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Atlanta United

    (AP) — Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz will be returning to Atlanta United for his 16th season in Major League Soccer. The team announced Thursday it has re-signed the 36-year-old free agent, who has been with United since the team's debut in 2017. Larentowicz has the second-most appearances in MLS history (418) and ranks third in starts (386). He had 40 goals and 23 assists in his career, which began with New England in 2005 and also includes stints with Colorado, Chicago and LA Galaxy. Larentowicz helped Atlanta win the MLS Cup in just its second season. He had 27 league appearances and 15 starts in 2019 , when United captured the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Midfielder Jeff Larentowicz will be returning to Atlanta United for his 16th season in Major League Soccer. The team announced Thursday it has re-signed the 36-year-old free agent, who has been with United since the team's debut in 2017. Larentowicz has the second-most appearances in MLS history (418) and ranks third in starts (386). He had 40 goals and 23 assists in his career, which began with New England in 2005 and also includes stints with Colorado, Chicago and LA Galaxy. Larentowicz helped Atlanta win the MLS Cup in just its second season. He had 27 league appearances and 15 starts in 2019 , when United captured the U.S. Open Cup and Campeones Cup. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • A statue of Zlatan Ibrahimovic was vandalized and apparently set on fire outside the stadium of his boyhood club, Malmo, as fans reacted with fury at the Swedish soccer star buying a stake in one of its biggest rivals on Wednesday. Ibrahimovic outlined his desire to make Hammarby the “best in Scandinavia” after acquiring nearly 25% of the Stockholm-based club in his first move into soccer ownership. “There are no limits to how big Hammarby can be,” Ibrahimovic told Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in its Wednesday edition after the deal was announced. His decision to invest in Hammarby went down badly in Malmo — where Ibrahimovic grew up and started his illustrious and globetrotting career — just a month after a golden statue of the 38-year-old striker was unveiled at his former club’s stadium. A toilet seat was placed around one of Ibrahimovic’s arms on the statue early Wednesday, a plastic bag put over his face, and his name was covered up, leading to the monument requiring police protection during the afternoon. Social media videos appeared to show fans lighting fires at the base of the statue in the evening, while a racist message had reportedly been spray-painted next to it. Malmo fans are angry not just that he wants to make another club better than his boyhood team, but that he also said he didn’t think Malmo supporters would be disappointed at his choice. “A betrayal became a betrayal and a provocation,” Kaveh Hosseinpour, vice-chairman of Malmo’s official supporters’ group, told The Associated Press. “So he basically stuck a knife in our backs, and then he came along with a sword and chopped off our heads.” Hosseinpour blasted Ibrahimovic for thinking he was “above criticism, that he is above Malmo FF and our feelings just because he is Zlatan.” “The statue is completely worthless now, just a piece of junk,” Hosseinpour said. “The best way to solve that was if it was removed and put somewhere in Stockholm or something. “Every game we go to, we are going to pass Zlatan knowing that there is a statue of an investor in Hammarby, not the statue of the football player Zlatan Ibrahimovic anymore.” Ibrahimovic has acquired half of the 47% stake in Hammarby owned by Anschutz Entertainment Group, the U.S.-based company whose portfolio of sports teams it owns or has investments in includes the Los Angeles Galaxy — the Major League Soccer team where Ibrahimovic played for the past 18 months. By buying 50% of AEG Sweden, Ibrahimovic owns nearly a quarter of Hammarby. Hammarby finished third in Sweden’s top league this season — behind champion Djurgarden and Malmo — and will play in the Europa League next year. “Spontaneously, the timing feels good,” Hammarby chairman Richard von Yxkull said. “We have had a strong development in recent years and next year we play in Europe. “To then get a person like Zlatan Ibrahimovic into the club, with the passion and winning mentality he stands for, feels right.” Ibrahimovic, who retired from international duty in 2016 and is regarded as one of Sweden’s greatest ever players, had in recent days posted a photo of Hammarby’s green-and-white jersey on his social media accounts, sparking speculation in his native country that he may join the club as a player having recently left LA Galaxy. However, he says he will not play in Sweden again — he started his career at Malmo, where he was born, in 1999 — and is still weighing up where to play next. Ibrahimovic, whose ponytail and moustache makes him one of the most recognizable players in the world, has also played for Ajax, Barcelona, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United in a trophy-laden career. At the Galaxy, he scored 56 goals in 52 games in MLS — and he is still not done yet. Except maybe in Malmo. “What I have done for Malmo will be there forever,” Ibrahimovic said, when asked if he was concerned about the reaction of Malmo fans. “This is a completely different situation. It has nothing to do with where my career began.” For Hosseinpour, that is an “absurd, completely mad” point of view. “Of course we would be offended and angry,” he said. “I don’t know which dimension he lives in where we wouldn’t be hurt by this.” ___ Associated Press writer Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this story ___ More AP soccer https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports ___ Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80
  • ATLANTA (AP) - Atlanta United has announced a strategic partnership with Scottish club Aberdeen FC. The Major League Soccer team will be investing $2.57 million ( 2 million) to gain a minority ownership stake of less than 10% in the four-time Scottish Premiership champions. United President Darren Eales will join Aberdeen's board of directors, but Atlanta will not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Dons. Eales says the deal is a chance for United to expand its global reach, while advising Aberdeen FC on ways to improve its game-day experience as it pushes for a new stadium. Atlanta United has set numerous MLS attendance records and won the league championship in 2018. The team has averaged more than 50,000 fans per game the last two seasons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Aberdeen FC is pushing for a new facility to replace 120-year-old Pittodrie Stadium. United's partnership with Aberdeen is part of a $6.42 million ( 5 million) investment led by software entrepreneur Dave Cormack, a native of Aberdeen who now lives in Atlanta. Cormack, a United season ticket holder, is set to take over as Aberdeen FC chairman. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Atlanta United has announced a strategic partnership with Scottish club Aberdeen FC. The Major League Soccer team will be investing $2.57 million (£2 million) to gain a minority ownership stake of less than 10% in the four-time Scottish Premiership champions. United President Darren Eales will join Aberdeen’s board of directors, but Atlanta will not be involved in day-to-day operations of the Dons. Eales says the deal is a chance for United to expand its global reach, while advising Aberdeen FC on ways to improve its game-day experience as it pushes for a new stadium. Atlanta United has set numerous MLS attendance records and won the league championship in 2018. The team has averaged more than 50,000 fans per game the last two seasons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Aberdeen FC is pushing for a new facility to replace 120-year-old Pittodrie Stadium. United’s partnership with Aberdeen is part of a $6.42 million (£5 million) investment led by software entrepreneur Dave Cormack, a native of Aberdeen who now lives in Atlanta. Cormack, a United season ticket holder, is set to take over as Aberdeen FC chairman. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Atlanta United’s parent company, AMB Sports and Entertainment, has purchased a share of less than 10% in Aberdeen, a Scottish top division soccer club. The club, founded in 1903, announced a new ownership group Sunday. Atlanta United President Darren Eales will have a seat on Aberdeen’s Board of Directors. Eales stressed that the investment of 2 million pounds ($2.57 million) was agreed to as a means of sharing best practices between clubs, including construction, fan engagement, scouting and youth development, and will not affect the day-to-day operations or goals of the MLS team. » MORE: What to know about Aberdeen soccer team “We’ve always gone in with the intention of win-win for both clubs,” Eales said. “For Atlanta United, it’s really important that this is Aberdeen, already a well-run club. We aren’t taking our eye off the ball on Atlanta United, which 100% remains our focus. It builds our scouting network, our ability to share best practices across the board from academy right through to sports science. “Everything we try to do Atlanta United is trying to get that little edge in every area. A chance for us on the performance side to help boost, whether it’s by 1% or 2%, our technical side so that we can compete a be a club that’s pushing the competitions year over year.” Aberdeen has remained in Scotland’s top division, the Premiership, since the club’s founding. It twice won European championships in the early 1980s when it was managed by Alex Ferguson. It has won its league four times, the Scottish Cup seven times and the Scottish League Cup six times. It is building a new stadium, which is scheduled to open in 2023, and will replace its current stadium, Pittodrie. The club recently completed the construction of a new training ground. Atlanta United opened its $60 million training facility in Marietta in 2017 and Mercedes-Benz Stadium later that year. Those are a few of the best practices and information that the clubs can share. Eales said that the two sides began discussing the investment six months ago. Aberdeen’s new chairman, Dave Cormack, is a resident of Atlanta and Atlanta United season-ticket holder in the Delta Sky360 Club. Cormack made a fortune as a software entrepreneur in the health-care field. Aberdeen’s new training facility, Cormack Park, is named after him.  Cormack, currently Aberdeen’s vice chairman, and Eales considered ways in which the clubs could help each other. Eales visited Aberdeen twice as part of AMBSE’s due diligence. Arthur Blank, Atlanta United’s owner and owner of AMBSE, approved the investment in September. Eales said an important factor in AMBSE’s agreement to purchase part of the club is that they share similar values and focus on the community. When Eales was a part of a group of senior executives from AMBSE visiting Scotland in August doing due diligence, he saw a sign at its stadium featuring this quote from former Real Madrid manager Alfredo di Stafano, said after Aberdeen defeated his club 2-1 in the 1983 European Cup final: “Aberdeen FC have what money can’t buy: a soul, a team spirit built in family tradition.”  According to Eales, like Atlanta United, Aberdeen has a keen focus on community. Its efforts were rewarded by being named as the Best Professional Football Club by UEFA in October among all of the clubs in Europe for its work focusing on “football for life, education and healthy communities.” This purchase and partnership is different than other ownership situations in MLS such as Montreal and Bologna, NYCFC and Manchester City, and Red Bulls with clubs in Austria and Germany. Those pairings have a common majority owner. Eales will not participate in day-to-day decisions. Eales said the decision is more about benefits for Atlanta United without the responsibility of operational effort. There are also MLS clubs that have “sister club” partnerships with clubs around the world. Eales said the investment in Aberdeen is different because AMBSE has a financial stake in the success of the club, which means consistent attention and cooperation will be exercised. Eales anticipates the scouting departments working closely together to help identify talent. Atlanta United has done well identifying and recruiting talented players from South America. Aberdeen is strong in the United Kingdom and Eastern Europe. Eales said Vice President Carlos Bocanegra and Jonathan Spector, recently hired to oversee international scouting, will communicate and coordinate with counterparts at Aberdeen. Eales also said the academies will benefit because each the various teams will play each other at times at their homes. Eales said the more exposure younger players can get to different styles and environments the more it can help their development. “It’s good to give them different circumstances and culture,” Eales said. “That’s a natural win-win, straight away.” Atlanta United has one player, Jon Gallagher, on loan with Aberdeen. Eales visited Aberdeen ahead of the loan to make sure the situation would be a good fit. Eales said it’s possible for more exchanges, as long as they fall within each league’s rules. This investment doesn’t exclude Atlanta United from doing something similar with other clubs. “You’ve got to walk before you run,” Eales said. “We’re still only just finished our third year. We’ve done our due diligence. We so feel like this is something that’s going to be a helpful tool for Atlanta United. Like anything, if it’s successful, who knows what we might do down the line?”  
  • Sergiño Dest needed just a couple minutes to his show why his talent was coveted on both sides of the Atlantic. Dest set up a goal in the second minute of his American competitive debut, Gyasi Zardes scored twice and the United States overwhelmed Canada in the first half of a 4-1 CONCACAF Nations League match on Friday night. 'That's always a great feeling if you score an early goal,' Dest said. 'It gives you a boost and you want score more.' A month after Canada embarrassed the U.S. with a 2-0 victory at Toronto for its first win over the Americans since 1985, Jordan Morris, Zardes and Aaron Long scored as the U.S. built a 3-0 halftime lead. Steven Vitória cut Canada's deficit in the 72nd minute and Zardes got his 12th international goal in the 89th, capping a victory that may lessen some of the sniping at U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter and his play-from-the-back system. Berhalter got his 10th win in his 17th match, the second-fastest for a U.S. coach behind Bob Bradley’s 11. 'They silenced some critics here,' Canada coach John Herdman said. The U.S. (2-1) would finish ahead of Canada (3-1) to win the group and advance to the semifinals of the first CONCACAF Nations League if it beats Cuba (0-3) on Tuesday in a match moved to George Town, Cayman Islands, because of issues with the stadium lights in Havana. The Americans overtook the Canadians in goal difference, plus-eight to plus-six, and Canada has completed group play. Dest started at right back, an appearance that tied him to the American program. The defender, who turned 19 on Nov 3, has become a regular for Ajax this season and played in a pair of exhibitions for the U.S. in September. The son of a Surinamese-American father and Dutch mother, he played for the U.S. at the Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups but was recruited this fall by the Netherlands national team and skipped last month’s Nations League games while deliberating over his decision. Because Nations League games are competitive matches, Dest now is unable to switch affiliation to the Dutch. 'It's just a great feeling to play your first official game for your country,' Dest said. 'I'm glad that I made this choice. I'm proud. It's a honor to play for the national team.' Dest made a long solo run on a 37th-minute counter but sent a shot wide. 'It's just too bad that I missed that one,' Dest said with smile. 'Next time I will score.' Berhalter called Dest 'a gamer.' 'He's the type of kid that shows up for the game where the bright lights are on, he has no problem performing,' Berhalter said. Before a sparse crowd of 13,103 at the 25,500-seat home of the MLS' Orlando City, Morris put the U.S. ahead with his eighth international goal, a 6-yard right-footed volley after Dest chipped on Sebastien Llleget's corner kick. Canada had not allowed a goal in its previous 284 minutes, a defense that helped boost it to sixth among CONCACAF teams in the FIFA rankings and on track for a berth in the hexagonal that will determine three direct World Cup berths from the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Paul Arriola set up the second goal in the 23rd minute with a cross-field pass to Morris on a counterattack, and Morris' left-footed cross was headed by a leaping Zardes past goalkeeper Milan Borjan from 3 yards. Long scored in the 34th with a 9-yard header from Tim Ream's free kick after a foul by 19-year-old Alphonso Davies. Vitória got Canada's goal in the 72nd minute after Jonathan Osorio flicked on Davies’ corner kick, and Zardes scored his second from 12 yards after Canada’s Samuel Piette cleared DeAndre Yedlin’s cross for Weston McKennie to the forward’s feet. The U.S., which has not lost a home game to Canada since 1957, was missing several injured regulars, including midfielder Christian Pulisic, goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielders Michael Bradley and Tyler Adams. Just four of the starters were on the field for the opening whistle of last month's loss: Long and defender Tim Ream, McKennie and Morris. Long was paired with John Brooks in central defense for the first time, and Ream moved to left back. Brad Guzan was in goal and Jackson Yueill in defensive midfield. Yedlin entered as an 86th-minute sub. NOTES: Retiring American MF DaMarcus Beasley, who played at four World Cups, was honored in a pregame ceremony. He said he is 'really, really intrigued' about a front office-type position and has spoken with several organizations. ... MF Stephen Eustáquio entered in the 62nd minute in his Canada debut. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Atlanta United has dealt Darlington Nagbe to the state where he grew up, trading the midfielder to the Columbus Crew. United will receive up to $1,425,000 in allocation money and a 2020 international roster spot from the Crew. The 29-year-old Nagbe was acquired from the Portland Timbers after the 2017 season. In two years with Atlanta, he appeared in 56 league games, contributed two goals and seven assists, and was a key part of teams that won the MLS Cup, the Campeones Cup and the U.S. Open Cup. Atlanta gets $1.05 million in guaranteed allocation money, with the possibility of another $375,000 through performance-based incentives. ___ More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Tens of thousands of Sounders fans cheered their team to victory Sunday as Seattle beat Toronto in the MLS Cup championship. >> Read more trending news  After Seattle's 3-1 win, fans streamed out of CenturyLink Field, most draped with their Sounders scarves after helping to produce what is being called the city's largest crowd ever to watch a sports match. 'It was awesome,' one fan told KIRO-TV. 'They played really well. I thought Cristian Roldan had a great game. Yeah, I'm very happy for this team.' The Sounders will continue the celebration with a championship parade starting at noon Tuesday, the team said. It will begin at Westlake Park on the corner of Fourth Avenue and Pine Street. The parade will then go through downtown and end with a rally on the Fisher Pavilion Lawn at Seattle Center around 1:30 p.m. Read more here.  There's also talk that Seattle could be one of the 16 teams in North America to host the World Cup. KIRO was told that Seattle's mayor and the state's governor watched today's match, plotting their bid for that privilege in 2026. Read more here or here.
  • Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez played with a injured hamstring in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Toronto in the MLS Eastern Conference finals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Manager Frank de Boer said Martinez sustained the injury in Monday’s training session. He pulled himself out of training. He wore a wrap on his right thigh on Wednesday until he pulled it off in the 30th minute.  “He chose his minutes so sometimes he wasn’t the Josef that we want to see but I think the second half two or three times that he made his sprint that there was nothing really wrong,” de Boer said. Martinez played the entirety of Wednesday’s game. He missed a penalty that would have give his team’s a 2-0 lead in the 11th minute. De Boer said he doesn’t think the injury affected the penalty kick, which was saved by Toronto’s Quentin Westberg. Martinez took three shots, putting one on goal. Centerback Flo Pogba also was playing with a hamstring injury. “If I look back, I would make the decision again,” de Boer said. “Josef is always there when we needed him. I believe, and we also believe, that he could make a decisive goal. He was close, but not close enough today.” X Southern Fried Soccer Podcasts: Can be found on Google, iTunes and TuneIn For more content about Atlanta United: Follow me on twitter @DougRobersonAJC On Facebook at Atlanta United News Now Atlanta United coverage on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Have a question? Email me at droberson@ajc.com

News

  • The remains of six victims of a deadly volcano eruption in New Zealand have been recovered. Sixteen people were killed on White Island when a volcano there unexpectedly erupted Monday, The Associated Press reported. Eight military specialists recovered six of the eight victims believed to be on the island, and the bodies will be taken to Auckland for identification, CNN reported. Due to toxic gases still being released from the volcano, the team had to wear protective suits and breathing gear to be on the island, the AP reported. The search had to end as air supplies ran low, the New York Times reported. An additional recovery mission is planned to find a tour guide and boat captain who had taken tourists to the island. At least one of them is expected to be in the water, but the other person’s location is unknown, the AP reported. Forty-seven tourists, many from a Royal Caribbean cruise, and guides were on the island when the volcano exploded. Many of the people who survived were burned. Fifteen tourists not from Australia are in burn units across the country with 11 listed as very critical. Thirteen Australians who were part of the tour have all returned to their home country, the AP reported. Skin banks are sending tissues to hospitals to help treat the burns, as medical teams from Australia, Britain and the U.S. travel to New Zealand to help treat patients, the AP reported.
  • A Minnesota man was sentenced Wednesday to more than 24 years in prison in the death of his 13-day-old son. Michael Herkal, 33, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, nearly 16 months to the day after Apple Valley police responded to an Aug. 12, 2018, medical call for an infant not breathing, WCCO reported. The child died two days later, after doctors determined he had suffered a skull fracture and bleeding in his brain. Herkal was charged initially with felony assault and malicious punishment of a child, but three additional charges of murder were filed after authorities received the autopsy report, KARE11 reported. According to WCCO, Herkal initially told authorities his toddler pulled the newborn off the couch twice but later claimed the baby slipped from his hands and fell onto a coffee table during a diaper change. During his plea hearing, however, Herkal admitted he also shook the infant violently and slapped him, the TV station reported.
  • Major League Baseball announced substantial changes Thursday to its drug use and testing policy, multiple news outlets reported. In addition to removing marijuana from its “drugs of abuse” category – making it the first major US sports league to do so – the organization announced mandatory testing for the presence of opioids, cocaine, synthetic THC, LSD and fentanyl, ABC News reported. Per the policy revisions, players will still be tested for “natural cannabinoids” such as THC, CBD, and marijuana, but punishment for violations will now be treated similarly to those of the alcohol and violence policies, ABC News reported. 'Going forward, marijuana-related conduct will be treated the same as alcohol-related conduct under the Parties’ Joint Treatment Program for Alcohol-Related and Off-Field Violent Conduct, which provides mandatory evaluation, voluntary treatment and the possibility of discipline by a Player’s Club or the Commissioner’s Office in response to certain conduct involving Natural Cannabinoids,” the league, in association with its players union, stated. According to NPR, the policy changes will take effect during 2020 spring training.  “The opioid epidemic in our country is an issue of significant concern to Major League Baseball,” MLB Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem said in a prepared statement, adding, “It is our hope that this agreement - which is based on principles of prevention, treatment, awareness and education - will help protect the health and safety of our Players.” Read more here and here.
  • Seeking emergency mental health assistance could soon be as simple as dialing 988, federal regulators announced Thursday. The Federal Communications Commission formally began the process Thursday to designate 988 as a nationwide suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. “The three-digit number is really going to be a breakthrough in terms of reaching people in a crisis,” Dwight Holton, CEO of suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life, told USA Today. “No one is embarrassed to call 911 for a fire or an emergency. No one should be embarrassed to call 988 for a mental health emergency.' According to The Wall Street Journal, the new hotline is intended to simplify access to services available currently by dialing 1-800-273-TALK, the existing National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Once operational, dialing 988 would connect callers to the existing hotline and then route them to nearby crisis centers equipped to provide assistance. “We believe this historical and critical effort will turn the tide on reducing suicides and promote mental wellness in the United States,” said a statement from Kimberly Williams, chief executive of Vibrant Emotional Health, the nonprofit that administers the lifeline, The Journal reported. Read more here and here.
  • An emergency landing by a single-engine plane snarled traffic Thursday night on Interstate 5 in San Diego, multiple news outlets reported. Ian Gregor, public affairs manager for the Federal Aviation Administration, told KNSD the Cessna 182 made a hard landing on the southbound lanes around 7:15 p.m. Within 30 minutes authorities had re-opened two southbound lanes, KFMB reported. Carlsbad Fire Division Chief Mike Lopez told KNSD a man and a woman were on board traveling from the San Gabriel Airport in Los Angeles to McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad. According to KFMB, no injuries were reported, and the plane did not strike any motorists. “They did a pretty good job landing this thing,” Lopez told KNSD, adding, “The skill of that pilot, he did a stellar job.”
  • A Fort Gibson man recently showed off his blacksmith skills by taking first place in a competition television show. Nic Overton, 23, earned the top spot on the History Channel’s “Forged in Fire,” which is centered around blacksmith work. Along with bragging rights, Overton won a $10,000 prize. Overton told KOKI he’s been fascinated with blacksmithing since he was a child and crafted his first knife out of a railroad spike. He managed to turn his hobby into a career. He owns his own business called Nix Knives.