Real Salt Lake defender Nedum Onuoha said he wants to leave the MLS club following owner Dell Loy Hansen's comments criticising his players for boycotting Wednesday's fixture amid racial injustice protests.

Five of the six MLS games scheduled midweek were called off following nationwide protests within professional sports in the United States after Jacob Blake – a black man – was repeatedly shot by police in Wisconsin.

RSL's clash with Los Angeles FC did not go ahead as games across the NBA, MLB and WNBA were called off on Wednesday and Hansen accused his team of disrespect.

"It's a moment of sadness," Hansen said on radio station X96 on Thursday. "It's like somebody stabbed you and you're trying to figure out a way to pull the knife out and move forward. That's what it feels like. The disrespect is profound to me personally.

"It's taken a lot of wind out of my sails, what effort I want to put into recruiting players and building a great team. It just seems that's not a very good path to take."

"We will not be inviting fans back to the stadium in the future," Hansen added. "Monday, I start having to cut 40, 50 jobs again. We would not go through the risk of inviting people back to have that kind of an outcome."

Hansen's comments sparked backlash within the club and across the league, with former Manchester City defender and RSL's Onuoha telling BBC World Service: "I don't want to be here because I'm not here to play for someone who isn't here to support us.

"We are trying to create a bigger conversation but a lot of the people who are in power don't empathise or sympathise or do anything. They are more concerned with themselves."

"It didn't feel right to be playing a game when people are trying to highlight a big conversation and things that are bigger than sport," the 33-year-old Englishman continued. "I was brought to tears this morning as I was listening to stories of what has happened over the last few days and knowing the owner isn't in agreement and now seeing this stuff here.

"These are cries for help and for people at the very top to get behind us because that is where the biggest change can come, but we are being left and being criticised. If you want to make a stance, the pushback is massive and MLS players don't earn enough money to feel that they have enough value to have an opinion and to be able to make change. I'd like to say I'm proud, but I wish it is something that we didn't have to do."

MLS also responded to Hansen's comments, with commissioner Don Garber saying in a statement: "I appreciate Dell Loy Hansen's efforts to build the sport of soccer in Utah.  His commitment to MLS, the NWSL and the USL, as well as the game at the youth level, has been significant.  However, I strongly disagree with the comments he made today, the way they were expressed, and they do not reflect the views of MLS.

"This is a time for all of us to work together in the pursuit of racial equality and social justice. Major League Soccer and all of its clubs will continue to support and create initiatives that enact real change."

MLS is also investigating allegations that Hansen has a history of making racially charged remarks in his time as owner of RSL.

"We are deeply concerned about the allegations made in a report published this evening concerning language used by and the conduct of Real Salt Lake owner Dell Loy Hansen," the league said. "Major League Soccer has zero tolerance for this type of language or conduct and will immediately commence an investigation."

Barack Obama, Billie Jean King and LeBron James led rallying calls on a seismic day in American sport, as games were called off in protest at racial injustice.

In a forceful message, athletes and teams downed tools in North America as they boycotted scheduled fixtures following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man, by police in the state of Wisconsin.

Blake was shot several times in the back, prompting nationwide protests.

All three NBA playoff games set for Wednesday were postponed, and it was reported widely that players from the Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers were in favour of boycotting the rest of the season.

The NBA board of governors were set for a Thursday meeting, with players also reportedly due to hold a follow-up to their Wednesday get-together.

Major League Baseball saw three games postponed, namely those between the Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, and Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres.

Five of six Major League Soccer games also did not go ahead, while Thursday's play at the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament in New York was suspended, with Naomi Osaka pulling out of the tournament after reaching the semi-finals.

Former US president Obama saluted the Milwaukee Bucks for boycotting Game 5 in their series against the Orlando Magic.

Milwaukee is the nearest major city to Kenosha, where Blake was shot. Obama also saluted Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who criticised President Donald Trump when he spoke powerfully on Tuesday. Rivers accused the Republican Party of "spewing this fear".

Obama wrote on Twitter: "I commend the players on the @Bucks for standing up for what they believe in, coaches like @DocRivers, and the @NBA and @WNBA for setting an example. It's going to take all our institutions to stand up for our values."

Speaking earlier in the day, Lakers superstar James wrote on Twitter: "F*** THIS MAN!!!! WE DEMAND CHANGE. SICK OF IT".

Clippers owner Steve Ballmer added: "I am again angry over the shooting of a black man #JacobBlake. @DocRivers and The @Bucks players said it well, we need real police accountability. Give citizens data to do so. Let's have criminal justice reform that keeps all people safe but not senselessly imprisoned or afraid."

Tennis great King, who has fought for the growth of women's sport and for social justice, praised Japanese player Osaka's decision to abandon the Western and Southern Open in her individual protest.

King wrote: "A brave and impactful move by @naomiosaka, in support of the protest movement moving through the sports world. She was to play in the semis. Athletes using platforms for good means so much. Don't remain silent. #BlackLivesMatter"

Fellow tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova added: "An amazing stance Naomi ... well done, nothing but respect!!!"

The NHL faced criticism, however, for a perceived lack of response as the Stanley Cup playoffs continue.

Canadian star Evander Kane, who plays for the San Jose Sharks, tore into the league by saying: "Actually it's incredibly insulting as a black man in hockey the lack of action and acknowledgement from the @nhl, just straight up insulting."

Orlando City recorded a 3-1 win over Nashville in the only one of six scheduled MLS games played on Wednesday.

Daryl Dike's second-half brace proved decisive as Orlando climbed into fourth in the Eastern Conference.

But it came on a day when five other games were postponed as teams in North America boycotted matches over racial injustice following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

The scheduled clashes called off were Inter Miami-Atlanta United, Dallas-Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles FC, San Jose Earthquakes-Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders.

Orlando's game with Nashville was already in progress when the remaining MLS matches were postponed.

Nashville took the lead away from home at Exploria Stadium, David Romney heading in Hany Mukhtar's set-piece in the 15th minute.

But Orlando levelled just six minutes later through Christopher Mueller, who headed in Joao Moutinho's cross from close range.

Dike delivered a key double in the second half for the hosts, who bounced back after a loss to Inter Miami following their MLS is Back Tournament final defeat.

Five MLS fixtures have been postponed amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in the United States.

Blake – a black man – was repeatedly shot in the back by police in Wisconsin and the incident has prompted nationwide protests within professional sports.

Now, MLS has joined in postponing matches after all three of Wednesday's NBA playoff games were called off in Orlando, Florida midweek.

While Orlando City's clash against Nashville kicked off as scheduled, the Inter Miami-Atlanta United, Dallas-Colorado Rapids, Real Salt Lake-Los Angeles FC, San Jose Earthquakes-Portland Timbers and LA Galaxy-Seattle Sounders fixtures were postponed as athletes fight against racial injustice.

In an earlier statement, the MLS said: "The entire Major League Soccer family is deeply saddened and horrified by the senseless shooting of Jacob Blake and events in Kenosha. We continue to stand with the Black community throughout our country — including our players and employees — and share in their pain, anger and frustration.

"MLS unequivocally condemns racism and has always stood for equality, but we need to do more to take tangible steps to impact change. We will continue to work with our players, our clubs and the broader soccer community to harness our collective power to fight for equality and social justice."

In the NBA, the Milwaukee Bucks set the tone when they decided to boycott Game 5 of their Eastern Conference first-round series against the Orlando Magic at Walt Disney World Resort.

As a result, the Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder showdowns in the Western Conference were also postponed.

The Milwaukee Brewers-Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners-San Diego Padres games were also called off in MLB midweek, while two-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka announced she will skip Thursday's Western & Southern Open semi-final in New York.

Houston Dynamo celebrated their first win of the 2020 MLS season after upstaging Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City 5-2 on Tuesday.

Darwin Quintero's second-half brace inspired Houston in Kansas City, where nearly 2,300 fans were allowed to attend for the first home match in nearly six months at Children's Mercy Park amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dynamo broke the deadlock via Alberth Elis in the 17th minute before Sporting KC's Johnny Russell equalised nine minutes later.

Houston, though, went into the interval leading 2-1 courtesy of Christian Ramirez's strike on the stroke of half-time.

Niko Hansen doubled the lead within three minutes of the restart, while Gabi Kinda reduced the deficit for Sporting KC moments later.

But Quintero's two goals in the space of four minutes just past the hour mark put the game beyond doubt.

After two defeats and four draws, Houston are ninth in the Western Conference, while Sporting KC remain four points clear atop the standings.

Elsewhere, Philadelphia Union edged New York Red Bulls 1-0 thanks to Kacper Przybylko's first-half goal.

With the win, the third-placed Union moved within four points of Eastern Conference pacesetters Columbus Crew.

Thierry Henry's Montreal Impact defeated Canadian rivals Vancouver Whitecaps 2-0, Chicago Fire accounted for FC Cincinnati 3-0, while New England Revolution prevailed 2-1 against DC United.

Lionel Messi has told Barcelona he wants to leave, setting in motion a move that will rank as one of the most seismic in the history of football.

Barca's surrender to Real Madrid in LaLiga's title race and the 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League proved the final straw for Messi.

A meeting with new head coach Ronald Koeman last week was not enough to convince the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to remain at Camp Nou.

We consider what Messi's next destination could be.

Newell's Old Boys

Messi's relationship with the public in Argentina has often been strained due to the fact he moved to Barca at the age of 13 and was moulded in their famous La Masia academy. But he started out at Newell's five years prior to that and a return to his hometown of Rosario would be an understandable move as he enters the latter stages of his career.

Manchester City

While the 2019-20 season may have been a disappointment, Messi undoubtedly still has the quality to play at the highest level. City, managed by former Barca boss Pep Guardiola, are said to be looking into the feasibility of bringing the Argentina superstar to the Etihad Stadium, having in July won their appeal against a two-year Champions League ban for breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.

Paris Saint-Germain

"Which coach says no to Messi?" said PSG boss Thomas Tuchel following their Champions League final defeat to Bayern on Sunday. The Ligue 1 champions have never shied away from splashing the cash – they paid Barca a world record €222million for Neymar and shelled out €180m on Kylian Mbappe. If Messi wants to win another Champions League title before retiring, few clubs are better positioned to help him achieve that.

Inter

Even before there was any doubt about Messi's future at Barca, Inter were the main club linked with an audacious attempt to sign the 33-year-old. The Suning Holdings Group ownership makes them one of the few clubs alongside City and PSG that have the financial capacity to offer him a sizeable contract, and they have secured a return to Champions League football next season. The chance to battle old foe Cristiano Ronaldo in Serie A could prove an enticing prospect too.

Inter Miami

They may be bottom of the Eastern Conference in their debut MLS season, but Inter Miami still have a designated player spot free and there could be no bigger name to fill it than Messi. Club owner David Beckham said in February of this year he would relish the chance to sign a player of the calibre of Messi or Ronaldo.

Al-Sadd

Things could have gone very differently for Barca had club legend Xavi been handed the reins in January. A link-up with his former team-mate in Qatar could be an option for Messi, though there is every chance former midfielder Xavi finds himself back at Camp Nou in the not too distant future.

New York City handed Columbus Crew their first loss of the MLS season thanks to a 1-0 win on Monday.

Alexander Ring tapped in a 59th-minute winner after a poor error by Columbus at Red Bull Arena.

City moved up to 10th in the Eastern Conference with just their second win in seven MLS games, while Columbus remain top by a point despite their first loss.

Just eight minutes before the opener, City went close through Alexandru Mitrita, whose long-range effort hit the crossbar.

But a terrible mistake by Aboubacar Keita handed New York City the opener – and winner.

Keita's pass across defence was easily intercepted by Heber, who cutback for Ring to tap in the easy winner.

Premier League giants Chelsea and Arsenal appear close to strengthening their defences.

After conceding more league goals than any other side that finished in the top eight in 2019-20, the two clubs have been linked to defensive reinforcements.

It seems both are close to making additions.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA CLOSE TO SIGNING SILVA

Chelsea are close to signing Paris Saint-Germain centre-back Thiago Silva on a one-year deal, according to Sky Sports.

Silva, 35, confirmed after Sunday's Champions League final loss to Bayern Munich that he had played his last game for the Ligue 1 giants.

The Brazil defender has been linked to Chelsea and Fiorentina, but looks set to join the former.

 

ROUND-UP

- Chelsea's rivals Arsenal have almost landed a centre-back of their own. RMC Sport reports a deal taking Lille defender Gabriel Magalhaes to the club is done, with the sides agreeing a £27million (€30m) fee and the 22-year-old opting for Arsenal over Napoli and Everton.

- On the outer at Real Madrid, just whether Gareth Bale leaves this close season remains to be seen. AS claims there have been no offers for the attacker and MLS seems the only way out due to his salary.

Seattle Sounders recorded a 3-0 win over rivals Portland Timbers in MLS on Sunday.

Raul Ruidiaz scored a late brace before Kelvin Leerdam's sealer at Providence Park in Portland.

The Timbers were in action for the first time since winning the MLS is Back Tournament earlier this month, but fell to their rivals.

Seattle climbed above Portland and into second in the Western Conference, while the Timbers are fourth.

Chris Duvall thought he had opened the scoring for Portland with a 20-yard stunner in the fifth minute, but it was ruled out for offside in the lead-up.

Seattle took control late as Ruidiaz opened the scoring in the 72nd minute, producing a good finish at the near post from Joevin Jones' cross.

Ruidiaz doubled the reigning MLS Cup champions' lead before Leerdam sealed the win.

Inter Miami celebrated their first MLS victory after edging Orlando City 3-2, while LA Galaxy defeated city rivals Los Angeles FC in the El Trafico.

Expansion franchise Inter – co-owned by former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England star David Beckham – made their home debut in Miami on Saturday.

Making their home bow at the former site of Lockhart Stadium, while they wait for their yet-to-be constructed Miami Freedom Park to be built, Inter had lost five consecutive games since joining the league.

Inter exited the MLS is Back Tournament behind closed doors in Orlando with three straight defeats amid the coronavirus pandemic, but a return to regular league action saw Diego Alonso's men finally prevail.

Julian Carranza gave Inter a 12th-minute lead, only for Orlando's Daryl Dike to restore parity for the MLS is Back Tournament runners-up six minutes later.

Inter moved ahead again thanks to another Carranza goal approaching the half-hour mark before Rodolfo Pizzaro's volley doubled the advantage four minutes into the second half.

Orlando star Nani reduced deficit with 10 minutes remaining, however, Inter held on for a memorable three points.

Goals from Ethan Zubak and Sebastian Lletget helped the Galaxy claim bragging rights with a 2-0 victory against LAFC.

The Galaxy were routed 6-2 by LAFC at the MLS is Back Tournament last month, however, they avenged that painful defeat.

LAFC also saw star Carlos Vela exit the game early in the second half with an apparent knee injury at Banc of California Stadium.

Elsewhere, Pity Martinez's brace inspired Atlanta United's 2-0 win at home to Nashville, while Real Salt Lake came from behind to rout Colorado Rapids 4-1 thanks to a four-goal second half.

Sporting Kansas City continued their strong start to the MLS season, while Toronto claimed another win on Friday.

Sporting claimed a 2-1 win over Minnesota United at Allianz Field to pull clear atop the Western Conference.

Michael Boxall's 55th-minute own goal proved decisive as Sporting claimed a fifth win in six MLS games, going four points clear of second-placed Minnesota.

Gadi Kinda got on the end of a Jaylin Lindsey cross to give Peter Vermes' Sporting a 12th-minute lead.

Minnesota were level just after the half-hour mark, an unfortunate deflection off Lindsey leading to an own goal.

But Boxall turned a cross into his own net 10 minutes into the second half for what proved to be the winner.

Toronto recorded a second win in four days over the Vancouver Whitecaps with a 1-0 victory.

Richie Laryea's low finish in the 15th minute was all Toronto needed, getting back to within a point of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.

In the day's other games, Cincinnati and DC United drew 0-0, while the Houston Dynamo's clash with Dallas also finished goalless.

Columbus Crew pulled clear atop the Eastern Conference in MLS, while the New York Red Bulls enjoyed a derby win.

Columbus made it five wins in six MLS games this season with a 3-0 victory over Chicago Fire on Thursday.

Gyasi Zardes scored and also missed a penalty as Darlington Nagbe scored a stunner at MAPFRE Stadium.

Derrick Etienne found the bottom corner from a Milton Valenzuela pass to open the scoring for Columbus in the 20th minute.

Zardes put a penalty over the crossbar just before half-time and Columbus left it late to seal their win.

Nagbe flicked the ball up to himself 30 yards from goal before unleashing a stunning volley into the corner to make it 2-0.

Zardes sealed the win in the 88th minute, tapping in Pedro Santos' cross as the Crew moved four points clear atop the conference.

The Hudson River Derby went the Red Bulls' way as they recorded a 1-0 win over New York City.

Kyle Duncan's powerful 20-yard strike just before the hour-mark was spilled by City goalkeeper Sean Johnson and awarded after a VAR review.

The Red Bulls are third in the Eastern Conference, while New York City are second last.

In the day's other game, New England Revolution and Philadelphia Union drew 0-0.

Lionel Messi reportedly has Barcelona in "suspense" amid talk over his future.

Messi, 33, has been linked with a move away from the LaLiga giants amid chaos at the club following their capitulation in the Champions League.

Contracted until 2021, Messi's future has become a major talking point.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA IN 'SUSPENSE' OVER MESSI FUTURE

Barcelona are in suspense amid uncertainty over Messi's future, according to Marca.

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu said on Tuesday he expected Messi to lead the club into the future under Ronald Koeman.

TuttoMercatoWeb reports only Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain or Inter would be able to afford the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Barcelona and Mundo Deportivo reports Koeman wants a two-year deal at the club and Henrik Larsson as one of his assistants at Camp Nou.

- Chelsea continue to chase Kai Havertz. Sport Bild claims negotiations between the Premier League club and Bayer Leverkusen started last week and Havertz will become the most expensive German player of all-time.

- Will Kalidou Koulibaly leave Napoli? The Mirror reports City are being invited to make a £60million (€66.6m) move for the defender, who Napoli want to replace with Lille's Gabriel Magalhaes. ESPN says Arsenal are hopeful of sealing a deal for Gabriel for around £22m (€24.4m).

- Leeds United could be preparing to strengthen on their return to the Premier League. The Evening Standard reports Leeds are interested in Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi.

- Benfica could be nearing two big signings. Gianluca Di Marzio says the Portuguese giants want Inter midfielder Joao Mario, while Record reports Benfica are close to completing a deal for former Paris Saint-Germain star Edinson Cavani.

- Having signed Blaise Matuidi, Inter Miami may add some firepower. DIRECTV Peru says the MLS club have started talks to sign former PSV and Schalke forward Jefferson Farfan.

Pablo Piatti guided Toronto to a 3-0 win over Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS on Tuesday.

Piatti opened his MLS account with a double before Nick DeLeon's late goal at BMO Field as Toronto moved within a point of Eastern Conference leaders Columbus Crew.

The former Espanyol and Valencia attacker arrived at Toronto in February and showed his class.

Piatti unleashed a stunning 27th-minute opener for Toronto with a 30-yard rocket.

Toronto doubled their lead 10 minutes into the second half as Piatti struck again.

After receiving a pass from Jonathan Osorio, Piatti found the bottom corner from inside the area.

DeLeon came off the bench to seal the win in the 83rd minute, curling in after a wonderful pass from Alejandro Pozuelo.

Gonzalo Higuain has hinted Major League Soccer could be his next destination if he is not in the plans of new Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo.

Higuain, 32, has been with Juve since 2016 when he moved from rivals Napoli and, although he enjoyed a fine first season in Turin with 32 goals across all competitions, he was less impressive the following year.

With Cristiano Ronaldo then arriving at Juve in 2018, Higuain was deemed surplus to requirements and spent the season on disappointing loan spells with Milan and then Chelsea.

Higuain was given another shot at Juve following the arrival of his former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri last year, despite him failing to impress under the Italian with Chelsea.

But a rather meagre goals tally of 11 in 43 matches does not bode well for his future, particularly given Sarri was sacked after Juve's Champions League last-16 elimination by Lyon.

Higuain insists no decision has been made yet as he still needs to talk with Pirlo, though a return to Argentina appears unlikely as he seems to prefer the idea of following his older brother Federico to MLS.

"I don't miss Argentine football, I like watching it, but no, I don't miss it," he told Fox Sports.

"I started young there and today Argentina should open its eyes because so many players hesitate to return, especially for the future of their families.

"Many now go to the United States, to China, or Saudi Arabia at the age of 25. I only left because it was Real Madrid.

"I'll rest and think. On the 24th [of August], I'll return to Italy. I have to introduce myself [to Pirlo] and see what happens with the new manager. I'm sure there will be a different dynamic.

"Many players go to MLS, it would be nice, yes, but now I'm here, let's see what happens."

Whatever happens in the short term, Higuain's future after his playing days are over will not involve management – instead, he wants to work with the "next generation".

"I will not become a coach due to the mental and physical stress that this implies," he said.

"All the coaches arrive with black hair and three years later they turn grey. I want the next generation to learn and know what it means to be a footballer, which is not playing in the square with your friends.

"I want to show them what I have experienced. Children today are very aware of what they will say and are influenced by what their parents have told them about me. Thus, the child will learn differently.

"I think that growth in Europe has been different, they respect me more abroad than there [Argentina]."

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