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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

LAFC erase 2-goal deficits to beat Montreal in 8-goal thriller

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The game in 100 words (or less): LAFC are, by definition, an expansion team; they are, to the eye, also very much an expansion team, in that they experience drastic mood swings from one game to the next and, on a number of occasions already this season, from one half to the next — or, as evidenced in Saturday’s 5-3 win over Montreal Impact, one 15-minute period to the next. 2-0 down after 16 minutes, Larent Ciman wanted the ground to open up and swallow him whole as his return to Montreal wasn’t going so swimmingly. The Belgian proceeded to score a stunning free kick eight minutes later. Montreal went down to 10 men and Evan Bush saved a penalty in the 33rd minute. Ignacio Piatti completed his hat trick on 43 minutes to restore the two-goal lead. LAFC score four second-half goals to run away with all three points, racking up 26 shots (18 of which were on target) in the process. Through two games this weekend, MLS has seen 14 goals scored.

[ MORE: Sporting KC increase West lead with 6-0 win over Vancouver ]

Three Four moments that mattered

24′ — Ciman’s free kick just about bursts through the back of the net — If not for the net, this ball continues to slowly rise until it cross the U.S.-Canada border and begins to orbit the planet in outer space.

43′ — Piatti smashes past Miller for 3-1 — Piatti takes his hat trick with aplomb, letting the ball bounce across his body before pulling it back across the face of goal and just inside the far post.

52′ — Feilhaber picks out the top corner for 3-2 — The comeback is on… again.

83′ — Vela bags the winner from the spot — Bush denied Marco Ureña from the spot in the first half, and so nearly did it again in the 83rd, but Carlos Vela’s effort crept over the line to make it 4-3.

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Man of the match: Ignacio Piatti

Goalscorers: Piatti (9′, 16′, 43′), Ciman (24′), Feilhaber (52′), Raitala (57′ – OG), Vela (83′ – PK), Blessing (89′)

Mourinho’s message to Man United’s much-maligned stars

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LONDON — All week the talk was about Paul Pogba and Alexis Sanchez not being good enough for Manchester United and that they may be left out of the starting lineup for the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley.

On Saturday at Wembley they dragged their team back into the contest and past Tottenham Hotspur to reach the FA Cup final.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

After a shaky start, Pogba’s powerful tackle on Mousa Dembele was followed up by a perfect cross to Sanchez who expertly headed home in, using every last muscle in his neck, to make it 1-1 in the 24th minute. United never looked back.

Pogba and Sanchez grew stronger as the game wore on and the latter bullied Kieran Trippier for United’s winner as the tireless Chilean speedster ran down a lost cause and helped set up Ander Herrera to score the winner.

The duo have been heavily criticized since the turn of the year with Pogba hauled out of the team by Mourinho, then having to deal with issues such as rumors about his United future following Pep Guardiola‘s claim that Man City were offered the Frenchman in January. While Sanchez has scored just twice in the Premier League since his January move from Arsenal which made him the best paid player in the Premier League and was left out of United’s lineup for the win at Bournemouth on Wednesday.

Mourinho had a message for his much-maligned stars after they stole the show at Wembley: he wants consistency.

“I told Alexis the same thing I told Paul a few weeks ago, I cannot expect my players to be Man of the Match every match. I cannot expect them to score goals every match. I cannot expect them to be perfect every match,” Mourinho said. “What I expect is a certain level that you don’t go below that. That level is the level of the basic things in the game. If you do the basic things of the game and then in some matches your talent appears and you makes the difference. That is fine. I am not waiting for Alexis the next match to score again and to be the Man of the Match. I just want him to be stable and I think  in Alexis’ case next season gives him much better conditions to be a top player for us.”

Despite their gutsy and pivotal displays, both Pogba and Sanchez (the Man of the Match) still showed glimpses of their poor form with wasteful passes from Sanchez and slack defensive play, early on, from Pogba. Their confidence still remains brittle but at least they showed their talent when it mattered most.

But the main thing is that they dug deep to grind out the win and keep United’s hopes of a piece of silverware this season alive. That is what top players do and both delivered, even if Pogba’s United future remains uncertain beyond this season. This was a game where the duo showed Mourinho they could be trusted to dig deep and after they combined for United’s equalizer they grew in confidence and, most importantly, did the dirty work to help United reach the final.

Pogba and Sanchez aside, Mourinho was keen to ask why United have so many critics, even though they are on course to finish second in the Premier League this season and the fact that he has reached his third major final out of six tries since he arrived at the club in the summer of 2016.

“This season is successful if we finish second. If we do a better Premier League than Spurs, Liverpool Chelsea and Arsenal, if we do that I think it is successful,” Mourinho said. “To break the 80-point target to finish second against an untouchable winner is good. To make a lot more points than last season to win more matches, to score more goals, to concede less goals, to have much better results against the top teams I think is a successful teams.”

Dele Alli, Pochettino after FA Cup ouster: “We can’t keep doing this”

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This felt like a different year for Spurs, one which would include something shiny.

[ MORE: Match recap | 3 things ]

Instead, Tottenham Hotspur will exit another season without hardware after blowing an early lead and fairly controlling first half with a 2-1 loss to Manchester United in the FA Cup semifinal on Saturday at Wembley Stadium.

This was at their home venue, even if they weren’t the home team. And it just fell apart.

Here’s Dele Alli, from the BBC:

“Everyone talks. We want to win trophies, we have the staff that want to win. We can’t keep doing this. We can’t throw it away. We have got to improve.”

His boss, Mauricio Pochettino, was more upbeat regarding his Spurs project but no less disappointed in the result. The North Londoners are only going to face more questions all offseason and into next.

“I think we need to understand where we have come from,” he said. “It’s easy to talk about winning trophies. To win a trophy when you face a side like Manchester United, Chelsea or Manchester City is not easy. But the most important thing is we are able to compete.”

Tottenham is on the up, and will continue to grow in resources but not renown until it puts something in its trophy case under Pochettino. It really did feel like this could be the year.

Man Utd races past Spurs to reach FA Cup Final

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  • Man Utd reaches 20th FA Cup Final
  • Alexis plays role in both Utd goals
  • Dele scores for Spurs

Alexis Sanchez and Ander Herrera scored as Manchester United came back to beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 at Wembley Stadium in Saturday’s FA Cup semifinal.

United will meet the winner of Sunday’s semifinal between Southampton and Chelsea at Wembley on May 19.

Dele Alli scored Spurs goal.

[ MORE: Full box score ]

Spurs went ahead through Dele, as Paul Pogba lost Christian Eriksen as the Dane raced onto a long ball. Eriksen crossed to the back post for Dele’s sliding finish.

Pogba made amends in his preferred third of the pitch, stealing the ball from a Mousa Dembele and lofting an inch-perfect cross for Alexis to nod home. The headed finish was anything but easy, hit across the goal while falling to the pitch.

Michel Vorm made a save on a deflected Pogba rip in the 44th minute, and Ander Herrera hit a chance high and wide off the ensuing corner.

And Eric Dier cranked a shot off the framework in stoppage time.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

The best chance of the early second half saw Harry Kane‘s deflected shot go out for a corner, set up by Dele.

Herrera put United ahead just after the hour mark, as Lingard dummied a mistouch from Romelu Lukaku.