Redskins

Sporting KC-Livestrong spat leads to new park name

Sporting KC-Livestrong spat leads to new park name

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) The home of Sporting Kansas City has a new name following a disagreement between the Major League Soccer team and the cancer charity founded by Lance Armstrong.

In a statement posted on the team website Tuesday, Sporting KC chief executive Robb Heineman accused Livestrong of ``utilizing aggressive tactics designed to force us into an unsatisfactory arrangement.'' He said the foundation's conduct was particularly surprising considering the organization is ``in the midst of a significant transitional phase.''

Heineman's statement comes one day after Armstrong admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs during an extraordinary cycling career that included seven straight Tour de France victories. The interview is scheduled to air Thursday night.

``Our faith and trust in this partnership have been permanently damaged; therefore we are terminating our agreement with Livestrong, effectively immediately,'' Heineman said. ``As a result of this decision, our stadium will now be referred to as Sporting Park. While we are ending this relationship, our support of the fight against cancer will endure.''

According to ESPN, which was the first to report on the name change, Livestrong recently told Sporting KC it still owed $750,000 of the $1 million promised to the foundation in 2012.

Greg Lee, the chief financial officer for the charity, did not address any details in his emailed statement, but said part of his role is ``to ensure that the terms of the foundation's agreements are adhered to.''

``If a partner is struggling to meet the terms of an agreement, we do everything possible to reach a fair and reasonable compromise,'' he said. ``If no compromise can be reached, as good stewards of our brand, mission and donors' dollars, we have no choice but to bring that agreement to an end. That is the case here.''

Heineman said the $250,000 that the team paid Livestrong for 2012 fulfilled its contractual obligation to the charity.

Armstrong resigned from the board of directors for Livestrong in November, hoping to avoid further damage for the charity in the wake of a report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that accused him of helping run ``the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen'' within his U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.

Before this week's interview with Winfrey, Armstrong had long denied doping, and Sporting KC had said as late as last summer that it planned to leave the name of the stadium in place.

Sporting KC announced its partnership with Livestrong in March 2011, and the team's $200 million state-of-the-art soccer stadium opened that June.

The naming rights deal differed from traditional agreements in that Livestrong did not pay to have its name on the stadium. Instead, the club promised to donate $7.5 million in stadium revenues to the organization over six years.

Sporting Park is scheduled to host the MLS All-Star game on July 31.

Quick Links

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is struggling, and it's not the one you expected

One side of the Redskins' offensive line is made up of a 36-year-old tackle who showed up on July 31 and a guard who's played a grand total of two games at the position. The other side, meanwhile, features a third-round pick who signed a pricey extension in 2017 at tackle and a two-time Pro Bowler at guard.

The first pair, somehow, is holding up OK through two contests this year. It's the second pair that's having trouble. And no one really expected that to be the case.

In Washington's Week 1 loss against Philadelphia, Morgan Moses — the one with the hefty contract — committed two penalties, a holding and a false start. Another holding call was declined.

In the team's Week 2 loss to Dallas, meanwhile, Brandon Scherff — the one with the Pro Bowls — was whistled for holding twice.

Beyond the penalties, though, Moses and Scherff haven't helped out the running backs. At all.

So far, according to the NFL's logs, the Burgundy and Gold have had 11 runs to the left for 46 yards, which comes out to an average of 4.18 yards per carry. There have been 14 carries to the right, on the other hand, for just 27 yards, which comes out to an average of 1.92 yards per carry.

To be fair, it's not like Donald Penn and Ereck Flowers are totally tearing it up at left tackle and left guard. But those stats show they've been surprisingly effective as run blockers and, overall, they're giving the Redskins all they could've hoped for. Moses and Scherff simply aren't.

Now, on the list of problems Jay Gruden's squad is facing, the defense's discouraging start is at the top, while injuries and poor adjustments follow. They need to seriously evaluate how they're trying to stop opposing offenses and what they are (or aren't) doing at halftime.

But Moses and Scherff's slumps are high up on that list of problems as well, because they were supposed to be two reliable veterans and pave the way when they were asked to.

Instead, they're holding the offense back, sometimes literally, sometimes because of sloppy play. The right side of the O-line is currently on the wrong side of things, which wasn't supposed to be the story up front.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

Talent, scheme or coaching, something needs to change for Redskins defense

After two games, the Redskins defense clearly does not appear ready for some of the expectations that arrived before the season. That's obvious. What isn't is why. 

In consecutive losses, Washington's defense has given up more than 30 points-per-game and more than 400 yards-per-game. With just two sacks, the defensive front hasn't generated much pressure at all. The sack numbers are low, but opposing quarterbacks aren't taking many hits or pressures either. Heck, on Sunday against Dallas, Dak Prescott completed every pass he threw during the second half. 

Before the year started, the Redskins defense looked poised for a breakout. The team had strong young talent up front with Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis. The edge rushers were a pair of first-round picks in veteran Ryan Kerrigan and rookie Montez Sweat. Landon Collins was supposed to provide Pro Bowl play at safety. 

It just hasn't worked. 

The biggest Redskins struggles have come on third down. The defense just can't get on the field. In a Week 1 loss, the Eagles converted 11 of 17 third downs and went on long drives throughout the second half. Against the Cowboys in a Week 2 loss, Dallas never punted in the second half.

Against Philly, the Redskins gave up 4 yards-per-carry, which is usually a losing formula. Against Dallas, the Redskins gave up more than 6-yards-per-carry, which is definitely a losing formula. 

There are plenty of stats to show how bad the Redskins defense has been. These are just a sample. The bigger issue, however, is why it's happening.

And there aren't easy answers.

Injuries are a part of the equation. Losing Allen hurts a lot, as does losing cornerbacks Quinton Dunbar and Fabian Moreau for the Dallas game. But still, injuries aren't a full explanation. 

Scheme is part of the problem. The Redskins tend to play conservative defense, without much blitzing or disguised looks. And if the defensive front isn't getting home, it's big trouble for the secondary when the quarterback has plenty of time. 

Coaching is a problem too. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is in charge of the conservative scheme. He could change that, and maybe should change that, but so far he has not. In his post-game comments, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said his staff isn't "reaching" the defensive players yet. That doesn't sound like a vote of confidence. 

Players also need to play better. Sweat, Ioannidis and Kerrigan aren't generating much pass rush, and that's a major problem. Josh Norman needs to be better too. 

There are no easy fixes here. There's no silver bullet, no singular answer. 

Gruden said there would be no coaching changes because it's so early in the season. That doesn't mean the questions won't keep coming. 

"There are no excuses to be had. We have to look at ourselves, and we have to play better," the coach said of his defense after the 31-21 loss to Dallas.

"We’re minus a couple pieces in the secondary, that has an issue. But really, we should be better than this."

Through two games, the Redskins defense should be much better than it has been. Gruden knows it. Fans do too. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: