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Chapecoense vows to compete, possibly with borrowed players

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CHAPECO, Brazil (AP) Six players, a handful of support staff, and deep sorrow are all that remain of Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer club.

They will still try to play again. Because they know that’s what their 19 teammates who died when a charter plane ripped into an Andean mountainside would want them to do.

“In the memory of those who died and to honor their families, we will rebuild this club from scratch so it is even stronger,” club director and local businessman Cecilio Hans said. “We had material assets and human assets. Now we’ve lost nearly all of our human assets.”

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Other clubs in Brazil’s top league are offering to loan players to Chapecoense, with a proposal that the modest club in deep southern Brazil is guaranteed to stay in the top division for the next three years.

“The club will rebuild, I am sure,” said Walter Feldman, secretary general of the Brazilian Football Confederation. “Eight clubs have already called me to offer concrete, material solidarity. We are studying ways to best help.”

Monday’s crash occurred as the team was on its way to the two-game final of the Copa Sudamericana – the No. 2 tournament on the continent. Only three players survived, and all are recovering at a hospital in Colombia: defender H�lio Zampier, commonly known as Neto, defender-midfielder Alan Ruschel and goalkeeper Jakson Follmann, whose right leg had to be amputated on Tuesday.

Chape, as the team is called locally, reached the top of South American soccer without any superstars – no high-profile players from Brazil’s celebrated national team. It was in Brazil’s fourth division just seven years ago, climbing into the first division by 2014. Now it starts the climb again, and this one is even steeper.

[ MORE: Cause of crash no fuel, electrical failure ]

Goalkeeper Marcelo Boeck said he and several players had deals to leave the club for a new one next year. He said they’re reconsidering.

“We know this is a different moment, and we are part of it,” he said. “We hope we can help rebuild in the memory of our team.”

The rebuilding could start Dec. 11, the date scheduled for the final round of league matches in the top Brazilian league. Games have been called off this weekend for a period of mourning.

Chapecoense’s acting President Ivan Tozzo told reporters on Wednesday the club hopes to play that match against Atletico Mineiro using a primarily junior team.

After that match, there is uncertainty over Chapecoense’s future. If the team is awarded the Copa Sudamericana tittle -like its final opponent Atletico Nacional proposed – it would qualify for next year’s Copa Libertadores, the Champions League of South America which begins in February.

Chapecoense guaranteed its place in the Brazilian first division for next season, and it is also scheduled to defend its Catarina state title in the regional championship starting in January.

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Data analyst Victor Hugo, one of the key assistants to coach Caio Junior, who died in the crash, said very little remains.

“We have a couple of doctors, two physiotherapists, two locker room staffers, one nurse, one masseur, one goalie coach and me,” he said, speaking at Chapecoense’s Arena Conda.

Hugo said the staff members and six players not selected for the big match in Colombia – some because of injury, others because of the coach’s decision – are trying to cope with the tragedy.

“That disappointment over not being chosen to be there was quickly replaced by that horrible mixture of grief, and with some relief just to be alive,” he said. “That will stick with us forever.”

Argentine midfielder Alejandro Martinuccio was injured and didn’t travel. He spent Tuesday answering concerned calls and comforting friends and family of the Chapecoense players.

“I am not religious, so this is even more difficult,” Martinuccio said. “I am so sorry that this beautiful story is going to end like this.”

Veteran goalkeeper Nivaldo was not selected so he could prepare for his 300th game with the club on Sunday against Atletico Mineiro in the last game of the Brazilian league season.

After the accident, the 42-year old goalkeeper said he would retire immediately, but now he wants to play in the last game to honor his fallen teammates.

CHAPECO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 30: Goalkeepers #1 Danilo (L) and Nivaldo #12 of Chapecoense celbrate during a match between Chapecoense and Cruzeiro for the Brazilian Series A 2014 at Arena Conda Stadium on November 30, 2014 in Chapeco, Brazil. (Photo by Alan Pedro/Getty Images)
Goalkeepers #1 Danilo (L) and Nivaldo #12 of Chapecoense. (Photo by Alan Pedro/Getty Images)

“My teammates would want us to play that match,” a teary and emotional Nivaldo said. “I just don’t know how I could stand a full stadium with people calling the name of the players that died. We will have to try, I think. But that is going to be hard.”

One of the three surviving players was Jakson Follmann, the second-string goalkeeper behind starter Danilo, who died in the crash. Authorities in Colombia said they had to amputate Follmann’s right leg, and he remains in the hospital.

“I told Follmann I was going to stay here one more year to see him thrive,” Nivaldo said. “He said he was going to carry me on his shoulders after my 300th game. That is not going to happen.”

Associated Press sports writer Mauricio Savarese reported this story in Chapeco, Brazil, and AP sports writer Stephen Wade reported from Rio de Janeiro

Mauricio Savarese on Twitter: http://twitter.com/MSavarese His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/mauricio-savarese

Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeA His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/content/stephen-wade

MLS Snapshot: Philadelphia Union 3-0 Columbus Crew

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The game in 100 words (or less)Goals from Ilsinho, CJ Sapong, and Marcus Epps led the Philadelphia Union to a 3-0 win over the Crew, who had not one but two players sent off in the loss. Jonathan Mensah saw red in the 35th minute for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity, and Lalas Abubakar was sent off for violent conduct with about a quarter hour to play. Sapong had two assists and Ilsinho added a helper too. Philly pulls to within five points of sixth-place Columbus, and have played one less game.

Three moments that mattered

20′  — Overhead pass gets deserved finish — Ilsinho made Zack Steffen’s diving attempt look feeble with a blast after Sapong’s bike-like ball across the box.

38′ — Alberg PK denied — Did we mention it could’ve been worse for Philly? Roland Alberg was stopped by the left hand of the law, er, Steffen. The left hand of the Steffen.

81′ — Epps puts it to bed — The man was credited with eight shots on the night, as 22-year-old Marcus Epps has his first MLS goal (He has scored in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup).

Man of the Match: Sapong.

Conte questions Spurs ambitions: “You must buy expensive players”

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Like most Spurs fans, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has noticed that Tottenham isn’t spending during this summer transfer window.

He’s also heard the remarks of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who said the spending from many other Premier League clubs is “unsustainable.”

Conte’s reply? Maybe not winning’s okay to you, Dan.

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The Chelsea boss defends the massive money being doled out on players by, essentially, saying ambitious clubs have to keep up with other ambitious clubs. And without digging into the profit margins of Spurs and other PL clubs, perhaps he has a point.

Also, you can’t help but appreciate the subtle dig at Liverpool, as if to say, “Yeah, maybe they care.”

From the BBC:

“If [Spurs] don’t win the title, it’s not a tragedy. If they don’t arrive in the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out in the first round of the Champions League, it’s not a tragedy. If they go out after the first game that they play in the Europa League and go down against Gent, it’s not a tragedy.

“Maybe for Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and – I don’t know – Liverpool, it is a tragedy. You must understand this. You must understand the status of the team.

“Every team has to understand what their ambitions are. If their ambitions are to fight for the title or try to win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It’s simple. My question is this: What are Tottenham’s expectations?”

Again, we’re not poring over the financials of these clubs, but it is saying something that Spurs have not bought any new players and sold Kyle Walker to Man City for $59 million. If the market says players are worth that, than the logic goes that Spurs cannot improve without investing that sum into players.

And look, Mr. Levy, you spent $40 million on Moussa Sissoko and close to $30m on Vincent Janssen. It’s not like we’re talking about a totally new world here.

It wasn’t all negative, or passive aggressive negative, from Conte, who said Harry Kane is the top striker worth buying in the world, and valued him at more than $131 million.

FOLLOW LIVE: Lineups as the USMNT goes trophy hunting

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Levi’s Stadium is the scene as the United States men’s national team looks to wrestle the Gold Cup back after Mexico claimed the 2015 championship.

Jamaica is the opponent, and an incredible story all things considered, as the Reggae Boyz hope their second-straight tournament final is the occasion for their first Gold Cup crown.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Stats, scores from Gold Cup Final ]

Kickoff is slated for about 9:45 p.m. ET, with the pageantry from California getting started at 9:30.

There are no real surprises in the XI, aside from Bruce Arena’s continued use of Graham Zusi at right back. Omar Gonzalez pairs with Matt Besler in the heart of the defense, with Michael Bradley, Kellyn Acosta, Darlington Nagbe, and Paul Arriola combining for an industrious midfield.

Jozy Altidore and Jordan Morris are up top, while Jorge Villafana fills out the lineup at left back with Tim Howard in goal.

Clint Dempsey is on the bench, perhaps awaiting another super sub performance.

WATCH: Neymar dizzies Valencia, gets Suarez pick to score vs. Man Utd

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All three parts of the MSN trident helped Barcelona produce an International Champions Cup goal against Manchester United on Wednesday, though not in the most traditional of fashions.

Lionel Messi’s through ball was off target, and Neymar rushed onto it before spinning toward goal. Luis Suarez literally shoved Chris Smalling out of contention to stop the Brazilian, and Neymar did the rest with a finish past David De Gea.

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Say it with me, “It’s preseason for the officials, too, you guys.”

Neymar’s goal has given Barcelona a 1-0 lead over United, and the match is at halftime. Obviously, he hasn’t been sent to Paris Saint-Germain.