Day: March 13, 2017

Atlanta United claim first victory, defeat Minnesota United 6-1 #atlutd

atlanta unitedRelease from Atlanta United:

Atlanta United earned its first win in club history by defeating Minnesota United, 6-1, in a battle of expansion teams at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday. On a cold, blustery day with a steady snowfall throughout the match, Designated Players Josef Martinez and Miguel Almiron combined to score five goals with Martinez’s hat-trick leading the way. Jacob Peterson added Atlanta’s sixth goal in second-half stoppage time.

“I think everyone played really well,” Atlanta United head coach Tata Martino said. “I think obviously tomorrow, everyone will talk about Miguel [Almiron] and Josef [Martinez], but I think the team had a really good performance.”

Atlanta was off to a flying start thanks to Martinez, who scored his first-ever MLS goal in the third minute after being played on by Miguel Almiron. Ten minutes later, Almiron joined the score sheet, blasting one past Minnesota goalkeeper John Alvbage. Midfielder Julian Gressel perfectly set-up Almiron, by splitting two Minnesota defenders with a pass to Almiron’s feet, who was able to turn and have an open look on goal.

“It’s important for us to get the first win,” Almiron said. “Now we’re gaining more trust in how we’re playing and to be able to work calmly this week.”

The referee ordered a brief stoppage in play to clear snow off of the playing surface in the 24th minute. Immediately after the re-start, Atlanta made it 3-0 with Martinez scoring his second goal of the match in the 27th minute. Yamil Asad played Martinez through two Minnesota defenders and the Venezuelan Designated Player calmly beat Alvbage again.

Minnesota got on the board in the 30th minute with Kevin Molino converting a penalty kick. The referee awarded Minnesota the opportunity after Jeff Larentowicz was ruled to have fouled Molino inside of the 18-yard box. Molino rolled one to the right of Atlanta goalkeeper Alec Kann.

After halftime, Atlanta added another goal in the 52nd minute with Almiron scoring his second stunner of the day. Toward the top of the 18, Almiron perfectly volleyed one off his left foot, and up-and-over a diving Alvbage, into the right side of the goal to pad Atlanta’s lead. Martinez then finished his hat-trick, after Atlanta (Hector Villalba) played another through ball past Minnesota defenders. Martinez latched onto the end of it and dribbled around an oncoming Alvbage before easily rolling one in.

Atlanta finished the night with Jacob Peterson scoring his 23rd career goal in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time. Greg Garza crossed one into the middle of the box, where Peterson was stationed perfectly. The MLS veteran rose above everyone to head home the sixth and final goal.

“We would have liked to have had the first win in the first game,” Martino said. “But we’re happy to get it tonight and we’re happy with the first win as a team.”

Falcons sign three, release Jackson

atlanta falconsRelease from the Atlanta Falcons:

The Falcons have announced that they have agreed to terms with defensive lineman Jack Crawford, linebacker LaRoy Reynolds and tight end Levine Toilolo. The team has also released defensive end Tyson Jackson.

Crawford, who was born in London, will bring much needed defensive line depth to the Falcons. He got his NFL start with the Oakland Raiders after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 NFL Draft out of Penn State. He played in 19 games for the Raiders, while recording 18 total tackles. The Cowboys signed Crawford before the start of the 2014 season, where he spent the last three seasons and played in 38 games, with 12 starts while posting 54 total tackles – 33 solo – and 9.5 sacks.

“Crawford is strong and versatile and has the ability to play across the defensive line,” said general manager Thomas Dimitroff. “We like his skill set and the physicality in which he plays the game with, and we feel he will add to our defensive line group.”

“LaRoy and Levine are two guys that were integral parts to the Brotherhood that this team has built over the last year,” Dimitroff said. “LaRoy became a vocal leader for us, and filled in nicely at linebacker for us while being a key member of our special teams unit. Levine was another valued member for us on special teams, in addition to bringing a presence on offense in the run and pass game.”

Reynolds was signed by the Falcons last offseason to add depth to the linebacker position. The undrafted veteran from Virginia quickly became a vocal leader on special teams and on defense. Reynolds played in all 16 games – three starts – seeing action on special teams and recording 23 total tackles on defense. He tallied seven tackles and one fumble recovery on special teams.

Reynolds got his NFL start with the Jacksonville Jaguars when he was signed as a college free agent following the 2013 NFL Draft. He played in 30 games with three starts for the Jaguars and recorded 38 total tackles (28 solo). Reynolds was signed by the Bears in 2015 and played in 13 games, while recording 12 total tackles (11 solo).

The 6-8 tight end from Stanford was selected as the second of two fourth round (133rd overall) draft choices by Atlanta in 2013. Toilolo has become a major part of this offense because he has been one of the better blocking tight ends in the NFL, and this past season he expanded his game by recording 13 receptions for a career high 264 yards.

Toilolo played in all 16 games with 11 starts this season and chipped in two touchdown receptions. During his four years with the Falcons, he has posted 62 receptions for 601 yards and six touchdowns.

“We appreciate everything Tyson brought to our organization during his three seasons here. He was a solid piece to our defensive line rotation, and we have a ton of respect for him and wish Tyson all the best going forward,” Dimitroff said.

Jackson was signed by the Falcons in the 2014 offseason after spending five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. This season, he played in all 16 games with seven starts, totaling 16 tackles (seven solo) and one quarterback hit. During the playoffs, Jackson recorded three solo tackles and one sack.

ACC Places League-Record Nine in NCAA Tournament Field

ACC_Identity_TM_PMS_WBGRelease from the ACC:

Led by No. 1 regional seed North Carolina and No. 2 seeds Duke and Louisville, the Atlantic Coast Conference placed a league-record nine teams among the 2017 NCAA Basketball Tournament field announced Sunday.

The Tar Heels, Blue Devils and Cardinals are joined by Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

The ACC’s nine teams betters the previous league record of seven first set in 2007 and equaled in 2009 and 2016. The nine selections leads all conferences this season and ties for the second-most ever by any conference.

North Carolina (27-7) earned the No. 1 seed in the South Region. The Tar Heels open Friday in Greenville, South Carolina, against SWAC champion Texas Southern (23-11). UNC is set for its 48th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its NCAA-leading 16th as a No. 1 seed. UNC owns a 117-45 all-time record in the tournament with NCAA Championships in 1957, 1982, 1993, 2005 and 2009. The latter two national titles came under the watch of current head coach Roy Williams, who is leading the Tar Heels to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in 14 seasons.

The ACC’s 36 all-time No. 1 regional seeds leads all conferences.

ACC champion Duke (27-8) is seeded second in the East Region and also opens on Friday in Greenville against No. 15 Troy (22-14). The Blue Devils are playing the NCAA Tournament for the 22nd consecutive season and 41st overall. Duke is 107-35 in the tournament with NCAA Championships in 1991, 1992, 2001, 2010 and 2015. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski is the NCAA’s all-time leader in tournament victories, posting a 90-27 record in his 32 previous NCAA appearances as head coach at Duke.

Louisville, seeking its fourth national championship, will be making its 42nd NCAA Tournament appearance and the 13th under head coach Rick Pitino. The Cardinals (24-8) are seeded second in the Midwest Region on Friday and will travel to Indianapolis to face No. 15 seed Jacksonville State (20-14). Louisville captured the 2013 NCAA Championship under Pitino’s watch and also claimed national championships in 1980 and 1986. The Cardinals are 75-42 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.

Florida State (25-8) is back in the NCAA Tournament field after a four-year absence. The Seminoles are seeded No. 3 in the West will take on an in-state opponent No. 14 seed Florida Gulf Coast (26-7) on Thursday in Orlando, Florida. The Seminoles are 15-14 in 14 previous NCAA appearances and will be making their fifth trip to tournament under current head coach Leonard Hamilton.

Virginia (22-10) is the No. 5 seed in the East Region and will open play in Orlando on Thursday against No. 12 UNC Wilmington (29-5). The Cavaliers will be making their 21st NCAA Tournament appearance, their fourth straight and their fifth in six years under current head coach Tony Bennett. The Cavaliers are 28-20 all-time in the NCAAs, including Final Four appearances in 1981 and 1984.

Notre Dame (25-9) is No. 5 in the West Region and opens in Buffalo on Thursday against No. 12 Princeton (23-6). The Fighting Irish are NCAA bound for the 36th time and for the third consecutive year. Head coach Mike Brey is taking his 12th Notre Dame team to the NCAA Tournament (and ninth in 11 seasons) while making his 14th appearance overall. Notre Dame owns an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 37-39.

Miami (21-11) earned the No. 8 seed in the Midwest Region and will open play against ninth-seeded Michigan State (19-14) on Friday in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Hurricanes are making their ninth all-time NCAA Tournament appearance and their third in six years under head coach Jim Larrañaga. The Hurricanes are 8-8 all-time in NCAA Tournament play.

Virginia Tech (22-10) will be making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance, its first since 2007 and first under current head coach Buzz Williams. The Hokies are the No. 9 seed in the East Region and face No. 8 Wisconsin (25-9) on Thursday in Buffalo, New York. The Hokies own an all-time NCAA mark of 6-8.
Wake Forest (19-13) will make its 23rd NCAA appearance, its first since 2010 and first under current head coach Danny Manning when it faces Kansas State (20-13) in one of Tuesday night’s “first four” games at Dayton, Ohio. The winner will advance as an 11th seed to Friday’s South Region matchup against No. 6 Cincinnati (29-5) at Sacramento, California. The Demon Deacons are 28-22 all-time in the NCAA Tournament.