- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports9 hrs ago
Not even its biggest fan would suggest Major League Soccer's playing level is close to the Premier League in England or La Liga in Spain.
However, as this year's season concludes with Saturday's championship game between Sporting Kansas City and Real Salt Lake, MLS boasts one peculiarity that many of the world's biggest leagues can only envy.
This season, parity in MLS reached an extraordinary level. Sporting K.C. and RSL both finished second in their respective conferences, but there was little to choose between a swathe of teams on both sides of the country.
The New York Red Bulls won the Supporters' Shield, which is awarded to the top finisher in the regular season, but the team's tally of 59 points was just one ahead of Sporting K.C. In the West, the conference's top two of the Portland Timbers (57) and RSL (56) were just a shade behind. In all, the top 13 of the 19 teams in MLS were separated by just 11 points at the end of a season that spanned 34 games each and began back in March.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports2 days ago
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – There was a reason that none of Knowshon Moreno's Denver Broncos teammates came to check on his well-being as the star running back stood weeping on the sideline on Sunday afternoon.
They have seen it all before.
While Moreno's flood of tears during the national anthem sparked a social media frenzy after being captured by a CBS cameraman before the Broncos' crucial 35-28 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, it was no shock to his colleagues. It is a common occurrence in the Broncos' camp, be it at practice, on the way to games or in the locker room.
"The emotion always gets to me," Moreno told Yahoo Sports after the Broncos moved to 10-2 to retain command of the AFC West and move clear of the Chiefs (9-3), who have dropped three straight.
"I am just thinking about everything in general through your whole life, just balled up into one. Yeah, it helps me. Sometimes I don't even notice it, it just comes."
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
Cristiano Ronaldo has booked his place at the World Cup, is likely just weeks away from being named the world's best soccer player, has signed a new contract at Real Madrid and is talking about staying there for the rest of his career.
Given the Portuguese superstar's sensational form and apparently high level of contentment, now would seem to be the worst possible time for any potential suitor to even think about attempting to pry him away from Madrid, his home for the past four years.
Yet rumors linking the 28-year-old with a return to his former club Manchester United persist with surprising regularity, and they show no sign of slowing down whatever Ronaldo, or his advisors, might say in public.
And inconceivable as it might seem that Madrid would ever consider letting go of their most important player, this is a blockbuster move that does have a chance of taking place in the not-too-distant future.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports5 days ago
That gimpy ankle is still banged up, the snarky cold weather criticism still rings in his ears and his support crew is ravaged by injuries. Still, Peyton Manning sees nothing but opportunity as he heads into what could be the Denver Broncos' biggest game of the season on Sunday.
The 9-2 Broncos could have used some positive vibes after coming off Sunday's dispiriting surrender of a 24-point lead in a 34-31 overtime loss to the New England Patriots. Instead, their preparations for an AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs at a raucous Arrowhead Stadium have been hamstrung by a series of key injuries, including primary running back Knowshon Moreno (ankle) and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (shoulder).
Manning says the collection of setbacks can have a bolstering effect on a team that remains Las Vegas' favorite to win it all.
"How do we respond?" Manning said to reporters this week. "That is the challenge you want, how do we respond coming off last week's game?"
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports8 days ago
Russian athletes who taste success at the Winter Olympics at Sochi in February will be rewarded with huge cash bonuses as the host nation bids to knock the United States off the top of the medal table.
Handouts from the Kremlin were announced on Monday, with President Vladimir Putin authorizing payments that will see Russian gold medalists rewarded with four million rubles ($122,000) each, with silver medals worth $76,000 and bronze $46,000. According to the OECD Better Life Index, the average Russian worker makes $15,286 per year.
Information relating to the medal payments was posted on the Russian government website and is aimed at improving the medal haul of the team, which brought back only 15 medals, three of them gold, from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. The U.S. topped the medal count with 37, while Canada had the most golds with 14.
Such payments, first instituted in the 1990s following the break-up of the Soviet Union, were originally designed to help athletes who were often surviving on small state subsidies.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
Chess crowned a new superstar Friday, as Magnus Carlsen clinched his first world chess title in a victory many expect to revolutionize the game.
At 22 years old, and with enough mainstream appeal to have secured a modeling contract and various endorsement deals, Carlsen is seen as the poster boy for a new era in chess, which has long been stuck with an image that was anything but dynamic.
The Norwegian secured victory by outlasting reigning champ Viswanathan Anand in Chennai, India, with a draw in game 10 of their scheduled 12-match series, building an unassailable 6.5-3.5 lead and bringing the contest to a close.
Carlsen's win earned him the $1.5 million winner's check, but that figure may be dwarfed by the commercial sponsorships he is able to secure on the back of his triumph.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports12 days ago
The United States has a secret weapon for helping to produce future Olympic archery champions, but she isn't a coach or a current athlete. In fact, she isn't even real.
She is Katniss Everdeen, who, just in case you've been living under a rock these past couple of years or don't have teenage children, is the heroine of "The Hunger Games" book and movie series.
With a bow and arrows as her weapon of choice, Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence in the film, has unwittingly created a dramatic surge in American archery participation, especially among young women. Book publisher Scholastic printed more than 26 million copies of the trilogy and the second movie installment, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," hits cinemas this week as the most-anticipated film of the year.
Just as some movie diehards started camping outside multiplexes days in advance, so too have archery ranges been preparing for a fresh wave of activity.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports13 days ago
Nearly 80 years after his golden exploits clinched an eternal place in Olympic history and more than three decades after he passed away, Jesse Owens is seemingly still capable of breaking records.
The sports memorabilia community is abuzz this week after one of Owens' gold medals from the 1936 Berlin Games was put up for auction, with the iconic item predicted to fetch more than $1 million. It is unclear which event Owens won the medal for – in Berlin he tasted victory in the 100 meters, 200, 4x100 relay and the long jump – and back then the prizes were not inscribed with engraving that identified a specific athletic discipline.
However, the medal is regarded as a symbolic part of Olympic and cultural history, part of the glut of success that saw Owens embarrass Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime and its sinister racist ethos.
"It is more than just a prize that celebrates success in athletics, but one that has huge significance in world history," said Dan Imler, vice president of SCP Auctions. "Owens is one of those rare figures who totally transcended sports and that is what makes the item so unique."
- Martin Rogers at Special to Yahoo Sports14 days ago
Cristiano Ronaldo scored three dramatic goals, punched his ticket to the World Cup, silenced his critics and cemented his position as the best player on the planet, all in the space of 90 extraordinary minutes on a frosty night in Sweden.
Ronaldo and his Portugal national team were in danger of missing out on soccer's biggest show while nursing a slender one-goal lead from the first leg of a home-and-home playoff against Sweden. However, with an incredible one-man show and a brilliant hat trick, the Real Madrid superstar secured a 3-2 road victory for Portugal for a 4-2 aggregate score line that was more than enough to seal a place among the world's best 32 teams next summer.
Three times Ronaldo was given space to surge forwards and three times he delivered a devastating punch to a Swedish team that was given little choice but to try to attack.
- Martin Rogers at Yahoo Sports15 days ago
Magnus Carlsen has everything you might expect of a superstar athlete: a modeling contract, endorsement deals, a dedicated female fan club, a growing bank balance and millions of fans watching his every move.
But Carlsen is a different kind of sporting celebrity. The 22-year-old from Norway is building his fame and popularity entirely on the brilliance of his own mind rather than physical brawn or dexterity.
Carlsen is a chess player, but he is not just any chess player. He is, according to statistical computations that determine such things, the best player in the history of the game and will be officially crowned world champion if he continues to dominate the reigning king, India's Viswanathan Anand, over the remainder of their ongoing match in Chennai, India.
Carlsen leads 4.5 to 2.5 after the seventh of 12 scheduled games ended in a draw on Monday, leaving Anand to stage a comeback of epic proportions to get back into contention. With the extraordinarily high standards involved at chess' elite level in which ties are very common, a two-point margin at this stage is the equivalent of a four-touchdown lead in the third quarter.