Ukraine Deals U.S. Soccer a Shutout
Larnaca, Cyprus — On a night that gave a small contingent of Ukrainian fans an opportunity to wave their flags and unite amid a political crisis back home, their national soccer team eased past the United States 2-0 Wednesday in an exhibition game shifted from Kharkiv to a Mediterranean island nation 600 miles to the south.
Andriy Yarmolenko scored in the 12th minute and Marco Devic in the 68th as Ukraine exposed the shaky American central defense of Oguchi Onyewu and Anthony Brooks.
Ukraine’s players linked arms on shoulders during their national anthem of their nation, which has been disrupted by political protests followed by Russia’s military intervention. Players in both starting lineups bowed their heads as they stood on the field before the game for a moment of silence for the victims of violence in Ukraine.
The crowd at Papadopoulos Stadium, which has a capacity of about 10.000, was so small that players could be heard talking with each other during the game. Ukrainian fans sang their nation’s anthem in the final moments.
10-Second Rule Withdrawn
New York — Round 1 in the fight over pace of play in college football goes to those who have the need for speed.
The NCAA football rules committee tabled a proposal Wednesday that would have penalized offenses for snapping the ball before 10 seconds had run off the 40-second play clock.
After a conference call, the committee decided not to send the so-called 10-second rule to the playing rules oversight panel for approval today.
“What the committee agreed to do was table that proposal to allow time to gather more information from the medical community and allow time for a broader discussion for the implications of that change,” NCAA national coordinator of officials Rogers Redding told the AP on Wednesday.
Redding said the NCAA received 324 comments during the feedback period after the proposal passed and 75 percent opposed the change; 16 percent supported the proposal. The rest were uncertain.
The 10-second proposal was touted as a move to protect players by slowing down the fast-break offenses so prevalent now in college football. Supporters, such as Alabama’s Nick Saban and Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, said they were concerned about the increasing number of plays in games and the inability to substitute for fatigued defensive players.
Other coaches were infuriated by the proposal. Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, Arizona’s Rich Rodriguez and Texas Tech’s Kliff Kingsbury were among the many critics who said there was no proof that up-tempo offenses increased the risk of injuries.
Bills Put Toronto Game On Hold
Orchard Park, n.y. — The Buffalo Bills postponed their annual regular-season game in Toronto for at least one year, after going 1-5 since the series began in Canada.
The Bills and their Toronto partner, Rogers Communications, announced Wednesday they were putting a hold on the series for one season. The postponement will allow both sides to work on enhancing future games, the release said.
That means the Bills will be playing all eight home games at Ralph Wilson Stadium this year.
The decision comes a little more than a year after the two sides agreed to renew the series for five years through 2017, after the original five-year deal expired.
The postponement doesn’t come as a total surprise after questions were raised following the Bills’ 34-31 overtime loss to Atlanta at Toronto on Dec. 1. A few days later, Bills president Russ Brandon wondered whether his team loses a home-field advantage by playing in Toronto.
Brown Cut WR
Cleveland — The Browns released troubled wide receiver Davone Bess.
The expected move comes after a pattern of disturbing behavior during the offseason by Bess, who spent just one season with Cleveland after being acquired in a trade last April. Bess was arrested for assaulting a police officer at an airport in Florida and he also posted photos of himself on social media with what appeared to be marijuana.
The 28-year-old Bess is still owed a guaranteed $3.067 million for 2014. The Browns signed him to a three-year contract extension shortly after they got him in a draft-day trade from Miami.
Russia Coach Out
Moscow — Russia ice hockey coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is leaving his job after the home team’s disappointing quarterfinals exit at the Sochi Olympics.
The International Ice Hockey Federation said Russia is looking for a new coach before the world championship in May in Belarus.
The IIHF said Russian hockey federation officials agreed to Bilyaletdinov’s departure after meeting with him on Wednesday.
Russia lost 3-1 to Finland to miss out on an Olympic medal which was among the nation’s top priorities at the Sochi Games.