It’s been a dizzying ride of late for Jayden Nelson.
Last year, the young forward from Brampton, Ont., made his pro debut with Toronto FC 2, turned 17, represented Canada at the FIFA U-17 World Cup and was named Canadian Youth International Player of the Year. He kicked off 2020 by making his senior debut Jan. 7 and scoring his first goal three days later in a pair of 4-1 wins over No. 162 Barbados.
Nelson and 73rd-ranked Canada faced No. 39 Iceland in an international friendly Wednesday at Irvine, Calif.
The Canadian men, who currently stand seventh behind No. 69 El Salvador in CONCACAF, are looking to pick up FIFA ranking points in their bid to crack the top six in the region by the close of the June international window.
The top six in CONCACAF, which covers North and Central America and the Caribbean, will advance to the Hex – the most direct route of World Cup qualifying out of the region.
Nelson acknowledges he has felt nerves during his rapid rise – a lot has happened since he attended his first Canadian youth camp in 2016. But his confidence has grown in meeting the challenges along the way.
“To be honest, everything is moving really fast right now,” he said in an interview from California. “But I take it step by step and just remain humble and work hard every day.”
Nelson, who turned 17 on Sept. 26, replaced Jay Chapman in the 67th minute in the Jan. 7 game to become the third-youngest player to debut for Canada (behind Domenic Mobilio and Alphonso Davies).
Three days later, Nelson came off the bench in the 59th minute and opened his senior account in the 86th minute after an errant clearance by the Barbados goalkeeper gave the teenager an open net to shot at from just outside the penalty box.
“First goal, second cap. I was just honoured to score for Canada,” he said.
It was a far cry from the emotions he felt stepping on the Canada training field for the first time in a group that included Samuel Piette and Manjrekar James.
“I was nervous because growing up I’d seen them playing on the national team,” Nelson said. “It was kind of a surreal feeling – playing with them on the same pitch. But after I got into it, they welcomed me with open arms.”
Canada coach John Herdman continues to live up to his mantra when choosing talent – if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Nelson, who joined the Toronto FC academy in 2017, made his pro debut for Toronto FC 2 on April 6 against Orlando City B and appeared in 14 games last season. He has yet to appear for the first team although he has trained with them and will likely do so again when preseason starts next week.
While Jacen Russell-Rowe, a fellow highly touted TFC academy prospect, recently committed to the University of Maryland, Nelson plans to remain at TFC and go the pro route.
Nelson played at the 2017 CONCACAF Boys’ Under-15 Championship and then helped Canada qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil later that year with five goals in six games at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
He started all three games at the FIFA U-17 World Cup against Brazil, Angola and New Zealand and was named man of the match against New Zealand.
“I learned a lot from that tournament. A lot of learning experiences within each game,” he said.
“It was a great experience overall,” he added. “Tournaments like that really help players grow into the future, to be able to go to camps like these and perform well.”
His preferred position is left wing, although he likes to roam inside. Nelson is a shifty player with great vision, happy to take players on and dip into his bag of tricks when needed.
On and off the pitch, Nelson is easy to spot with a shock of hair usually bursting out of a headband and sometimes sporting colour. Some have dubbed him the Canadian Valderrama after former Colombia playmaker Carlos Valderrama.
“I’ve always had it. That’s my trademark,” Nelson said of his wild hair.
Is it easy to look after, he was asked?
“No. But it’s worth having, it’s worth going through all the hard work,” he replied with a chuckle.
Twitter and Facebook accounts for 15 NFL teams hacked – BBC News
More than a dozen teams in the US National Football League have had their social media accounts hacked.
The teams included the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs, who will compete in the Super Bowl Championship on 2 February.
The hacking group OurMine took responsibility for the attack, which said it was to show internet security was “still low” and had to be improved.
The NFL did not respond to a request for comment about the attack.
The Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts for 15 teams were compromised.
Twitter confirmed the accounts were hacked by a third-party platform.
“As soon as we were made aware of the issue, we locked the compromised accounts and are working closely with our partners at the NFL to restore them.”
Many accounts had the same message posted: “Hi, we’re back. We are here to show people that everything is hackable.”
Some of the accounts had their profile pictures or headers changed or deleted.
The OurMine Twitter account was taken down on Monday.
OurMine told the BBC it reached out to the NFL ahead of the attack to offer its services in improving the league’s security but received no response.
OurMine says it is currently based in Dubai.
In the past, the group has hacked companies and well-known individuals to offer its private cyber security services.
It has hacked the Twitter accounts of Netflix, Marvel, Google’s chief executive Sundar Pichai, and Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey. It has also hacked Buzzfeed’s website and multiple Facebook and YouTube accounts.
The first attack occurred early on Sunday morning with a tweet on the Chicago football team the Bears. A post on the team’s Twitter account said it had been sold to a Saudi Arabian official. Later a tweet said the team was trading a prized player for just $1 (£0.76).
Throughout Monday the hacking group targeted the NFL’s own Twitter account along with the accounts of the Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, Houston Texans, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears.
The Instagram pages of the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas Cowboys were also compromised.
Kobe Bryant was 'ultimate competitor,' Carl English remembers – CBC.ca
Newfoundland and Labrador basketball player Carl English says NBA legend Kobe Bryant was a fierce competitor that he was “blessed” to play against.
Bryant, his daughter and seven other people were killed in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, Calif., on Sunday. He retired in 2016 as the third-leading scorer in NBA history after a 20-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.
English says he was devastated and shocked when he heard the news of Bryant’s death but has fond memories of challenging him on the court.
“It was definitely a highlight of my career.… The man’s a legend, just so special to the game of basketball,” he said.
“When something like this happens, it hits home. It hits home as a father. I mean, how many times do you travel to practice with your child? And it can happen so easy.”
Players on the <a href=”https://twitter.com/stjohnsedge?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@stjohnsedge</a> stand arm in arm as the shot clock counts down 24 seconds to honour Kobe Bryant <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcnl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#cbcnl</a> <a href=”https://t.co/NJFDXti4qC”>pic.twitter.com/NJFDXti4qC</a>
English said he trained with Bryant and the Lakers while playing at the University of Hawaii and played against him and a star-studded American team in international competition in 2007 and 2008.
He said he even wore No. 8 with Team Canada because of Bryant’s influence.
Bryant would often be matched up against the other team’s top players to shut them down, English said, something he did to him in 2007 — in an unusual fashion.
“He was like a choo-choo train in my ear, so everywhere I moved, he’d grab my arm and he’d be like a train, and as I’d run faster, he’d make the sound faster,” he said.
“[He was an] ultimate competitor, a force to be reckoned with.”
Kobe was one of the greatest ever. <a href=”https://twitter.com/cenglish23?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@cenglish23</a> tried his best against him in 2008. <a href=”https://t.co/ptoyOlUEcq”>https://t.co/ptoyOlUEcq</a>
English said he was more confident when the two faced each other again the following year before the Beijing Olympics, really challenging Bryant and shaking off his defence.
“Both of us were going at each other pretty good.… There was a play on the left side of the floor, I cross him over, I bring him back and the crowd made a crazy noise,” he said.
“I crossed him two times in the same play, but something snapped and next time he ripped me at half court … then we trapped him at half court, he stepped through it and hit a bank shot and he’s like, ‘You’ve gone and woke up Mamba.'”
English said it was an “amazing experience” to guard and be guarded by Bryant, “hands down” the best player he’s ever played against.
The Mamba mentality
But the influence of Bryant’s intense work ethic and drive to get better — what he called the Mamba mentality — was felt beyond the basketball court, English said.
“When people talk about his mentality, the Mamba mentality, it transcends through all sports,” he said.
“A generation of people have been inspired by his mentality and what he’s done as a basketball player.”
English said it was a relentless pursuit of greatness that made Kobe Bryant the player he was.
“I think that’s what set him apart. He didn’t start off as a star; he was highly talented, but he worked his way to the top and became one of the greatest of all time.”
LeBron James pens note to Kobe Bryant: 'I'm heartbroken and devastated' – Yahoo Canada Sports
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="A day after Kobe Bryant’s death, LeBron James made his first public statement with an Instagram note penned to his fallen friend and former rival.” data-reactid=”15″>A day after Kobe Bryant’s death, LeBron James made his first public statement with an Instagram note penned to his fallen friend and former rival.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="James posted the message Monday evening, two days after he passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.” data-reactid=”16″>James posted the message Monday evening, two days after he passed Bryant on the NBA’s all-time scoring list in a game against the Philadelphia 76ers.
James wrote that he spoke with Bryant on Sunday morning after he achieved the milestone.
‘I love you big bro’
“I’m heartbroken and devastated my brother,” James wrote. “Man I love you big bro. My heart goes to Vanessa and the kids. I promise you I’ll continue your legacy man! You mean so much to us all here especially #LakerNation.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="James and Bryant spoke late after James achieved the milestone, a conversation that his Lakers teammates listened in on, according to The Athletic.” data-reactid=”23″>James and Bryant spoke late after James achieved the milestone, a conversation that his Lakers teammates listened in on, according to The Athletic.
That conversation is presumably the one James refers to in his message.
LeBron’s Sunday reaction caught on camera
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="The Lakers flew back to Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. By the time their plane landed, the news of the fatal helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had broken.” data-reactid=”26″>The Lakers flew back to Los Angeles from Philadelphia on Sunday afternoon. By the time their plane landed, the news of the fatal helicopter crash that also claimed the lives of Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others had broken.
James and his Lakers teammates were seen reacting to the news on the tarmac.
Lakers in a period of mourning
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Earlier Monday, the NBA announced that Tuesday’s game between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center will be postponed to allow the Lakers time to mourn.” data-reactid=”31″>Earlier Monday, the NBA announced that Tuesday’s game between the Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center will be postponed to allow the Lakers time to mourn.
The Athletic’s Sham’s Charania reported that the team was not in a place to take the court.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="“These guys are not ready to play basketball right now,” a source told Charania.” data-reactid=”33″>“These guys are not ready to play basketball right now,” a source told Charania.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports that the Lakers have hired grief counselors for team employees, many of whom had a relationship with Bryant from his 20-year career with the team.” data-reactid=”34″>ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reports that the Lakers have hired grief counselors for team employees, many of whom had a relationship with Bryant from his 20-year career with the team.
Rivals and friends
James and Bryant were fierce rivals during their time together in the league, but also became friends as many of the game’s top players do. When James entered the league in 2003, Bryant was a three-time champion intent on surpassing Michael Jordan as the best to ever play the game, a status he never quite achieved as he carved out his own path as one of the game’s greatest players.
James has inherited that mantle as Jordan’s greatest historical rival in addition to filling Bryant’s role as the superstar leader of the Lakers.
While he may surpass Jordan in the minds of some, he’ll never succeed Bryant in the hearts and minds of Lakers fans.
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="More from Yahoo Sports:” data-reactid=”50″>More from Yahoo Sports:
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