The Latest: MLS’s Canadian teams to face challenges again

Sports

Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo yells from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Rutgers, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

The Latest on the effects of the coronavirus outbreak on sports around the world:

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MLS Players Association executive director Bob Foose says delaying the start of the 2021 season would be the “best solution” for Canadian teams given the pandemic-related border issues.

Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver were forced to relocate south of the border for much of the 2020 season because of travel complications caused by COVID-19. Toronto headed to East Hartford, Connecticut; Montreal moved to Harrison, New Jersey; and Vancouver went to Portland, Oregon.

Foose said on a conference call “the last thing we want to do is repeat that experience this year.”

MLS Commissioner Don Garber said Tuesday the league plans to start the season in mid-March.

Garber said while he felt for the challenges facing the Canadian teams, the league had to abide by made-in-Canada health guidelines.

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The Green Bay Packers have placed offensive tackle Jared Veldheer on the reserve/COVID-19 list just one day after announcing they had signed him off the Indianapolis Colts’ practice squad.

The reserve/COVID-19 list is for a player who either tests positive or COVID-19 or has close contact with someone who’s infected.

Veldheer was the Indianapolis Colts’ starting left tackle for each of their last two games, including a 27-24 AFC first-round playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills last week.

The Colts had activated Veldheer from their practice squad for game day rather than officially signing him to their 53-man roster. That enabled the Packers to sign him this week.

Green Bay (13-3) hosts the Los Angeles Rams (11-6) in a NFC divisional playoff game Saturday.

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The Atlantic Coast Conference has postponed Sunday’s women’s basketball matchup between No. 2 Louisville (10-0, 3-0) and No. 3 North Carolina State (10-0, 5-0) with the Wolfpack program still in COVID-19 protocols.

Louisville instead will host Florida State on Sunday in a second rescheduling from Feb. 23, which pushed back from its original Dec. 17 meeting.

Also, Thursday night’s Southeastern Conference women’s basketball game featuring No. 12 Kentucky at Auburn has been postponed because of positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining within the Tigers’ program.

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Georgetown has canceled its men’s basketball game against DePaul on Wednesday night, citing a COVID-19-related issue with the program.

Georgetown (3-8) and DePaul (1-4) are the 10th- and 11th-place teams in the Big East.

Georgetown, coached by Patrick Ewing, is playing home games at on-campus McDonough Arena without fans

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Browns rookie coach Kevin Stefanski said he’s on track to return to the team Thursday for playoff preparations after missing Sunday’s wild-card win in Pittsburgh with COVID-19.

Stefanski jokingly called himself “probable” when asked if he’ll be back as the Browns get ready to face the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

The 38-year-old Stefanski tested positive with the virus last week and couldn’t be with his team when the Browns won their first playoff game in 26 years by upsetting the Steelers.

Stefanski watched the game from his home’s basement in Rocky River, Ohio, and admitted to pacing in front of the TV during the telecast. Stefanski said he’s lost his sense of taste but had mostly mild symptoms during his illness.

Cleveland activated cornerbacks Denzel Ward and Kevin Johnson from the COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Also, offensive line coach Bill Callahan returned to the team after being one of four assistants sidelined by the virus.

Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio remains in isolation, and the Browns are hoping to get him back in the next day or two.

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Two SMU men’s basketball games scheduled for this week have been postponed because of a positive COVID-19 case and ensuing contact tracing issues in the program.

The Mustangs were supposed to play at Memphis on Thursday and host Wichita State on Saturday.

The American Athletic Conference says the rescheduling of the games has yet to be determined.

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Browns top cornerback Denzel Ward is back with the team after missing Cleveland’s past two games — one of them a playoff win — with COVID-19.

Ward was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday along with cornerback Kevin Johnson as the Browns (12-5), who have dealt with numerous virus-related issues over the last month, began practicing for Sunday’s playoff game at Kansas City against the top-seeded Chiefs.

If he can play, Ward would give Cleveland’s secondary a major boost as it faces Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and his numerous offensive weapons. Ward typically is assigned to the other team’s top wide receiver.

Johnson, who has made six starts this season, will help as well.

The Browns gave up 501 yards passing on Sunday to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who picked on Cleveland’s backups.

Ward’s return could be followed by coach Kevin Stefanski’s. The first-year coach also missed Sunday’s shocking wild-card win at Pittsburgh after testing positive for COVID-19 last week. Stefanski is on track to be back at the team’s facility on Thursday.

Pro Bowl left guard Joel Bitonio could be joining him. He missed last week’s game as well with coronavirus, along with Ward, Johnson, wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge and four assistant coaches.

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