Revolution Midfielder Luis Caicedo Could Free Up Coveted International Roster Spot

How about a little New Year’s Eve news New England Revolution fans. And I don’t mean Twitter drama but rather an important bit of roster news that could help the Revs in their preparation of building out the team for the 2021 MLS season.

According to Kristian Dyer who covers the New York market for Sports Illustrated Revs midfielder Luis Caicedo is close to acquiring a green card. The 24-year-old currently occupies an International roster spot on the Revs roster but a green card would allow the team to free up that coveted international roster spot.

Caicedo had come to New England via a loan from Cortula in March of 2018 and following the conclusion of the season it became a permanent transfer. In his first two seasons in New England, the defensive midfielder appeared in 61 matches and recorded 56 starts. He tallied one goal and four assists and became a steady hand in the Revolution midfield that desperately needed it. Prior to the 2020 season, he suffered a meniscus injury that sidelined him for the entire season. Caicedo underwent surgery back on March 11th to repair his meniscus.

Obviously having a healthy Caicedo is the goal for the 2021 season for the Revs. During the 2019 campaign, he ranked seventh in MLS in tackles and ninth in tackles one and was clearly the best defensive midfielder the team had. During the 2020 season, the Revs had to trot out a whole host of players in what ended up being a revolving door of sorts.

The interesting bit of this news however is the potential to free up the international roster spot. New England could use that spot to either go and bring in another international player or decide to move it to another team for a draft pick, a player, or General Allocation Money. The going rate for an international spot for an entire MLS season is $175k based on what FC Cincinnati sent Nashville SC on Thursday for one.

Here is the current international roster spot situation

Gustavo BouAdam BuksaAlexander ButtnerLuis CaicedoCarles GilWilfrid KaptoumChristian Mafla

The team removed Cristian Penilla and Michael Mancienne from the roster following the 2020 season freeing up two spots but brought in both Wilfrid Kaptoum and Christian Mafla. Clubs are allowed to have up to eight spots but can trade them away for full-season increments.

New England sent one of their spots to FC Cincinnati for Kekuta Manneh for the 2020 season which was returned to them following the conclusion of the season. Another 2020 trade sent Wilfried Zahibo and an INT spot to the Houston Dynamo for Tommy McNamara and $175k in GAM ($150k in 2020 and $25k in 2021). Technically Caicedo didn’t count against the Revs total last season so the season concluded with the team having six International Players on the roster which was the limit based on their transactions.

As of post the Revs have one open slot but if Caicedo gets a green card that would open up another slot. There is also the Alex Buttner transfer rumor which if it were to occur would make three open INT roster spots ahead of the 2021 season. This would allow Bruce Arena and company to get a little creative in additions to the team.
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ATP Year in Review: #11-15, Including Gael Monfils and Milos Raonic

Even with the the rankings freeze due to COVID-19, Milos Raonic and Pablo Carreno Busta stood out for their stellar years, rising 17 and 11 places, respectively. Others, like Gael Monfils and Denis Shapovalov, had up-and-down years due to the break. Let’s move on to recapping five Top 15 players, and all of these men should be in fine form to start 2021, ready to challenge at the biggest events.
11. Gael Monfils
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 16-7
2019 rank: #10 (-1)
Monfils essentially had two completely different seasons before and after the COVID-19 break. Unfortunately, his top form to begin 2020 was never found when returning in the fall. After the ATP Cup, the Frenchman played in four hard court tournaments to begin the year, winning at least three matches in all of them. A respectable fourth-round loss to Dominic Thiem at the Australian Open began the year and was followed just the next week by a title in Montpellier. He followed that up with a dominant performance in Rotterdam, winning the tournament without dropping a set and defeating young Canadian star Felix Auger-Aliassime in the final. Monfils is one of the most entertaining players on tour, but is not known for his consistency, as this was the first time in his career that he won two finals in one season, much less back to back weeks!
A semifinal in Dubai would be his last appearance before the pandemic cancellations, and unfortunately his last win of 2020. He looked like a completely different player at the end of the year, playing four events and losing all four matches with a set record of 1-8. Hopefully, Monfils simply struggled to regain fitness after the long layoff, and his form showed the talent is still there, and his ranking at the edge of the Top 10 is well deserved.
12. Denis Shapovalov
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 17-15
2019 rank: #15 (+3)
In the opposite side of Monfils, Shapovalov struggled to begin 2020, with inconsistent play that has held him back much of his young career. He compiled a poor 4-7 record in the early months of the season, underlined by a disappointing first round exit at the Australian Open. Shapovalov returned in the United States, and his real breakthrough came at the US Open, turning his season around. He reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal in New York with wins over Taylor Fritz and David Goffin on the way. His final match was a grueling five-set loss to veteran Pablo Carreno Busta–a tough way to end it but proving he can play under the lights on the biggest stage.
His all-around game adjusted well to clay with a semifinal appearance at the Rome Masters where he pushed Diego Schwarzman to a final-set tiebreak. Shapovalov did struggle at Roland Garros with a disappointing second round loss, but the early Major losses opens a window for massive ranking improvement next year. He did lose his final four matches of the season, but after everything that happened in 2020, fans should not read into that two much and mostly see the encouraging signs of a player many have touted to be a future top player.
13. Roberto Bautista Agut
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 20-8
2019 rank: #9 (-4)
“RBA” had a typical season of his, with consistent wins throughout the year without making any huge noise on the weekend at big tournaments. Along with Rafael Nadal he helped lead Spain to the final at the ATP Cup, going 6-0 in singles without dropping a set. He reached the third round at the Australian Open, which set the tone for third round appearances at all three of the Grand Slams played in 2020. The highlight of the Spaniard’s season was at the Cincinnati tournament played in New York. He reached the semifinal with a win over Daniil Medvedev on the way and was on the front foot for most of his match against Novak Djokovic until Djokovic clawed out an improbably victory as he has done so many times.
After a respectable 4-2 record on clay, he finished the year on the hard courts in Cologne. He finished the season strong reaching the semifinal and closing 2020 with an impressive 20-8 record, though without a title or a final appearance. RBA had one of his vintage seasons where he wins a lot of matches, is a threat to anyone on tour, but does not have any huge results to get on the radar of more casual fans.
14. Milos Raonic
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 23-9
2019 rank: #31 (+17)
Raonic will be one of the players most disappointed by the COVID-19 layoff in 2020. Starting the season ranked 31st in the world, he made a dominant run to the Australian Open quarterfinal without dropping a set in his four wins in Melbourne. Following a semifinal in Delray Beach, the Canadian broke into the Top 30 but immediately stopped his momentum with a six-month break. Raonic did not lose a step on the return to tennis, arriving in New York for the Cincinnati Masters where he reached the final and scored his second win of the year over Stefanos Tsitsipas. Likely due to fatigue, he lost in the second round of the US Open to Vasek Pospisil, but his strong performance the previous week took him into the top-20.
He only played two matches all year on clay, his weakest surface, quickly pivoting to the indoor hard court swing to end the season. He amassed an excellent 9-2 record in his final three tournaments of the season, highlighted by a semifinal appearance in the Paris. Raonic finally overcame injuries to have a strong season and going forward he will look to crack the top-10 for the first time since August of 2017.
15. David Goffin
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 12-11
2019 rank: #11 (-4)
Goffin had a tough year this season with just a 12-11 record throughout 2020, but enjoyed a high ranking bolstered by the ATP’s frozen ranking system. He started the season with some decent results with a third round appearance at the Australian Open and a semifinal in Montpellier, as well as a win over Grigor Dimitrov at the ATP Cup. The Belgian sat at world #10 going into the break, but the lack of match play did not help Goffin coming into the second half of the season.
He held his own at the US Open, reaching the round of 16 where he lost to Denis Shapovalov. His third-round win in New York over Filip Krajinovic would prove to be his last of the season. Goffin lost his final five matches of the year, underlined by an ugly straight-set loss to world #105 Norbert Gombos at the Paris Masters to end the season. He did score plenty of wins, but beating just one player ranked in the top-20 at the time all year is not enough for a player fighting for a top-10 spot. Goffin deservedly kept a strong rank due to his play in 2019, so he does have the chance to turn it around in 2021, but will have to substantially raise his game.
Main Photo from Getty.
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Becky Hammon Reveals Gregg Popovich’s Message After Ejection In Spurs-Lakers

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Becky Hammon probably won’t forget Dec. 30, 2020.

The San Antonio Spurs assistant coach became the first woman to serve in a head coach role during an NBA regular season game Wednesday night when Gregg Popovich was ejected during the second quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers.

It was a monumental moment, given a woman never has coached an NBA game before. And even though it was for two-plus quarters, it’s still a “big deal” to the WNBA legend.

“Obviously it’s a big deal,” Hammon said, via ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “… It’s a substantial moment.”

Hammon also revealed the simple message Popovich gave to her as he was exiting the court.

“He pointed at me and said, ‘You got it,’” she said.

Yes, she certainly did.

More Basketball:
Celtics’ Jayson Tatum Doesn’t Seem Worried About Sprained Left Thumb

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Becky Hammon Makes History As First Woman To Serve As NBA Head Coach

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Gregg Popovich getting ejected Wednesday night paved the way for Becky Hammon to make history.

The Spurs head coach was tossed from San Antonio’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second quarter, meaning Hammon stepped in for the remainder of the game.

Even though it was for a brief moment, Hammon — a WNBA legend — still made history as the first woman to serve as an NBA head coach for a regular season game.

Congratulations to Becky Hammon on becoming the first female head coach in NBA history! #GoSpursGo @BeckyHammon— FOX Sports Southwest (@FOXSportsSW) December 31, 2020

Pretty awesome.

Even though the Spurs lost, it still was an incredible moment in sports.

More Basketball:
Celtics Notes: Jaylen Brown ‘Accepting The Challenge’ Of Increasing Role

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Revolution Notebook: Former Players On The Move

While the New England Revolution have remained quiet this week there are two former players who have been making noise around Major League Soccer.

On Wednesday it was announced that former Revolution goalkeeper Cody Cropper had signed with FC Cincinnati. Per reports, he will be the club’s fourth goalkeeper on the roster. The 27-year-old spent four seasons with the Revs starting 36 matches and posting a 13-18-5 record. In that action, Cropper made 102 saves posting a 60.4% save percentage.

After becoming a free agent following the 2019 season Cropper signed a deal with the Houston Dynamo but did not appear in a match during the 2020 season.

The other news to come out on Wednesday was that of Diego Fagundez. Fagundez’s father, William, posted on Twitter a photo with an MLS logo and then a note about 95 South. Diego himself tweeted out noting that something was indeed going on in terms of his next club. Diego’s father/agent did follow a number of Austin FC related on Twitter but it’s worth noting he also just followed the LA Galaxy and LAFC. Bottom line is nothing is official yet on the Fagundez front.

The 25-year-old has appeared in 161 matches with the New England Revolution dating back to 2011 and has scored 53 goals while tallying 37 assists.
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ATP Issue Sam Querrey $20,000 Fine for Breach of COVID-19 Protocol

The ATP has issued World #53 Sam Querrey a suspended fine of $20,000 after his breach of COVID-19 regulatory measures at the St. Petersburg Open in October earlier this year. The fine will not be enforced provided Querrey is not in breach of any such measures again over a probationary six month period.
What did Querrey do?
Querrey had been prepared to play his opening match against Denis Shapovalov, but the day before main draw play started, Querrey, his wife, and his eight-month old son all tested positive for coronavirus. They were forced to self-isolate for 14 days by Russian authorities. The Querrey family were then informed that they would be visited by a doctor and if they were diagnosed with symptoms of COVID-19, they could be admitted to hospital. In the proceeding days, Querrey refused to open his hotel room door to doctors attempting to make an examination. He finally chose to flee Russia with his family on a private jet, ignoring ATP rules and the tournament’s sanitary protocol in the process.
What consequences has Querrey suffered?
The ATP have now concluded their investigation two months after the incident occurred.
The ATP issued a statement on December 30th: “The investigation reviewed the full circumstances surrounding the incident and concluded Mr. Querrey’s conduct to be contrary to the integrity of the game under the Player Major Offense provision in the ATP Code of Conduct. As a result, the ATP has issued a fine of $20,000.
“Taking into consideration Mr. Querrey’s many years of otherwise good standing with the ATP and other mitigating factors, the fine is suspended and will be lifted subject to Mr. Querrey committing no further breaches of health and safety protocols related to COVID-19 within a probationary six-month period.”
Does the punishment fit the crime?
According to the ATP Official Rulebook: “Violation of [the Conduct Contrary to the Integrity of the Game act] shall subject the player to a fine of up to $100,000 and/or suspension from play in ATP Tour or ATP Challenger Tour tournaments for a period of up to three (3) years.”
Given this maximum possible penalty, and given the ATP stated at the time Querrey’s actions were “a serious breach in protocol” that could “jeopardise an event’s ability to operate and have repercussions on the rest of the Tour,” Sam Querrey will likely consider himself lucky to have only been issued a suspended fine of $20,000 with no suspension period to serve.
The ATP had initially stated they were “taking this matter extremely seriously”; the punishment arguably should also have been extremely serious. The integrity of the ATP may be in question following this verdict.
Main Photo from Getty.
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ATP Year in Review: #16-20, Including Fabio Fognini and Stan Wawrinka

Not too many players moved into the Top 20 this year, which is understandable considering the rankings freeze. Veterans Roberto Bautista Agut and Stan Wawrinka both fell slightly, but each player had a solid season to prove that they still belong in the top-20 in their 30s. Fabio Fognini struggled throughout 2020, and he will be grateful for the rankings adjustment.
16. Pablo Carreno Busta
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 20-12
2019 rank: #27 (+11)
Pablo Carreno Busta was one of the stars of 2020, especially for casual fans, as he played his best tennis on the biggest stages. He began the year ranked 30th and had a decent third round showing at the Australian Open. Carreno Busta had a great run in Rotterdam, reaching the semifinal and scoring a win over countryman Roberto Bautista Agut in the process. He had won enough to improve his ranking to #25 before the break, but his peak of the season was yet to come.
He had a breakthrough performance at the US Open, reaching the semifinal for the second time in his career. Many considered him lucky to beat world #1 Novak Djokovic by default in the fourth round, but he broke Djokovic’s serve at 5-5 after defending multiple set points the previous game, leading frustration that caused the disqualification. To further prove he deserved his spot, the Spaniard topped Denis Shapovalov in a thrilling five-set quarterfinal.
He showed his abilities on all surfaces by reaching the quarterfinal at the French Open, equaling his career-best result at the tournament. He finished the year on a high note with a quarterfinal at the Paris Masters, losing to Rafael Nadal for the third time in 2020 at a Masters or Grand Slam event. Carreno Busta showed he can played with the top players after an excellent second half of 2020, and will rocket up the rankings if he continues his form. In fact, he would already be ranked higher if not for the frozen rankings.
17. Fabio Fognini
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 6-10
2019 rank: #12 (-5)
Fognini is a bit tough to judge in his recent results due to limited play, but the Italian had a terrible season by any measure. After mixed results down under to start 2020, Fognini made the Round of 16 at the Australian Open, winning two five-set battles in the process. This tournament would end up accounting for half of his wins for the entire season. After three losses in a row on hard courts, Fognini seemed to be perfectly suited to make a run in the final months of the year as the season turned to clay, the Italian’s favorite surface.
The clay courts did not do him any favors, though. He lost three of his first four matches in straight sets. Fognini ended his year at Roland Garros, where the former French Open quarterfinalist lost to World #88 Mikhail Kukushkin in a disappointing end to a tough year. Fognini has said his focus is on 2021 and he is motivated, but he will have to play very different tennis to remain a top player.
18. Stan Wawrinka
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 15-8
2019 rank: #16 (-2)
Wawrinka had been dealing with some injuries and entering his age-35 season, many felt his time on tour was limited. The Swiss proved throughout 2020 that he will not be stepping down anytime soon. Wawrinka started 2020 strong with a quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open, highlighted by a five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev.
Wawrinka opted out of traveling to the United States for virus concerns, but picked up a Challenger title in Prague, his first title of any kind since 2017. He was upset in the third round at Roland Garros by the exciting young Frenchman Hugo Gaston, but recovered to finish strong at the Paris Masters, making the quarterfinal and defeating Andrey Rublev along the way. The Swiss continued to be the player he has been much of his career. He does not dominate throughout the year, but he proved dangerous each time he took the court, and is poised to come into 2021 strong.
19. Grigor Dimitrov
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 18-11
2019 rank: #20 (+1)
Dimitrov was hoping to build on a successful 2019, which saw him reach the US Open semifinals for the first time. He is another player who had an average start to the season then played his best after the break. Ironically, his best tennis came after recovering from COVID-19 in June. The Bulgarian did not advance past the second round of his first three tournaments, but had an encouraging result in Acapulco, reaching the semifinal and topping Stan Wawrinka along the way. He did not have a chance to build off that result as tennis shut down. Dimitrov found himself in the news during the break in the worst way, part of the controversial Adria Tour. He was even accused of being the person who brought the virus to the other players.
Dimitrov was able to regroup, and finish the year strong just as he had in 2019. Two more second round losses in Cincinnati and the US Open seemed bad portents, but his fortune completely changed when the tour moved back to Europe. He reached the quarterfinals at the Rome Masters and the round of 16 at the French Open. He finished strong on the indoor hard courts with a semifinal appearance in Antwerp and a quarterfinal in Vienna, including a win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, his sole victory over a Top 15 player in 2020. Dimitrov has a lot of good results to build in in the latter half of the year, but he will need to compete with the game’s top players more consistently if he wants to get back to the Top 10.
20. Karen Khachanov
Win/loss record (tour-level matches): 20-15
2019 rank: #17 (-3)
Khachanov had an average year for a player of his talent, with a 20-15 record while failing to reach an individual semifinal or final. The Russian began the year ranked #17 and finished at #20, aided by the frozen rankings. While lacking in deep runs, Khachanov was consistent, winning at least two matches at every Grand Slam. The season’s highlights included playing a large role in Russia’s semifinal appearance at the ATP Cup, reaching the fourth round at Roland Garros, and topping Pablo Carreno Busta in “Cincinnati” a week before the Spaniard would reach the US Open semifinal. Khachanov will look to forget most of 2020 and get back to his form in 2018-19. At age 24 he is poised to prove he belongs in the Top 20.
Main Photo from Getty.
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Bucks Set NBA Record For 3-Pointers In 144-97 Shellacking Of Heat

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The Milwaukee Bucks set a couple of records Tuesday night against the Miami Heat.

Milwaukee made easy work of Miami in a 144-97 win at AmericanAirlines arena, and it was its slew of 3-pointers that helped the Bucks move to .500 on the season.

Sam Merrill’s shot from beyond the arc in the fourth quarter marked the 28th of the game — a new NBA record.

RECORD BROKEN.The Milwaukee Bucks break the NBA record for threes in a game with 28 (and counting).— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 30, 2020

The Houston Rockets previously held the record with 27 set in April 2019.

Milwaukee also set a franchise record with 16 3-pointers in a half.

The Milwaukee Bucks set a new franchise-record for threes in a half with 16.— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 30, 2020

But that’s still not all. Check out this from ESPN Stats & Info:

The Bucks' 47-point win over the Heat is tied for the 3rd-largest ever over a defending conference champion.The two largest instances:-SuperSonics def. Rockets in Dec. 1986 (+56)-Mavericks def. Warriors in Nov. 2019 (+48)h/t @EliasSports— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 30, 2020

We’ll see if the Bucks can continue this type of dominance when they play the Heat again on Wednesday night.

More NBA:
Celtics Notes: Payton Pritchard Was ‘Everything And More’ In Win Vs. Pacers

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Best rugby feature stories of 2020

Known as much for our rugby feature stories, as well as news and analysis, Last Word on Rugby presents our Top 10 best of series.
Amid the range of published rugby feature stories submitted over this year, our readers were given a selection of themes. From developing stories, to Tier One player profiles, the variety is what our site is known for. Covering all corners of the globe, from the Pacific to the Mediterranean, we have enjoyed more terrific growth over the last 12 months.
And while the pandemic halted rugby for a time, the writers did not stop providing quality rugby feature stories. In March, April, and May, we continued to focus on the best aspects of the sport. When rugby emerged out of the darkness, all writers celebrated just like the fans and stakeholders did.
New and fresh storylines developed, and this is shown in the articles highlighted below.
As shown in the main photo – of a deserted Twickenham hosting the cup finale of the Autumn Nations Cup – fans and rugby writers have had to enjoy a totally new experience in 2020.
Best rugby feature stories of 2020
From our team of contributors, we begin with Managing Editor Ryan Jordan. Right from the beginning, LWOR has been blessed by Ryan’s aptitude and dedication to bringing rugby feature stories that investigate and discover the real values and ideals of the game.
One of the features compiled by Ryan was a poignant recollection of some of the ‘golden voices’ who have graced radio and television commentary. It hit the right note in both rugby-respect, and in identifying callers from both ends of the rugby-globe.
Rugby commentary: The golden voices

More examples can be found on Rugby Anthems, and as ever Ryan always commented on the status of the game in South Africa.
Lead writer and Senior Editor, Robert Rees. A pivotal member of the team, Rob’s rugby featured stories enjoyed huge popularity. Amongst the most read articles, Rob has chosen three pieces that show the range and variety of styles that or site has developed.
Indigo Group Premiership playing budgets

Several of Rob’s key pieces have been player-focused. None more so than one exclusive selected personally by the author.
Exclusive: Greg Bateman released by Leicester Tigers after contract disputes

Rob is also passionately aware of the future of Welsh rugby. He has contributed many leading articles on the success and struggles of clubs in the Valleys. His most fond one being, Ebbw Vale. Rob was also accredited to the Gallagher Premiership, as were several other LWOR writers. In this way, it gives our site journalistic credibility, that many others will be envious of.
James Barker has again produced many rugby feature stories over this year. A senior editor and always providing an authoritative voice on the sport. James’ contributions have underlined our analysis and has continually made a valuable input for the entire 12 months (never missing a beat during Lockdown).
Callum Sheedy leading Bristol Bears play-off charge

The above article came after Sheedy led Bristol to their West Country derby win at Bath back in March. Since then, he has gone on to represent Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup. He will hope to step up to the Six Nations in 2021 then establish himself before the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Continued excellence from Last Word on Rugby writers
From our team of contributors, they cover so much more than simply just ‘cover items’. Many look deeper, and none so more than Raheem Bashir. Based in Toronto, Raheem’s brilliant variety means he covers many sports; from Basketball [on the Last Word on Sports network], as well as rugby and his preferred topic, Rugby League.
The Toronto Wolfpack and their five best players in franchise history

Another of our dedicated contributors is David Challis. One of our established writers and an associate editor, David’s ability to describe players/team’s efforts is accomplished and insightful. Considering the view from both the reader and of rugby fans, he and many of the other contributors offer views complimentary to our website’s mission statement to inform and to support rugby’s growth.
Gareth Steenson – A Career Retrospective

While the ability to play International rugby was interrupted, fans still got to enjoy Six Nations rugby, and it is here that contributor Charlie Inglefield produced some fine efforts worth a mention. Back in March, his analysis of the ENGvWAL fixture gave praise whilst also questioning the strategy of Eddie Jones. This is an area that LWOR like to create and continue the ‘rugby conversation’.
England v Wales: England improving but is Jones’ gameplan the right one?

Finally, Managing Editor and feature writer, Scott Hornell, continues to shine a light across the rugby globe. Writing on women’s rugby, sevens, rugby league, and on many relevant topics, and breaking news stories. Unequivocal in his diligent output, regular yet, always reflective of the latest trends in the sport, and new players who will be stars of the future.
A new star found, as All Blacks win comfortably at Eden Park

During Lockdown, Scott worked with the writers to motivate and to drive rugby feature stories that maintained the department’s relevance and influence. And as soon as the path was open for a safe return to rugby, our team celebrated just as the fans did.
Covid-19 health/family focus now switches back to rugby training mode

When considering all the rugby feature stories added by the LWOR team, only 10 could be highlighted above. We gratefully thank many many more contributions from active writers Gav Harper, TJ Davies, Mark Holman, Paul Peerdemen, Christian Evans, Elizabeth Cartwright, Lowri Jacob, Sam Harris, David Jones, Charlie Hynes, Andre-Pierre Cronje, Enda Fahy, and David Chapman.
We must also thank former-contributors, Steve Kendall, Scott MacLean, and especially note the sad passing of rugby sevens lead writer Jovilisi Waqa; who passed away sadly in September 2019. We also congratulate one of our alumni, Fiona Thomas, who has gone on to great heights as a feature writer for The Telegraph.
Read more rugby feature stories from the Last Word on Rugby categories using the menu dropdowns, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or create points of conversation on the LWOS boards here.
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MLS Reportedly Told MLSPA That They Were Invoking Force Majeure Clause

Last spring Major League Soccer and the Major League Soccer Players Association had a framework of a new CBA drawn up. Then a global pandemic effectively shut down the league in March. Both sides were able to come to terms on a new deal in June but that new deal is in serious jeopardy. On Tuesday ESPN reported that MLS had informed the MLSPA that they were invoking the force majeure clause in the CBA.

This move will force both sides to come back to the negotiating table where they will have 39 days to make modifications to the existing collective bargaining agreement. If talks fail the CBA could be terminated and with it a potential lock-out that could delay the start of the 2021 MLS season.

Drastic Times Call For Drastic Measures

While this is certainly a drastic move by the league it is based on reality. In a call with the media prior to the 2020 MLS Cup Final MLS Commissioner Donald Garber stated the impact to the league during the 2020 season was over $1 billion. While that loss will likely be scaled out of several years the reality of facing another financially challenging 2021 season was likely a bit hard to swallow for MLS. The reality is expecting a full return in attendance across the league in 2021 is very unlikely. That loss in game-day revenue and paltry television contracts makes it very hard for the league to operate without fans in the stands.

The league’s current television rights deal nets them $90 million per season and lag behind both North American leagues but European rivals.

For players, this is an incredibly difficult proposition. This is the third time they have had to negotiate the same CBA deal and once again they are going to be asked to make major concessions. It is unclear what MLS is going to ask for and it is unclear what the players are willing to accept. The 2021 MLS season still doesn’t have a start date although the target was sometime in Mid-to-late March. If both sides are unable to come to an agreement it could delay the start of the season.

As of post, there has been no public response from either MLS or the MLSPA but the situation will likely be evolving in the coming weeks.

Update: MLSPA has released a statement

Statement on Force Majeure Notice:— MLSPA (@MLSPA) December 29, 2020

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