The 2021 MLS Cup play-offs are set following a wild final round of the regular season which saw LA Galaxy dramatically eliminated from the post-season picture by Real Salt Lake.

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez scored twice for the Galaxy in a 3-3 draw with Minnesota United on Decision Day, but RSL's last-gasp 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City changed the landscape of the Western Conference.

RSL pipped the Galaxy – without post-season football for the second straight campaign – to the seventh and final play-off spot on victories for the season via a 95th-minute winner, having finished level on 48 points at the end of 34 rounds.

Minnesota finished fifth to clinch a post-season berth in the west, along with sixth-placed Vancouver Whitecaps, who drew 1-1 against Seattle Sounders.

Seattle's stalemate and Sporting KC's late loss allowed Colorado Rapids to secure top seed in the Western Conference following a 5-2 rout of Los Angeles FC, who were eliminated as a result.

In the Eastern Conference, Orlando City beat Montreal 2-0 for a spot in the play-offs, along with Atlanta United (2-1 over FC Cincinnati) and New York Red Bulls – the latter using a 1-1 draw against Nashville to extend their post-season streak to 12 years.

Supporters' Shield winners New England Revolution lost 1-0 to already eliminated Inter Miami, Portland Timbers eased past lowly Austin 3-0, DC United defeated Toronto 3-1, 10-man New York City drew 1-1 with Philadelphia Union and reigning champions Columbus Crew – who will not defend their title – beat Chicago Fire 2-0.

Chris Wondolowski scored in the San Jose Earthquakes' 1-1 draw against Dallas before the league's all-time leading scorer announced his retirement.

West Indies white-ball vice-captain Nicholas Pooran and explosive opener Evin Lewis have paid tribute to retired all-rounder Dwayne Bravo and soon-to-be-retired, who have both played in their last ICC T20 World Cup tournament.

The 38-year-old Bravo announced his retirement from international cricket last Thursday after the West Indies lost to Sri Lanka by 20 runs effectively ending their world cup campaign.

"I think the time has come," Bravo said. "I've had a very good career. To represent the West Indies for 18 years, had some ups and downs, but as I look back at it I'm very grateful to represent the region and the Caribbean people for so long.”

Gayle, meanwhile, is holding off talk of retirement for the time being as he has hopes of donning West Indies colours at least once more before he calls time on his record-breaking career.

"It's been a phenomenal career. I didn't announce any retirement but they actually give me one game in Jamaica to go in front of my home crowd, then I can say 'hey guys, thank you so much. Let's see. If not, I'll announce it a long time and then I'll be joining DJ Bravo in the backend and say thanks to each and everyone but I can't say that as yet," Gayle said prior to the West Indies’ eight-wicket loss to Australia on Saturday.

Notwithstanding Gayle’s comments, there can be no doubting the fact that his days in international cricket are numbered, a reality that prompted Pooran to pay tribute to both players, who have inspired him.

“Personally, I've witnessed (ed) two gentlemen who have left it all out on the cricket field, from being super excited to reach home fast from school to see @chrisgayle333 smash it all over the park and then see @djbravo47 defend basically less to nothing in a last over and then do his dance celebrations, to then playing with them in their last world cup game, that was something special,” Pooran posted in Instagram on Saturday.

“Seeing you guys walk away today put tears to my eyes but very pleasing at the same time knowing you guys have achieved so much in your careers. So from me to you guys, thank you for my childhood and all the best in whatever you do in the future!”

Meanwhile, Lewis, who opened with Gayle for the West Indies on several occasions, wished the two departing well.

“Words can’t describe. I’m a person of few words but it’s been an honour watching you guys on TV then sharing the same dressing room. Go well champs @djbravo47 @chrisgayle333,” said the power-hitting Trinidadian.

Pooran, perhaps the man to lead the West Indies into a new era, apologized for the team’s poor performances in the world cup and promised that even as two of the game’s greats ride into the sunset of their careers, the West Indies has the talent bounce back stronger than before.

“To our fans all over the world and back home, we know we have disappointed you guys, but let's not forget what we have accomplished in the last nine years winning two titles. It has been a wonderful era, but we will rise again,” he said.

The West Indies Women will open their ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup qualifying campaign on November 21 against Papua New Guinea at the Sunrise Cricket Club in Harare, Zimbabwe in the first of their four Group A fixtures.

Jamaica-born bodybuilder Shawn Rhoden died Saturday of a reported heart attack, according to multiple reports.

Former Jamaica and West Indies spinner, Nikita Miller is to open his cricket academy later this month.

The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Selection Panel today announced the West Indies squad for the Test Series in Sri Lanka.

The Selection Panel named one uncapped player in the 15-member squad – Jeremy Solozano, the left-handed opening batsman – following the two recent three-day Best v Best matches and training sessions at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.

Roger Harper, Lead Selector said: “The Best v Best matches provided the opportunity for the players to spend some time in the middle honing their skills for this tour. The aim was to simulate as much as possible, the conditions that the team will likely face in Sri Lanka, so it was good to see the batsmen spending time at the crease while putting some scores together and the bowlers looking to build pressure and create wicket-taking opportunities,” Harper said.

“Jeremy played for the West Indies ‘A’ Team in 2019 (against India ‘A’) with success and in the Best v Best matches he displayed a sense of application, patience, and composure while looking very comfortable against both pace and spin which encouraged the panel to invest in him at this point.”

Harper added: “The squad is well balanced, with good depth in all departments. The composition is very similar to the squad that brought us success in our last away tour to Bangladesh, with a few changes in personnel. There are a number of players who are familiar with Sri Lankan conditions and most of the others have good experience in the Indian sub-continent, so they know what to expect and are gearing themselves for it.”

Both Test matches will be played at the Galle International Stadium. West Indies will have a four-day warm-up match in Colombo from November 14 to 17. The Tests will follow on November 21 to 25 and November 29 to December 3.

The series is the second of six series, three at home and three away, that West Indies will play in the 2021-2023 ICC World Test Championship. Please see ICC World Test Championship table here: https://bit.ly/3EcJXpV

 FULL SQUAD

Kraigg Brathwaite (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood (Vice-Captain), Nkrumah Bonner, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder, Shai Hope, Kyle Mayers, Veerasammy Permaul, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales, Jeremy Solozano, and Jomel Warrican.

Following her exploits at the Tokyo Olympic Games in August, Jamaica’s 4x400m bronze medallist Candice McLeod has signed a deal with Sunshine Snacks.

Under the sponsorship agreement, Sunshine Snacks will support McLeod with funds to offset her training expenses along with a healthy supply of Sun Mix fruits and nuts as she prepares for the World Championships in Oregon next summer.

The 24-year-old McLeod, a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, ran a personal best of 49.51s to make the final of the Women’s 400m. She finished fifth.  She was also a member of the mile-relay quartet that won the bronze medal.

McLeod expressed her gratitude to Sunshine Snacks for the support.

“This motivates me a lot as I  gear up for my 2022 season,” she said.

“It is an honour to have Sunshine Snacks on board as I have always enjoyed Sun Mix and even took some along with me to Tokyo. For the upcoming season, look out for a ray of sunshine every time I’m on the track!”

McLeod was also presented with a commemorative plaque in recognition of her exploits in Tokyo and she will enjoy a spa day at Excellence Oyster Bay courtesy of Sunshine Snacks.

“We’re extremely proud of our athletes’ achievements in Tokyo, and we wanted to pledge our support in a meaningful way,” said Shantell Hill-Afonso, Brand Manager for Sunshine Snacks.

“Candice was the perfect choice as we’ve seen videos of her consuming Sun Mix. We are happy to help on her journey as she prepares for Oregon. Apart from our financial pledge, she will also have our delicious Sun Mix snacks in her gym bag.”

Cricket West Indies (CWI) today confirmed that the West Indies Men’s team will play three T20 Internationals (T20I) and three One-Day Internationals (ODI) against Pakistan at the National Stadium in Karachi from December 13 to 22.

The ODI Series will be West Indies fourth series of 12 in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League in which the top seven teams can secure automatic qualification for the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 in India. West Indies currently lie in eighth position out of 13 teams and have the opportunity to move above Pakistan into seventh position.

This will be the West Indies’ first tour of Pakistan since April 2018 when three T20Is were contested. The two-time former World Champions will be playing ODIs in Pakistan for the first time since December 2006.

“Today we have confirmed the details for the West Indies Men’s white-ball tour of Pakistan in December. CWI would like to thank the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and our own cricket operations, medical and security teams for the work that has gone into the organization of this tour,” said CWI CEO Johnny Grave.

“West Indies and Pakistan have always delivered exciting series and we’re looking forward to visiting Pakistan to complete what has been a hectic and momentous year of cricket in the light of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The tour starts a new cycle of T20i cricket, building towards next year’s ICC T20 World Cup in Australia. The ODIs also have great significance as West Indies looks to earn more points towards securing qualification for the ICC Men’s ODI Cricket World Cup in India in 2023.”

According to CWI, independent security advisors, Eastern Star International (ESI) will continue to monitor the security situation in Pakistan, and will also have a representative assigned to the team for the duration of the tour.

Meanwhile, the West Indies Women’s Team is presently in Karachi, Pakistan for three ODIs as part of their final preparations for the upcoming Women’s Cricket World Cup Qualifiers.

Tour Schedule

December 9 – West Indies arrive in Karachi

December 13 – 1st T20I, Karachi

December 14 – 2nd T20I, Karachi

December 16 – 3rd T20I, Karachi

December 18 – 1st ODI, Karachi

December 20 – 2nd ODI, Karachi

December 22 – 3rd ODI, Karachi

 

 

After an illustrious career that spanned more than two decades, St Lucian high jumper Levern Spencer has called time on her athletic career.

A four-time Olympian, Spencer is a multiple CAC and Pan Am Games champion, who created history in 2018 when she became the first St Lucian to win the high jump gold medal at the Commonwealth Games held on Australia’s Gold Coast.

However, after failing to make the finals of the high jump at the Tokyo Olympics in August, the 37-year-old St Lucian star, has decided it was time to hang up her spikes.

“After 23 consecutive years of representing St. Lucia in the sport of track and field, I have, after careful consideration and analysis, made the tough decision to retire, effective 31st October 2021,” she said in a statement released on Wednesday.

“It was a challenging journey laced with lots of literal blood, sweat, and tears, but a very rewarding journey as well, which led me to four consecutive Olympics, eight consecutive World Championships, five consecutive Commonwealth Games, and gave me 16 Sportswoman of The Year titles.

“So as I hang up my spikes as Commonwealth Champion, Central America & The Caribbean Champion, Pan American Champion and North & Central America and the Caribbean Champion, I say a big thank you to the Government and People of St. Lucia for the privilege of flying our flag regionally and internationally for all these years, and for your support on this journey.”

She thanked corporate St. Lucia for its support and the media “for consistently reporting on all that I did for my country.”

“As I say farewell to a sport that I love so much, I do so with a great sense of pride and joy knowing that I did my best to, against all odds, give our tiny nation the best representation possible, on and off the field.”

Spencer, whose personal best was 1.98m, a national record, had her best performance at an Olympic Games in Rio 2016 when she cleared 1.93m to finish sixth in the final.

New York Red Bulls and Atlanta United missed the chance to secure their places in the MLS Cup play-offs after the teams played out a goalless on Wednesday.

A win for either side would have sealed their play-off fate, but the Red Bulls and Atlanta must wait until Sunday's Decision Day following the midweek stalemate.

Red Bulls forward Patryk Klimala came closest for either side, with his 48th-minute effort hitting the crossbar from Caden Clark's cross.

Four minutes later, Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan denied Klimala from a one-on-one opportunity, while Clark had a goal disallowed for offside nine minutes into the second half.

In the Eastern Conference, the seventh-placed Red Bulls go to third-placed Nashville on Sunday, while Atlanta – fifth in the standings – visit bottom club FC Cincinnati.

Portland Timbers, fourth in the Western Conference, booked their play-off spot with a 3-1 win away to Real Salt Lake, sparked by Sebastian Blanco's brace. 

RSL remain two points behind LA Galaxy in the final Western Conference play-off position and face Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

Montreal stayed in the hunt courtesy of a 2-0 home win over Houston Dynamo, moving them up to eighth in the east, within one point of the Red Bulls.

Struggling Austin dented Sporting Kansas City's hopes of claiming top spot in the west with a 3-1 triumph

Sporting KC are second, a point behind Seattle Sounders heading into the final round of the regular season.

Former West Indies batsman Carlisle Best has been made a Barbados selector, reports coming out of Barbados said on Wednesday. The 62-year-old Best replaces Ronald Butcher, who has resigned his position from the Barbados selection panel.

According to cricket commentator and talk show host Andrew Mason, the members of the board of the Barbados Cricket Association voted unanimously in favour of Best’s addition to the selection panel.

The 62-year-old Best, played eight Tests and 24 One Day Internationals for the West Indies after making his debut for the West Indies against England in 1986. He is among a handful of batsmen to hit a six to open his account in a Test career.

He did so while facing Ian Botham, who bowled two bouncers at the Barbadian opener, who responded by carting the third ball for six and becoming only the second batsman to do so.

Australia’s Eric Freeman was the first to accomplish the feat.

 

Raymon Reifer and Rahkeem Cornwall scored half-centuries as the second BestvBest between Team Brathwaite and Team Blackwood ended in a draw on Wednesday at the Coolidge Cricket Ground in Antigua.

Resuming from their overnight score of 213-8, Team Blackwood scored 268 with Reifer 40 not out overnight going on to score 62. Cornwall, 27 overnight, scored a valuable 52 that took Team Blackwood to within 58 runs of Team Brathwaite’s first innings score of 326-6 declared.

Alzarri Joseph was the best of the bowlers with 4-48. Jomel Warrican who did most of the damage on Tuesday ended with 3-38.

Batting a second time, Team Brathwaite stumbled to 46-4 when Captain Kraigg Brathwaite declared. Jeremy Solozano top-scored with 12 before retiring hurt. Joshua Da Silva, who seems to be struggling for form, scored 11 before he was dismissed lbw by Cornwall.

Shannon Gabriel, who is returning from injury, claimed the wickets of Kyle Mayers for seven and Brathwaite for two to finish with figures of 2-24 from his five overs. Cornwall was stingy taking 2-2 from 2.4 overs.

Chasing 105, Team Blackwood’s Shayne Moseley scored 29 and Kavem Hodge 26 in a first-wicket partnership of 57. Hodge then lost his wicket to Imran Khan before the match was called off and declared a draw.

Khan had figures of 1-27 from 7.2 overs.

Jamaica international Andre Gray has called for English League clubs to show more respect to teams from Africa and the Caribbean, as it relates to players taking part in international competitions.

According to the forward, currently on-loan at Queens Park Rangers from Watford, players that are called up for countries from the CONCACAF and Confederation of African Football (CAF) often faced increased pressure as clubs regard the decision in a negative light.

By contrast, players being called up for the England team is viewed as a positive and attracts much less scrutiny.  In truth clubs and countries have often found themselves locked in conflict regarding the use of top international players during international windows. 

Most recently things came to a head when English League clubs attempted to block, and in some instances prevented players from travelling to Africa, South America, and the Caribbean due to travel restrictions and quarantine measures that were put in place.  In retaliation, the countries affected threatened to use their power under FIFA regulations to ban players for one league match.  

“If England call there is going to be no arguments.  The minute you get called up for Nigeria or Jamaica it’s an inconvenience and a risk to the club,” Gray said in an interview with The Athletic.

“It’s just a stereotype around it.  It is the same with AFCON (Africa Cup of Nations), which is scheduled to start in January.  That has more respect around it now because of people like Mo Salah,” he added.

 

 

Reggae Boyz captain Andre Blake has been nominated by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) for their Best Goalkeeper Award, the winner of which will be announced later this month.

Blake, 30, who has had 13 clean sheets for the Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer so far this season and has kept admirably for Jamaica in the ongoing CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers, is vying for the award alongside the likes of Liverpool’s Brazilian stopper Alisson Becker, Germany’s Manuel Neuer and England’s Jordan Pickford.

Blake is a two-time MLS Golden Glove winner, the last coming in 2020 when he won the award during the MLS is Back season. He also won the Golden Glove Award at the 2017 Gold Cup tournament when Jamaica advanced to the finals for the first time.

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