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Sky Blue FC Acquires Mallory Pugh from the Washington Spirit

Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has acquired 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team World Cup Champion & forward Mallory Pugh from the Washington Spirit in exchange for the 4th, 13th, and 17th overall selections in the 2020 NWSL College Draft as well as a 1st round 2021 Draft Pick.

Pugh, 21, joins Sky Blue FC after three seasons with the Spirit, finishing the 2019 regular season playing and starting in nine games, scoring two goals and notching two assists.

In 2018, Pugh scored two goals and notched one assist. She earned NWSL Team of the Month for March and April as well as NWSL Player of the Week honors in Week Two.

In her breakout rookie season, Pugh played in 16 games (13 starts) logging 1,203 minutes, six goals, and one assist. Pugh became the youngest scorer in NWSL history (19 years, 1 month, and four days) in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dash on June 3, 2017. She was named as a finalist for the NWSL Rookie of the Year.

Pugh earned her first cap with the U.S. Women’s National Team at 17 years and 269 days old, making her the youngest player to debut for the USA in the last 11 years. On January 23, 2016, Pugh scored her first goal in her first cap against the Republic of Ireland. Pugh has 56 appearance, 16 goals, and 16 assists with the U.S. WNT.

Pugh is the youngest player to ever score for the United States in the Olympics, finding the back of the net on August 9, 2016, at the age of 18 in a 2-2 tie with Columbia.

Sky Blue FC will be kicking off its inaugural season at Red Bull Arena in 2020 with Season Ticket Memberships on sale now at SkyBlueFC.com.

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New York Liberty Announce 2020 Regular Seasosn Schedule

The WNBA released the 2020 schedule for each of the league’s 12 teams, and New York will begin its 24th campaign in franchise history on the road against the Connecticut Sun on Saturday, May 16 at 7 p.m. ET. The Liberty’s home opener and inaugural season at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center will tip off on Sunday, May 17 against the Los Angeles Sparks at 6 p.m.

The 2020 WNBA season will include 36 games, a two-game increase from 2019.

New York, led by new head coach Walt Hopkins will participate in two nationally televised games in 2020, both of which will be on ESPN2 at Barclays Center. The first is on Tuesday, June 16 against the Phoenix Mercury at 8 p.m. ET. The second nationally televised game will be on Thursday, July 2 against the Connecticut Sun at 8 p.m. ET.

The Liberty’s longest stint away from Brooklyn will come in August when the team embarks on a five-game road trip beginning in Dallas and ending in Los Angeles.

New York’s last game before the Olympic break will be at Barclays Center on Friday, July 10 against the Dallas Wings at 11 a.m. The team’s first game after the Olympic break will also be against the Wings in Dallas on Sunday, August 16 at 3 p.m.

Additional Schedule Notes

  • The Liberty will be in Brooklyn for seven of its first 10 games.
  • The team’s longest home stand is four games, which comes twice in the season, May 17 through May 26 and June 30 through July 6.
  • New York will have three matinee games, June 2 against Indiana at 11 a.m., July 8 at 11:30 a.m., against the defending WNBA champions in Washington, and July 10 against the Dallas Wings at 11 a.m.
  • The Liberty close out the regular season on the road at Indiana on September 20.
  • The previous WNBA schedule, which grew from 28 to 32 games per team over the WNBA’s first six seasons, has consisted of 34 games per team since 2003.

 

  • The WNBA’s new Commissioner’s Cup will consist of designating 10 regular season games per team as counting towards Cup play. The team from each conference with the top record in designated “Cup games” will then compete for The Commissioner’s Cup title and a special prize  pool.

 

  • Cup games will be the first home game and first road game each team plays against its five conference rivals, all completed from May 15 – July 10 before the WNBA takes a monthlong break while many WNBA players participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, including the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which will be competing for its seventh consecutive gold medal.

 

  • The Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Friday, Aug. 14, two days before regular-season play resumes on Sunday, Aug. 16 following the Olympic break.

 

 

Place your deposit today for group outings and special experiences. Liberty Loyal season ticket memberships are also available and include premium benefits, as well as access to exclusive events featuring Liberty players and coaches.  Call 718-624-7000 or visit nyliberty.com for more information.

 

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2020 WNBA Season to Feature Inaugral Commissioner’s Cup and more Excitment for Fans

The 2020 WNBA season will feature the first-ever Commissioner’s Cup tournament, an expanded schedule with 36 games per team and an increase in nationally televised games on ABC.  The league’s 24th regular season tips off on Friday, May 15, 2020 and concludes on Sunday, Sept. 20.

 

“We are incredibly excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind in-season tournament for our league and present more regular-season games on ABC, increasing the WNBA’s national television exposure,” said WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert.  “The Commissioner’s Cup offers fans another competition through which to support their favorite teams and adds a new dimension to the season for our players and teams.  And the 2020 schedule gives fans even more opportunities to see the best players in the world compete at the highest level and highlights the ABC/ESPN family’s continued commitment to the WNBA and women’s sports.”

 

“We are honored to once again offer fans an extensive slate of WNBA matchups this season, with games on ESPN/ESPN2 and an increase on ABC,” said Carol Stiff, ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions. “The WNBA continues to be a priority for ESPN, as it has been since its launch. We look forward to working hand-in-hand with the league, elevating women’s professional basketball to new heights.”

 

Commissioner’s Cup

 

The new Commissioner’s Cup will consist of designating a portion of regular-season games – 10 games per team – as counting towards Cup play. The team from each conference with the top record in designated “Cup games” will then compete for The Commissioner Cup title and a special prize pool.  Cup games will be the first home game and first road game each team plays against its five conference rivals, all completed from May 15 – July 10 before the WNBA takes a monthlong break while many WNBA players participate in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan, including the USA Basketball Women’s National Team, which will be competing for its seventh consecutive gold medal.

 

The Commissioner’s Cup Championship Game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Friday, Aug. 14, two days before regular-season play resumes on Sunday, Aug. 16 following the Olympic break.  Further information on The Commissioner’s Cup will be forthcoming.

 

Expanded Regular-Season Schedule

 

The WNBA’s regular-season schedule has increased to an all-time high 36 games per team, up two games from 34.  Each team will play 18 home games and 18 road games.  The previous schedule, which grew from 28 to 32 games per team over the WNBA’s first six seasons, has consisted of 34 games per team since 2003.

 

The complete 2020 schedule is available at wnba.com/schedule.  For information about game tickets, visit wnba.com/tickets.

 

ESPN Networks’ Coverage

 

ESPN networks will present 17 regular-season telecasts, including five games on ABC – up from three last season.  ESPN will televise two regular-season games and ESPN2 will air 10.  ESPN networks will also present up to 19 playoff games.  All ESPN telecasts during the regular season and postseason will stream live on the ESPN app.

 

Live coverage by ESPN networks tips off on Saturday, May 16 when reigning WNBA MVP Elena Delle Donne and the defending champion Washington Mystics host two-time MVP Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks at 4 p.m. ET.

 

The Mystics and Sparks, along with WNBA career points leader Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury, will appear on ESPN networks five times during the regular season.  Former MVP Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm will appear four times.

 

The Connecticut Sun will also appear four times on ESPN networks, beginning with a 2019 WNBA Finals rematch against the Mystics on Sunday, June 28 at 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2.  Washington defeated Connecticut in the decisive Game 5 of a thrilling, back and forth, five-game series in the WNBA Finals last season.

 

Opening Weekend

 

The WNBA regular season tips off on Friday, May 15 with three games: the Minnesota Lynx at the Chicago Sky, the Atlanta Dream at the Indiana Fever and the Dallas Wings at the Storm.

 

The following day, in addition to ESPN’s telecast of Los Angeles at Washington, Connecticut hosts the New York Liberty and Chicago visits Atlanta.

 

Opening weekend concludes with four games on Sunday, May 17: Los Angeles at New York, Dallas at the Las Vegas Aces, Seattle at Phoenix and Indiana at Minnesota.

 

More Schedule Highlights

  • A complete list of telecasts to air on NBA TV and CBS Sports Network in the United States and on Sportsnet and TSN in Canada will be announced at a later date.  The schedule of WNBA games to be streamed on Twitter as well as those available on WNBA League Pass will also be announced at a later date.
  • All 12 teams will be in action on the last day of competition before the Olympic break (Friday, July 10), on the first day of regular-season games after the Olympic break (Sunday, Aug. 16), and again on the final day of the regular season (Sunday, Sept. 20).

 

  • Las Vegas and Chicago, whose second-round playoff game last season ended with a game-winning, half-court shot by the Aces’ Dearica Hamby, will meet in Chicago on May 24 and in Las Vegas on June 27 (ESPN2).

 

For more information on the WNBA fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://www.wnba.com/

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New York City FC Forward Ismael Tajouri-Shradi Agrees to New Contract

New York City FC announced that Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has agreed to a new multi-year contract with the Club.

The Libyan international has played 52 matches across all competitions over the past two seasons, scoring 19 goals and adding seven assists.

Tajouri-Shradi said: “I’m really happy to extend my contract to stay here with NYCFC who from the first day has showed me so much love. I just want to keep going with this amazing Club in an incredible city.

“Since my first game at home, the fans have been amazing to me and the energy they give us every game is incredible. We have a really strong team and can achieve something bigger than the last few years this season. I’m excited for the start of the season and really happy to stay here for a few more years and win some titles with this amazing Club.”

Tajouri-Shradi arrived in January 2018 following a transfer from Austria Wien and made an immediate impact scoring four goals in his first four starts. His 11 goals in 2018 were second-most on the squad behind David Villa and he is one of four forwards currently at the Club to have a double-digit goal season.

He was named the Club’s Newcomer of the Year in 2018 and scored his first-ever playoff goal in the 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Knockout Round in a 3-1 win against Philadelphia.

NYCFC Head Coach, Ronny Deila, said: “We want to play attacking football and having wingers like Ismael makes our team incredibly hard to defend. He can run at defenders in one-v-one situations, but can also score from long range when given an inch of space. He’s dynamic, and I love the skill set he brings to our side.”

Tajouri-Shradi also received international recognition debuting for the Libyan national football team against South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match. He has gone on to make four total appearances for Libya.

NYCFC Sporting Director, David Lee, said: “Ismael has been a really impactful player since he joined the Club and is now entering the prime part of his career. We’ve been really pleased with his growth so far and fully expect him to take another leap in his development. I’m really happy that he wants to spend the next part of his career at NYCFC. He has a great locker room presence and fully deserves this new contract.”

Last season, Tajouri-Shradi played 19 league games, starting 11, and scored four goals including his fourth brace at NYCFC during a thrilling 3-3 draw at Minnesota United. The Libyan also scored in a second consecutive postseason.

For more information on New York City FC fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://www.nycfc.com/

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Mets Honor Mike Piazza with Spring Training Address Change

The New York Mets, the City of Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County honored Hall of Famer Mike Piazza by renaming the street formerly known as NW Stadium Dr. to Piazza Drive and changing the official address of the Mets Spring Training facility to 31 Piazza Drive. Mets COO Jeff Wilpon along with Piazza announced the change in a ceremony in front of Clover Park.

 

“We are thrilled to celebrate Mike and his contributions to the organization with this honor,” said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon. “Mike is an integral part of our franchise’s history and he will forever be enshrined in our home away from home in Port St. Lucie. We would like to thank the City of Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie County for their help in making this happen.”

 

“I am extremely excited that the Mets Spring Training home address and street name will be renamed in my honor,” Piazza said. “Port St Lucie will always hold a special place in my career as the place where I prepared for some of my most memorable seasons, with teammates, staff and of course fans. Florida has been my home for the past thirty years so it’s great tribute for my family and for future generations. I am truly touched and blessed. My sincere thanks to the Mets, Fred and Jeff Wilpon, St. Lucie County and Mets fans everywhere!”

 

The Mets previously honored Piazza by retiring his uniform number, 31, in 2016 and inducting him into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2013. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016. His 396 home runs as a catcher remains a major league record.

 

Piazza spent eight years with the Mets from 1998-2005 and ranks first in team history in slugging percentage (.542), third in homers (220) and OPS (.915) and third in RBI (655). His iconic home run in the first game back from the 9/11 attacks helped lift the spirts of New York City. Piazza represented the Mets at the All-Star Game seven times. Overall, the Hall of Famer hit .308 with 427 home runs and 1,335 RBI during his 16-year player career. He was selected to the All-Star team 12 times in his career, was twice the runner up in the National League MVP voting and earned NL Rookie of the Year honors in 1993.

For more information on the Mets fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://www.mlb.com/mets/

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Providence Holds Off St. John’s, 63-58

The St. John’s men’s basketball team whittled its deficit down to two on a pair of occasions in the final two minutes, but the Johnnies were unable to close the gap, falling to Providence, 63-58, on Wednesday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

With the loss, the Red Storm fell to 12-6 with a 1-4 record in BIG EAST play. Providence improved to 4-1 in conference action and 11-7 overall.

LJ Figueroa scored a team-high 12 points and narrowly missed a double-double with nine boards, five steals and two blocks. The junior wing made just two of his 13 attempts from three-point range. As a team, the Red Storm went 6-of-24 from beyond the arc.

Figueroa led four Johnnies in double figures on the evening. Rasheem Dunn tallied 11 points and six boards while Greg Williams Jr. and Marcellus Earlington chipped in 10 apiece. Williams Jr. shot 4-of-7 from the floor while Earlington went 5-for-8.

St. John’s recorded 11 steals, marking the team’s fifth straight game with double-digit thefts, the longest such streak in the NCAA. Coming into the game, the Johnnies ranked fourth in Division I with 10.6 steals per game.

Providence outscored the Red Storm at the free throw line by a 17-8 margin and outrebounded the Johnnies, 46-34.

After St. John’s forced three turnovers on the Friars’ first five possessions, Providence settled down and used an 8-0 run to take a 12-7 lead at the game’s second media timeout. All but two of those 12 Providence points came off St. John’s turnovers.

From there, the Johnnies began to hit from deep, using a trio of triples to retake the lead, 18-16, with just under eight minutes to play in the half. Two of those long balls came off the hands of Williams Jr., while Figueroa sank the other.

The Friars outscored the Johnnies, 15-5, over the next six minutes, taking their largest lead of the game, 31-23, with two minutes to go. The Red Storm, however, managed to keep Providence off the board for the rest of the half, cutting the deficit to five after 20 minutes of action.

Trailing by seven, 35-28, with just over two minutes gone in the second half, the Johnnies embarked on an 11-1 run over the next four and a half minutes. Mustapha Heron sparked the spurt with a four-point play before Figueroa added another 3-pointer and Dunn and Earlington chipped in buckets. Providence committed five turnovers during the St. John’s push.

Leading 39-36 with 13:25 to play, St. John’s saw the Friars come out of a timeout and rattle off eight straight points, moving back ahead by five, 44-39, just over a minute later.

After Providence climbed ahead by as many as seven, 55-48, with 6:18 to go, St. John’s continued to fight. The Johnnies pulled within two on a pair of occasions in the final two minutes, but Providence got a clutch triple from Luwane Pipkins and came up with a stop on the Red Storm’s final possession to hold on for the victory.

St. John’s returns to action on Saturday, playing host to No. 18/18 Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden. The game will honor the memory of the late Howard Garfinkel, a titan in the college basketball community who passed away in 2016. Tickets for the game are available at RedStormTix.com.

St. John’s Head Coach Mike Anderson

 

Opening statement…

 

“This game came down to rebounding, toughness and at the free throw line. … Even as [the game] unfolded I thought we did a pretty good job of just kind of hanging around in the first half and even in the second half. We had missed opportunities to take advantage of the momentum as we made runs back at Providence. Give [Providence] credit, they made some plays. It just came down to that play with five seconds left to go on the clock and [Luwane Pipkins] makes a tough shot. He’s an older kid and he made a play, but you look at the free throw line and the rebounding, that was the difference in the game.”

 

On what the team was trying to do coming out of a timeout with 10 seconds remaining…

 

“We were actually trying to attack the basket and then have somebody spot up. It probably could’ve been a foul. It could have been an and one. Who knows? We wanted to get an attack, knowing that the defense would kind of sink in. 10 seconds is a lot of time, but we didn’t get neither. We didn’t get the call and [then we] put them on the free throw line. There you have it.”

 

On the bench play…

 

“[Marcellus Earlington] and some guys off the bench give us big minutes. In the first half, I thought that Greg Williams was a guy that was carrying us a little bit. It wasn’t a game of beauty. Neither team shot well, but that’s what happens in conference play. … I thought we had some guys on offense give us some good minutes. [Julian Champagnie] did some good things for us. … Providence did what they were supposed to do, they protected their home court. Kudos to them and congratulations to them. At the end of the day, it was one of those games that we’re going to look back on film and there were a lot of things we could have done a much, much better job.”

 

On if Providence’s 2-3 zone affected the offense…

 

“I thought at times it did, but I thought at times we kind of settled. We did a good job moving and attacking the basketball to the baseline. We had some layups down there. But when you go on the road, you have to shoot the ball, you got to put it in the hole. We had some shots that we normally make and we didn’t get the extra opportunities like they did. That’s why I said, you look at the free throw line, they made them. They shot 70% from the free throw line. 17 free throws and we made eight. Do the math. I thought we were careless with the basketball, turning the ball over. We pride ourselves on taking care of the basketball and I thought we had some bad turnovers.”

On if Providence’s defense slowed down the offense…

 

“We turned the ball over. We came out in attack mode and I thought we turned the ball over. Then obviously we weren’t hitting shots. … In conference play, teams are a little more familiar with one another. We just want to find a way to be our best. That’s the bottom line. I thought our tempo at times was to our liking, but then again I thought the free throw line and our rebounding was a big in determining this game.”

For more information on the St. John’s Men’s Basketball team fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

 

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Panthers LB Luke Kuechly Hanging It Up After Eight Seasons

It’s a sad day when a player calls it a career.

 

It’s even more sad when it’s a player like Carolina Panthers superstar linebacker, Luke Kuechly. On Tuesday night, he took to twitter to share a heartfelt video explaining now is the right time for him to step away from the game of football. “It’s never the right time to step away, but now is the right time for me. It’s a tough decision. I’ve thought about it a lot. I think now is the right chance for me to move on,” Kuechly said. “It makes me sad because I love playing this game, I’ve played it since I was a kid. It’s my favorite thing in the world to do. The memories I have from this place and this organization and playing on the field with these guys, they’ll never go away.”

 

At just 28 years old, Kuechly established himself as one of the best players to ever play the position. Taken out of Boston College in 2012 as the ninth overall pick, he captured the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. From day one, he made his presence felt. During his eight seasons as the Panthers defensive signal caller, he amassed seven Pro Bowls, five first team All-Pro honors, and the 2013 AP Defensive Player of the Year. He finishes his remarkable career with 1,092 total tacklers, 12.5 sacks, seven forced fumbles, 18 interceptions in 118 career games played.

 

Anyone who has watched number 59 play knows there simply are not many in the conversation with him. However, former San Francisco 49ers linebacker, Patrick Willis, leads that conversation. Kuechly seemingly has followed Willis’ lead; play and dominate about seven seasons or so, then retire in your prime before the age of 30.

 

Unfortunately, it is easy to see why Kuechly is calling it career even though he is still in his prime. He suffered numerous documented concussions, as well as a couple shoulder injuries during the past few seasons. Like Willis, he has a strong chance to make a bid for Canton one day down the road despite shortened careers.

 

Kuechly now joins the recent wave of guys retiring by 31 years old. That list includes several studs such as the aforementioned Willis, Calvin Johnson, Andrew Luck, Rob Gronkowski, Doug Baldwin, and even a star in the making who retired after his dominant rookie season, Chris Borland. This trend will likely continue as players are earning set-your-grandchildren-up money in addition to learning about the residual effects of head trauma and CTE. Despite it being sad to see stars like this depart early, it is indeed the smart move.

 

With Kuechly now riding off into the sunset, head coach Ron Rivera being replaced by former Baylor coach Matt Rhule, and the status/future of QB1 Cam Newton in doubt, the Panthers could be looking at a rebuild to the future.

 

One thing is for certain though, players like 59 don’t come around every day. When the time comes, his name should be up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

For more information on the Carolina Panthers fans are encouraged to click on the link seen here:

https://www.panthers.com/