The Sports Report: U.S. and Mexico play to scoreless draw in men’s World Cup qualifying

MEXICO CITY - MARCH 24: United States midfielder Yunus Musah (6) and Mexico midfielder Edson Alvarez.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Kevin Baxter: Estadio Azteca rises like a concrete-and-steel citadel from the crowded, dusty boulevards of Mexico’s Santa Ursula neighborhood. For more than four decades that fortress has been nearly impenetrable, with the country’s national soccer team losing just two competitive matches inside its walls.


But it felt different during Thursday’s World Cup qualifier with the U.S., a game that ended in a 0-0 tie. Gone was the fearsome, intimidating Azteca, where opponents’ World Cup dreams have long gone to die.

With a late-night kickoff, the sweltering weather that melted past invaders gave way to temperatures in the 60s and a slight breeze. And because of sanctions leveled over Mexican fans’ continued used of an anti-gay chant, more than half of the stadium’s 84,000 seats were vacant, leaving the upper deck mostly empty and quiet.

Where Azteca once roared, Thursday it emitted barely a whimper, leaving it to the PA announcer to repeatedly urge the fans to make noise.

In Mexico. During a World Cup qualifier.

But for all that had changed inside Azteca, one thing remained the same: the U.S. still hasn’t won a competitive game there after playing Mexico to the scoreless draw.

The result did run the Americans’ unbeaten streak against Mexico to four games, however, and left them second to Canada in the eight-team qualifying table, ahead of Mexico on goal differential and three points up on fourth-place Costa Rica (5-3-4) with two games remaining.

The top three teams in the CONCACAF tournament qualify for this fall’s World Cup in Qatar, and both the U.S. (6-2-4) and Mexico (6-2-4) can move a big step closer toward reserving their spots with victories Sunday, the Americans over Panama (5-4-3) in Orlando, Fla., and Mexico in Honduras (0-8-4).

The U.S. will go into Sunday shorthanded though after defender DeAndre Yedlin and forward Tim Weah picked up yellow cards in the first half, leaving them suspended for the Panama game. The U.S. was already missing four starters to injury before losing defender Reggie Cannon after he tested positive for COVID-19 this week.


Photos: United States vs. Mexico in FIFA World Cup qualifying

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From Ben Bolch: Cross one major worry off the list for UCLA.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. will play for the Bruins in their biggest game of the season.

“Jaime is going to try, guys, I can tell you,” UCLA coach Mick Cronin said Thursday on the eve of his team’s NCAA tournament East Regional semifinal against North Carolina. “Unless something goes bad [in practice Thursday], I would think he’s going to try. The question is, can he be effective?”

Jaquez’s fluid movement during the 15 minutes of open practice Thursday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center only bolstered the notion that the Bruins’ grittiest player could push his way through the sprained ankle that sidelined him at the end of the team’s victory over Saint Mary’s last weekend in the second round.


If it’s the last dance for this special UCLA team, the Bruins want to make it a marathon

March Madness: Arkansas takes down Gonzaga; Villanova survives a scare

Sweet 16
Thursday’s results

No. 4 Arkansas 74, No. 1 Gonzaga 68
No. 2 Duke 78, No. 3 Texas Tech 73

No. 2 Villanova 63, No. 11 Michigan 55
No. 5 Houston 72, No. 1 Arizona 60

Today’s schedule

No. 3 Purdue vs. No. 15 Saint Peter’s, 4:09 p.m., CBS
No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 8 North Carolina, 6:39 p.m., CBS

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Providence, 4:29 p.m., TBS
No. 10 Miami vs. No. 11 Iowa State, 6:59 p.m., TBS


UCLA (17-12) defeated host Wyoming, 82-81, in a triple overtime thriller to advance to the quarterfinals of the WNIT. Bruin guard Charisma Osborne scored 20 points, including the last four in the final overtime period to secure the win. Forward IImar’I Thomas, who scored 18 points with 10 rebounds, sent the game into double overtime with a layup with two seconds remaining.

After a game that featured 23 lead changes and no lead greater than six, the Bruins move on to play Oregon State in the quarterfinals. The Beavers were 78-73 winners over New Mexico.

Wyoming (17-13) was playing in its third overtime of the WNIT and its second consecutive triple overtime game. Alba Sanchez Ramos and Quinn Wiedemann led the Cowgirls with 21 points apiece.

NCAA tournament
Schedule and results

Sweet 16

Spokane Region
No. 2 Texas vs. No. 6 Ohio St., 4 p.m., ESPN2
No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 4 Maryland, 6:30 p.m., ESPN

Greensboro Region
No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 5 North Carolina, 4 p.m., ESPN
No. 3 Iowa St. vs. No. 10 Creighton, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2


Wichita Region
No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 4 Tennessee 70, 1 p.m., ESPN2
No. 3 Michigan vs. No. 10 South Dakota, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2

Bridgeport Region
No. 1 North Carolina St. vs. No. 5 Notre Dame, 8:30 a.m., ESPN
No. 2 Connecticut vs. No. 3 Indiana, 11 a.m., ESPN


From Jack Harris: There was no formal meeting. No grand announcement. No ceremonial declaration.

Instead, the changing of the guard occurred in a brief conversation between manager and pitcher at the Dodgers’ spring training complex Thursday morning.

Walker Buehler will be the team’s opening day starter when the season kicks off on April 8 in Colorado, manager Dave Roberts announced shortly after informing the pitcher, giving the 27-year-old right-hander his first career opening day nod — and marking the first time in more than a decade that Clayton Kershaw won’t pitch the season opener for a reason other than injury.

Since 2011, Kershaw has missed an opening day start only twice: In 2019, when he had left shoulder inflammation, and in 2020 because of back stiffness.


‘Put it on record’: Dave Roberts guarantees a Dodgers World Series win in 2022


Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist in regulation and then had the only score in the shootout to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Kings.

Patrick Kane also had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who have won two straight for the first time since getting four consecutive victories in the middle of January. Sam Lafferty also scored.

Collin Delia, seeing action for only the third time this season, made 43 saves.

Phillip Danault scored twice for the Kings for his fourth multigoal game of the season. Danault also has a career-high 21 goals.

Trevor Moore added a short-handed score for Los Angeles. He’s the first Kings player since Mike Richards in 2011 to have a short-handed goal in two straight games.

Jonathan Quick made 28 saves.


From Dan Woike: Kobe Bryant’s signature shoes will again be produced by Nike, his widow, Vanessa, announced on Instagram Thursday afternoon.

Bryant’s Nike shoes are some of the most popular in the NBA, but last spring, his contract with the shoemaker expired.

Thursday, in a post, Vanessa Bryant said the shoes would be back.

“We’re excited to announce our partnership with Nike is going to continue! I am so proud that my husband’s shoes are still the most worn by players on NBA courts and the demand for his shoes remain so desired by his fans around the world,” she wrote.


Lakers new starter Stanley Johnson’s inspired play a silver lining in loss


From Andrew Greif: Paul George participated in Clippers practice Thursday for the first time since injuring his right shooting elbow in December, adding to the team’s hope that the all-star wing could be available for the postseason next month.

The Clippers called his participation in Thursday’s practice as the next stage of George’s rehabilitation, without detailing how much of the closed practice George would take part in. George, who hasn’t played since Dec. 22, previously had been cleared in mid-March to play in practice games against coaches that exposed him to what coach Tyronn Lue called “minimal contact.”

“He hasn’t felt any pain, so that is a positive thing,” Lue said before practice.

Guard Norman Powell, who played only three games with the Clippers before fracturing a bone in a foot in mid-February, also has taken a figurative step forward by taking literal steps on the court during a workout Wednesday, Lue said.


From John Cherwa: Trainer Bob Baffert, with time running out for any of his legal options to reach resolution, is transferring three of his Kentucky Derby hopefuls to Tim Yakteen, and one to Rodolphe Brisset, so that the horses can gain points and qualify to run on racing’s most famous day.

Messier, Doppelgänger and McLaren Vale will all move to the barn of Yakteen, Baffert’s former assistant. Blackadder will ship to Kentucky and run for Brissett. Doppelgänger has already moved to Yakteen’s barn, and the others will move in the next few days.

“These are all good horses and they deserve to go,” Baffert told The Times on Thursday. “It’s just such a great race, both the Kentucky Derby and Oaks. It’s great for the fans and the sport. The fans deserve to see these horses run.”


Chuck Winner, former CHRB chairman who oversaw horse racing reforms, dies at 81


1934 — Horton Smith wins the first Masters golf tournament by one stroke over Craig Wood.

1947 — Holy Cross, led by George Kaftan, beats Oklahoma 58-47 in the NCAA basketball championship.

1958 — Sugar Ray Robinson regains the middleweight title for a record fifth time with a 15-round decision over Carmen Basilio.

1961 — Cincinnati ends Ohio State’s 32-game winning streak with a 70-65 win in the NCAA basketball championship. In the third-place game, St. Joseph’s beats Utah 127-120 in quadruple-overtime.

1967 — UCLA, led by sophomore Lew Alcindor’s 20 points, beats Dayton 79-64 for the NCAA basketball championship.

1972 — Bill Walton scores 24 points to lead UCLA to an 81-76 victory over Florida State and the NCAA basketball title.

1972 — Maryland beats Niagara 100-69 in the NIT championship, becoming the first team to score 100 points in the finals of the tournament.

1973 — The Philadelphia 76ers post the worst mark in NBA history at 9-73 under coaches Roy Rubin (4-47) and Kevin Loughery (5-26).

1995 — Scotty Bowman gets his 900th regular-season coaching victory as the Detroit Red Wings beat the Canucks 2-1 in Vancouver.

2006 — Following the tradition of teenage American women pulling off big upsets, 16-year-old Kimmie Meissner uses the performance of her life to soar to the World Figure Skating Championships title.

2008 — Tennessee gives coach Pat Summitt her 100th NCAA tournament win, a 78-52 rout of host Purdue. The win sends the Lady Vols to the NCAA regional semifinals.

2011 — The Southwest regional is the first in NCAA men’s basketball history with three double-digit seeded teams in the semifinals. Virginia Commonwealth, an 11th seed beats 10th seed Florida State 72-71 in overtime and the top-seeded Kansas Jayhawks beat No. 12 seed Richmond 77-57 in the region’s other semifinal.

2012 — In the NBA’s first quadruple-overtime game since 1997, Joe Johnson scores 37 points and Josh Smith adds 22 as the Atlanta Hawks beat Utah 139-133. The four overtimes tie for the third-longest game in NBA history.

2016 — Klay Thompson scores 40 points and Stephen Curry adds 33 to help the Golden State Warriors become the second team to post back-to-back 65-win seasons with a 128-120 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. The Warriors improve their record to 65-7 following a 67-win season a year ago. The only other team to win at least 65 games in consecutive seasons was Chicago in 1995-96 and 1996-97.

2017 — Arrogate shows his class again in the $10 million Dubai World Cup as he comes from last place to win by an impressive 2 1/4 lengths.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

UCLA defeats Dayton in 1967 to win the national championship in men’s basketball. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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