veteran right back Dani Alves said.

For Brazilian league matches, ticket prices for the most popular seats cost as little as $15. The country, enduring an economic crisis since 2015, has established its minimum wage at $256 for this year.

The mix of high prices, empty seats and lack of noise surprised some players, who said they could easily hear instructions from their coaches during the match.

Winger David Neres said the atmosphere was “a bit different.”

“We are usually very focused, we don’t hear much anyway. But it was a little quiet tonight,” he said. “Except for the break, when they booed us. I still don’t understand why that happened.”

Defender Thiago Silva said the jeers were understandable after a goalless first half. He also linked the behavior of the fans to the high ticket prices.

“It took us a while to open the score, the ticket prices were expensive, so it is normal that they boo,” Silva said. “But we were not that bad in the first half.”

Alves said there would be a different atmosphere when Brazil plays Venezuela on Tuesday in Salvador, in the warm northeast state of Bahia.

“In Bahia the ‘axe’ is different,” he said, using an African-Brazilian word that means energy. “People miss the national team there, they miss this energy that we take where we go. I am sure it will be more cheerful than here.”

Historically, Brazil’s impoverished northeast is more supportive of the team.

After playing Venezuela, Brazil ends its group stage campaign against Peru, again in Sao Paulo, but at the Arena Corinthians instead of the Morumbi.


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15 Jun

Video Details



Jun 15, 2019 at 10:10a ET | Soccer | Duration: 1:09


An unfortunate ricochet off a Cameroon defender in the box fell right to the feet of Dominique Bloodworth, who buried the goal as the Netherlands reclaimed the lead at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™.



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15 Jun

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Omar Narváez hit a two-run homer, J.P. Crawford drove in three runs after coming off the injured list earlier in the day, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland Athletics 9-2 on Friday night.

Narváez finished with three hits and scored three times. Mallex Smith also homered for Seattle, and Kyle Seager added a sacrifice fly to tie Raúl Ibañez for sixth place in franchise history with 612 RBIs.

Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales (7-6) allowed one earned run and seven hits in seven innings. He struck out three and walked two to beat the A’s for the second time this season.

Article continues below …

Matt Chapman tripled and made another dazzling defensive play for Oakland. Jurickson Profar added two hits.

The Mariners were swept by the A’s in a three-game series at the Coliseum in late May and trailed 1-0 early Friday.

Crawford’s bases-loaded double in the fourth put Seattle ahead for good and came one batter after shortstop Marcus Semien dropped a throw while trying to cover second base. Seager’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1.

Narváez singled in the fourth and fifth, and then hit his career-best 10th homer off Wei-Chung Wang in the seventh.

Smith went deep in the eighth.

A’s starter Chris Bassitt (3-3) allowed four runs, three earned, and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in his first appearance against Seattle since 2016.

Chapman, Oakland’s Gold Glove third baseman, made a sliding backhanded catch in left field to rob Daniel Vogelbach of a hit in the first inning.

ROSTER SHUFFLE

The Mariners optioned infielder Shed Long to Triple-A Tacoma. Right-hander Matt Festa was called up.

TRAINERS ROOM

Mariners: RHP Félix Hernández pulled himself out of his first minor league rehab start because of fatigue. Hernandez exited after throwing 31 pitches for Triple-A Tacoma. The Mariners said Hernandez came out of the game when he wore down, not with pain. … Crawford had been out with a left ankle sprain. … RHP Brandon Brennan was placed on the IL with a strained right shoulder.

Athletics: OF Stephen Piscotty will be out until at least next week after undergoing surgery to remove a melanoma from his right ear. The 28-year-old Piscotty had surgery Thursday after the melanoma on the outer lobe of his ear was discovered during a routine spot check on May 28.

UP NEXT

Oakland right-hander Frankie Montas (8-2, 2.84 ERA) starts against Seattle and is 4-0 over his last five starts. The Mariners plan to go with an opener, although manager Scott Servais has not determined who it will be. Lefty Wade LeBlanc is expected to take over after the opener.

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More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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14 Jun

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Whenever Toronto coach Nick Nurse needed inspiration this season, he merely needed to look at his office wall.

Hanging there is a big photo, a finish-line shot of the 2015 Travers Stakes at historic Saratoga Race Course. There are two horses in the frame; one is Triple Crown winner and overwhelming favorite American Pharoah, the other is Keen Ice — who wasn’t getting much attention from bettors and had never won on such a big stage.

Keen Ice ran a perfect race that day, and knocked off the champion.

“I just really like the picture,” Nurse said.

Yes, and there’s symmetry now. His Raptors ran a perfect race — and knocked off the two-time NBA champions.

Nurse, a 51-year-old basketball journeyman who has been a coach for 13 different teams in four countries over the last 30 years, is now the coach of the best team in the world. Unknown no more and someone who never will be anonymous again, Nurse guided the Raptors to their first NBA championship in a six-game defeat of the Golden State Warriors.

“I think you can’t do very good work if you don’t love what you’re doing,” Nurse said after the Raptors dethroned the Warriors on Thursday night. “I just, I don’t know, I never really got discouraged. I didn’t really care at the level I was coaching at, I was just trying to learn and get better. That’s it.”

Clearly, he learned. And he got better.

Toronto defeated Orlando, Philadelphia, Milwaukee and Golden State in these playoffs. That means Nurse, 0-0 as an NBA coach before this season, got his team past ones coached by Steve Clifford, Brett Brown, Mike Budenholzer and Steve Kerr. That foursome is about the toughest draw a first-year coach in the league could get in his maiden postseason voyage.

“He’s one of the hardest-working coaches I’ve seen,” Raptors assistant Jamaal Magloire said during Toronto’s victory celebration after the title-clinching win. “When it comes to this team’s success, he deserves every bit of it.”

Nurse played at Northern Iowa, started his coaching career there as an assistant and wound up becoming a head coach at Grand View University when he was just 23. He coached in Belgium and Britain. He won a pair of British Basketball League titles as a coach, in Birmingham in 1996 and London in 2000, then got a couple titles in what is now called the G League.

The second G League crown got him noticed. He was at Rio Grande Valley, guided them to a title in 2013 and that’s when the Raptors called and wanted to talk to him about offense. They ended up hiring him as an assistant.

“I remember the day well,” Nurse said. “Good day.”

And there’s some symmetry to it as well. Nurse’s last G League team at Rio Grande Valley won the title series over Santa Cruz — ironically, the Warriors’ affiliate.

“Oh, man, I’m happy for him,” Raptors guard Danny Green said.

Nurse is quirky, in a way that shows he’s secure doing his own thing.

He often arrived for pregame media sessions wearing a black Nike cap bearing his initials. He carries his guitar on road trips. He will be remembered for throwing a box-and-one defense at Warriors guard Stephen Curry during the NBA Finals, a scheme that probably had never been previously used by anyone in the title series.

He has paid his dues.

The G League, the BBL, the United States Basketball League, the Belgian League, NCAA Division I basketball, NAIA basketball, and now the NBA. Nurse has done the laundry. He’s done the driving. He did some of those jobs for almost no money at all, maybe a couple hundred dollars or so a week.

And now he’s the ninth coach to win a title in his first NBA season. Coaching nomads everywhere have a new hero now.

“I would hope it inspires some people that are in those situations to keep working,” Nurse said. “I always say that all those jobs meant the world to me at the time, right, winning with Birmingham in ’96, winning with Rio Grande Valley, whatever year that was. And those games and jobs meant the world to me.”

His world is much different now.

For someone who has never chased attention, it’ll be unavoidable when the Raptors defend their NBA title next season.

“Nick has been unbelievable,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. “He’s kind of been the captain of the ship, and he’s weathered the storms, and he’s kept us even-keeled, and he’s made some unusual adjustments and experimented with things. And some things worked and some things didn’t, but he was trying. He tried everything and you’ve got to give that guy a lot of credit in his first year to win a NBA championship.”


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14 Jun

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13 Jun

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs signed kicker Harrison Butker to a five-year contract extension Thursday, locking up the former Panthers practice squad player through the 2024 season.

The 23-year-old Butker was signed away from Carolina during the 2017 season, when Cairo Santos went on injured reserve. The former seventh-round draft pick wound up kicking so well he earned the full-time job, and the Chiefs released Santos the following year.

In two seasons with Kansas City, Butker is 62 of 69 on field goals and 93 of 97 on extra points.

The Chiefs have been busy solidifying what they believe is their core group, signing offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz to a one-year extension Wednesday.


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13 Jun

PARIS (AP) — Chris Froome remained hospitalized in France on Thursday after the high-speed crash that left him with multiple fractures and shattered his hopes of going for a record-equaling fifth Tour de France title next month.

Froome was airlifted to Saint-Etienne hospital in central France and underwent surgery on Wednesday after he hit a wall a 54 kph (34 mph) during a reconnaissance ride before the fourth stage of the Criterium du Dauphine in Roanne

The Dauphine is a traditional warmup race for the Tour de France.

Froome broke his right femur, elbow and several ribs. He was in intensive care and underwent surgery for several hours.

His Ineos Team, which already said the crash ruled him out of the Tour, is expected to give an update on his condition later Thursday.

Team principal Dave Brailsford told the BBC Froome was on a descent with teammate Wout Poels when he went to blow his nose and a gust of wind took out his front wheel, he lost control, and he hit the wall of a house.


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13 Jun

PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. (AP) — The leaders at the USGA aren’t the only ones who want to get it right at this U.S. Open.

Brooks Koepka would like to: He could win his fifth major and become the first person in 114 years to win three U.S. Opens in a row.

Tiger Woods would like to: He could write another chapter in an amazing comeback that culminated with a win at the Masters this year.

Phil Mickelson would like to: Turning 49 on Sunday, he’s in search of a U.S. Open title to complete the career grand slam — and nobody plays better at Pebble Beach, the scene of five of his wins on the PGA Tour.

Pebble Beach. It is, quite possibly, the quintessential U.S. Open venue — its gorgeous seaside settings steeped in history, its list of champions — Nicklaus, Watson and Woods among them — a veritable Mount Rushmore of golf.

To make it anything less than perfect, it seems, would take work.

But the USGA has shown a knack, especially over the last four years, for overrunning the U.S. Open with its own fractured story lines, either through mismanaged course setups (Chambers Bay, Erin Hills, Shinnecock) or rules dust-ups (Dustin Johnson at Oakmont).

There is pressure, they admit, to get it right at one of America’s best courses.

“It is not lost on us that this is an important week, not only for golf, this is an important week for the USGA,” said Mike Davis, the organization’s CEO.

He claims the USGA has been listening — to the players, the media, the fans.

The players, most of them here since Monday for the practice rounds, seem to be keeping an open mind, and appear to like what they are seeing.

“With the weather we have, the USGA should be able to control the golf course the way they want to,” said Jordan Spieth, speaking to the forecast of gentle winds, partly cloudy skies and highs in the 60s.

But in many ways, the USGA is in the same position as Spieth and each of the other 155 players vying for America’s championship: Nobody’s proven anything until they tee it up for real Thursday.

Some things to watch at the 119th playing of the U.S. Open:

THE COURSE

It’s not unusual for organizers to rave about the condition of a golf course on the eve of a major championship. The praise of Pebble Beach has gone to a new level.

Attribute some of that to the weather.

Sunshine last week and a dry forecast for the U.S. Open have Pebble Beach manicured to near perfection. The rough is ideal, with long blades of grass that fold over making the ball visible, but also grabbing the club to make it difficult to control shots.

Bunkers are framed with thick rough and wispy grass around the edges, giving it a natural look. Fairways are pure. Greens are smooth and not too fast.

“I’ve been coming here since the late 1970s — played college golf here and a lot of amateur golf,” said John Bodenhamer, the senior managing director of USGA championships. “In more than 100 rounds, I’ve never seen this golf course look better, especially the putting greens. It is truly magnificent.”

THE CHALLENGE

Wind is the greatest defense of Pebble Beach. During the PGA Tour stop, it’s the easiest of the event’s three courses without wind, the toughest when it blows.

The U.S. Open features thick rough and fairways that are brought in to put a premium on accuracy. That’s true at most U.S. Opens — or used to be. Perhaps the toughest feature of a U.S. Open at Pebble Beach is the small greens.

“It’s going to be a lot more difficult this week, just due to the fact that the greens are very small,” Jason Day said. “Depending on how they set the greens up with regards to the firmness, that will dictate a lot of what the scores are going to yield.”

THE CHASE

Koepka and Mickelson have the most at stake for this U.S. Open.

Most of the attention is on Koepka and his bid to go back-to-back-to-back. Willie Anderson in 1903, 1904 and 1905 is the only other player to win three straight U.S. Open titles.

Mickelson can join the company with which golf fans are more familiar — Woods, Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen are the only players to win all four of the modern majors. Mickelson is 0 for 27 in the U.S. Open, the major he lacks for the career Grand Slam.

“You have to look at those guys differently,” Mickelson said. “And if I ever join that crowd — and the only way to do that is to win a U.S. Open — it would redefine my career.”

THE CONTENDERS

Westgate Superbook lists Dustin Johnson as the 13-2 favorite going into the U.S. Open, followed by Koepka at 8-1.

Johnson has two victories and two runner-up finishes in the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-am, and he was the 54-hole leader the last time the U.S. Open was at Pebble Beach. He won the 2016 U.S. Open at Oakmont, and played in the last group at Chambers Bay in 2015 and Shinnecock Hills last year.

Canadian Open winner Rory McIlroy and Woods are next at 10-1, followed by Spieth and Memorial winner Patrick Cantlay at 16-1.


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