Antonio Cassano in form during Parma introduction

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At his point in his career, Parma seems like a good fit for Antonio Cassano. While there’s cause to thing he could still contribute at Inter or AC Milan (his last two stops), there’s little reason for either of those times to take on that risk when they’re capable of signing more reliable options. But Parma, a team that finished 10th in Serie A and could use a boost in attack? Acquiring a temperamental player who could get more out of Nicola Sanone and Jonathan Biabiany is worth the risk.

At Cassano’s introduction at the club last Thursday, the club were reminded what they’ve acquired, with the highlights of his public appearance with the club encompassing the confounding, often difficult, mostly entertaining personality that’s seen the only 30-year-old make six stops since leaving Bari in the summer of 2001.

On his arrival a Parma:

I’m not sure exactly where we’ll end up, but I’m sure that things will go extremely well. And it’s World Cup year. I hope that this is the last club I play for. I’m convinced we will achieve great things – this is a challenge that I’m convinced I’ll win. People said I was finished as a player following my time at Madrid, however, I’ve won.

More on his arrival, including some vintage third-person:

I’m not here to put my feet up and have a holiday! The more responsibility I’m given the better I react and the more I give. When I’m made to feel useless, then I create havoc! If I play as Cassano can play, then everyone will benefit.”

On Inter Milan’s new boss, Walter Mazzarri, and his departure from the Nerazzurri:

I’d like to thank Branca, Ausilio and Moratti. But not Mazzarri. Before agreeing to take over at the club he called me and told me that I’d be an automatic starter this season with him. Then, after he’d signed his contract, he said that I would be an automatic choice – but to be on the first bus home!

On his last coach, Andrea Stramaccioni:

Stramaccioni? Oh, I see – you want controversy…! Let’s just say I left a lot of friends (at Inter). I had a fantastic relationship with the players there. But I’ve no comment to make about the coach…

On his career and potential:

So far in my career I’ve only achieved 30-40% of what I could have achieved. I’ve played for great clubs, even Real Madrid. I’m always telling myself: ‘Had you done more, where would you have played? Perhaps the moon, on your own?’

Over the years, Cassano has given fans a number of reasons to turn their back on him, but amid a season to vapid quotes and vacuous insight, Il Gioiello’s blend of honestly and egotism is a nice change. He’s honestly, if self-involved. And that self-involvement, not uncommon to athletes at his level, is part of the reason he’s at Parma:

Making the World Cup squad will be my big motivation. If I play the way I can, everyone will reap the benefits

New York Red Bulls introduce space at RBA for autistic families

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images for New York Red Bulls
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HARRISON, N.J. (AP) The Red Bulls have announced plans for a permanent sensory-friendly space at their stadium for families impacted by autism.

Formerly executive offices, the space overlooking midfield is a calm area that is free from the crowds and the noise of Red Bull Arena during matches. Families can use it for free.

The team announced the new space on Saturday before the Red Bulls were set to host the Chicago Fire. It was Autism Awareness Night at the stadium.

“Families deserve to feel welcome and comfortable each time they step foot into Red Bull Arena, not just one night a year,” Red Bulls GM Marc de Grandpre said in a statement released by the club. “We hope all sports teams and entertainment venues are inspired to take similar action to provide comfort for families with loved ones on the autism spectrum.”

League Two game restarted in empty stadium after fans storm field

Photo credit: BBC Sport / Twitter: @BBCSport
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LONDON (AP) An English soccer game restarted in an empty stadium after a pitch invasion led to the crowd being told the fixture had been abandoned.

There were five minutes remaining in Leyton Orient’s fourth-tier game against Colchester on Saturday when a sit-down protest was staged on the pitch by Orient fans against Italian owner Francesco Becchetti.

It forced the referee to take the players off the field. The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd was told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared. The teams came out and finished the game.

Leyton Orient lost 3-1 a week after its relegation from the English Football League was confirmed after 112 years.

“A decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct,” the EFL said in a statement. “However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

La Liga: Barcelona, Real Madrid hold serve in tight title race

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Super-duper Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of top 7 ]

Espanyol 0-3 Barcelona

Barcelona are doing all they can do — win — in their bid to usurp Real Madrid in the race for the title. While they entered the weekend — and still are — ahead of their El Clasico rivals based on head-to-head results this season, Los Blancos still have a game in hand which will surely decide whether Madrid claim their 33rd top-division title, or a 25th for Barca.

On Saturday, Luis Enrique’s side had more than just the title at stake — also at stake: the Derbi Barceloni, against fellow Catalan side Espanyol.

For 45 minutes, the home side held firm and refused to break, but once Luis Suarez put the Blaugrana ahead in the 50th minute, that was all she wrote. Ivan Rakitic doubled the advantage in the 76th minute, and Suarez completed the scoring 11 minutes later.

Real Madrid 2-1 Valencia

By the time the derby kicked off, Madrid had already applied the pressure and gone three points clear with a 2-1 victory that was a whole lot closer than the final score indicates.

Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, and Zinedine Zidane’s side was well on its way to victory. Ronaldo followed up his opening goal with a missed penalty kick 10 minutes into the second half, and Daniel Parejo pulled the visitors level with a sensational free kick just eight minutes before the end of regular time. Points looked sure to be dropped, and the door opened wider for Barca, but Marcelo was prepared to play the part of hero on the day, and the Brazilian left back bagged one of the season’s more improbable goals, a right-footed strike from the top of the box, in the 86th minute.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Las Palmas 0-5 Atletico Madrid
Real Sociedad 2-1 Granada

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Osasuna vs. Deportivo La Coruña — 6 a.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Leganes — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:45 p.m. ET

Monday’s La Liga schedule

Malaga vs. Sevilla — 3 p.m. ET

Championship Focus: It’s all about the playoff places now

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With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s coverage of the Championship ]

3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD

First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait

As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.

[ MORE: PL Sunday preview — North London derby, plus 6 of the top 7 play ]

Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.