The complexities of executing sporting events in a global pandemic were illustrated Sunday when Canada’s World Cup qualifier against the Cayman Islands was pushed back a day to Monday.
At issue were the pre-match COVID-19 tests taken by the Cayman Islands delegation, which did not meet FIFA requirements.
It appears the Caymans delegation did its best but was foiled by a tumultuous plane ride as it tried to get to Florida from Suriname, where it lost 3-0 on Wednesday in the capital of Paramaribo.
Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said his team missed its scheduled testing upon arrival because of travel issues.
The team’s charter was originally scheduled to arrive at a private airport in Sarasota, Fla., only to be turned away by U.S. Customs. The plane was diverted to Miami but, as it was about to descend, the pilot was told he could not land because it was not a scheduled flight. The plane eventually landed in Tampa with the team not getting to its hotel until 1:30 a.m. local time Friday.
The delegation underwent a rapid antigen test, which detects protein fragments specific to COVID-19. While the rapid test can deliver results in as quick as 15 minutes, the results are not always accurate as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Canada hopefully to play Monday
FIFA requires a PCR test, which is considered the gold standard in testing for the virus. It involves a lab testing a sample typically collected using a swab inserted into a person’s nose or throat. Turnaround time for the PCR test is longer.
“We did a rapid test because there was no lab around the area that would give us results until Monday or Tuesday,” Whittaker said. “But miraculously we managed to get that lab that was originally closed on Saturday and Sunday to open for us [Sunday].”
The results are expected to be ready between 2 and 3 p.m. ET Monday, ahead of the 6 p.m. kickoff at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
News of the one-day postponement came out Sunday in brief releases from Canada Soccer and FIFA in the hour before the scheduled 4 p.m. kickoff. The decision to delay the match was made “to ensure the safety of all participants in the match,” according to FIFA.
It has been agreed between both Member Associations, FIFA and Concacaf that the match will be postponed and be played at 6pm ET tomorrow (March 29, 2021) at IMG Academy, Florida.<br> <br>This decision has been taken to ensure the safety of all participants in the match.
Whittaker said Canada Soccer had been “very understanding.”
“We’re living in difficult times. These are requirements and we respect requirements,” he added.
Whittaker noted the Caymans have been pretty much COVID-free.
According to the Cayman Islands government website, the country had 487 confirmed cases of COVID and two deaths as of Friday. The four most recent cases were tourists, who tested positive following routine screening.
As of Friday, 28,861 (44 per cent of the estimated population) had received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, with 26 per cent having completed the two-dose course.
WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:
The Canadian team was still at its hotel in nearby Sarasota when it got news of the problem Sunday. Canada coach John Herdman said his squad took news of the postponement in stride, after some initial “disappointment, shock.”
“I think we’re used to the many ups and downs that this world keeps throwing at us,” Herdman said in a video posted by Canada Soccer.
“If anything we’ll look at the positives which are more recovery, more regen time for those players that played on Thursday,” he added.
Herdman said he pulled his team’s leadership group together in wake of the news. The decision was made to go ahead and hold a “light, bright” training session Sunday.
“We just turn the page and [Monday] will be the big day for us.”
Canada Soccer said teams are required to provide FIFA with negative COVID-19 PCR test results for all players and staff taken no earlier than 72 hours before accessing the venue. Without the test results, teams can’t access the stadium.
Statement from Canada Soccer<a href=”https://t.co/IFoGw8Wmbu”>https://t.co/IFoGw8Wmbu</a><a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CANMNT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCQ?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WCQ</a> <a href=”https://t.co/L1rVgMGl7F”>pic.twitter.com/L1rVgMGl7F</a>
Canada Soccer said it had “engaged a laboratory to be on-site with the team to conduct its testing” and that all of its players and staff had received negative testing before arriving and while in camp in Florida.
Sunday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton.
The current FIFA international window runs through Tuesday for CONCACAF teams. But the delay in the Caymans game means extending whatever quarantines are in place at the other end when player return home.
Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson left Friday to return to his club team Besiktas in Turkey as part of an apparent prearranged deal.
The Canadian men are ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Cayman part-timers.
Cardinals acquire Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from Eagles – Sportsnet.ca
The undefeated Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon to their arsenal.
The Cardinals, who are the only 5-0 team in the NFL, acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.
Ertz played with the Eagles since they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 116 catches and also had a career-high 1,163 yards during the 2018 season. Ertz, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years from 2017-19, caught the game-winning touchdown during Super Bowl LII to help the Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 and capture their first Super Bowl.
“Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team’s culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.
“Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best.”
The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season. Philadelphia lost 28-22 Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ertz hauling in a touchdown catch.
The Cardinals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Brady throws two TD passes, Buccaneers beat Eagles – TSN
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers keep losing key players and stockpiling victories.
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes, Leonard Fournette ran for two scores and the Buccaneers beat the Philadelphia Eagles 28-22 on Thursday night.
The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers (5-1) lost another cornerback when three-time All-Pro Richard Sherman left in the first quarter with a hamstring injury, but their depleted defense held on after Jalen Hurts rallied the Eagles from a 28-7 deficit.
“It’s tough to win on the road,” Brady said. “Obviously, we didn’t play our best so we have to get back to work … We got to get better.”
Playing with an injured thumb, Brady came out firing. The 44-year-old, seven-time Super Bowl champion tossed TD passes on Tampa Bay’s first two drives while going 11 for 12 for 121 yards.
His best play came after Hurts’ second TD run and a 2-point conversion pulled Philadelphia within six points with 3:05 left in the fourth quarter.
Facing a third-and-7 from Philadelphia’s 45, Brady rolled away from pressure and threw a perfect pass to Antonio Brown for a 27-yard gain to extend the drive and the Bucs ran out the clock.
“It was a great route, hell of a throw as Tom got out of the pocket,” Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians said. ″Couple times this year he slipped out of the pocket to the right and made a big play down the field.”
Brady finished 34 of 42 for 297 yards and an interception. He insisted his thumb, which was taped, is fine.
“I feel great, awesome,” he said. “It’s football season. I feel good. Really do.”
The Eagles (2-4) are winless in three home games under rookie coach Nick Sirianni. They heard boos at halftime but fought back to make it close.
“We were bad in the first half. Put that one on me,” Sirianni said. “There’s no doubt our offense needs to be better to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Brady’s 2-yard TD pass to O.J. Howard gave the Buccaneers a 7-0 lead. The Eagles answered on Hurts’ 5-yard scoring pass to Zach Ertz. Brady then hit Brown for a 23-yard TD pass to make it 14-7.
After two straight three-and-out series, Brady led the Bucs on another scoring drive with Fournette running in from the 2 to extend the lead to 21-7. Tampa increased its lead to 28-7 when Fournette walked in from the 1 in the third quarter.
Fournette ran for 81 yards and caught six passes for 46 yards.
“Having that year under my belt makes a big difference understanding it,” said Fournette, who signed with Tampa Bay shortly before last season after he was cut by Jacksonville. “The sky’s the limit for me.”
Brady was 19 of 22 before missing three straight passes late in the second quarter, including a deep ball intercepted by Anthony Harris that ended his streak of 227 passes without a pick.
The Buccaneers were already missing cornerbacks Carlton Davis and Sean Murphy-Bunting and safety Antoine Winfield before Sherman went down on Philadelphia’s first drive. Sherman was quickly ruled out. Arians wasn’t certain the severity of the injury.
“We just have to keep playing with the guys we have and see how long the injury is. Next man up,” Arians said.
Still, against a patchwork secondary, Hurts struggled throwing the ball. He was 12 of 26 for 155 yards, one TD and one interception. Hurts ran for 44 yards and two scores.
“I haven’t executed enough to win, clearly,” Hurts said. “The ball is in my hands every play and I enjoy that and I like that. I have to be better. I’m not doing enough to win. I’m not doing enough to start fast. I will be better.”
LOOK OUT, TROUT
Hurts fired the ball toward the stands after running into the end zone for his second TD, causing a security guard to duck and three-time AL MVP Mike Trout to flinch in his front-row seat. Trout, who grew up in nearby Millville, New Jersey, is a huge Eagles fan.
The Eagles inducted left tackle Tra Thomas and right tackle Jon Runyan into the team’s Hall of Fame during a halftime ceremony. The duo started 134 regular-season games together from 2000-08. During that span, the Eagles reached the playoffs seven times, won five NFC East titles, reached five conference championship games and one Super Bowl.
Buccaneers: TE Rob Gronkowski (ribs), Winfield (concussion) and LB Lavonte David (ankle) were inactive.
Eagles: TE Dallas Goedert (COVID protocol) and RT Lane Johnson (personal) were inactive.
Buccaneers: Host Chicago (2-3) on Oct. 24.
Eagles: At Las Vegas (3-2) on Oct. 24.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter at https://twitter.com/robmaaddi and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL
Dodgers beat Giants in Game 5, advance to NLCS – TSN
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Cody Bellinger hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and prized midseason acquisition Max Scherzer came out of the bullpen for his first career save, sending the Los Angeles Dodgers past the San Francisco Giants 2-1 in a thrilling winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night and into the NL Championship Series.
Bellinger’s big hit decided a scintillating NL Division Series between talent-laden teams with lofty win totals — the latest exciting chapter of this storied rivalry.
And the dramatic finish came with a controversial call: With a runner on, Scherzer struck out Wilmer Flores on a check-swing to end it. First base umpire Gabe Morales rang up Flores on appeal — but on television replays, it certainly didn’t appear he swung.
No matter, the Dodgers rushed out of their dugout to celebrate on the Giants’ home field. Meanwhile, fans threw beer cans and debris onto the diamond in disgust.
“The umpire said it was a swing, so it was a swing,” Bellinger said.
Mookie Betts had a postseason career-high four hits and will lead the next step for the defending World Series champions at Atlanta for Game 1 of the best-of-seven NLCS on Saturday night.
Los Angeles came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Braves in last year’s NLCS, taking Game 7 by a 4-3 score on the way to its first title since 1988.
“It’s going to be another good one. It’s not going to be easy,” Bellinger said. “We played each other a few times the last few years. So we kind of know what each other’s got, and really looking forward to it.”
Camilo Doval plunked Justin Turner with one out in the ninth and Gavin Lux then singled before Bellinger delivered his most meaningful hit in a scrutinized season.
“You really do want to be in that moment,” Bellinger said.
Scherzer, the Game 3 loser who came over from Washington at the trade deadline, closed out a best-of-five series certain to go down among the several classics these franchises have played — right up there with the 1951 and ’62 clubs that each matched up in three-game tiebreakers for the NL pennant that the Giants won each time.
In the 24th and final meeting between these so evenly matched rivals who knew everything about each other by this stage, it was only fitting they split at 12 apiece. The 107-win Giants edged the Dodgers for the NL West title on the final day, Los Angeles winding up a game back with 106 victories.
The Dodgers already won once facing elimination, topping the Cardinals last week in the wild-card game 3-1. And manager Dave Roberts’ bold Game 5 gamble paid off: 20-game winner Julio Urías pitched out of the bullpen instead of starting as originally planned. Urías entered in the third inning and gave LA four innings of relief with five strikeouts.
“I think that you can’t do a job for fear of failure or potential criticism,” Roberts explained. “I think that you have to do your job given whatever you feel is the best way to win the game.”
Betts had the Dodgers’ initial three hits with singles at the top of the lineup before Corey Seager’s RBI double in the sixth as the Dodgers finally got to Game 1 winner Logan Webb.
Then Darin Ruf’s first hit of the series for San Francisco after starting 0 for 9 was a tying home run in the bottom half. The 452-foot drive is the longest of this postseason.
Webb was done after seven more brilliant innings, allowing one run on four hits, striking out seven and walking one as he once more delighted a sellout crowd of 42,275 with their swirling orange rally towels and those deafening “Beat LA!” chants.
The 24-year-old right-hander and two relievers shut out the Dodgers 4-0 here last Friday, and Webb’s Sierra Elementary School to the north in Rocklin held a day in his honor earlier this week.
Betts led off the game with a single but the Giants got out of it with an inning-ending double play and Webb faced the minimum through two.
Right-hander Corey Knebel opened for the Dodgers and gave up Buster Posey’s two-out double in the first, then pumped his fist striking out Brandon Crawford in a seven-pitch at-bat.
“Sometimes there’s things that you can’t really explain. It’s kind of like that `It’ thing. I feel like we have it,” Betts said.
Betts is only the second batter with three hits in a game against Webb this year, joining San Diego’s Eric Hosmer on April 30.
The LA right fielder also is the first player in Dodgers history with four hits in a winner-take-all postseason game.
Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, who retired following the 2016 season after 67 years calling Dodgers games, weighed in on the magnitude of this Game 5 matchup in the clubs’ storied histories.
“To my knowledge, tonight’s game between the (at)Dodgers and (at)SFGiants is the most important game in the history of their rivalry. With nearly identical records, and so much at stake, I believe this to be the case,” Scully posted on Twitter. “Many of you might consider the 1951 game for the NL pennant to be bigger. Perhaps, but that was more about the greatest moment with Bobby Thomson’s game-winning home run.”
Roberts was told before the game of the 93-year-old Scully’s remarks.
“Now I feel pressure, gosh darn it, man,” Roberts said with a grin.
A moment of silence and a thoughtful big screen tribute were held for two-time All-Star catcher Ray Fosse, who died Wednesday at age 74 after a 16-year battle with cancer. He had worked earlier this season as a broadcaster across the bay for the Oakland Athletics.
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/tag/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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