Sergino Dest's first international goal set the United States on their way to a 4-1 friendly win over Jamaica in Austria on Thursday.

Barcelona wing-back Dest had become the second-youngest American player to score a brace in Europe's 'top five' leagues when netting twice in a 6-1 hammering of Real Sociedad last week and he maintained his impressive form.

Lining up on the left-hand side of a back four, the 20-year-old belatedly forged USA's breakthrough after 34 minutes of dominance.

Dest cut inside from the left and bent a right-footed finish around Jeadine White from the edge of the area, becoming the team's 12th different scorer in their past four matches.

Substitute Brenden Aaronson appeared to take the game away from Jamaica shortly after half-time.

The Salzburg midfielder had earlier created a chance that was squandered by Giovanni Reyna but made no mistake himself from close range when found by Josh Sargent.

A contract dispute meant the Reggae Boyz were robbed of regular stars such as Leon Bailey, instead relying on a host of debutants, but Swansea City's Jamal Lowe - one of the new men - chipped in 20 minutes from time.

Jamaica never truly threatened a late fightback, though, and Sebastian Lletget smartly swept in two more USA goals in the closing stages as they finished with four from 27 attempts.

Several regular players will be missing from the Jamaica Reggae Boyz line-up when they face regional powerhouse the United States, in a friendly international, in Austria, next Thursday.

When the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) released a final 18-man squad on Tuesday, the likes of regular team captain and custodian Andre Blake, defender Damion Lowe, and Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey were a few missing from the line-up.

At present, some members of the national squad have been locked in tense negotiations with the JFF, and according to reports, have yet to sign contracts ensuring their availability to represent the national team.

The squad will in the meantime see the return of defender Adrian Mariappa (Bristol Rovers), Michael Hector (Fulham) with potential debuts for English-based talents Leon Moore, Ethan Pinnock (Brentford), and Watford striker Andre Gray.  Also making a return to the squad will be former Manchester United youth player Ravel Morrison.

The United States have been in top form in recent friendly internationals, handing Trinidad and Tobago a 7-0 thrashing in their previous match  Prior to that, they registered a 6-0 win over another CONCACAF team El Salvador and a 6-2 win over Panama.

The match will take place at the Stadion Wiener Neustadt at 12:00pm (Jamaica time).

 

 

Full squad

  1. Jeadine White Cavalier SC
  2. Kemar Foster Portmore United
  3. Adrian Mariappa Bristol City FC
  4. Michael Hector Fulham FC
  5. Curtis Tilt Wigan Athletic FC
  6. Amari Bell Blackburn Rovers FC
  7. Ethan Pinnock Brentford FC
  8. Liam Moore Reading FC
  9. Wesley Harding Rotherham United
  10. Renaldo Wellington Montego Bay United
  11. Chavany Willis Portmore United
  12. Ravel Morrison Unattached
  13. Ricardo Morris Portmore United
  14. Jabari Hylton UWI
  15. Andre Gray Watford FC
  16. Omar Holness Darlington FC
  17. Kevaughn Isaacs Mount Pleasant
  18. Luca Levee Harbour View FC
  19. Shaven Paul Mount Pleasant

 

Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard is planning to represent the United States at the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo this year.

Coronavirus forced the 2020 Games to be postponed, with the Olympics now due to be held in Tokyo from July 23 to August 8 this year.

Despite a potentially congested schedule, with the Clippers contenders in the Western Conference and the NBA season set to finish on July 22 if the Finals go the distance, Leonard is ready to play for Team USA.

"My plan is to go," Leonard said on Sunday, ahead of the All-Star Game in Atlanta.

Gregg Popovich's Team USA are set to play their first game against France on July 25.

"If I feel up to it and feel ready to go around that time, then I'm going to play," Leonard said.

Leonard added: "A lot of people were in for 2020, but just the pandemic pretty much killed everything."

Team USA won the Gold Medal in 2016, defeating Serbia at the Rio De Janeiro Games almost five years ago in Brazil.

Jamaica international, Oniel Fisher, has signed with Major League Soccer (MLS) club LA Galaxy as a free agent.

The 29-year-old previously represented Seattle Sounders who he represented from 2015-2017 and later D.C. United, who he also represented for two years, between 2018 to 2020.  The experienced defender, who also played for Seattle Sounders 2, has a total of 89 appearances in US football.  The player also spent a year playing for the New York Red Bulls U-23.

Fisher retcovered from surgery to a partially torn ACL, MCL, PCL, and medial meniscus, for an injury suffered in 2019, and went on to make 15 appearances for DC United last season.  However, the club declined to renew his contract at the end of the 2020 season.  te Kloese believes the player will be a welcome addition to the club.

“We are excited to have Oniel join the LA Galaxy,” LA Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese said.

“He is a talented defender who can play multiple positions along the backline and brings versatility and MLS experience to our defense. We look forward to him joining our club.”

Fisher has made 15 appearances for the Jamaica national team.  He last represented the national team against Saudi Arabia in November of last year.

The United States made history in their 7-0 demolition of Trinidad and Tobago in Sunday's international friendly.

USA scored at least five goals in three consecutive matches for the first time in their history, per Opta.

The United States showed no mercy in the country's first international fixture since crushing El Salvador 6-0 in December amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gregg Berhalter's USA raced out to a 4-0 lead by half-time at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida.

Looking ahead to a busy 2021 with the inaugural CONCACAF Nations League in June, July's CONCACAF Gold Cup and the start of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, USA only needed two minutes to open the scoring thanks to Jonathan Lewis.

Jesus Ferreira went from provider to scorer as he doubled the lead seven minutes later before Paul Arriola's quick-fire brace put the result beyond doubt at the interval.

Miles Robinson made it 5-0 seven minutes into the second half, while Lewis and Ferreira completed their doubles within seven minutes as the hosts cruised.

Ten different USA players have scored multiple goals in one of the team's last nine matches, including Arriola, Lewis and Ferreira.

Phoenix Rising forward and Jamaica international Junior Flemmings was slapped with a six-match ban following a review of the now infamous bust-up with San Diego Loyals' Collin Martin last week.

Coming out of an investigation of the incident, the USL Championship determined that Flemmings was guilty of using "foul and abusive language in the form of a homophobic slur."

 The USL said 11 persons were interviewed during the investigation. They included coaches, players, and match officials.

The ban will see the Jamaican miss out on the 2020 USL Championships playoffs, which could prove to be particularly hurtful as the in-form player had scored 14 goals in 14 matches. 

Upon closely examining the issue, The Commentators have taken umbrage with a lack of specific evidence provided by the USL in arriving at its decision, and the fact that Flemmings has been judged to be guilty by most, despite loudly continuing to proclaim his innocence.  After being placed on administrative leave, his future with the club is also in doubt as his contract expires on November 30.

Barcelona have completed the signing of right-back Sergino Dest from Ajax for an initial €21million.

The 19-year-old United States international has signed a five-year contract with a €400m buyout clause, while the deal could eventually cost Barca €26m.

Barca faced stiff competition for the Ajax academy product, with Bayern Munich said to be also keen on his signature, but his signing for the Blaugrana appeared a formality after he was spotted arriving in Catalonia on Tuesday.

Dest broke into the Ajax senior side just last season, playing 35 times across all competitions as he established himself as an alternative to Noussair Mazraoui.

An attack-minded full-back, Dest was originally a winger when he first joined Ajax, but he has thrived following a positional switch.

Technically gifted, quick and a fine dribbler, Dest's performances saw him catch the eye of several major clubs in his breakout season, but it is the well-travelled path from Ajax to Barca that he has decided to tread.

Barca had been on the lookout for a new right-back following the exit of Nelson Semedo, who failed to convince coaching staff and fans alike during his three years at Camp Nou.

Netherlands-born Dest has already been capped three times by the United States' senior side, whom he is eligible for through his father.

Barca have not confirmed if Dest will be in contention to make his debut on Thursday at Celta Vigo, or if he will have to wait for the visit of Sevilla three days later.

 

Barcelona have completed the signing of right-back Sergino Dest from Ajax for an initial €21million.

 

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has confirmed Sergino Dest is having a medical with the club ahead of a potential move from Ajax.

The 19-year-old United States international has been strongly linked with a €25million move to either Barca or Bayern Munich, but it appears the Catalan club have won the race.

Dest, an attack-minded right-back, was spotted arriving in Barcelona on Tuesday, giving rise to increased speculation that the deal was practically closed.

And Koeman, who tried to persuade Dest to represent the Netherlands when he coached the Oranje, confirmed the teenager is having a medical as he plans to take the well-trodden path from Ajax to Camp Nou.

"Dest is doing his medical, we still have to sign [the contracts]," Koeman told reporters in his news conference on Wednesday. "Until he signs I will not comment

"We are going to have a young full-back – it is a matter of changing things and having young players for the future of the club is important.

"It is good because he has played in the Champions League and I am sure that, when all the contracts are signed, he will be very useful for Barca."

One player strongly linked with leaving Barca is Ousmane Dembele, who is reportedly being lined up by Manchester United as an alternative to Jadon Sancho.

The French winger has only been able to show glimpses of his ability since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 due to injuries – in 2019-20 he featured just five times in LaLiga.

While Koeman claimed no knowledge of any potential transfer for Dembele, he insisted that he sees a future for him at Barca.

"Those decisions are made by the club and the player. As we have seen, I am going to count on him," Koeman added.

"He did not play from the start [against Villarreal] because there are more players and Ansu [Fati] has proven to be very good for this team.

"He was better physically the first few weeks, but today he trained well and I'm going to count on him."

Dembele's future could be tied to that of Memphis Depay, who is said to be Barca's primary target in attack, and while Koeman would not specifically name his compatriot when asked about signings, he made no secret of his desire to add options in that department.

"We have to analyse the squad, analyse what we lack," he continued. "We know that financially the club has its problems, like everyone else.

"There are one or two positions where we need to improve, and I'm not going to lie to you, we are working.

"There are options but it is very unsafe. The club is going to work hard. If not, we will use our players because I have no complaints with the ones we have.

"We want to have two or three players per position. We have put Leo [Lionel Messi] as a nine, [Antoine] Griezmann can play there, but they are different players. Martin [Braithwaite] is more than a nine and will have his chances but we want one more."

This weekend should have seen the 43rd Ryder Cup taking place at Whistling Straits.

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc on the sporting calendar eventually led to the postponement of golf's most prestigious team event.

Team Europe, captained by Padraig Harrington, will instead defend the trophy in a year's time against Team USA, who will be skippered by Steve Stricker.

Here, we take a look at who would have qualified for their respective teams so far if the Ryder Cup were starting on Friday.

TEAM USA:

Qualification process explained:

The PGA of America and team captain Stricker announced a tweak to the qualification process following the pause of the season caused by the pandemic. All points collected since 2019 will continue to stand and the selection criteria will continue to run through the second 2021 FedEx Cup playoff event (the BMW Championship). The top six on the points list will qualify automatically, with Stricker having six captain's picks.

1) Dustin Johnson

A veteran of four Ryder Cups but only one that resulted in an American victory – that coming in 2016 at Hazeltine. Since the PGA Tour resumed, Johnson has been in tremendous form and became champion of the lucrative FedEx Cup.

2) Bryson DeChambeau

A man of unquestionable talent, whose methodical game has not always sat well with pundits and fellow professionals. But after breaking his major duck at the U.S. Open last weekend, even his greatest detractors have to give kudos to DeChambeau, who made his Ryder Cup debut in 2018.

3) Collin Morikawa 

It has been a truly breakout year for 23-year-old Morikawa, who became a major champion by winning the US PGA Championship.  That saw him reach a career-high ranking of fifth (he now sits sixth in the world) and if he can maintain his form, Morikawa will be an exciting Ryder Cup rookie.

4) Brooks Koepka

Injuries have sadly taken a toll on Koepka either side of the coronavirus break but on his day the four-time major winner is unbeatable. A fully fit Koepka, who has appeared at two Ryder Cups, will be a formidable foe for anyone on Team Europe and fans the world over will want to see him firing on all cylinders. 

5) Justin Thomas

Already a major champion by the time he appeared at the 2018 Ryder Cup as a rookie, Thomas was a starring light for a struggling American team as he earned four points on debut. Now established among the game's elite, Thomas will be a main man for Stricker as Team USA aim to regain the trophy.

6) Webb Simpson

A player who has enjoyed a career resurgence and made a third Ryder Cup appearance in 2018 having missed out two years prior. Ranked seventh in the world and with a couple of wins to his name in 2020, Simpson looks a pretty sure bet to play regardless of if he qualifies automatically.

Likely captain's picks?

Stricker has an abundance of talent to choose from and, if qualification ended today, Xander Schauffele would be an almost guaranteed pick. Patrick Reed is next in the standings and, while his talent is undoubted, his seeming struggle to play nicely with others in the team would possibly be a cause of concern for the captain. Tiger Woods is way down in 15th and struggling for form but could a player of his calibre earn a lifeline? The likes of Tony Finau, Daniel Berger and Matthew Wolff would hope to receive a call but Jordan Spieth – down in 25th – needs to find some consistency.

TEAM EUROPE:

Qualification process explained:

For Team Europe, the criteria are different. The process was frozen in July until January, with points earned up until that point remaining valid. The top four in the European points standings qualify, as do the next five highest ranking players on the world points list. Captain Padraig Harrington picks the final three players for the team. Points multipliers may be added to European Tour events closer to the Ryder Cup.

1) Tommy Fleetwood

One half of the 'Moliwood' pairing alongside Francesco Molinari that won hearts, and crucially plenty of points, for a dominant Team Europe in 2018. Fleetwood was in fine form towards the back end of 2019 and the start of 2020 but has struggled since golf returned. Still, with plenty of points accrued and time to find form, Fleetwood looks sure to play.

2) Jon Rahm

Rahm picked up a single point from three matches as a rookie two years ago and will be desperate to make a mark in an event where his Spanish compatriots Seve Ballesteros and Sergio Garcia have become so synonymous. With two wins in 2020 and a brief stop as world number one for the first time, Rahm is now a major European player. 

3) Rory McIlroy

A veteran now of five Ryder Cups, four of which ended in victory, McIlroy will be the leading man in Europe's quest to retain the trophy. He was in flying form prior to lockdown and a top 10 at the U.S. Open suggests McIlroy is again on an upward trajectory.

4) Victor Perez

An outstanding rookie season in 2019, including a win at the Alfred Dunhill Links, has left Perez in a strong position. But struggles in 2020 will have to be solved if he is to be a part of Harrington's team a year from now.

5) Tyrrell Hatton

Having earned a taste of the Ryder Cup two years ago, where he won one point from three matches, Hatton will be desperate to make the team once again. With five top-10s in 2020, including winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational, he has every chance of doing so.

6) Danny Willett

Having missed seven cuts from his previous 10 events, Willett is a player who will have to raise his game in 2021 to play at a second Ryder Cup.

7) Matthew Fitzpatrick

A rookie during the losing effort in 2016, Fitzpatrick failed to make the team two years ago. At the minute, the Sheffield-born star has his destiny in his own hands. With three top-10s and as many missed cuts in the past six starts, consistency will be key.

8) Lee Westwood

A real veteran of Team Europe, Lee Westwood played in 10 straight Ryder Cups between 1997 and 2016, ending up on the winning side on seven occasions. Even if he fails to make the automatic spots, if he can stay in decent form then his experience could convince Harrington to hand out a captain's pick.

9) Bernd Wiesberger

A three-time European Tour winner in 2019, Wiesberger – who has never played at a Ryder Cup – will be desperate to rediscover that groove to make the team.

Likely captain's picks?

Ryder Cup legends Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter are well off the pace for automatic picks but if either man can hit form at the right time then their experience would likely be too invaluable for Harrington to ignore. Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson are both knocking on the door and would fancy their chances of making the team without the need of a hand from Harrington.

The Los Angeles Clippers have never been counted among the NBA’s elite franchises.  This season things were supposed to be different after the team landed bona fide superstar Kawhi Leonard.  In the end, they weren’t.  Many said he was the one to finally change things. He couldn’t.  

I can only imagine what it’s like to be a Clippers fan in a city that has a team like the Los Angeles Lakers. Instead of going to games to celebrate your team’s countless achievements, you merely go to watch as they stack up countless failures.

Cast in the role of a redeemer for the Clippers this season, Kawhi has received major backlash from some fans who hoped he would save the franchise from another subpar season.  But, he isn’t to blame.  The team’s elimination from the playoffs after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets can’t be placed on just his shoulders alone.

Kawhi needed a Pippen to his Jordan, an Anthony Davis to his LeBron, a Dory to his Marlin.  He needed a sidekick, a reliable partner. Paul George wasn’t that.  In fact, many considered the Clippers to be the deepest team in the NBA, but no one really showed up.  Not even the typically reliable 6th men Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams who have been solid fallbacks for the team for many seasons now.

You don’t need a crystal ball to see that if Kawhi doesn’t get the backing he needs, and deserves, then the Clippers’ chances of winning a championship next year and their hopes of escaping this continuous cycle of mediocrity are dim.

Looking at the bigger picture, the Lakers are still going to be contenders, the Golden State Warriors led by Clay Thompson and Steph Curry are expected to be back in contention and young talented teams like the Nuggets will return with plenty more experience and a drive like never before.  And, that is just the Western Conference.

Don’t get me wrong, by no means am I saying this is the end for the Los Angeles Clippers, they could come out of this disappointment a stronger team and even go on to be champions, but they need to find a way to at least live up to their name.

Unlike the famous speedy ships that once passed through San Diego Bay, their performances have been slow and plodding.

In fact, they came into the NBA bubble performing more like the old, dull scissors being used by many at home in the pandemic.  You know, the ones you have laying around the house somewhere that you would never cut your hair with because you would rather look scruffy than use scissors you don’t have faith in.  The ones you could give your children to use for craft projects to keep them busy in between homeschooling sessions.

It would be great to see the other LA franchise really sharpen up.  Be the clippers our trusty barbers use. The ones known for their precision. The ones that have a razor edge and are cut-throat sharp.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

 

 

In dark and uncertain times wrought by the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic, the success of the NBA bubble has served the purpose of lodestar, as the world fumbles its way to a vague new normal.

With frequent testing and no cases recorded, it certainly seems the NBA is pulling off the Florida bubble experiment, so far.  Like so many successes, however, we know it comes at great cost.  In this case, I fear the ones picking up the tab will be the league’s stars, with no less than their mental health being the price to pay.

 For the most part, the athletes are showing exemplary discipline by sticking to the strict protocols of the biosecure experiment, but at what cost?

Generally, the world is captivated by the way COVID-19 is pushing us creatively. In this case, the Disney World bubble has allowed NBA fans to enjoy energetic, competitive in-demand games.  Basketball lovers are happy to ignore ‘strange’ aspects of the stadium for an experience closer to normal.

 I recently read an article by Men’s Journal titled, ‘The NBA’s COVID-Free Return Is About A Lot More Than Just Basketball.’ It listed the different characteristics of a game before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No amount of virtual fans will stop me from noticing the sealed booths for announcers and stat keepers, the masks everywhere. At certain angles, the court seems to be floating in the black vacuum of space, and when players run to save a ball from the sideline, they disappear into the shadows and for a second I wonder if they’ve fallen into some abyss.”

However, the article went on to state, “But, while the game is going, I forget. I forget about all the strangeness and the world seems normal again. And I’m noticing less the more basketball I watch. The restart of the NBA is evidence that people can get used to anything.”

It's all fun and games to enjoy the very best aspects of the sporting endeavor, but deadly serious to ignore the mental health impact of COVID-19 on athletes.

 The COVID-19 mental health implications are an all too real effect of the pandemic.  According to the World Health Organization, it greatly increases the stress level of the population at large and has other psychological effects.

“In public mental health terms, the main psychological impact to date is elevated rates of stress or anxiety. But as new measures and impacts are introduced – especially quarantine and its effects on many people’s usual activities, routines or livelihoods – levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol, and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviour are also expected to rise.”

The La Clippers' Paul George experienced just such anxiety and depression facing the isolation of the NBA bubble. Though the player was a staunch advocate for creating a safe playing environment, he admitted, “but at the same time, it's rough.”

 Authenticating George’s mental state problems was the team’s coach, Doc Rivers. He opined, “This is not a normal environment, OK? It just isn't.”

It was only through conversations with the team's psychiatrist, coach, teammates, and close family members that his spirit was lifted.

 Sure, reuniting with family members in the bubble gives players some mental stability but not all players have families or even want them in an isolated environment.

 Such considerations are perfectly understandable, managing a family situation within the bubble can be a tricky affair.  For children, there is no place like home, what happens when they start getting bored? How do they cope with the situation mentally?

Families began arriving in the Orlando area last week so they could quarantine before being permitted to the bubble. Once inside, they will be subjected to the same daily coronavirus testing and mandatory wearing of masks as players and staff, which can be another stressful situation in and of itself.

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

The right choice is hardly ever an easy choice.  With arguably so much more to lose than their male counterparts, the WNBA stood up and made that choice.

Last week, the United States' top basketball leagues decided to take the unprecedented step of sitting-out their games as a means of taking a stand against police brutality suffered by African Americans.  The spotlight once again shone on the issue after another black man, Jacob Blake, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha.

According to North American sports website, The Athletic, the NBA’s decision to strike took place in a locker room.

“Bucks guard George Hill admitted in Wednesday’s meeting that he sparked the conversation in the team’s pregame locker room about sitting out, and teammates, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, supported Hill.”

Though monumental and far-reaching in its impact, I would have preferred to see the NBA be more articulate about their plan to strike, instead of action taken on the spur of the moment.  Who is to say it would not have been even more impactful with the input of more experienced organizers.

Sports journalist, Lindsay Gibbs, who mostly writes about sexism in sports, expressed what translated as bemusement after discovering that the NBA did not have a council established to address social justice matters.  Although individually, several players have frequently addressed the issue, in particular, LA Lakers superstar Lebron James who recently launched his More Than A Vote initiative.

“I don’t know how I had missed that the NBA had not had a social justice council in place. WNBA set one up this summer and has been in regular contact with the activists and organizers behind the #sayhername campaign all season and it’s been an invaluable connection,” Gibbs tweeted.

The truth is, however, that, with a much larger platform, the reason that the NBA did not create a council is that they can afford not to do so.  The WNBA can’t because they have more at stake.

Generally, fans will be more forgiving of the NBA.  The WNBA has, on the other hand, received fierce backlash in some quarters for merely existing.  On a whole, they are less respected, unappreciated, underestimated and barely taken seriously. A recent article published by the Power Plays newsletter, entitled ‘The WNBA didn't follow in the NBA's footsteps. It blazed the trail,’ rightly pointed to the fact that “The WNBA players have a different calculus than their brothers in the NBA. The biggest WNBA contract right now is around $215,000. The league is much younger and has to fight significantly harder for relevancy and exposure. This offseason, the players negotiated a historic collective bargaining agreement, which is seen as a landmark deal for women’s sports.”

Making the decision to sit-out was not easy because it took them a great deal to get where they are now, which pales in comparison to the men’s league.  The WNBA risked losing much of the hard-earned gains it took years to achieve. Talk about a professional risk! But it was the right choice to make.

The events leading up to that historic decision looked a lot different than the NBA’s.  Knowing that their game would have airtime on ESPN2 that Wednesday night, Mystics head coach Mike Thibault asked the team what they wanted to do to make a statement.

Initially, the answer was to play the game but only talk about Jacob Blake and police brutality and not basketball; a media blackout.

The Mystics wanted to make an impact with their court entrance as well. They designed t-shirts that spelled out ‘Jacob Blake’. Each shirt had seven graphic red dots on the back, symbolizing the seven bullets fired into the back of Blake by the police.

As game time inched closer, players started second-guessing their decision to play. But, instead of sequestering in their locker room to get ready for warm-ups, they gathered with the Dream players on the court to discuss options.

And though Thibault offered some advice: “If you're willing to do things, understand that you accept whatever consequences come with that. And don't make your decisions in a vacuum,” staff members mainly stayed out of the discussions.

Because some players still wanted to play, possibly due to outside pressure, the Mystics reached a compromise. The games would go on but would cease every seven minutes (a reminder of the seven times Blake was shot).

Things changed again, however, when the Mystics went to their locker room to change into their uniforms.  The players were unconvinced that playing was the right thing to do. So, they didn’t.

 The decision set the tone for the night. All other teams quickly followed suit.

Unfortunately, the calculated efforts by The WNBA seems lost in the story and is often presented as minor when mentioned in light of the NBA’s. But, what’s new?

 

Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

 

The Reggae Boyz have done well to push their CONCACAF rankings and make it directly to the final round of World Cup qualification.

But I don’t believe that this has helped them. I believe it would have been better had the Reggae Boyz not done so well up to this point.

The brand, Reggae Boyz, is not what it used to be and as it stands, the team hasn’t been getting high-quality opponents during friendlies.

I believe that the match windows the team could have used to get sharp and stay sharp will be wasted on teams not of the quality to prepare the Reggae Boyz for the harsh realities of the Octagonal they are to face in June of 2021.

So far, the Reggae Boyz, the number four team in CONCACAF, will play against the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Honduras. Three other teams will join the Reggae Boyz in the final-round fight for a place at the World Cup in Qatar.

The Reggae Boyz, if properly prepared, can compete against any of these teams, but without having to play in further qualifiers before the final round, I fear they may not be.

Outside of a 3-1 defeat to the United States in June of 2019, in the last year, the Reggae Boyz have played against Curacao, Panama, Antigua & Barbuda, Guyana and Aruba.

No disrespect to these teams, but as far as oppositions go, they may not be good enough to accurately prepare the Reggae Boyz for high-quality opposition in the Octagonal.

With no international football since the spread of COVID-19 and attempt to cauterize it from creating further devastation, the Reggae Boyz have been, in a word, idle.

You might say this applies to all the teams in the final round, however, these teams have a greater history of being successful at this level.

It is the Reggae Boyz who need to step up, improve to their level.

The team, I believe, has all the requisite talent to do so. The Reggae Boyz performance in making the second Gold Cup finals in their history is proof of that.

However, coach Theodore Whitmore and standout centre half Damion Lowe, have pointed to one thing while noting the excellent chances of this team of making it to Qatar in 2022.

The two have said the preparations need to be on point.

One of the ways of preparing is to play friendlies against high-enough quality opposition to ensure, match readiness and to figure out how to diminish your weaknesses.

While the opposition the Reggae Boyz have faced over the last year may provide them match readiness, these teams do not adequately show up the Reggae Boyz’ weaknesses.

Those weaknesses will not be shown up because, again, no disrespect to the opposition so far, the Reggae Boyz are better.

The Jamaica Football Federation has kept its plans for the months preceding the Octagonal close to its chest but if the nature of friendlies in the recent past is anything to go by, the Reggae Boyz might find themselves short of work come June.

Two-time Jamaican Olympian Shevon Nieto has been awarded the IOC President’s Award for honouring the fight and path of an Olympian.

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