NFL owner eyes MLS fran­chise

San Francisco Chronicle Late Edition - - SPORTS -

Cleve­land Browns own­ers Dee and Jimmy Haslam said Fri­day they are part of a group try­ing to buy the Colum­bus Crew to keep the Ma­jor League Soc­cer team in the city.

The group, which in­cludes Colum­bus-area in­vestors, said in a state­ment it is mov­ing for­ward to ac­quire the team, which ap­peared headed to Austin, Texas, af­ter this sea­son. A new sta­dium in down­town Colum­bus is part of the plan, although no de­tails were pro­vided.

The agree­ment also pro­vides that Austin, where the city coun­cil had ap­proved plans for a new, pri­vately owned 20,000seat sta­dium, will get an ex­pan­sion team no later than 2021.

“MLS is com­mit­ted to keep­ing Crew SC in Colum­bus should we con­tinue to make progress on these crit­i­cal com­po­nents and agree to key terms with the in­vestor group,” the league said in a state­ment.

An­thony Pre­court, a San Fran­cisco-based in­vestor who owns the Crew, has courted Austin for a po­ten­tial move, con­tend­ing that the team was no longer fi­nan­cially vi­able in Colum­bus with­out big­ger crowds and a new sta­dium.

In Colum­bus, the an­nounce­ment touched off wild cel­e­bra­tions among Crew fans, who had been work­ing to save the team since Pre­court made his plans pub­lic last year.

Car­los Vela scored two goals and had two as­sists, help­ing Los An­ge­les FC beat the vis­it­ing Hous­ton Dy­namo 4-2 to clinch a top-two seed in the Western Con­fer­ence. Los An­ge­les (168-8), which be­came the fifth ex­pan­sion club to clinch a play­off spot last week, is tied with the 1998 Chicago Fire for the most points by an ex­pan­sion team with 56.

Vela tied it at 1 on a penalty kick in the 44th minute. He was tripped up by goal­keeper Tyler Deric, who got a hand on the penalty kick but couldn’t stop it. Vela scored his 13th goal of the sea­son in the 78th for a 4-1 lead. Europe: De­prived of a seat in­side the sta­dium through no fault of their own, a small band of loyal Eng­land sup­port­ers watched the game from a hill­top over­look­ing the vir­tu­ally empty ground.

There wasn’t much to see. Eng­land and Croa­tia played to a 0-0 draw in the UEFA Na­tions League, a lack­lus­ter match that took place in front of no fans as the Croats com­pleted a sta­dium ban im­posed in 2015 when a swastika was painted on their field ahead of a game.

While this was Croa­tia’s fifth be­hind-closed-doors in­ter­na­tional, it was a first for Eng­land.

This was a re­peat of the World Cup semi­fi­nal won by Croa­tia in July.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice in Bel­gium’s 2-1 win over Switzer­land in Group 2 of League A.

French au­thor­i­ties are in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims of match­fix­ing sur­round­ing a Cham­pi­ons League match be­tween Paris Saint-Ger­main and Red Star Bel­grade. L’Equipe news­pa­per re­ported that a Red Star of­fi­cial is sus­pected of bet­ting $5.8 mil­lion on Red Star los­ing by five goals. PSG won 6-1. Salah hurt: Mo­hamed Salah scored a record-break­ing goal di­rect from a cor­ner in African Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fy­ing then left late in Egypt’s 4-1 win over Swazi­land in African qual­i­fy­ing with a leg in­jury. The best news for Liver­pool fans is that Salah’s in­jury doesn’t look se­ri­ous ac­cord­ing to Egypt as­sis­tant coach Hany Ramzy. “I think it is only a mus­cle strain but he will un­dergo med­i­cal scans to de­ter­mine the length of the in­jury” Ramzy told Egyp­tian news­pa­per Al-Ahram. Brazil wins: Gabriel Je­sus and Alex San­dro scored as Brazil de­feated host Saudi Ara­bia 2-0 in a friendly.

Geert Van­den Wi­jn­gaert / As­so­ci­ated Press

Bel­gium's Romelu Lukaku (right) scores past Switzer­land goal­keeper Yann Som­mer in an UEFA Na­tions League match.

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