Adebayor given compassionate leave

first_imgTottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor will miss his club’s final game of the season at Everton on Sunday after being allowed to return to his native Togo on compassionate grounds. Adebayor published the latest in a series of lengthy Facebook posts this week in which he revealed he had contemplated suicide due to a family feud. And concerns over the player’s mind-set have prompted Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino to step in on his behalf, Press Association Sport understands. The 31-year-old, who has already been granted compassionate leave once this season, is also set to miss the club’s post-season tour of the Far East, and his future at the club must now be in doubt. Adebayor has used his Facebook account three times to reveal his complicated family issues. In his first post earlier this month, he accused his brother Rotimi of stealing mobile phones belonging to team-mates at a leading French football academy. Adebayor’s third installment on Wednesday was the most striking as he said arguments with his brothers Kola and Peter, who died in July 2012, drove him to consider taking his own life. ”Many times I wanted to give up,” Adebayor wrote. “Ask my sister Iyabo Adebayor how many times I have called and was ready to commit suicide ”I kept these stories for years. But if I die, no-one would know my story, no-one would learn from it. Some people say I should keep these stories private, but someone has to sacrifice himself, someone has to talk about it.” center_img Press Associationlast_img read more

Atlanta United’s championship season sets lofty new standard for MLS

first_img Kevin C. Cox As much as MLS is still a single-entity league, its roster and salary rules have created enough room to let ambitious owners flex their financial muscle, and the trend toward big-spending teams winning didn’t start with Atlanta United. Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders played each other in the previous two finals, and both clubs were aggressive in building their rosters. The days of clubs being able to build winning teams by spending modestly are starting to fade. That isn’t a bad thing for MLS. The more ambitious and big-spending owners the league has, the better the league will be. That doesn’t mean we are going to see the financial shackles fall off completely, or that the league’s salary cap is going to be blown wide open, but the success of a team like Atlanta United, as well as first-year club Los Angeles FC, should convince more and more teams to commit to spending and helping raise the overall quality of the league. Atlanta United has succeeded in doing that because the Five Stripes did everything at full tilt. Have an owner willing to spend whatever it takes to build a winner? Check. Go all out to buy top-level international talent? Check. Recruit and hire an international-caliber manager with a top-level resume? Check.  MORE: Martinez named MLS Cup MVPThe second-year club didn’t just cap a special season with a dominant performance in Saturday’s 2-0 MLS Cup final victory over the Portland Timbers. Atlanta United put on a show to remember, with 73,019 packing Mercedes-Benz Stadium and creating an atmosphere perfectly suited for the coronation Saturday’s final became.Atlanta is the perfect example of what is possible for MLS teams in this new era, MLS 3.0 as it is often called. You need an owner with deep pockets and the commitment to spend as well as the savvy to hire smart soccer people to build and operate the team. Then it’s up to those soccer people to take those resources and sign difference-makers like Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron, but also make smart acquisitions like Michael Parkhurst and Julian Gressel. Off the field, Atlanta United has succeeded in establishing a connection with the city it calls home, a city that has never been considered a great sports town and has endured its share of pro sports heartache. Atlanta United’s ability to build an exciting, entertaining team, while also successfully engaging a community with so much potential, has been the perfect recipe for success. And, no, it isn’t as simple as Atlanta United spending tons of money to build a winner. There are plenty of teams that have splashed millions of dollars on rosters that never won a title or came close to building the kind of team Atlanta has managed to put together in just two seasons. MLS commissioner Don Garber must be thrilled at Atlanta United’s achievement, because as MLS pushes to find new expansion markets, Garber can point to what Blank and his club have done as the model for what is possible if you have ambitious, aggressive and smart ownership.MORE: Garber says MLS needs to become a ‘selling league'”At the end of the day, he’s the fundamental reason that we’re lifting a trophy today,” Atlanta United president Darren Eales said of Blank. “Because his commitment to the city and the credibility gave us that early impulse in terms of fans that bought in because they knew it was going to be credible. “I remember meeting him for the first time and my question is, is this an owner that’s really committed to soccer or is he just trying to fill the stadium that he’s building? And right from Day 1 I knew he was ultra-serious in terms of what he wanted to do. And look, he brought me in with almost 2 1/2 years to plan for it, so, of course, that runway really helped us take our time and put together the various pieces. Arthur’s support and mentorship is really the reason we’re here today celebrating.”Atlanta’s success should also send a clear message to the rest of the league that winning an MLS Cup is a tougher proposition now and will require more of a financial commitment than ever before.  ATLANTA Atlanta United’s tradition of having celebrities hammer a ceremonial golden spike raised an interesting question before Saturday’s MLS Cup final. Which Atlanta celebrity would be called on to wield the hammer and spark the celebration on the biggest night in the team’s brief history? The club ultimately made the perfect choice, handing the oversized hammer to owner Arthur Blank, who enthusiastically drove that golden spike, setting the tone for a night Atlanta won’t forget, and one that provided the perfect ending to a season that has set a new standard for Major League Soccer. Hire front office people who really know MLS and American soccer? Build a team that plays the kind of entertaining, attacking soccer that can captivate a city and winner over both casual and die-hard soccer fans? Build an academy that can not only develop talent but also further cultivate a connection to the home market? Check, check and check.   “It just took the right combination of city, of venue, of training ground, of players most importantly,” Atlanta United goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “And it all started with the vision from Arthur. He’s the man behind all of this. He thought that it could prevail: this sport, a team in this city. And it all started with a belief.”The challenge now for Atlanta United will be maintaining that level of success. It won’t be easy, as Toronto FC can attest. Gerardo “Tata” Martino is leaving, and Miguel Almiron is a good bet to leave this winter as well. The club must find a new head coach capable of maintaining the standard Martino set, and a new playmaker must step into the big shoes left by Almiron, one of the most exciting young players to ever pass through MLS. What happens next for Atlanta United remains to be seen, but what can’t be taken away now is the championship the club delivered to a city that fell in love with its new soccer team, an experience that surely hooked many of the 73,019 in attendance into being long-term fans. Those fans are in love with a team that plays beautiful soccer, and an owner who did everything it took to build a winner and help set a new standard for MLS. Kevin C. Cox read more

Rockets GM Daryl Morey: ‘James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan’

first_img Billionaire Joseph Tsai buys rest of Nets, reportedly valuing team at $2.35B “It’s just factual that James Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan,” Morey said.Harden, 29, is fresh off the best offensive season of his career. He averaged 36.1 points and 7.5 assists in 78 appearances for a Houston team that was dependent on his ability to draw fouls and crafty shot making. The 2017-18 MVP led the NBA in scoring last season and tallied the league’s highest points per game average since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in the 1986-87 season. Related News Most basketball fans agree that Michael Jordan is the GOAT, but Houston’s general manager Daryl Morey would argue James Harden has a leg up on the sport’s most iconic player in one area.Morey argued Harden is a more prolific offensive player than “His Airness” ever was on the “Selfmade with Nadeshot” podcast Thursday. NBA free agency news: Patrick Patterson signs 1-year deal with Clipperscenter_img “The counterargument is reasonable,” Morey said. “They say if you put Michael Jordan on a team now he would do more than James Harden. That’s possible. But if you’re just saying: ‘NBA history, if you give this guy the ball, how much does his team score after you give him the ball before the other team gets the ball?’ It’s James Harden. And I know that makes people mad, but it’s literally a fact.”Houston has had plenty of success in the regular season with Harden as the centerpiece, but has yet to reach the NBA Finals in the Harden era. But it shipped off Chris Paul and an assortment of future draft picks to bring in the 2016-17 MVP in Russell Westbrook for 2019-20.The Rockets have two elite, high-usage guards on their team, and Morey believes Harden alongside a triple-double machine like Westbrook can get Houston over the hump. Morey, is the creator of Houston’s analytics-based offensive system known as “Moreyball” and says statistics make him ranking Harden above Jordan logical.”Based on literally, like you give James Harden the ball and before you’re giving up the ball how many points do you generate? Which is how you should measure offense. James Harden is by far No. 1 in NBA history,” Morey said.Harden has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons with the Rockets, has led the league in possessions per game for the last three seasons and has won the last two scoring titles. The argument for Jordan being the better offensive player stems from the fact that basketball has evolved. The game is faster, players shoot more and scoring is up. But Morey is holding onto his beliefs.last_img read more