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Journeyman Boateng the unlikely ‘Prince’ in Sassuolo’s Serie A fairy tale

Leave Piazza Piccola on the via Giuseppe Mazzini side and visitors to Sassuolo have two options. They can go left and view Palazzo Ducale, the duke’s palace, with its remarkable frescos and a fishpond that has to be seen to be believed. Or turn right for the Ezio Ricci stadium and see a “Prince” instead.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

A prince who would be king, judging by the title of the rap video Kevin-Prince Boateng dropped on Aug.16, the night before the Serie A season began. The video has been watched 1.7 million times in the two months it has been on YouTube; if every view is unique that’s 42-and-a-half times the population of Sassuolo!

“Of course I’m crazy happy about it, that people like it and so many people viewed it,” Boateng says, “and I want to thank the fans because it’s not normal. It’s just the way I am. I just want to do stuff. I do it and I don’t care if it goes bad or good. I just want to do it for myself because I want to look back one day and say: Yeah, I did that. I did that and I don’t regret it.”5

(All that is left to do now is organise a rap battle between “PRIN$$ Boateng” and Atalanta goalkeeper Pierluigi Gollini — AKA “Gollorius” — before Sassuolo play the Bergamaschi at the end of December.)

There is little mystery, then, as to who sets the playlist in the Sassuolo dressing room: “I do,” Boateng says with a proud nod. His music taste is varied and not just limited to rap.

“My mum and dad used to listen to a lot of R&B and soul, so this was the way I grew up,” he says. “Hip-hop of course. But then as I grew older I started listening to everything. It comes with the moment. Sometimes I wake up and I’m a little bit grumpy and I listen to soul. Sometimes I wake up and I need some spirit so I listen to rock and roll. It depends on the mood I’m in.”

Meanwhile, no one at Sassuolo is ever in the right frame of mind for the noise blaring out of the car or headphones of goalkeeper Andrea Consigli.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

“He listens to hard techno music,” Boateng jokes. “You have to love it. We’re 25 or 26 players and it’s just him. He loves it, so he will never put music on in the dressing room.”

Red Sox re-sign Series MVP Steve Pearce on 1-year, $6.25M deal

“We’re thrilled to have Steve back with us for another year as we think he’s a great fit for our club,” Red Sox general manager Dave Dombrowski said. “Obviously, we all saw what kind of impact he can have on the field, especially with the postseason that he had. He also provides good depth and balance from the right side for us.”

Pearce, a grinder who has bounced from team to team, was an improbable World Series MVP, hitting .333 with three homers and eight RBIs against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Each of his four hits went for extra bases, and he drew four walks without striking out, posting a .500 on-base percentage.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

In Game 4, he launched a tying home run in the eighth inning, then added a three-run double in the ninth that sent Boston to a 9-6 win.

In the clincher, he got the Red Sox rolling, connecting for a two-run homer off Clayton Kershaw in the first inning, then hitting a solo shot off Pedro Baez in the eighth.5

The 35-year-old first baseman had been a valuable role player for the Red Sox after being acquired in a June 28 trade with the Toronto Blue Jays. He batted .279 for Boston, with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in 50 regular-season games.

In early August, with incumbent first baseman Mitch Moreland slumping, Pearce powered Boston to a key four-game sweep of the Yankees by hitting four home runs, three of which came during a statement-making 15-7 rout in the opener.

In the AL Division Series against the New York Yankees, with Moreland nursing a balky hamstring, Pearce started three of four games and hit .333 for the series. In Game 3 of the AL Championship Series against Houston, with the score tied at 2 and the series tied at 1, it was Pearce’s sixth-inning homer off Astros reliever Joe Smith that seemed to tip the scales in Boston’s favor.

He’s a career .257 hitter, with 90 home runs and 294 RBIs in nine seasons.cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

When Pearce joined the Red Sox — his ninth team in seven seasons — it completed a rare sweep. He has played for every club in the American League East.

In 2014 with the Baltimore Orioles, he developed a reputation as one of the game’s more underrated utility players, a dangerous right-handed bat who could play almost anywhere on the field. He was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2016, and went to Toronto in 2017.

Aaron Rodgers’ numbers don’t add up to 4-5-1 Packers’ record

He has thrown the most touchdowns with one or fewer interceptions of any quarterback with a losing record through 10 games during the Super Bowl era, and it’s not all that close. In 1991, the Browns were 4-6, and Bernie Kosar had 11 touchdowns and one interception. He and Rodgers are the only two quarterbacks in the past 53 seasons with double-digit touchdowns along with one or zero interceptions to have a losing record through 10 games, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

And don’t blame Rodgers’ Week 1 knee injury — at least not anymore — for any of the Packers’ struggles.

“I feel good; it’s not a problem,” Rodgers said after Thursday’s loss in Seattle.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Perhaps everyone should have seen this coming from the Packers, who have suffered because of poor drafts in Ted Thompson’s final three years as general manager. Even a more aggressive approach to free agency and the draft from new GM Brian Gutekunst did not immediately fix all the issues.6

But with Rodgers back healthy after the broken collarbone ruined his 2017 season, there was talk of another MVP run. After all, he won his second MVP, for the 2014 season, the year after he broke his collarbone for the first time.

Rodgers played through the Week 1 left knee injury; he wore a brace until the Nov. 4 game at New England. But something wasn’t right with the offense — a point he made public after the Week 4 win over the Buffalo Bills, when he threw coach Mike McCarthy and his game-planning staff under the bus.

And it’s still not right even if he now says he’s as involved as he needs to be in the game-planning process.

“I think there’s an agreement with what we’re doing; obviously, we meet multiple times a week on what we’re trying to do,” Rodgers said in Seattle. “The frustration is in the execution. The execution hasn’t been great, especially in situational offense. When you compare it to years past, we’ve always been really good on third down and really good in the red zone, and we’re just not this year. I think that’s a combination of a lot of things, but that’s the biggest frustration.”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Rodgers said last week that he believes his decline in completion percentage (61.8 percent, 25th in the NFL) is due in part to an increased number of throwaways. He has already chucked the ball away more times this season than he has in any full season during his career as a starter.

Seahawks haven’t been shy about how well they ran against Rams

Fluker’s postgame comments will make for some added spice in Sunday’s rematch — assuming he’ll even able to play through a calf injury. His iffy status and that of running back Chris Carson threaten to undermine what might be the Seahawks’ best chance of prevailing, even with the Rams having just surrendered four touchdown passes at the New Orleans Saints in their first loss of the season. Because if they Seahawks are going to pull off an upset as 10-point road underdogs, it’s going to have to be with the same formula that nearly got it done last time, which included 190 yards on the ground and nearly 6 yards per carry.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

“We definitely have to have that again,” Seahawks left tackle Duane Brown said. “We have to have a solid run game in order to win.”

That won’t be easy given the injury situation. Carson is dealing with a sore hip that had him listed as questionable heading into Seattle’s home game against the Los Angeles Chargers last week. He left after only 10 snaps and didn’t return. Fluker left late in that game because of a tight calf; and while coach Pete Carroll said at the start of the week that Fluker appeared to be OK, the coach didn’t sound as certain on Wednesday when he said Fluker came back from the off day feeling more sore than he did earlier.5

Neither practiced Wednesday or Thursday, so their statuses heading into Los Angeles seem far from certain.

Carson looked like he could he headed for his fourth 100-yard performance in five games when he carried four times for 30 yards on the Seahawks’ opening touchdown drive against the Chargers. But he had an ice pack wrapped around his left thigh by halftime as Mike Davis took over.

Davis has proved to be a nice secondary option and even a more-than-capable spot starter. He averaged more than 4 yards per carry in Carson’s absence on Sunday. Davis had more than 100 yards and added two touchdowns in a start at the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4. And has shown enough to hold onto the No. 2 job ahead of first-round pick Rashaad Penny. But there’s a drop-off from Carson, especially when it comes to the punishing style that none of Seattle’s other running backs can replicate. Davis even acknowledged that when he said after the Chargers game that not having Carson “changes the physicality.”cheap nike nfl jerseys china

“Chris has been pretty hot lately, and he’s been doing a lot of really good things for us,” Carroll said, “and we certainly missed him.”

Could this finally be Banyana Banyana’s year?

If preparation, organisation, and motivation were the measures of champions, the rest of the field might as well surrender the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations trophy to South Africa.

Banyana Banyana, AWCON finalists in 2012 and fourth place finishers at the last two tournaments, appear to have zeroed in on a target of winning their first-ever title, and with it their maiden trip to a FIFA Women’s World Cup.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

Banyana are second only to Nigeria in number of appearances at Africa’s premiere championship for women, since the inaugural competition in 1991. Of the 12 official tournaments, South Africa have only missed one, the 1995 edition when they withdrew.

In that period, they have been runners up four times, finished third twice and fourth two times for a total of nine top four finishes behind Nigeria and Cameroon. Their points haul of 71 is second only to Nigeria, although a long way shy of the Super Falcons’ 126.

For all of the impressive numbers, the one thing they have never managed is to claim the top prize. Outside of Nigeria, who have won 10 out of 12, only Equatorial Guinea have managed that honour.6

After four near misses, Banyana now look primed to make a strong play for the top prize. And they have made no bones about it.

Of all the teams going to Ghana, Banyana Banyana can claim to be the most prepared. By the time they run out for their friendly against hosts Ghana on November 11, they would have played a total of 15 games in 2018. That is way more than any other team on the continent.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

Their results in those games have not been shabby, either. They racked up eight wins, three draws, and three losses. Those losses came against tough European and South American opposition in Sweden, Belgium, and Chile. They did beat Hungary and drew with Korea DPR, Slovakia, and Chile.

All their other wins came against African opposition, including 2016 AWCON finalists Cameroon, whom they despatched 2-1 in the COSAFA Cup final.

By contrast, Nigeria have only played eight games. Five of those were at the WAFU Cup, where they were beaten in the semifinals by Ghana, one was a friendly which they lost scandalously to France 8-0, and the other two were the two-legged AWCON qualifiers against Gambia, which they won 7-0 on aggregate.

Canberra’s Refiloe Jane may hold the key to Banyana’s success

Much is made of South Africa’s players that turned out for Houston Dash this season in the USA, but arguably the most consistent Banyana Banyana player has been Canberra United’s Refiloe Jane.

The silky midfielder is not often given the plaudits she deserves, but is the heartbeat at the centre of the park for the national side, and has added another string to her bow – scoring goals.china nike nfl jerseys cheap

She and striker Rhoda Mulaudzi, who has not been selected for the African Women Cup of Nations in Ghana later this month, recently signed contracts with Canberra in Australia, joining the likes of Linda Motlhalo and Thembi Kgatlana (both Houston Dash) and Leandra Smeda (Gintra Universitetas, Lithuania) as players who ply their trade abroad.5

Jane has started well with two goals, albeit both penalties, and an assist in her opening couple of games for Canberra, following on from her good form that saw her net twice in the final of the COSAFA Women’s Championship in September, which saw Banyana defeat Cameroon.

“The hard work I have put in … I have playing well but not scoring through the years,” she admits. “It is one of the aspects that I have worked hard on, because sometimes I get in those positions to score but would miss.cheap nfl jerseys china nike

“I have been working hard on boosting my confidence in front of goal. I just want to be a better player.”

It has been a demanding few months for Jane, who has criss-crossed the world, and she knows that all the travel could have a negative effect on her performance in Ghana, but believes she is in good hands.

“Things have been going well [in Australia], we’ve settled in well. The people have been good for us,” Jane told reporters ahead of the trip to Ghana this month. “Everything is on track, in the two games we have played we have gelled with the team.”

Caris LeVert is still a cornerstone for the Brooklyn Nets

No one who has gotten to know Caris LeVert over the past half-decade — as an almost redshirt at the University of Michigan, and breakout star with the Brooklyn Nets — will be surprised to hear there will be minimal sulking after LeVert’s foot injury Monday.

It is one of LeVert’s defining traits — something that has made him a beloved teammate, and cultural keystone of the Nets’ long rebuild: He takes joy in the success of others, even when things are not going well for him. At Michigan, those in the program were stunned LeVert sustained such positivity even as three foot surgeries derailed his career.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Across the Nets, there had been universal exhilaration at LeVert’s rise from preseason backup to franchise centerpiece. Even rivals for that status found themselves swept up in it, in part because LeVert always offers them the same emotional support.

“It is all genuine with Caris,” Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson said during an interview at the team’s practice facility two weeks ago. “He is real.”5

It all overflowed after Brooklyn’s second game, when LeVert dusted Tim Hardaway Jr., his college teammate, and coaxed in a tilting layup to beat the Knicks. When Atkinson embraced LeVert in the locker room, LeVert smiled and told him, “I owed you one, Coach,” referencing some crunch-time error from Brooklyn’s season-opening loss in Detroit that Atkinson couldn’t even recall.

Player and coach fast developed a special relationship. Two years ago, Atkinson called LeVert to wish him a happy birthday but activated FaceTime by accident. (“I don’t even FaceTime my wife,” he said, not joking.) LeVert, surprised, picked up. Ten months later, on Atkinson’s birthday, his FaceTime went off again. It was LeVert, unprompted, creating a tongue-in-cheek tradition.

“Like, who even remembers their coach’s birthday?” Atkinson asked. “And then remembers we have this silly thing?”cheap nike nfl jerseys from china

Jacque Vaughn, the Nets assistant who has worked most closely with LeVert, searched him out after that game winner. That shot, Vaughn told him, was proof of what coaches preached all summer.

“Never feel rushed,” Vaughn said, repeating a mantra they had developed. “You can get to any spot you want. You dictate everything. That was the shot you wanted, and no one was able to get you off of it. Never feel rushed.”

Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliott help save Cowboys’ season — for now

The Dallas Cowboys’ storylines entering Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles weren’t exactly positive.

The list included: a coach’s job security, a quarterback struggling to make plays, an offensive coordinator perhaps on his last chance and a defense left wobbly after its previous game. All in all, it added up to a season on the line.cheap nfl nike jerseys china

But the Cowboys left Lincoln Financial Field with a 27-20 victory that seemed improbable after losing their first four road games of the season, and they find themselves alive and breathing, if not entirely well just yet.

“When you’re feeling low and you’re seeing the Grim Reaper and then come in and have your team perform the way these guys did, I promise you it’s a special feeling,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “I won’t need any wings on that airplane getting back to Dallas.”6

They left Philly with a win after Jason Garrett rallied a young team that had been rattled and a coaching staff that had been questioned.

They left with a win after Dak Prescott threw two touchdown passes in a road game for the first time this season. After Ezekiel Elliott rushed for more than 150 yards against the NFL’s second-best run defense and scored twice.

“I don’t know that I learned anything new [about his team],” Garrett said. “You try to build a team of guys who love football, who are mentally tough, and I think those things get revealed when you have to go through some adversity over the course of the season.

“I thought they did a great job coming back after [the Cowboys’ 28-14 loss to Tennessee the previous week], just getting back to work, not blinking. Just going back to work and understanding the importance of what this next opponent is and playing 60 minutes. Thought we did a better job of that in this game than we have in the last few games. Dealing with the adversities of the game and keep playing. Dealing with the successes of the game and keep playing.”

At times early in the game, Prescott was bad. He held on to the ball too long, which resulted in sacks — including a 13-yard sack in the second quarter.cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

At times, Prescott was brilliant: At the end of the first half, he connected on five passes for 79 yards and sneaked in from a yard out with 19 seconds left for the Cowboys’ first touchdown.

Kawhi Leonard is leaving few clues about his upcoming free agency

When Kawhi Leonard was a kid growing up in Southern California, he was surrounded by Los Angeles Lakers fans. His adolescence matched the heyday of Kobe Bryant’s tenure with the franchise, and his family — like so many others in Riverside and other parts of the Inland Empire where he grew up — was full of devoted followers of the purple and gold.nfl cheap jerseys nike

For the past two offseasons, the Lakers have kept their powder dry in the trade market. Rather than sacrificing any of their young core — Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart — to pursue a trade for someone like Paul George or Leonard, the Lakers have been content to sit back, let them grow and hope the combination of a young talent base and the bright lights of Hollywood will be enough to lure star power back to Los Angeles again.

It turned out to be enough to get the biggest star of all, LeBron James, to join the Lakers on July 1. But George spurned the chance to play alongside James this summer, opting to re-sign with the Oklahoma City Thunder at the start of free agency. And while there is plenty of time for things to change, there is a sense within the league Leonard will do the same next summer.

It was a throwaway line at the end of a short, perfunctory postpractice interview — one that, like virtually every such session Leonard is a part of, he dutifully worked to end as quickly as he could. But it also was a small window into the mindset Leonard has employed as he has lifted himself from being a high school star plying his trade 60 miles east of Los Angeles into the sport’s best two-way wing player.10

A survey of several league executives this weekend had the Lakers trailing, even among Staples Center tenants, in the competition to get Leonard, with the LA Clippers universally being placed ahead of them. Rather than seeking to team up with James, the thinking is that Leonard would prefer to have control of his own team, which the Clippers would offer, while still giving him the ability to return to his native Southern California.

The Lakers explored a potential Leonard trade this summer, but the San Antonio Spurs’ asking price prevented a deal from ever coming close to fruition. The Clippers, meanwhile, have relentlessly pursued Leonard since the summer but didn’t have the assets necessary to get a deal done.nfl nike jerseys for cheap

Toronto, however, did, ultimately sending an All-Star (DeMar DeRozan), a young talent (Jakob Poeltl) and a first-round pick to San Antonio for Leonard and Danny Green. And now that the Raptors get to spend a season recruiting Leonard to remain north of the border, the Raptors have a quiet confidence about their ability to get him to stick around next summer.

One source of optimism stems from the fact that Thunder general manager Sam Presti was able to hang on to George — despite George having openly stated he wanted to play for the Lakers, Oklahoma City being one of the league’s smallest markets and the Thunder having lost in the first round of the playoffs last season. But the bigger source of optimism is what Toronto has to offer Leonard if he does decide to stay.

Kareem Hunt, Travis Kelce have special homecomings in Cleveland

When it comes to being prepared to play, coach Andy Reid doesn’t worry about two of the Kansas City Chiefs in particular: running back Kareem Hunt and tight end Travis Kelce.

“They don’t need much to get them going,” Reid said. “That little extra doesn’t hurt. They were excited to be here. They get to play in front of family and friends. It can be expensive at times, but it’s worth it.”nike nfl cheap jerseys

Hunt and Kelce showed a lot to the hometown crowd. Hunt accounted for 141 total yards, while Kelce led the Chiefs with seven catches and 99 yards in the 37-21 win over the Cleveland Browns.

The two scored all five Kansas City touchdowns. Hunt had three and Kelce two.6

“We definitely can relate because we both came from this area,” Hunt said. “We know everything about it. It’s kind of special we’re on the same team going out there and having a big game for both of us. He had a big game and I had a big game. I think only Cleveland people scored today. That’s a good thing.”

Said Kelce, “That just tells you the type of special place that lies here in Northeast Ohio. It’s dear to my heart, and I love it to death … Browns fans, I’m sorry we had to do it, but we’re about business in Kansas City.”cheap nfl nike jerseys from china

Each player shelled out for tickets for family members and friends. Kelce said he “couldn’t even count” how many people from the area he had at Sunday’s game.

Hunt, as a gesture of appreciation, bought tickets for the players and coaches at his former high school, Willoughby South.

“It’s really a dream come true that I’m able to do something like that for the high school and for the program, for the coaches,” Hunt said. “I just really wanted to go out there and win this game because it meant more to me, this game, than a lot of the other ones.

“I was definitely very excited coming into the game. It’s a stadium I used to drive by every day, almost. Now actually getting to play on the field in the NFL is really an honor.”