• MLS investigating USMNT player Sebastian Lletget's anti-gay slur on Instagram
    Yahoo Sports

    MLS investigating USMNT player Sebastian Lletget's anti-gay slur on Instagram

    Lletget apologized profusely for the video posted on his Instagram story.

  • The Canadian Press

    LA Galaxy sign French wing Kévin Cabral as designated player

    CARSON, Calif. — The LA Galaxy have signed French winger Kévin Cabral as their third designated player. The Galaxy announced a five-year contract for the 21-year-old Cabral on Thursday. Cabral began his pro career in Paris Saint-Germain's youth system before moving to Valenciennes FC in 2017. He has 13 goals and 10 assists in 70 appearances over the past three years for Valenciennes, which is in France’s Ligue 2. Cabral has seven goals and five assists in league play this season, raising his profile among suitors in France and Germany. The Galaxy won the competition for his services, and Cabral joins Javier “Chicharito” Hernández and Jonathan Dos Santos as their designated players. The Galaxy already added French winger Samuel Grandsir from AS Monaco last month to bolster their attack. Most of their off-season moves were focused on their back end with the acquisition of defenders Jorge Villafaña, Oniel Fisher and Derrick Williams. The Galaxy had been attempting to re-sign winger Cristian Pavón as their third designated player earlier this year, but Pavón was accused of sexual assault in his native Argentina while the Galaxy were working to secure his permanent acquisition from Boca Juniors. Cabral is classified as a Young Designated Player, which means he carries a lower maximum salary budget charge than designated players over 23. Cabral is still in France, and he must acquire a visa and go through quarantine before he can join the Galaxy, whose season opener is April 18 in Miami. Their home opener is April 25 against the New York Red Bulls. The five-time MLS Cup champion Galaxy have made just one playoff appearance in the past four years, finishing a disappointing 10th in the Western Conference last season. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://apnews.com/AP_Sports The Associated Press

  • Toronto FC holds Mexico's Club Leon to 1-1 draw in CONCACAF Champions League play
    The Canadian Press

    Toronto FC holds Mexico's Club Leon to 1-1 draw in CONCACAF Champions League play

    LEON, Mexico — As first impressions go, there was plenty to like Wednesday in Toronto FC's first outing under head coach Chris Armas. Despite missing some key personnel and playing its first competitive match since Nov. 24, Toronto held Club Leon to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League round-of-16 tie. The Mexican side is in-season and on a good run of late. But it could not put Toronto away despite dominating possession and coming on in waves as the clock wound down. While the draw came from a second-half Leon own goal, Toronto pressure forced the mistake. And Armas had promised pressure from his team. "I love the way we stuck together," said Armas. "I loved the way we stepped on the field and straight away we were going to try to stick to being who we are and be aggressive on the night. That's what gets us the goal, from a pressing situation. "I loved the way the guys dug deep, into the second half . Overall a gutsy performance." A fierce competitor during his playing days as a defensive midfielder, Armas still burns very bright on the sidelines. He celebrated the Leon own goal that brought his team back as if he had hit the jackpot in Vegas. The Champions League is CONCACAF's flagship club competition, with the winner advancing to the FIFA Club World Cup against other confederation champions. Playing on hostile ground, Toronto was without at least five starters. TFC had hinted at health issues in the buildup to the match but, in the closed world of the pandemic, the true extent of the problem did not become clear until the starting lineup was released. Not dressed were Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo, goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, defenders Chris Mavinga and Justin Morrow and midfielders Jonathan Osorio and Nick DeLeon. Armas started 18-year-old Ralph Priso and 20-year-old Noble Okello in midfield with 21-year-old Jacob Shaffelburg on the wing. The Toronto bench included 20-year-old Jordan Perruzza, 22-year-old Griffin Dorsey and 20-year-old Luke Singh, a TFC 2 defender signed to a short-term deal ahead of the match. The youngsters did not disappoint and it took a moment of brilliance for Leon to breach the Toronto defence. Fernando Navarro opened the scoring in the 25th minute with a spectacular right-footed volley from the edge of the penalty box after Jean Meneses eluded fullback Richie Laryea and found Navarro with a delicate chip. A diving Alex Bono got a hand to the ball but the power of the shot carried it in off the post. Toronto had eight players in its box but none close enough to stop Navarro's moment of magic. TFC's pressure led to an own goal in the 50th minute as the MLS team lived up to Armas' pre-game promise. He said Toronto would look to make Leon uncomfortable TFC substitute Erickson Gallardo did just that, demonstrating the aggressive press that Armas has instituted. The 24-year-old Venezuelan winger struggled to make an impression under former coach Greg Vanney and it looked like more of the same when he gave up the ball cheaply soon after coming on to open the second half. But he made the goal, stealing the ball off William Tesillo before trying to thread it through to Jozy Altidore. A sliding Andres Mosquera got a foot to the ball at the edge of the box, deflecting it over goalkeeper Rodolpho Cota to give TFC a valuable away goal. A tiring Toronto held on in the dying minutes with Bono blocking a rocket in the 86th minute. TFC and Leon, who had never met before, will play the second leg April 14 in the Orlando area. "It's a great result for us but there's still a lot of work to be done," said centre back Omar Gonzalez, who was immense at the heart of the Toronto defence. "We consider this halftime." Leon was without influential captain Luis Montes, serving a suspension after being sent off in last year's competition against Los Angeles FC. He will be back for the second leg, Toronto's lineup is full of question-marks. The club said Pozuelo stayed in Florida to have what is thought to be a mild strain re-evaluated. Mavinga, Osorio and Morrow were not cleared to play by team doctors while DeLeon was a game-day decision. Westberg was late joining camp for personal reasons. And the draw may have come at a cost for Toronto. Altidore came off in the 74th minute after clutching the back of his right leg. The U.S. international has had a history of hamstring issues. And Gallardo, who came on to start the second half, had to leave in the 75th due to injury. Armas had to throw on Singh in the 87th minute for his first-team debut. "I said I'm going to play young players," said Armas. "Look how may played tonight." The Toronto-Leon winner will face either Mexico's Cruz Azul or Haiti's Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals. Arcahaie held the visiting Mexicans to a 0-0 draw Tuesday. Leon came as advertised, shifting the ball around with good passing and movement. But the final ball was often missing or the offside flag went up for the eight-time Mexican champions as they tried to get behind the TFC backline. Toronto also did a good job clogging up space in its own end in the first half. After a slow start that saw Leon win just two of its first 10 league matches (2-6-2) this year, the Mexican side has returned to form. Leon defeated Toluca 3-1 Sunday to extend its win streak to three and currently stands eighth in the standings at 5-6-2. TFC opens the MLS season April 17 against CF Montreal in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It was 29 degrees Celsius at kickoff at Estadio Leon, where Canada lost 1-0 to France in its opening game of the 1986 World Cup. Attendance Wednesday was pegged at 30 percent of the 31,297 capacity. One can argue TFC also failed to score there. But the MLS side set itself up for a more than a chance in the second leg. Leon won the Liga MX Apertura Liga MX Guardianes title — named in honour of Mexico's health-care workers — in December, defeating Pumas UNAM 3-1 on aggregate after a 12-1-4 campaign. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021 The Canadian Press

  • Toronto South: Tampa area is home to Blue Jays and Raptors with TFC nearby too
    The Canadian Press

    Toronto South: Tampa area is home to Blue Jays and Raptors with TFC nearby too

    The We The North rallying cry had its horizons expanded when the Toronto Raptors temporarily relocated to Tampa, Fla. Now the NBA team is getting some Canadian company in the Sunshine State.The Toronto Blue Jays will kick off their 2021 home schedule Thursday against the Los Angeles Angels at TD Ballpark in nearby Dunedin. Toronto FC will soon join their sporting cousins with a home opener at Orlando's Exploria Stadium — about a 90-minute drive from Tampa — on April 24 against Vancouver. We the North? More like Toronto South. Border restrictions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have forced several Canadian teams to play so-called home games in the United States. In an odd quirk — and an unexpected treat for snowbirds and sports fans in the state — Toronto teams have set up shop in Florida on a temporary basis. Lee Godfrey lived in the Ontario capital for 18 years before moving to Florida six years ago. The longtime Blue Jays/TFC fan lives about an hour's drive from Dunedin in Bradenton, Fla. — where Canada's men's soccer team recently held a camp and played a World Cup qualifying game."From all the places that the Toronto teams could have picked — they could have gone elsewhere — to decide to come to this (area) is awesome," he said.Tampa has been a sports hotbed in the past year thanks to the Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, Stanley Cup champion Lightning and American League champion Rays.In mid-December, the Raptors started playing home games at Amalie Arena, home of the Lightning. The Blue Jays' spring home has always been in Dunedin but normally the team heads north in late March.In this pandemic-affected season, some 22 regular-season Blue Jays home games — three homestands, at least for now — will be a nice bonus for a local fan base that's used to Grapefruit League pre-season matchups."It's definitely weird," said Toronto native Collin Young, a snowbird who lives in Bradenton. "It goes with the territory of COVID and everything being different."A return to Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., is expected when the Florida heat and rain becomes problematic later in the spring. Toronto's fourth homestand is set to begin June 1 against the Miami Marlins but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm where it will be played. A timeline for a return to Toronto remains uncertain. The Blue Jays hope to play at Rogers Centre at some point this season but it's hard to predict when government clearance might come.The city has been a COVID-19 hot spot in Ontario, a province that recently began a four-week shutdown due to a third wave of the pandemic that's being driven by more infectious variants. Less than three per cent of Ontario adults are fully vaccinated. Down south, where any Floridian aged 18 and up is eligible to get a vaccine, about 18 per cent of state residents are fully vaccinated. A COVID-19 hot spot last summer, Florida's numbers have come down significantly since a holiday spike over the new year. The state has since relaxed many of its restrictions. However, Florida still had 5,556 daily cases and 70 deaths on Tuesday. Ontario had 3,065 cases and eight deaths the same day.Full-capacity sporting events are returning to Florida. The UFC, for example, will have a sellout crowd of 15,000 on hand April 24 for its UFC 261 card in Jacksonville. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, in a similar plan to spring training, are hosting fans in a limited capacity at the 8,500-seat TD Ballpark. The team plans to increase capacity slightly to 23 per cent (about 1,950 seats) for regular-season games, a Blue Jays spokeswoman said in an email.The Raptors also have recently allowed limited crowds at their home games. However, unlike in Canada, there is limited television coverage in Florida on major networks for the Canadian teams.On the soccer front, CF Montreal will also call Florida home for the time being. The Major League Soccer team's home opener is set for April 17 in Fort Lauderdale against Toronto FC.Canada's national soccer teams have also been active on state pitches. The women's side played at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando last February while the men's team was in Bradenton. In individual sports, Canadian golfer Corey Conners was third at the Arnold Palmer Invitational last month in Orlando and Canadian tennis player Bianca Andreescu reached the final of last week's Miami Open.Eduardo Encina, a sports reporter with the Tampa Bay Times, said that on the sports front, the last year will be remembered locally for its successes and as a time when the city had its "arms out for everyone.""Combining that with the year the sports teams who play here had during the pandemic — the Stanley Cup, the Super Bowl win and the Rays making it to the World Series, and WrestleMania too to a certain extent — it felt like the eyes of the sports world were on Tampa Bay," he said."That includes the Raptors and I think that'll include the Blue Jays as part of that."Hopes were higher for the Raptors this season, but Canada's lone NBA team has struggled. The club will finish its 2020-21 home schedule in Tampa. Manis Benson, her husband Josh, and their two young daughters live in a condo near Amalie Arena."We were just walking the dogs one night and we didn't even get to see who it was, but one of the players was in the convenience store," she said. "It's just funny, I came from Toronto, and then to have them here is kind of random. But it's pretty awesome."This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 7, 2021. With files from Canadian Press sports reporter Lori Ewing. Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter. Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press