National briefs: Sporting K.C. earns top seed for playoffs with 1-0 victory

October 23, 2011


— Matt Besler scored in the 54th minute to lift Sporting Kansas City to a 1-0 victory over D.C. United on Saturday night, earning the top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Sporting (13-9-12), which closed the season with a five-match unbeaten run, will play a two-leg conference semifinal against the higher remaining seed from next week’s wild card round.

United, eliminated from playoff contention with a draw against Portland last Wednesday, finished 0-5-1 in its last six matches.

Besler scored on a turnaround shot on a rebound effort following Kei Kamara’s corner kick header off the post for the only goal of the match. Replays appeared to show that Omar Bravo tapped the rebound away from D.C.’s Austin Da Luz and toward Besler, though Bravo was not credited with an assist.

Two tied at Disney

Lake Buena Vista, Fla. — Justin Leonard chipped in three times for birdies in a span of five holes to help salvage a 2-under 70. That gave him a share of the lead Saturday with PGA Tour rookie Kevin Chappell going into the final round of Children’s Miracle Network Classic at Disney.

Webb Simpson dodged a bullet in his attempt to win the money title. Luke Donald, who needs to finish at least second to overtake him, got within three shots of the lead until a three-putt double bogey on the 14th hole. Simpson wound up one shot ahead of Donald going to the last day.

Former Kansas University golfer Gary Woodland fell from a tie for fifth place to a tie for 17th Saturday after posting a 1-over 73. Woodland is now six shots back of the leader.

Teen sets record

Berlin — American swimmer Missy Franklin set a short-course world record in the 200 backstroke on Saturday, clocking 2 minutes, 0.03 seconds at a World Cup meet in Berlin.

The 16-year-old Franklin shaved 0.15 seconds off the old mark set at the same meet by Shiho Sakai of Japan in 2009.

Martin takes pole

Talladega, Ala. — Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson have given Hendrick Motorsports a sweep of the front row at Talladega Superspeedway.

Martin posted a lap at 181.367 mph in Saturday’s qualifying. Johnson was second at 181.360 to give the Chevrolets from Hendrick the first two starting spots in today’s race. It’s the third time this season Hendrick cars have swept the front row for a superspeedway event.

Clint Bowyer qualified third and was followed by Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and Hendrick drivers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Paul Menard qualified seventh and was followed by David Ragan, Sprint Cup Series points leader Carl Edwards and Ryan Newman.

Today will be the first major race since two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon was killed in last weekend’s IndyCar season finale.

League considers more UK games

London — The NFL is considering a plan to have a few teams play regularly in Britain to build an overseas following — part of the league’s evaluation of whether a franchise could be permanently based in London.

Commissioner Roger Goodell said Saturday the league is looking into whether such a scenario would “advance our cause here by growing the fan base quicker.” He is talking to several teams about becoming regulars in the British capital, a development he thinks would be “very powerful and lead us to what we ultimately would like to do — have a franchise here in London.”

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are making their second trip in three years to Wembley to play the Chicago Bears on Sunday. It is the fifth regular-season game held in London since 2007.

The league decided this month to keep playing in London through at least 2016, with an aim to play at least two games a year.

Goodell said multiple games in Britain could happen as early as next year, and he hopes more teams will agree to make regular trips.


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