United States midfielder Kellyn Acosta, left and Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Andre Fortune battle for a header during the first half of an international friendly soccer match on Jan. 31. U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League are joining a trial program that will allow teams two additional substitutes for suspected concussions in each match. Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

SOCCER

U.S. Soccer, Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League are joining a trial program that will allow teams two additional substitutes for suspected concussions in each match.

The International Football Association Board, which sets the rules for the game, approved the trial for concussion substitutes last December. It is expected to run through August 2022.

U.S. Soccer is working with the top men’s and women’s leagues, as well as the United Soccer League and the National Independent Soccer Association, to implement the pilot program protocol across the sport in the United States.

“We do think it’s incredibly important for players and player safety, and it speaks to our role of being a leader in this area and prioritizing health and safety above really anything else that we do as a league,” said Jeff Agoos, vice president of competition for MLS.

Starting this season, teams can make two substitutions for suspected concussions. That’s in addition to the five substitutions already allowed because of the coronavirus. Normally teams are allowed three total substitutions.

Concussion substitutions can be made even if a player has returned to the field to play. If teams sub out a player because of concussion, the opposing team gets an additional sub — addressing competitive balance concerns.

“It was critical to come together as a sport with our professional leagues and proceed in this pilot program, prioritizing the well-being of our players above all,” Dr. George Chiampas, U.S. Soccer’s chief medical officer, said in a statement. “We’ve worked hard to raise awareness of head injuries in soccer over the last several years, and this change should go a long way in protecting players suspected of suffering a concussion.”

The concussion rule was in force during the SheBeleives Cup in February. FIFA is considering whether it will be used at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.

The English Premier League has allowed use of concussion substitutes since early February. West Ham United’s Issa Diop became the first player subbed out because of a suspected concussion in an FA Cup match against Manchester United on Feb. 9.

MLS: Jeff Larentowicz has retired after a 16-year career in Major League Soccer that included more than 400 appearances and championships in Colorado and Atlanta.

The 37-year-old Larentowicz closed out his career with Atlanta United, helping the team win the MLS Cup title in 2018, its second season in the league.

United announced in November that Larentowicz’s contract had expired and he wouldn’t be back.

Larentowicz officially retired Monday in a statement released on social media. He also played for New England, Chicago and LA Galaxy during his MLS career, finishing with 437 regular-season league appearances — including 397 starts — as both a midfielder and a defender.

Among non-goalkeepers, Kyle Beckerman was the only player with more appearances (461). Beckerman (461) and Chadd Marshall (404) were the only field players with more starts than Larentowicz, who logged 39,206 minutes of playing time in league and playoff games.

“To the fans of New England, Atlanta, Colorado, Los Angeles and Chicago, thanks for your heart,” Larentowicz wrote in the statement.

• The Seattle Sounders  have been given the go-ahead to have fans back at Lumen Field for the first time in over a year. The Sounders are expecting to host approximately 7,000 fans for the first five home games. The team’s MLS season opener against Minnesota United on April 16.

The team says season ticket holders will get priority access to tickets.

Face masks that fit within CDC guidelines are required for all fans age two and older but can be removed while eating and drinking. All tickets will be sold in pods between one and six tickets that must be purchased together and must be used by members of the same household or permissible quarantining unit, as permitted by regional health authorities.

TENNIS

SARDEGNA OPEN: Egor Gerasimov defeated seventh-seeded Guido Pella 6-4, 6-0 and Yannick Hanfmann beat No. 8 Tommy Paul 7-6 (8), 5-7, 6-3 in the first round of the Sardegna Open on Monday in Cagliari, Sardina.

Also, Aljaz Bedene rallied past 19-year-old Giulio Zeppieri 1-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3) and Laslo Djere eliminated Italian wild card Federico Gaio 6-4, 6-2.

The ATP 250 tournament at the Cagliari Tennis Club was inserted into the calendar with a one-year license, following a similar event at Forte Village in October.

AUTO RACING

INDYCAR: Santino Ferrucci will enter the Indianapolis 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, creating a lineup of drivers who took three of the top four spots in last year’s race.

Ferrucci will drive the No. 45 Honda at Indianapolis with sponsorship from Hy-Vee. The Midwestern supermarket chain will also be the primary sponsor in two IndyCar races this season for Graham Rahal and an associate sponsor on Rahal’s car the entire year.

Takuma Sato won the Indy 500 last year for RLL and Rahal finished third. Ferrucci finished fourth driving for Dale Coyne w/Vasser-Sullivan.

“They’re definitely trying to stack the deck,” Ferrucci said of RLL’s lineup for the 105th running of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 30. “I don’t think they could have built a better driver lineup and this is probably the best opportunity I’ve had at Indianapolis.”

 

 

 

 


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