SOCCER

Charlotte will plays its first Major League Soccer match on Feb. 26 at D.C. United and will host the LA Galaxy in its home opener on March 5.

Nashville’s new 30,000-seat stadium will open May 1 with a game against Philadelphia, the league said Monday.

Other matches on Feb. 26 include Vancouver at Columbus, Colorado at Los Angeles FC, Toronto at Dallas, Cincinnati at Austin, the New York Red Bulls at San Jose, Chicago at Miami, New England at Portland and Minnesota at Philadelphia.

Matches on Feb. 27 include Montreal at Orlando, Kansas City at Atlanta, New York City at LA Galaxy, Salt Lake at Houston and Nashville at Seattle.

Home openers on March 5 are Dallas at New England, New York Red Bulls at Toronto, Houston at Kansas City, Philadelphia at Montreal, Orlando at Chicago, Atlanta at Colorado, Seattle at Salt Lake, New York City at Vancouver, Nashville at Minnesota, D.C. at Cincinnati and LA Galaxy visiting Charlotte.

Montreal’s home opener is against New York City on March 12 and the New York Red Bulls’ home opener is against Minnesota on March 13.

AWARDS: Chelsea won the Champions League and England reached the European Championship final, but no Englishmen are on the shortlists for FIFA’s annual awards published.

Jorginho, a double European champion with Chelsea and Italy, was joined by club teammate N’Golo Kante among 11 candidates to be voted FIFA’s best player in the 2020-21 season.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo took their usual places on the list with last year’s winner, Robert Lewandowski.

Mohamed Salah, Kylian Mbappe, Erling Haaland, Kevin De Bruyne, Karim Benzema and Neymar complete the shortlist decided by a FIFA-appointed panel.

There are no defenders or goalkeepers in contention for the main FIFA award, though goalkeepers have their own separate award.

Italy’s Gianluigi Donnarumma, who was named player of the tournament at Euro 2020, is among the five goalkeeping candidates.

Votes from national team captains and coaches, fans and media worldwide will be collected through Dec. 10.

A virtual ceremony will be held on Jan. 17 remotely, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, from FIFA headquarters in Zurich.

FIGURE SKATING

COACH: Two-time U.S. figure skating champion Alysa Liu is making a coaching change less than three months before the Winter Olympics.

The 2019 and 2020 U.S. champ will begin training in Colorado Springs with Christy Krall, Drew Meekins and Viktor Pfeifer. She previously trained in Oakland, California, under Massimo Scali and Jeremy Abbott.

The women’s squad for the February Games in Beijing will be selected in early January at the national championships in Nashville, Tennessee. Liu is a favorite to make the team.

Liu, 16, is the 2020 world junior bronze medalist and finished second at the junior Grand Prix Final in 2019. Earlier this season, Liu won the Nebelhorn Trophy – to secure the United States a third berth in Beijing – and the Lombardo Trophy, but she has not fared as well in the senior Grand Prix series, her first at the senior level.

Liu finished fifth at Skate Canada and fourth at NHK Trophy, where her marks were diminished by under-rotating several jumps.

In 2019, Liu became the youngest senior singles national champion as a 13-year-old. She repeated in 2020 but was too young both years to compete in international seniors events.

BADMINTON

APPEAL: A Russian badminton player won his appeal to overturn a five-year ban because his alleged involvement in betting and match-fixing was not proven.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it upheld Nikita Khakimov’s appeal against the Badminton World Federation’s ruling of one year ago “due to the lack of concrete evidence.”

Khakimov was alleged to have offered a player money to manipulate a match at a European event in 2018.

An investigation appointed by badminton’s governing body also accused him of destroying evidence to conceal corruption.

CAS said its judges found there was “insufficient evidence to prove that the alleged misconduct had occurred.”

TENNIS

DAVIS CUP: No Davis Cup tennis fans will be allowed in Innsbruck as Austria goes back into lockdown. Capacity will be at 60% in Turin, where Italian children will be occupying vast portions of the stands amid slow ticket sales. Attendance in Madrid will be at a maximum of 75%.

This isn’t likely what organizers had in mind for the return of the Davis Cup Finals, which starts on Thursday, amid yet another format change after last year’s edition was called off because of the coronavirus pandemic.

After the debut of the 18-team event was held entirely in Madrid over seven days in 2019, the main criticisms from players centered on late-night matches played before mostly empty arenas and not enough rest between matches. So organizers decided to spread this year’s tournament over three different cities and 11 days.

But with coronavirus cases rising again in Europe, that has become more complicated for tennis’ oldest team competition. France is in a group with Britain and the Czech Republic in Innsbruck, where it will be behind closed doors.

A United States team featuring No. 24 John Isner and No. 26 Reilly Opelka – who are both nearly 7-feet tall – faces host Italy and Colombia in Turin on the same super-fast court that was used for the ATP Finals. The Americans are seeking a record-extending 33rd title in the competition.

“We have one of the best serving teams,” said U.S. doubles specialist Rajeev Ram, who should play with Jack Sock, another big server. “That’s a big advantage for us. The courts are quick here. That’s suitable for everyone on our team.”

CYCLING

CAVENDISH INJURED: British cyclist Mark Cavendish broke two ribs and suffered a “small collapsed lung” during a crash at a track event in Belgium, his team said on Monday. Deceuninck-Quick-Step said in a statement that Cavendish spent Sunday night in the Ghent University Hospital following the incident at the Ghent Six Day.

“Examinations showed that Mark has suffered two broken ribs on his left side and has a small pneumothorax (collapsed lung), both of which have been treated with medication and he has been kept in the hospital for observation,” the team said. “It is expected that Mark will be discharged either later today or tomorrow morning, and will then undergo a period of recuperation.”

The 36-year-old Cavendish has enjoyed a revival this season, equaling Eddy Merckx’s all-time record of 34 Tour de France stage wins in July.


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