TFC 2, D.C. UNITED 2: Summary and quotes


TORONTO FC (2) – D.C. UNITED (2) POST MATCH SUMMARY

SCORING SUMMARY

TFC – Ayo Akinola 12’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

TFC – Ayo Akinola 44’ (Alejandro Pozuelo)

DCU – Federico Higuain 84’ (Felipe)

DCU – Frederic Brillant 90’+1 (Steven Birnbaum, Felipe)

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

DCU – Junior Moreno 18’ (caution)

DCU – Junior Moreno 45’+6 (second caution – Ejection)

DCU – Felipe 71’ (caution)

DCU – Russell Canouse 82’ (caution)

MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT STANDINGS

GROUP CWLTGFGAGDPTS.
New England Revolution1001013
D.C. United0012201
Toronto FC0012201
Montreal Impact01001-10

MEDIA NOTES

  • Toronto FC extended its club-record unbeaten run in MLS regular season matches to 13 (5 wins and 8 ties) – courtesy of Opta
  • Ayo Akinola recorded the first two-goal match of his career/first brace with Toronto FC

LINE-UPS

TORONTO FC – Quentin Westberg; Auro Jr., Omar Gonzalez (Eriq Zavaleta 64’), Chris Mavinga (Lauren Ciman 64’), Justin Morrow (Richie Laryea HT’); Michael Bradley (C), Mark Delgado, Alejandro Pozuelo (Nick DeLeon 77’); Pablo Piatti (Erickson Gallardo 73’), Tsubasa Endoh, Ayo Akinola

Substitutes Not Used: Alex Bono, Griffin Dorsey, Liam Fraser, Noble Okello, Jacob Shaffelburg, Patrick Mullins, Jayden Nelson

D.C. UNITED – Bill Hamid; Frederic Brillant, Steven Birnbaum (C), Joseph Mora (Chris Odoi-Atesem 69’); Russell Canouse, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura (Federico Higuain 80’), Edison Flores (Yamil Asad 57’), Felipe, Julian Gressel (Kevin Paredes 58’); Ola Kamara (Oniel Fisher HT’)

Substitutes Not Used: Chris Seitz, Earl Edwards Jr., Griffin Yow, Donovan Pines, Mohammed Abu, Moses Nyeman, Erik Sorga

GREG VANNEY – HEAD COACH, TORONTO FC

Can you talk about the late collapse? What happened?

I think a couple of things. On a day like that, today, going into it if you can get a lead like we had, our objective would be to not make changes across the backline, but more to keep fresh bodies ahead of the ball. But at halftime Justin had some Achilles tendinitis issues. He’s pretty sore. And then 10 minutes into the second half, Omar’s cramping up. He can’t take another step. Right before the water break Chris is cramping up. This is the first game in extreme temperatures and the question becomes how much do you really push guys in the first game of the tournament, and your first game in months, and so we went with the changes. I thought that really disrupted our ability to start attacks and keep possession of the ball and also, we struggled in some of the transition defending. We committed too many fouls, things like that. I felt like at that point we started to lose a bit of the momentum and a bit of the possession that you want when you’re playing against a team that’s down a man. The second part of that is we needed to continue to try to attack and look for the third goal. And not just pass the ball around. But really look for our moments to try to put them on their heels and force them to have to defend their goal, and not just be in relatively comfortable defensive positions. I think a part of this is just us learning as a group. Being more diligent managing the temperature a little bit better. Things like that. But we were in a position to win the game, we should have won the game with class. Obviously, the last goal is defending a set piece. We knew if we gave them anything in our half of the field, they’re just going to dump it into the box and look for first and second balls. Birnbaum, both centre backs they have, are both good in the air. And that was it. For me that was it. We’re a mature team that should close things out. But it looked like some guys weren’t really in sync when they came in … Some poor play in terms of starting attacks and some poor play in defending.

What was the post-game scuffle about?

I think there’s opinion and emotion, specifically on DC’s side, as to our delay getting down here. This game’s been rescheduled three times. If you want to blame us, you can. For them, that’s been maybe their mantra to get through this game, and maybe give them the best chance to be in the game, to have that extra emotion. And then in the end we allow them the opportunity to pump out their chest when they come back from a two-goal deficit down a man, and to show some bravado at the end. If we win the game and close out the game the way we should, none of that probably happens. It probably goes to rest. But it was visible, and I’d heard some things were said on Twitter. I think that’s just two sides who have differing opinions on what has happened over the last week to two weeks to get this game actually played. At the end it becomes emotional as they bounce back from a two-goal deficit when they look like they were done.

What’s the message now with the Montreal game coming up on Thursday?

Not much message yet. Just caught up with guys individually. The way things are set up we have a really small locker room. We’re trying to maintain some version of social distancing. Guys are getting in and out. A lot of things are happening. We really haven’t recapped the game with the group the way we will. That’s it. Everyone knows going into this, the way things have happened over the last few days, we’re in a quick turnaround. I think that’s a good thing because you get off the field a little frustrated and the quick turnaround to get back on the field is going to be a good thing. We’ll get regrouped. We’ll get recovered. Guys need to get hydrated, all those things. We’ll see where we’re at physically and we’ll try to reset a game plan for Montreal.

Update on Jozy and Jonathan?

Jonathan is kind of targeted for the third game to get ready. These first two games are so close together. He had a bit of a quad injury from a few weeks back. He’s on schedule and/or slightly exceeding schedule to get back. I think the Montreal game, as quickly as it’s coming around is going to be a tough one, but we’ll see. And Jozy, from the time when he was able to get back in, he’s only got about 10 training sessions under his belt, four of those were individual quarantined training sessions. So, we’re just trying to make sure we’re getting him ready to play without putting him out there and putting him in harm’s way. While this event is important for us, it’s the first part of this new season and we want to make Jozy is healthy and we don’t put him at risk. Part of that is just trying to get him as much high intensity work. Some sprints and things like that, he hasn’t been able to do as much, coming back from being, basically in isolation for so long. And so, we taking a progression. All the guys are on the same progression except for Jozy and now he’s getting close. We hope to have him ready for, if not for some minutes next game, for sure by the third game is a definitive target to have him ready to be a part of it on some level.

MICHAEL BRADLEY – MIDFIELDER, TORONTO FC

The team looked so good for most of the game. What happened at the end?

Yeah, disappointing. like you said we had things completely under control for big parts of the game. But it still shows that if you drop your guard just a little bit, if the mentality starts to…if you start to take your foot off the gas a little bit and think the game is over before it actually is, then especially on days like this where it’s hot and humid and nobody’s at their best or their sharpest yet, you let a team back in the game. So, it’s disappointing, frustrating, but there’s still a lot of positives to take from the first 60-70 minutes. We’re still playing our way back into fitness.

Is letting teams back into games something the team needs to address?

I’m not sure I’d call it a tendency. It’s a little bit too easy of a conclusion to come to. I understand in the first game in San Jose this year we let them back in it with a late equalizer, and then again today. The games were separated by four and a half months, a lot of days of no training. We’re angry with ourselves, we’re frustrated. For a team that wants to be as good as we do, for a team that holds itself to the standards that we do, there’s no way you should let a team like that back into the game today. But I’m not going to sit here and draw all sorts of crazy conclusions based on the first game back in a really long time, under these circumstances.

What would you make of Pablo Piatti’s debut?

I think Pablo has shown in the last few weeks, as we’ve ramped up training and as we’ve started to get closer to real games, that he has real quality. He has a good mentality, he works, he can obviously attack and dribble by guys. Early on, we were trying to figure out the best ways we could use him. In training we’d use him on the left, and now lately, he’s found a really good way to combine with Auro, with Alejandro Pozuelo, over there on the right side. The three of them have a really good understanding. I think you saw some of that today. As he and we all get fitter and sharper, I think you’ll see more and more of that.

What do you think the team has to improve for the next game?

The teams that have the most success in these types of tournaments are the ones that can play themselves into the tournament in a good way. If you want to be one of the teams that’s playing at the end, then you grow into the tournament, you improve with every game. Nobody’s at their best in the beginning. From that perspective we’re disappointed that we didn’t take all three points today. But we all know that you have to take something from the first game, we did that, and we’ll recover mentally and physically over the next few days, talk about some things  and we’ll get ready for the second game and we’ll look to be even better. 

What did you see form Ayo today?

Ayo’s had a really, really good stretch. He’s fit, he’s sharp, he has such a unique package in terms of being strong, fast, he has good feet, he’s smart in how he can move off the centre backs. When he plays like that there isn’t any centre back who’s going to enjoy playing against him. I’m really happy to see him get his reward today and we’re going to continue to need him to step up for us in a big way. But from a personal standpoint I’m really happy for him because he’s worked really hard in this last stretch. He’s trained really well and for anybody, you want to see guys get their reward when the lights come on. And he got that today.

AYO AKINOLA – FORWARD, TORONTO FC

When did you first hear that you were going to get the start and what were your thoughts?

I think I heard it a day or two before the game, that I was going to be in the starting lineup. And in that moment, I just thought, how can I take my chance, my opportunity and seize the moment. Obviously, that helps when you can score goals, and thankfully I was able to score two today.

Talk about Justin Morrow’s leadership with the Black Players For Change?

I was very proud of Justin. Just the way he was able to set up the whole thing in a little over two and a half weeks, to create everything. Justin has been a great leader for us, especially to the young players, giving us guidance. Just giving us motivation. For me, seeing that and all the black players coming together before that first game. That was a proud moment for us, the black players especially. I really do appreciate everyone listening. Just being able to be heard, you know, I feel like that’s a step forward. We’re not there yet, but at least it’s a step.

You came so close in the final seconds with that looping header. Did you think it was going in?

At one point, I did. I think as soon as I hit it, I thought it was going in. Then I saw Bill (Hamid) coming for it and I thought, damn, he’s going to save it. But at one point, I thought it was going to go in, just hit off the post and go in. That was my initial reaction.

Walk us through the two goals on the second one was that a pass from Pozuelo or a shot that went askew?

I think it was kind of both (laughs). I thought he was going to chip it my way. Luckily, I kept going. I didn’t stop. Your instinct as a forward is to keep going no matter what happens. Even if it’s a rebound or a bad ball, keep going toward the goal.

-TORONTO FOOTBALL CLUB-

Still as feisty as ever, Lowry admits absence from basketball changed him for the better — Toronto Sun

Kyle Lowry emerged from a prolonged absence just as you would expect. Read More

Still as feisty as ever, Lowry admits absence from basketball changed him for the better — Toronto Sun

Kyle Lowry emerged from a prolonged absence just as you would expect.

The Raptors star was feisty and as combative as ever, which is about par for the course when he’s dealing with media types as he was on Monday.

When Raptors GM Bobby Webster happened to stroll past the media location and spotted Lowry being interviewed, you could hear him teasing his team leader about finally relenting and sitting down for one of these never-ending Zoom conference calls with the scribes back in Toronto.

“Don’t worry,” Lowry fired back at his GM. “They won’t hear from me for another month.”

Clearly four months away from the media has done nothing to change his attitude towards us.

But Lowry admits there has been change in him. Really, how can anyone say they haven’t changed as we’ve all been going about our daily lives in a much different way since the pandemic began.

For Lowry, it has meant the first time in his children’s lives that he has been able to be at home with them in Philadelphia at this time of year and really experience family life and all that comes with it.

“I got to put my kids to bed almost every single night,” Lowry said. “I haven’t done that in their whole lives. To be home and be around them and to see them grow and to help them with their schoolwork and to sit there with them on Zooms, to be able to be there and interact with them all the time, it helped me grow even more as a father, as a man. It made me appreciate my wife a little bit more and my family a lot more because my kids, they’re a handful. But they’re awesome. My time at home was great.”

Basketball, the love of his life long before he found his wife and had his kids, was on the periphery for a while, but it was still there too.

Lowry, in fact, wound up having a rather large say in how this NBA re-start would go.

Initially, he was a member of the competition committee, but that role morphed into a working group consisting of Player’s Association president Chris Paul along with Lowry, Russell Westbrook, Jayson Tatum and Toronto native Dwight Powell, who worked hand-in-hand with commissioner Adam Silver in developing the health and safety protocols for the recently opened NBA campus at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

“It kind of fell into my lap a little bit with how it happened,” Lowry admitted. “But it was interesting to come up with some of the concepts and to talk that over, and understand (not just) what we’re trying to do but how we’re trying to do it, and make sure that it’s done the right way for all the players, coaches, and it’s safe and in the most healthiest way we possibly can do it.

“I think that we’ve done a good job so far with the safety aspects, the health aspects. I think there’s definitely going to be some adjustments that need to be made, but that’s the one thing about our league and our professionals, is that we make adjustments on the fly and we’re able to.”

Lowry has been on the campus since the team arrived on Thursday and likes what he sees.

“I think our protocols and our health and safety measures have been top notch. I think this thing will work perfectly, I think the league, the player’s association has done a great job, a phenomenal job of making sure that we’re doing everything that we can possibly do to make sure that we’re healthy, we’re safe and we’re in an environment where we can be successful and to do our jobs at a high level,” Lowry said.

Now obviously not everything about the setup is ideal. First and foremost, for it to have a chance of working, the actual number of bodies inside the NBA campus had to be kept to a minimum and that means no family members until after the first round of the playoffs, at which point 14 of the 22 teams will have already been sent home.

“It’s going to suck,” Lowry said of being away from his family. “But my boys understand the sacrifices that have to be made to live the type of life that we live, and they understand that their dad has to go to their job and he has to go to work.”

Lowry spent about 15 minutes on the call, but very little of it was about his own game and where that stands now.

Head coach Nick Nurse filled in those gaps for Lowry, pointing out that Lowry arrived in tip-top shape and has been putting in the kind of work one would expect of a guy who is seriously looking at repeating last year’s championship run.

“He’s practising hard. Shooting the ball at an incredible rate. He looks great,” Nurse said.

But as good as Lowry has already been this year prior to the shutdown, Nurse said there’s a very real possibility that there is another level to be reached in the coming playoffs given how fresh he is after that long break and certainly given the changes in this year’s team from last year.

“I think … he knows he’s got to be kind of a main cog, right?,” Nurse began. “He’s got to, you know, produce offensively for us. You know he’s always going to play hard and make the defensive plays, but he’s got to be a main factor in the offense and he kind of carries himself that way I think this year a lot more.”

In a year with plenty of growth for a man already well into his career, it would only be fitting to find some more at the most important time of the year.

Toronto’s aspirations of a repeat may depend on it.

‘WE NEED TO BE HEARD FROM’

When Lowry wasn’t enjoying family life in Philly or helping the NBA find its restart button over this pandemic, he was in the streets fighting the fight of social injustice through protests and marches.

Lowry said that part of this really abnormal year is only just getting started.

“We are in a time where we need to keep that conversation going,” he said of the protests that began following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. “We need to be heard from. We need to speak loud and clear. We need to understand that things need to be done for the situation to be changed, laws to be changed.

“Opportunities need to be given for things to be better. It wasn’t just about one person. One person kind of set it off, but a lot of other people have gone through this (trauma) of getting killed by police. This time we needed to speak up and needed to do something.

“For me to be a part of that, that’s who I am. That’s how I am,” Lowry continued. “That’s how I grew up. I grew up a Black man in America. It’s definitely a tough thing to grow up that way, because you never know what could possibly happen to you. You never know if you’re going to make it out.

“For me to be able to talk to you guys is a blessing. So for me to be able to do that, it’s my right, my duty and my honour to represent the Black culture.”

Jordan Hicks opts out of 2020 season — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

Hicks has Type 1 diabetes, which increases the risk of serious symptoms of COVID-19

Jordan Hicks opts out of 2020 season — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

By Craig CalcaterraJul 13, 2020, 3:19 PM EDTLeave a comme

The St. Louis Cardinals have announced that reliever Jordan Hicks has opted-out of the 2020 season. The announcement cited “pre-existing health concerns.”

Hicks was already set to begin the 2020 season on the injured list as he’s still recovering from Tommy John surgery he underwent in late June last year. Still, he was expected to contribute to the club relatively early into the abbreviated year. The pre-existing condition, one would assume, is Type 1 diabetes, which Hicks has spoken about dealing with in the past and which may increase a person’s risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

Hicks, 23, is baseball’s hardest thrower. Last year he had, by far, the highest average velocity on his pitches, per Statcast and threw the 21 fastest pitches recorded all season long, four of which posted above 104 MPH. Over his brief career Hicks has saved 20 games with a 3.47 ERA, 101 strikeouts, and 56 walks in 106.1 innings.

Jordan Hicks has opted out of the 2020 season, citing pre-existing health concerns. pic.twitter.com/WjNhHaDqHy

— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 13, 2020

Follow @craigcalcaterraTags: Jordan Hicks

Jets begin long process of preparing for ‘sprint’ series against the Flames — Winnipeg Sun

Back in the spring of 2018, the Winnipeg Jets had exactly one day to prepare for their Western Conference final series against the Vegas Golden Knights after they knocked off the Nashville Predators in seven games. Read More

Jets begin long process of preparing for ‘sprint’ series against the Flames — Winnipeg Sun

Back in the spring of 2018, the Winnipeg Jets had exactly one day to prepare for their Western Conference final series against the Vegas Golden Knights after they knocked off the Nashville Predators in seven games.

Contrast that to this year, when Jets head coach Paul Maurice has about two months — including a two-week training camp — to game plan and prepare his team for a best-of-five summer series against the Calgary Flames.

“Never in the history of hockey have you pre-scouted a playoff game a month and a half in advance,” Maurice said Monday after the Jets returned to the ice for the first time since the COVID-19 shut down on March 12.

“There’s a great thing there but there’s a danger there too.”

“That is such a real question of philosophy. When you poll the other NHL coaches and ask ‘What’s your plan for that?’ the one thing we all kind of get to is the primary priority No. 1 is your own team and your own game.”

The Jets practised at the IcePlex on Monday as preparations for the NHL’s return to play began in earnest.

In 13 days they’ll head to Edmonton and go into the hub city bubble, before opening up against the Flames on Aug. 1 at Rogers Place.

It’s the first time the Jets and Flames will meet since the Heritage Classic outdoor game on Oct. 26 in Regina. At the time Bill Peters was still the Flames head coach, but he submitted his resignation amid racism and bullying allegations on Nov. 29 and Geoff Ward took over.

All that is going to make this hockey series in August even more bizarre.

“The really kind of neat story is that there probably isn’t another team in the NHL, that based on last season, we know less about,” Maurice said. “We had one game against them, so that would almost make them like an Eastern Conference opponent, and it was an outdoor game and they had a different coach.

“So both teams don’t have any memory of a style of game or what it might look like. It’s been at least a year and a half I guess before these two teams can remember the hockey. So this is going to be unusual for sure, but certainly exciting.”

The entire NHL went dark because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the playoffs were expanded to 24 teams for the return to play, so there’s very little that’s normal about the situation the players are currently in.

They’re undergoing regular testing for the coronavirus — a highly uncomfortable process they jokingly call the “brain tickler” — doing all their media availabilities over Zoom and skating on soft summer ice in a foggy arena.

Still, there’s one thing that’s the same as every year — they’re trying to come up with a way to beat Calgary and move on to challenge for the Stanley Cup.

“Besides everybody being cautious and wearing a mask, it’s not that different,” forward Nikolaj Ehlers said. “We’re not hugging each other or giving high fives and stuff like we usually do. But other than that we’re in our locker room, not sitting too close to each other but still talking, and making the most of this situation.

“Everybody is back for a reason. We love playing hockey and we’re back playing it.”

They’ll skate most days between now and July 26, when they are slated to leave for Edmonton. The idea is to hit the ground running when they get there.

They’ll play one exhibition game and then get right into the series, which will likely be quite a bit different from any they’ve played before.

“You can get into a seven-game series, and if you think the two teams are evenly matched you say ‘I think this is gonna be a grinder,’” Maurice said.

“I think you go back to the last seven-game series, the Nashville series, that we had, you almost could predict it, you could feel it. There were two points that separated the teams in the regular season, so it could go to seven.

“This one will be viewed far more as a sprint. As hard and as fast as you can go. Everybody will be talking about running four lines but that bench might get a little short, a little early. I would say I’m not sure because I’ve never been in a five-gamer in the NHL and we’ve had four months off before we play it. But I think there might be a mindset of ‘This is gonna be a sprint.’ So there’s no sense saving them for Game 6.”

Maurice trying to find way to push players but not push too hard in training camp

The first day of Winnipeg Jets return-to-play training camp was not exactly a high-intensity affair.

Coach Paul Maurice wanted to get a sense of how each player was feeling, knowing that some had ample access to ice during the pandemic shutdown, while others barely skated at all.

Maurice normally pushes his players hard in the first session of training camp, but this year there will be a delicate balance between getting everyone ready for a series against Calgary and overdoing it.

“That’s the challenge here, for sure,” Maurice said. “You don’t want to be crossing that line. The result of losing a player early right now (to injury) can be disastrous.

“But if you’re looking at a risk/reward, your team has to get pushed here. At some point here, we’re going to get to the right pace. Because you can say ‘Hey great, got through the first game and we didn’t have one injury.’ But if your team’s not ready, you’re only playing three games.”

Twyman@postmedia.com

Report: Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo forced to quarantine eight days — Canoe

Houston Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo said he “inadvertently” broke quarantine at the NBA’s complex in Florida and was ordered to self-quarantine in his hotel room for another eight days before resuming team activities, ESPN reported Monday. The report came the same day his teammate, guard Russell Westbrook, announced on social media that he had tested […]

Report: Rockets forward Bruno Caboclo forced to quarantine eight days — Canoe

Russell Westbrook Tests Positive for COVID-19, Will Join Rockets When Cleared

Michael Shapiro

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook announced on Monday he has tested positive for COVID-19. 

Westbrook said he tested positive prior to the Rockets’ departure for Orlando on Thursday. 

“I’m currently feeling well, quarantined and looking forward to rejoining my teammates when I am cleared,” Westbrook tweeted. “Thank you for all the well wishes and continued support. Please take this virus seriously. Be safe. Mask up!”

Neither Westbrook nor James Harden joined Houston in its flight to Orlando on Thursday, though both players are expected to arrive in “a few days” per head coach Mike D’Antoni

Westbrook is the only Rockets’ player with a confirmed positive COVID-19 test as of Monday afternoon, but Houston has still be hindered by the coronavirus. Forward Bruno Caboclo will have to spend the next eight days quarantining in his room in Orlando after “inadvertently” breaking quarantine within the first 48 hours of his arrival, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. 

2019-20 marks Westbrook’s first season with the Rockets after 11 years in Oklahoma City. The two-time scoring champion and 2016-17 MVP struggled out of the gate with Houston, but quickly found a rhythm once the calendar turned to 2020. Westbrook is averaging 31.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 6.8 assists since Jan. 1, shooting 52.7% from the field. 

Houston will hold its third practice in Orlando on Monday. Its first scrimmage is set for July 24 before the regular season resumes on July 30. 

The Rockets’ first game of the NBA restart will be held on July 31 as Houston faces Dallas. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. CT. 

Toronto FC blow two-goal lead, draw 10-man D.C. United

Defender Frederic Brillant completed a late comeback with a 91st-minute goal as 10-man D.C. United rallied to tie Toronto FC 2-2 Monday morning at the MLS is Back Tournament in a matchup twice delayed by COVID-19 concerns.

The Canadian Press

Volume 0% 

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Defender Frederic Brillant completed a late comeback with a 91st-minute goal as 10-man D.C. United rallied to tie Toronto FC 2-2 Monday morning at the MLS is Back Tournament in a matchup twice delayed by COVID-19 concerns.

Ayo Akinola, in a rare start, scored twice in the first half to give Toronto a commanding 2-0 lead at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex. But things turned in the 84th minute as D.C. United scored against the run of play.

Substitute Federico Higuain, in his D.C. United debut after a decorated career in Columbus, started the rally with a chip over Quentin Westberg after the heart of a reshuffled Toronto defence was sliced open by a pass from Brazil’s Felipe.

Brillant completed the unlikely comeback, rising above Laurent Ciman to head in the tying goal in stoppage time, after Steven Birnbaum headed the ball to him at the far post from a Felipe free kick.

Akinola came close to restoring the Toronto lead in the 96th minute but Bill Hamid got a hand to his header.

There was some bad blood after the final whistle of a game that saw some ugly tackles.

D.C. United played the second half with 10 men after midfielder Junior Moreno received a second yellow for going through the back of Marky Delgado in first-half stoppage time.

Toronto used its man advantage in the second half, stroking the ball around the field, and seemed cruising to a commanding win until the bottom fell out.

The two teams were originally scheduled to meet Friday night but that was pushed back to Sunday due to Toronto’s late arrival (July 6), caused by the need for additional COVID-19 testing after a member of the travelling part reported symptoms.

Sunday’s game was called off minutes before the 9 a.m. ET kickoff in the wake of a positive test for a D.C. United player and an inconclusive test for a Toronto player.

All other players tested negative in a round of new testing. The two players in question, neither of which were identified by their clubs, were isolated pending receipt of a second negative test.

The tournament, which marks the league’s first action since it shut down March 12 due to the global pandemic, has already lost FC Dallas and Nashville SC due to a rash of positive COVID-19 tests.

There was no evidence of rust as Toronto pressed D.C. and attacked on multiple fronts despite the absence of star striker Jozy Altidore.

Captain Michael Bradley, in his first game since injuring his ankle in the Nov. 10 MLS Cup final, was a force in the midfield. Fullbacks Justin Morrow and Brazil’s Auro bombed down the flanks in the first half.

Akinola scored in the 12th minute, beating one defender and then splitting two more before hammering in a right-footed shot from the edge of the box. The goal came after Hamid’s goal kick went straight to Bradley in the D.C. end, with an Alejandro Pozuelo pass eventually finding Akinola.

The 20-year-old scored again in the 44th minute after Pozuelo beat Brillant to the ball following an 11-pass Toronto sequence. Pozuelo floated the ball to the far post where an unmarked Akinola tapped it in

Akinola came into the match with one goal in 12 career MLS appearances (including two starts) spread over three seasons. It was his first MLS game action since June 29, 2019 — and first start since May 8, 2019.

The game finally kicked off at 9:08 a.m. in 28 C heat. Both teams arrived wearing masks and Black Lives Matter T-shirts, taking a knee before kickoff.

Pablo Piatti, making his TFC debut, had the game’s first chance in the sixth minute after Pozuelo found him on the edge of the box. But the Argentine winger dragged his shot just wide.

Akinola, a U.S. youth international, had a chance for a second goal in the 19th minute after Tsubasa Endoh found him with a slide-rule pass but Hamid stopped his weak shot from out wide.

Westberg made a remarkable one-handed save to stop Ola Kamara’s header from point-blank range in first-half stoppage time.

Akinola was scythed down by Felipe with 20 minutes remaining, earning the midfielder a yellow card. It was one of several ill-tempered tackles from D.C. United on the day.

Toronto coach Greg Vanney made changes in the second half, sending on Richie Laryea, Eriq Zavaleta, Ciman, Erickson Gallardo and Nick DeLeon.

Toronto’s next Group C game is Thursday against the Montreal Impact, who lost their opener 1-0 to the New England Revolution last Thursday.

The three group games count in the regular-season standings with Toronto now at 1-0-2 and D.C. United at 1-1-1.

Toronto went with the same starting 11 announced Sunday.

While it fielded the same back five as it had in its last league game March 7, there were four changes further forward — Bradley, Piatti, Endoh and Akinola.

Altidore did not make the matchday 23. He was late joining the team after spending the lockdown at his Florida home and had to train on his own while fulfilling quarantine.

Jonathan Osorio didn’t dress due to a quad strain, according to Toronto.

D.C. United made one change from the starting 11 that beat Inter Miami 2-1 last time out on March 7. Costa Rican Ulises Segura came in for Argentina’s Yamil Asad, who dropped to the bench.

Estonian international Erik Sorga, who played 75 minutes off the bench against Inter Miami, did not make the matchday 23.

It was another early wake-up call for the two teams, with Toronto planning a 5:30 a.m. pre-game meal for the second day in a row. That was pre-empted by a team Zoom call Sunday to discuss the COVID-19 tests.

Toronto knocked D.C. United out of the playoffs the last time they met, scoring four goals in extra time in a 5-1 first-round win in October.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 13, 2020.

Terence Davis has been a ‘sponge’ around the Raptors veterans — The Rookie Wire

Raptors rookie Oshae Brissett recently became a first-time father but he had no reservations about restarting the season this month.

Terence Davis has been a ‘sponge’ around the Raptors veterans — The Rookie Wire

Cody Taylor July 13, 2020 11:05 amVolume 0% Hide video

Toronto Raptors guard Terence Davis emerged this season as a key contributor for the defending NBA champions and the rookie has spent much of the year learning from his veteran teammates.

With a roster featuring the likes of Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and others, there has been seemingly plenty of wisdom to go around for a young player like Davis. The process has allowed Davis to not only grow on the court but off of it, as well.

Davis told reporters on Sunday following practice at the Walt Disney World Resort that he has learned how to become a professional from the veterans on the roster and is constantly soaking up their knowledge.

It goes a lot of ways with taking care of your body because that’s what’s going to take care of you; that’s your moneymaker right there. Eating right, putting the right things in your body, being on time and doing things the right way. … I’m a sponge right now being a rookie. That’s the nature of this game, you gotta climb the ladder. Just being a professional is one way to keep you in this league.

Davis added that he has become a better player in pick-and-roll situations thanks to working with Gasol and Ibaka. The spacing that they can create allows Davis the ability to make a play and he has often taken advantage of those scenarios.

The rise of Davis in just his first year in the NBA has been remarkable. Raptors head coach Nick Nurse has often used small rotations this season, sometimes only eight or nine players deep, and Davis was among those players used off of the bench.

The Raptors will kick off the season restart on Aug. 1 against the Los Angeles Lakers. They are among the favorites in the Eastern Conference and could find themselves competing for yet another championship this season.

It will be an experience Davis will likely be ready for.

Nuggets’ Malone on Bol Bol: ‘He is extremely talented and skilled’

Zion Williamson threw down a 360 dunk in Pelicans practice at Disney

Oshae Brissett on restarting the season: ‘It wasn’t a tough decision’

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper concerned about Michael Kopech — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper told the Chicago Sun-Times he is concerned about starter Michael Kopech, who struggles with anxiety and depression.

White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper concerned about Michael Kopech — HardballTalk | NBC Sports

Lakers Guard Suffers Significant Hand Injury at Practice — Heavy.com

Los Angeles Lakers veteran guard Rajon Rondo suffered what is being dubbed a “significant” hand injury at practice on Sunday.

Lakers Guard Suffers Significant Hand Injury at Practice — Heavy.com

Rajon Rondo sustained a fracture to his right thumb during Sunday evening’s practice in Orlando. He will undergo surgery to repair the fracture this week and is expected to return to full basketball activities in 6 to 8 weeks.

— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) July 13, 2020

It’s back to work for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas — Toronto Sun

Q: What pressure does the flat cap in the CBA put on you to win this tournament while you can keep this roster together? Read More

It’s back to work for Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas — Toronto Sun

After being teased for years about his youth and inexperience, Kyle Dubas is at last on level ground with every other NHL general manager.

None of them ever had to guide their teams through this kind of season, halted for four months by a global pandemic, restarted with a daring mid-summer 24-team tournament with COVID-19 still not eliminated and last week’s new CBA changing the big picture.

On the eve of Monday’s opening of Maple Leafs training camp for Return To Play, the 34-year-old Dubas discussed with Toronto media the challenges facing himself and his club. Here’s a Q&A from the conference call.

Q: What pressure does the flat cap in the CBA put on you to win this tournament while you can keep this roster together?

A: “I don’t look at the situation and say this is our only chance. If we didn’t have our core guys locked up for this year and next, I would maybe feel a little bit differently. We have the 2019-20 contracts to finish and the ‘20-21s.

“I know that seems to be the narrative about the team. But I don’t feel that this season there should be any added pressure. I think the players have an expectation and we have an expectation that we’re going to be competitive and of course try to contend to win the Stanley Cup.

“If we were facing a decision of our core players, we’d have to make a major move. We’re going to have some space to take care of our RFAs and potentially look at some of our own UFAs. We have time.

“(But) with the cap flat, our development system will be paramount.”

Q: When did the last players arrive in Toronto, do you anticipate any Leafs will opt out of RTP by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline and what do you think of players who have already done so?

“I don’t think it looks right now that any of the players we have invited will be opting out, I don’t have any inkling of that. The players have mostly all been here for quite a while now, at least a week off the top of my head.

“I think (opting out) was a great thing for the League and the PA to do. If any of our players were to opt out for any reason, we’d be fully understanding. This is such a difficult time in the world and whether it’s for reasons of underlying health or just general family reasons or whether you’re just not comfortable. I certainly respect any of our players who would feel that way and any player in the league or staff member that would feel that way.”

Q: What might your final roster look like in terms of numbers?

A: “We want to make sure that every roster player has a role. We didn’t want to have two or three extra guys at the bottom that didn’t really feel that they were close to playing. So maybe up to 28 or 29 players (15 to 16 forwards, nine to 10 defencemen, three goaltenders).

“What I would say to all those players (competing on the fringe) is they’ve got the chance to make an impact. That’s one of the great things about this next two weeks. We’re going to have some time to evaluate everybody. If Nick (Robertson), Kenny Agostino or Adam Brooks step up and are beating down the door throughout training camp, we’re going to give them opportunity.”

“(Forward) Nic Petan was deemed fit to play by our medical staff (Sunday). He had been a full participant in Phase 2, so he will be added to the roster and (Marlies defenceman) Mac Hollowell will be removed.”

Q: What will determine if Robertson makes the team?

A: “The way that he performs in practises and scrimmages. We’re going to give him every shot. We’re not going to look at his age (18). If he can make an impact playing with older, stronger players, we’ll roll from there.

“The latter half of this week we’ll start to replicate game experiences. It’s not a normal camp with 70 guys. There’s no ability (for Robertson) to get lost.

“We have to make cuts as we go along to be bubble compliant.”

Q: Are there any advantages to being at Scotiabank Arena with 11 other teams?

A: “There is a bit of familiarity. But there’s not going to be any fans, no game operations. I think there’s also a challenge of the fact that your family is 10 minutes away and on July 26 when we move in (the hotel), we’re all going to be sealed in away from them.

“We know the rink, but we’re going to be abiding by such strict protocols and entry and exit and we’re not getting any preferred treatment in terms of hotel or facilities. I think the League has done a pretty good job of keeping that very fair. The only advantage is we don’t have a flight to get here.”   

Q: What will the caliber of hockey be like in RTP?

A: “I have no idea. We’re going to find out soon, though. There’s no experience that anyone has had – you could maybe look at some of the World Cups and Canada Cups that have come off long layoffs – but even then, those are August tournaments coming off a May, June, April finish, depending on where you were in the standings.

This is an August resumption after a March ending, so almost a five-month layoff with really one exhibition game.”

Q: Who else will be living in the bubble besides you and (team president) Brendan Shanahan?

A: “We’ll have the six-person coaching staff (Sheldon Keefe, assistants Paul McFarland and Dave Hakstol, goalie coach Steve Briere and video coaches Andrew Brewer and Jordan Bean). And then every other staff member are people we’d deem that directly benefit the player’s performance (medical, trainers, etc.).”

Q: What do you think of the RTP format?

A: “The NHL has done a great job of adapting to find a way to certainly recognize that playoff races weren’t over and to have teams that were in the race kept alive.

“Despite the fact if the season had just ended on March 10 we would have in the playoffs and scheduled to play Tampa, I don’t think that it’s unfair that we have to play a qualifying round whatsoever because we were still supposed to have 12 games left to try to either make up some ground or secure our space.

“I think it’s very fairly set up even though we’re one of those teams that’s gone from playoffs into a qualifying round like a number of others that are seeded five through eight.

“None of us have ever been in a series where seven of the teams are staying in the same hotel. It’s like minor hockey where if the game in front of you runs a little bit long, you’re kind of waiting for that game to end in overtime or what have you.”

Q: What will this be like for Keefe?

A: “When we made the coaching change (Mike Babcock being fired in late November)  Sheldon had one morning skate to get the team up and running for a game that night. Now he’s had essentially a full build up with the coaching staff. And we’ll have a two-week camp to get the players up and rolling, so I think there’s some good fortune for us on that end as well.

“We’re excited to see that, not only for the short run, but I think it’s a great experience for Sheldon and will help us and help him. And we’re largely past some of the injuries that had plagued us at the end of the season. We’re certainly excited to see (a fully healthy blueline).”

Q: What’s Auston Matthews’ status? (the Leafs’ leading scorer contracted Covid during the spring at his summer residence in Scottsdale, Ariz.)

A: “He’s fit to play”

Q: The team goes against Columbus without a lot of recent playoff success.

A: “I’m optimistic. This is our fourth series. We do have experience; guys know ebbs and flows now. Guys on the team that have been in the American League and with the Marlies have played in a lot of series and most of them have played in best of five as well. I think all of that is great to handle and to certainly go back on for experience as we kind of work our way through it.

“With regards to our chances, I think like every team now, we’re largely past some of the injuries that had plagued us at the end of the season and those players are due back (Jake Muzzin, Ilya Mikheyev).

“(The Blue Jackets) have a very specific organizational culture and ethos about them. They’re extremely hard-working. They’re a group that handles resiliency extremely well. They’re obviously a very tight-knit group”.

Q: You want to move on from talk you could win the draft lottery, but that could happen if you lose in the first round.

A: “That’s not where we’re thinking. If you don’t win that lottery, then it’s still a disappointing season. It’s so far away from where our franchise is at and what we’re trying to do.

“You lose, you get a 12.5% chance of winning the first pick and all of those eight teams get the same chance. To me the probability of losing and then winning the pick is still so low that we don’t really look at it that way.

“Our whole focus is on doing everything we can to try to win 19 games.”

Q: You’ve come through some injuries as mentioned. And what’s the outlook for Andreas Johnsson’s knee injury?

A: “I don’t look at the injuries necessarily as a negative thing because they allowed us to see (defencemen) Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl in a role that we thought he might be capable of. He grabbed the wheel with both hands and showed he’s able and certainly capable of playing big minutes in the NHL.

“(Injuries) allowed us to learn about our prospects on defence that will help us as we go into this stage in terms of depth and certainly in the future. I think that the injuries that we had throughout the year were more of a blessing. They forced us to put guys in a higher spot in the lineup like Travis Dermott when Muzzin went out of the lineup.

“Andreas was a six-month timeline. He would be somebody that we could expect to see, if all goes well with the end of his rehab, perhaps beginning at the second round of the actual playoffs to be safe. He’s done well with his rehab, in Gothenburg (Sweden).”

Q: How has the team handled Phase 2, the smaller group practices, and all the restrictions as you enter Phase 3?

A: “I’ve been extremely impressed by the way that all of our players have handled this, which is a voluntary phase; how hard they’ve worked, what they’ve requested from our staff to help them with and their commitment throughout. I know in the long term that will pay off and we’re certainly hopeful that, in the short term here as we get back, that has a great impact on where we’re going as a program.”

Q: Is the team ready for the isolation, the bubble environment and all that goes into the lengthy RTP protocols?

A: “It’s easier for us to see the finish line from Toronto, because of the job (three levels of government) have done to handle the virus. I don’t know what it would feel like to be in a spot where the virus is running rampant.”

lhornby@postmedia.com0 Comments

Clippers’ Joakim Noah is healthy and not taking anything for granted — Daily News

In his first virtual meeting with reporters since joining the Clippers just before the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season, veteran center Joakim Noah on Saturday shrugged off any natural reticence about playing basketball in the Orlando bubble. He didn’t even mention the food on campus at the Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports…

Clippers’ Joakim Noah is healthy and not taking anything for granted — Daily News