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USMNT’s Steffen: I’m growing at Manchester City despite limited play

United States men’s national team goalkeeper Zack Steffen feels he’s already grown on the field with club side Manchester City, even though he’s only been with the first team for a little over two months.

Steffen, 25, signed with Man City back in July of 2019, but spent the 2019-20 season on loan with German side Fortuna Dusseldorf. Steffen was brought in this season primarily to back up Ederson, but he has backstopped the club to two wins in the EFL Cup.

“Their goalie coach is really detailed, and is very eager to make me a better goalkeeper,” Steffen told reporters ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Wales. “And then just working with those guys day in and day out, the training, the level of intensity and skill and talent and everything that goes into it, I feel myself growing.”

In terms of what areas have been sharpened, Steffen pointed to the technical side of his game.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

“It’s just so much more detailed than anything I’ve ever really been a part of, whether that’s hand positioning when you’re just catching the ball, or it’s a set position on a certain shot, or one-v-one.7

“There’s so many little aspects that I obviously knew of and I know the techniques, but I feel like I never really got the reasons why you do that. And so, I feel like I’m learning some new techniques obviously but [also] some reasons of why these techniques are gonna help me in the long run.”

Steffen’s brief spell with City has now allowed him to see manager Pep Guardiola up close. He said while he’s still in the process of getting to know the manager and staff, he’s been impressed with what he’s seen so far.cheap nfl nike jersey

“I feel like [Guardiola] has a good balance of being focused in intense,” Steffen said. “But with that he brings humor, and he brings just his genuineness, and just kindness. So it’s been cool to see how he works, how his coaching staff works.”

Steffen added that he’s also noticed an increase in how players are treated now that he’s in the Premier League.

“The player care is just more prominent,” he said. “They want us to be fully focused on football, and they really help us out and worry about everything else whether that’s cars, whether it’s banking, whether it’s housing, family stuff. Anything at all, they’re one call away, one text away, and they really make us feel comfortable.”

But for the next week, Steffen’s job will be to integrate himself with a U.S. side that hasn’t played a match since February, with many first choice players rejoining the U.S. team for the first time in over year. Steffen’s last appearance for the U.S. came on Oct. 15, 2019 in a 2-0 loss to Canada in the CONCACAF Nations League.

“The vibe so far has been really good,” he said. “Everybody’s excited to be here and everybody’s excited to see each other, meet one another. Training has been short and sharp and quick. It’s obviously tough when there’s so many new guys and we don’t have so many training days. But now we’re excited for the game, we’re excited to get on the field each day and learn from one another and see what everybody’s really made of.”

Daryl Morey likes Philadelphia 76ers’ roster, says goal is championship

Daryl Morey, speaking Monday for the first time as president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers, expressed excitement about the championship potential of a roster built around All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.

“My goal is to win a championship, so whatever gets us there is what we’ll do,” Morey said during a virtual news conference officially announcing his hiring. “But I would say to have two star-plus players in 24 and 26 years old, that is why I couldn’t get Doc Rivers to come interview in Houston.

“He saw this roster and he said, ‘It’s amazing,’ and ‘Sorry I couldn’t fly to Houston to meet with you, Daryl.’ And then, obviously, I end up here a couple weeks later. … It was pretty cool.”

Last month Morey agreed to leave the Houston Rockets, where he had run the team’s basketball operations for more than a decade. At the time, he said he was planning to take a “gap year.”

But on Monday he found himself sitting alongside Rivers (hired as coach last month after a departure from the LA Clippers), general manager Elton Brand (whom Morey is now ahead of on the organizational depth chart) and owner Josh Harris.

“That was my plan,” Morey said of taking a gap year, before adding with a smile, “My kids are giving me a lot of crap about it.nfl cheap nike jerseys

“I’m a pretty competitive guy, but that was my plan. My wife was actually urging me to do that. But Elton and Doc and Josh were relentless, just relentless, as soon as I stepped away. Frankly, the more you look at what Elton has put together, on this roster with Joel and Ben as the headliners but with great players — Al [Horford], Josh [Richardson], Tobias [Harris] and some of the younger players brought in last year — I’m with Doc.8

“He and I have been chatting a lot, and the more you dig into the players that are here, the more you get excited about what this team can do.”

In the span of a month, the Sixers have landed one of the best and most respected coaches and executives in the NBA. Harris said that, in both cases, when he and the rest of the Sixers’ ownership had an opportunity to pursue both men, doing so was a no-brainer.

“You have to be self-reflective,” Harris said. “When we came out of the bubble, we were self-reflective. It didn’t work last year. We were disappointed. And also, it’s hard. People like Doc Rivers, or coaches like Doc Rivers, executives like Daryl Morey, they’re under contract. It’s very hard to get them out of their current situations. It’s very rare they leave current situations, or you have availability to talk to them.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“So, the minute they were available, we jumped on it, and yeah, I think we’re now really well set up with great leadership and great people. I think it is a new dawn, a new era, and I hope it lasts for a long, long time. And I think hopefully it will yield success on the court. I believe that it will.”

The Sixers entered last season with sky-high expectations, only to fall short. The team was hindered by injuries — most notably to Simmons in the NBA bubble in Orlando, Florida — while the trio of Simmons, Embiid and Horford, in particular, struggled to fit together.

But while Embiid and Simmons are about as big of a departure as one could find from the small-ball, 3-point-shooting team Morey and Mike D’Antoni built with the Rockets, his long-standing philosophy has not been to chase 3-point shooting, but to chase stars. And, repeatedly, Morey went out of his way to praise Embiid’s potential, in particular, during Monday’s news conference.

“Well first I would say, how we play is going to be up to Doc,” Morey said. “But that’s one reason I’m very excited to be here is to work with a championship coach like Doc. I think — and I think he agrees with me, he can jump in — the best way to win in the NBA is to take your talent and figure out how to utilize them the best. Right? It’s not to take your talent and hammer it into a particular system. It’s to try to get the most out of who you have.

“It doesn’t take much to look at when Joel is on the floor and healthy, and he’s been in here twice a day for quite a while, he’s very focused and motivated, this is an unbelievable defensive team. The fact that he’s also an extremely good offensive player … Joel is the kind of player you win championships with if you look back through NBA history. We were trying to build our best team around our talents in Houston, but here Doc is going to take the talent we have and use them to the best of our ability.”

Philadelphia 76ers name Daryl Morey team president; extend GM Elton Brand

The Philadelphia 76ers officially named Daryl Morey president of basketball operations and extended the contract of general manager Elton Brand on Monday.

Morey stepped down as GM of the Houston Rockets this month after blockbuster moves that failed to lead the franchise to the NBA Finals. The Rockets made the playoffs 10 times since Morey was hired in 2007, including the last eight seasons, for the longest active streak in the NBA.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

“Talent like Daryl rarely becomes available, so we moved quickly and aggressively to bring him here,” team owner Josh Harris said. “He has an extraordinary track record of success in this league as an innovator, visionary and leader, and I believe he significantly improves our chances of delivering a championship caliber team to our fans. This offseason, we made it our mission to make this organization better and stronger.”7

Brand was named general manager on Sept. 20, 2018. He helped lead the hiring process that landed coach Doc Rivers early last month.nfl cheap nike jerseys

“This offseason, we made it our mission to make this organization better and stronger. By hiring a tremendous front-office leader in Daryl and championship coach in Doc, as well as extending Elton, we’re proud of what we’ve assembled,” Harris said.

Houston went 640-400 under Morey and won a franchise-record 65 regular-season games in the 2017-18 season.

The Sixers believed they were ready to contend for their first championship in 37 years and Brand spent $180 million to re-sign Tobias Harris and nearly $100 million to sign free agent Al Horford away from Boston. Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid emerged from The Process to become All-Stars and earn hefty contracts but have yet to prove they can carry the Sixers into serious championship contention.

“Thank you to Josh Harris for the trust he has placed in me to lead the 76ers,” Morey said. “I am humbled by the challenge and will work tirelessly to win the hearts of Philadelphia’s legendary fans.”

Indianapolis Colts QB Philip Rivers salty after review turns incompletion into interception

Colts quarterback Philip Rivers didn’t hold back in voicing his displeasure over the NFL‘s murky rule of what is and isn’t a catch after a play was changed from an incomplete pass to an interception in their loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Rivers attempted a pass to receiver Marcus Johnson down the sideline in front of the Colts’ bench with 11 minutes left in the third quarter. The ball was underthrown, which allowed Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters to turn around and become the primary target. Peters had the ball in his hands when Johnson became the defender and tried to knock it out. Johnson appeared to knock the ball out of Peters’ hands as he was going to the ground.

The play initially was called an incompletion, but Ravens coach John Harbaugh threw his challenge flag. The officials changed the call and said that Peters had control before fumbling. That explanation didn’t sit well with Rivers.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale8

“It’s gotten so jacked up how the catch rule is,” the quarterback said. “No one who has been around football or watched thought that was a catch, including the guy [Peters] who dropped it. But some guy who has probably never thrown a football in his life gets to decide.”

Peters said he thinks the officials ultimately made the right call.

“I think I made a play with the ball. I was going backwards for multiple steps, [and] I had control over it,” Peters explained. “So, I think it was an interception. I kind of went over and asked Philip Rivers if he thought it was a pick. He didn’t think so, but that was a [heck] of a job by Coach [John] Harbaugh. [The coaches] upstairs, they got that called down, and they went with it. So, I appreciate it, and the team does, too.”

Al Riveron, the NFL‘s senior vice president of officiating, said there was “clear and obvious visual evidence” that Peters controlled the ball and took three steps to establish possession before fumbling.

The Ravens took advantage of the changed call to score what turned out to be the winning touchdown in their 24-10 victory over the Colts.nike nfl jerseys cheap paypal

Rivers tried to soften his stance on the changed call at the end of his Zoom session with the media.

“I’ll probably get in trouble for saying the guy has probably never thrown a football, but they called it an interception, so it’s an interception,” he said. “Bottom line is I probably shouldn’t have thrown the ball. Shouldn’t have thrown it short. You throw it short, you leave it in other people’s hands.”

Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford opens up about ‘different,’ ‘stressful’ week, toll of being away from family

Matthew Stafford’s daughter, Hunter, had fallen off her high chair onto a granite floor Friday night and the Detroit Lions quarterback didn’t know what to do. He was quarantined in a Detroit-area hotel away from his family due to NFL COVID-19 protocols after he came into close contact with an infected person. His wife, Kelly, couldn’t find anyone to watch their other three daughters.

So Stafford jumped in the car Friday night and started to head home.

“It’s a long story,” Stafford said Sunday, after his team lost to the Minnesota Vikings 34-20. “But yeah, I was on my way home.”

Stafford had told the story to CBS during a production meeting, which reporter Melanie Collins shared before Sunday’s game. Stafford didn’t want to go into details again after the game, but Collins reported he called general manager Bob Quinn and told him he would have to break protocol and be unable to play Sunday.

Collins said he was a mile from home when Kelly found someone to take care of the kids. He turned around, returned to the hotel and stayed away from his family and in protocol. Hunter ended up with a concussion, and Kelly explained what happened Saturday on Instagram.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

After Sunday’s game, Stafford said Hunter was “doing OK.”7

“That was probably the closest it got [to not playing] and obviously just depended on if I continued to test negative,” Stafford said. “But the plan, early on in the week, was that if I continued to test negative that I’ll be able to show up on Saturday night and do all the meetings virtually and all that kind of stuff and then play.

“So the week was obviously a different one, a little bit of a stressful one, but no excuse, got to come out and play better.”

Stafford did play against Minnesota, completing 23 of 32 passes for 211 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions before leaving to be checked for a concussion in the fourth quarter. He cleared concussion protocol and then spoke with the media, where he explained how difficult the week was for him.

In terms of football, Stafford was able to be in meetings and watch practices virtually, and he constantly communicated with backups Chase Daniel and David Blough while trying to stay mentally ready himself. It was being away from his family that was the hard part and the part that weighed on him.

It’s also the part he’s still unsure of. While Stafford said he believed he’d be able to fly back to Detroit with the team, he was under the impression after the game he would have to remain quarantined from his family.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

“It’s not something I take lightly. I understand it’s a pandemic and people’s health and safety are at risk, and I would feel terrible if I brought that in and infected a bunch of teammates or coaches or whatever it is,” Stafford said. “So I understand it. Doesn’t make it easy, but everybody in the league is doing it.

“I just hate being away from my family, you know, and finish a practice, finish a game, go hug my daughters, hug my wife. That’s what sometimes makes it worth it for me, and not being able to see them and hang with them has been really tough. But there’s other people dealing with the same kind of stuff I am. That’s just the hard part for me.”

GM Brodie Van Wagenen among those leaving New York Mets after sale to Steve Cohen

General manager Brodie Van Wagenen and much of his front office are leaving the New York Mets, the team announced Friday.

The moves were announced less than an hour after hedge fund manager Steve Cohen completed his $2.4 billion purchase of the team.

Special assistant to the general manager Omar Minaya, assistant general managers Allard Baird and Adam Guttridge and executive director of player development Jared Banner also are leaving. The status of senior vice president and senior strategy officer John Ricco was not mentioned.

Cohen ended the Wilpon family’s control of the franchise after 34 mostly frustrating years and took the title of chief executive officer. He hired former Mets general manager Sandy Alderson as team president in his first move and ended Jeff Wilpon’s tenure as chief operating officer.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

Alderson, not Cohen, announced the baseball staff departures and said he had started the process of building a leadership staff.

“I want to thank Brodie, Allard, Adam and Jared for their contributions over the last two years,” he said in a statement. “I especially want to thank Omar for his long and distinguished service to the Mets in many important capacities.”8

Van Wagenen was a player agent and co-head of CAA Baseball before Wilpon hired him to replace Alderson after the 2018 season. The Mets went 86-76, finishing third in the NL East, and Van Wagenen fired manager Mickey Callaway and replaced him with Carlos Beltran.

But when Beltran was implicated in January by commissioner Rob Manfred in the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal during Beltran’s final season as a player in 2017, he lost his job within days without managing a game and was replaced by quality control coach Luis Rojas.

New York went 26-34 and missed the expanded playoffs in the shortened 2020 season.

Many of Van Wagenen’s moves failed to work out, including acquiring second baseman Robinson Cano and signing free agents Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. All three were among his former clients.nfl cheap nike jerseys

Van Wagenen congratulated Fred Wilpon for “an intelligence and love that made all of us feel that we were a part of his family” and Jeff Wilpon for an “incredible opportunity and the unwavering support” and for “unrivaled work ethic and sacrifice” to create Citi Field, which opened in 2009.

“We took a team that had suffered losing seasons in 2017 and 2018 to contention in 2019 and onto a chance for real success in 2020 prior to the pandemic,” Van Wagenen said in a statement that thanked staff, players and fans. “While we didn’t reach our goal in 2020, the work that you put in to keep everyone safe and healthy in the midst of the COVID-19 threat played a significant role in the return of and the successful completion of the Major League Baseball season.”

Friday’s moves make Rojas’ future uncertain. Fired Astros GM Jeff Luhnow, who completed a season-long suspension last week, could be a candidate for the analytics-oriented Cohen.

Atlanta Braves decline $3.5M option for reliever Darren O’Day

Right-hander Darren O’Day’s $3.5 million club option for 2021 has been declined by the Atlanta Braves, making him eligible for free agency.

O’Day receives a $250,000 buyout, completing a deal originally set to guarantee $2.5 million. He had a $2.25 million salary this year, which wound up being worth $833,333 in prorated pay for the shortened season.cheap nike jerseys nfl7

O’Day was 4-0 with a 1.10 ERA in 19 relief appearances this season, striking out 22 and walking five in 16 1/3 innings. He made five postseason appearances, allowing two runs and four hits in 2 1/3 innings.cheap nfl jerseys from china nike

O’Day gave up singles to Joc Pederson and Chris Taylor in Game 2 of the NL Championship Series, and both runners scored when Corey Seager homered off A.J. Minter in the Braves’ 8-7 win.

Colts’ No. 2-ranked defense respects Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, can’t ‘fear him’

The Indianapolis Colts made the Minnesota Vikings’ Kirk Cousins look like an overpriced free-agent quarterback. They helped make Sam Darnold’s future with the New York Jets even cloudier. They stifled Nick Foles in his first start with the Chicago Bears, holding the Bears to 11 points.

Those accomplishments have the Colts sitting at No. 2 in the NFL in total defense.

But now they’re about to face a different kind of challenge on Sunday: the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson, the reigning NFL MVP.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Jackson, who former Colts general manager Bill Polian believed should have switched positions to receiver when he came out of Louisville in 2018, presents multiple obstacles to defenses attempting to slow him down because he’s a threat to run the ball out of Baltimore’s option-type offense. The Ravens use a lot of motion and deception, and they attempt to disguise things offensively with Jackson leading the way.

Veteran pass-rusher Justin Houston didn’t hesitate in calling Jackson the fastest quarterback he has faced in his 10-year NFL career.8

“I played against him, so hands down and by far the quickest, fastest quarterback,” Houston said. “That’s no knock to any other quarterback. There are a lot of quarterbacks with speed, but no other quarterback moves the way he moves in that pocket. When he gets out of the pocket, he is so dangerous.”

Jackson obviously leads the Ravens in passing, but he also leads them in rushing with 411 yards this season. The difference in Jackson this year compared to his NFL MVP season in 2019 is that he hasn’t been as accurate. A season after completing 66.1% of his pass attempts and throwing only six interceptions, the third-year player has completed just 60.5% of his attempts, which ranks 29th in the league, and he has already thrown four interceptions in seven games.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“I think what we bring to the table is an 11-on-1 mentality,” coach Frank Reich said. “I think what we bring to the table is — I know every defense in this league runs to the ball, I’m obviously very biased — I think our defense has a commitment of all 11 guys running to the ball. I think the speed and talent level of our defense as a unit is at a spot that can match up against players like this.”

The weight of the Ravens is on Jackson’s shoulders even more now because they’re dealing with injuries and COVID-19 issues on the roster. Starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley is out for the season with an ankle injury. All-Pro Marlon Humphrey will miss Sunday’s game after testing positive for the coronavirus.

But that doesn’t mean Jackson won’t be effective. The Colts know they can’t be timid against Jackson.

“Biggest thing is don’t play scared,” Houston said. “Respect him, but don’t fear him. Don’t let that slow you down in your rush.”

Those are the two words that will be talked about nonstop this week when it comes to defending Jackson. The defense, as Houston said, has to play fast in pursuing Jackson. At the same time, they can’t be wild while playing fast. That’s where the discipline comes into play.

“The way we talk about it is two sides of the same coin,” Reich said. “Lamar is a great player. He’s going to make his plays, but our goal is to minimize those the best we can. One we way can do that is with speed and discipline. Has to be the combination of both. Like a two-sided coin. One is not more important than the other. They’re equally important. You need both of them to give yourselves a chance to try to stop a guy like Lamar.”

Colorado knocks Seattle out of first in West

Keegan Rosenberry scored the go-ahead goal late in the first half as the Colorado Rapids defeated the visiting Seattle Sounders FC 3-1 Sunday night.

Andre Shinyashiki and Cole Bassett also scored for the Rapids (6-6-4, 1.38 points per game), who moved into seventh place in the Western Conference based on points per game.

Jordan Morris scored the lone goal for the Sounders (10-5-5, 1.75 ppg), who dropped out of first place in the West behind idle Sporting Kansas City.

MLS announced last week that qualification for the playoffs would be determined by points per match, as Colorado had five games postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shinyashiki opened the scoring in the 11th minute, taking a cross from Sam Vines and putting a header from 10 yards out just inside the right post. Nicolas Benezet also was credited with an assist.

Morris tied it in the 22nd minute, redirecting a cross from Cristian Roldan into the net from close range.nike cheap nfl jerseys8

Rosenberry made it 2-1 in the 42nd minute. A Colorado corner kick was headed away by Sounders defender Yeimar Gomez Andrade, but the ball fell to Rosenberry, who was about 23 yards out in the middle of the field. His low volley made it through a maze of players and just inside the left post.

The defending MLS Cup champion Sounders nearly tied it in first-half stoppage time, but Colorado goalkeeper William Yarbrough made a left-footed kick save at the near post on a 5-yard shot by Raul Ruidiaz.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Bassett extended the Rapids’ lead to 3-1 in the 75th minute, scoring on a header from 7 yards out off a free kick from Jack Price.

Yarbrough made two saves for Colorado, and Sounders goalie Stefan Frei stopped seven shots. Colorado outshot Seattle 16-9, including 10-3 in attempts on target.

CONCACAF Champions League set to play out in U.S. in December bubble

The conclusion of the 2020 CONCACAF Champions League will be played out in a centralized location in the United States between Dec. 15-22, after the competition was suspended midway through the quarterfinal stage in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The games will be played behind closed doors and will be one-leg knockouts rather than the usual two legs, CONCACAF said on Monday.

However, the quarterfinal first legs that had already been played will count and those second legs will be played as part of the December tournament.nfl cheap jerseys nike

“The football community across the region, and the fans of the remaining eight teams in particular, can look forward to an exciting centralized finale of the competition in December and the crowning of a regional club champion,” CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani said in a statement.7

There will be high-frequency COVID-19 testing in the bubble-like environment for the tournament, with no fans allowed into the games.

The second legs of the quarterfinals already started — Olimpia vs. Montreal Impact, Atlanta United vs. Club America, Tigres vs. NYCFC — will take place over Dec. 15 and 16, although the times and locations are yet to be announced. Honduran side Olimpia take a 2-1 lead from the first leg against Thierry Henry’s Montreal, while Tigres are 1-0 up versus NYCFC and America thrashed Atlanta 3-0 in its first game.nike cheap nfl jerseys

The LAFC against Cruz Azul game will be a one-game shoot-out, as will the semifinals and final. The winner of America against Atlanta will face LAFC or Cruz Azul in the semifinal with Tigres/NYCFC to play Olimpia or Montreal. Both games will be on Dec. 19.

There will be no extra-time at the quarterfinal or semifinal stage, with games instead going straight to penalties, although there will be extra-time for the Dec. 22 final, should the teams be level after 90 minutes.

Monterrey is the current CONCACAF Champions League holder, with Mexican teams having won the last 14 editions of the region’s club tournament.