Women’s pro league to start next spring
• Another pro women’s soccer league will try to succeed where two previous attempts have failed.
The currently unnamed eight-team league will launch in the spring, U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday. The clubs will be located in Boston, Chicago, Kansas City, New Jersey, Portland, Seattle, western New York and Washington.
The sport has repeatedly shown it can draw large numbers of fans in the stands and on TV for the World Cup and Olympics, but women’s soccer has yet to find a foothold as a pro sport in the U.S.
WUSA folded in 2003 after three seasons, failing to capitalize on the success of the 1999 World Cup. More recently, Women’s Professional Soccer folded this year, also after three seasons.
With a vested interest in ensuring national team players have somewhere to play in the years leading up to the 2015 World Cup, U.S. Soccer is stepping in this time to seek to create a viable economic model. The teams will still be privately owned, but the federation will pay for the salaries of 24 national team players. U.S. Soccer also will fund the league’s front offices.
U.S. Soccer could have held a residency program for its national team players, as it has done at times in the past. U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati said new coach Tom Sermanni and other officials believe the best way for players to improve is by competing in a league.
• Roberto Di Matteo’s reign as Chelsea manager ended suddenly Wednesday when he was fired only six months after guiding the club to an unlikely Champions League title. Rafa Benitez was appointed interim manager until the end of the season. Russian owner Roman Abramovich displayed his trademark ruthlessness by getting rid of Di Matteo with the defense of the European trophy in tatters following a 3-0 loss at Juventus on Tuesday.
NHL, union talks break for holiday
• NHL talks quickly broke off again Wednesday in New York City after the players made a new proposal they said left sides separated by less than $40 million annually over a five-year contract and Commissioner Gary Bettman immediately rejected the plan, saying “we’re still far apart.” On the 67th day of a lockout that already has led to the cancellation of more than a quarter of the regular season, the sides didn’t set a date to get back together. Union officials and nine players went to the NHL office in the morning and spent about an hour making the proposal. After a 90-minute break, the sides met again for two hours, said there was nothing more to talk about for now and headed off for the Thanksgiving holiday.
QB Driskel returns to start for Gators
• No. 6 Florida (10-1) will have its starting quarterback back in the starting lineup against one of its biggest rivals. Coach Will Muschamp said that sophomore Jeff Driskel looked very good at practice Tuesday and will return to the starting lineup for Saturday’s game at No. 10 Florida State (10-1). Driskel sprained his right ankle Nov. 17 against Jacksonville State. He sat out last weekend’s 23-0 win over lower-division Jacksonville State. Jacoby Brissett started in his place and completed 14-of-22 passes for 154 yards. Driskel was on the sideline during the game without a walking boot, worked out Sunday and was cleared to practice Tuesday.
• The college football playoff system will be televised on ESPN for 12 years once it starts after the 2014 season, the network said. The title game will be played on a Monday. The deal is worth about $470 million a year.
Ex-Reds pitcher injured in crash
• Former major-league baseball pitcher-turned-Christian radio personality Frank Pastore was critically injured in a freeway motorcycle crash. Pastore, 55, was a pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds from 1979 until 1985 and for the Minnesota Twins in 1986. The California Highway Patrol says a car collided with Pastore’s motorcycle and he was ejected on Interstate 210 in Duarte, about 25 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. He was found unconscious on the freeway Monday night. Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center spokeswoman Rosa Saca says the 55-year-old Pastore remains in critical condition Wednesday.
• The Chicago White Sox agreed to a one-year, $700,000 contract with outfielder Dwayne Wise. The 34-year-old Wise joined Chicago as a free agent on Aug. 3.
— From wire reports