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Revolution playmaker Carles Gil named MLS MVP

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Revolution playmaker Carles Gil named MLS MVP

The MLS electorate is diverse by design but it spoke with one voice in favor of New England Revolution midfielder Carles Gil.

The Revs’ star was presented with the Landon Donovan MLS Most Valuable Player Award on Tuesday afternoon during a ceremony inside the Optum Field Lounge at Gillette Stadium.

The event was hosted by former Revolution striker Taylor Twellman, an ESPN soccer analyst who won the award with New England in 2005, and Revolution owner Robert Kraft, team president Brian Bilello and sporting director and head coach Bruce Arena participated in the presentation.

Gil was accompanied by his wife Maria and the proceedings included video highlights of his big plays from the Revolution’s historic 2021 regular season, which saw the team win its first Supporters Shield with an MLS record 73 points.

The Landon Donovan recipient is selected by an electorate of current MLS players, club technical staff members and the media, and Gil won each faction in a landslide. With 37% of the players’ vote, he was the only one to reach double digits. Gil also got 57.6% of the vote from club officials and 61.6% from the media. Nashville’s Hany Mukhtar, Seattle’s Joao Paulo, Sporting Kansas City’s Daniel Salloi and Valentin Castellanos of New York City FC rounded out the top five.

“The award is voted on by really three groups,” said Bilello. “It is the players, sporting staffs from the different clubs and the media that covers soccer in our country and Carles won all three of those votes running away.

“Whether it is Carles’ peers, whether it is his foes or the media which covers the teams, all of them unanimously chose Carles as their MVP for the season.”

Gil had the numbers to win over the undecideds. The 29-year-old Spaniard led MLS in several significant offensive categories including 18 assists, an MLS record 130 chances created, 25 big chances created, 81 chances created in open play and 49 chances created from set pieces.

The Revolution were 10-2-4 when Gil scored a goal, 22-0-7 when he recorded an assist and 5-0-1 when he had a goal and an assist. Great playmakers need finishers and Gil had his choice of three phenomenal international goal scorers in Adam Buksa (Poland), Gustavo Bou (Argentina) and Tajon Buchanan (Canada).

Buksa led the team with 16 goals in the regular season while Bou was tied for fourth in MLS with 24 combined goals and assists. Buchanan had eight goals and five assists in 27 games. Bou and Buchanan were Gil’s targets in open play while Buksa was his header of choice on set pieces.

Buksa and Bou were the goal scorers in the Revs’ 2-2 shootout loss (5-3) to NYCFC in the MLS Cup Eastern Conference semifinal on Nov. 30 at Gillette Stadium.

“It is a pleasure to play with those types of players and all of them really are incredible to me,” said Gil, who showed emotion during his acceptance speech.

“They make my role easier with the guys we have up top. Adam has a great game in the air and can capitalize on those passes and Gustavo and Tajon are incredible players.”

Arena, who was named MLS Coach of the Year, has a unique perspective on the award as he has coached Gil for parts of three seasons and Donovan over seven campaigns (2008-2014) with the LA Galaxy. While Donovan was a finishing forward and Gil creates scoring chances in the midfield and on set pieces, they were both impact players in their own right according to Arena.

“Landon was goal scorer and Carles is a supplier of goals,” said Arena. “They are both outstanding players and obviously their value to their teams were great and are great. They are different players for sure. But they are two outstanding players for sure.”

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Man and dog die after being shot in Fenton on Sunday

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Man and dog die after being shot in Fenton on Sunday

FENTON, Mo. – A man and a dog have died after they were shot Sunday in St. Louis County.

Police said the shooting happened at about 3:25 p.m. in the 600 block of Greenhurst Court. When officers arrived, they found 25-year-old Austin Vines and a dog suffering from gunshot wounds. Vines was taken to the hospital for medical treatment, but has since died. The dog has also died from the gunshot injury.

St. Louis County Police Department Crimes Against Persons detectives are investigating this homicide. Contact the St. Louis County Police Department at 636-529-8210 to speak to investigators if you have any information regarding the incident. To remain anonymous or potentially receive a reward, contact CrimeStoppers at 1-866-371-TIPS (8477).

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White House: Texas hostage-taker not in terror database

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Texas synagogue hostage-taker had stayed in area shelters

By JAMIE STENGLE, JAKE BLEIBERG and ERIC TUCKER

COLLEYVILLE, Texas (AP) — The gunman who took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue in a 10-hour standoff that ended in his death was checked against law enforcement databases before entering the U.S. but raised no red flags, the White House said Tuesday.

Malik Faisal Akram, a 44-year-old British citizen, arrived in the U.S. at Kennedy Airport in New York about two weeks ago, a law enforcement official said. He spent time in Dallas-area homeless shelters before the attack Saturday in the suburb of Colleyville.

British media, including the Guardian, reported Tuesday that Akram was investigated by the domestic intelligence service MI5 as a possible “terrorist threat” in 2020, but the investigation was closed after authorities concluded he posed no threat.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Akram appears not to have set off any alarms in U.S. terrorism databases when he entered the country.

“Our understanding, and obviously we’re still looking into this, is that he was checked against U.S. government databases multiple times prior to entering the country, and the U.S. government did not have any derogatory information about the individual in our systems at the time of entry,” Psaki said.

She added: “We’re certainly looking back … what occurred to learn every possible lesson we can to prevent attacks like this in the future.”

The standoff in Colleyville, a city of about 26,000 people 30 miles (48 kilometers) northwest of Dallas, ended after the last of the hostages ran out of the synagogue and an FBI SWAT team rushed in. Akram was killed, but authorities have declined to say who shot him, saying it was still under investigation.

President Joe Biden called the episode an act of terror.

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who was among the hostages, told “ CBS Mornings” that he had let Akram into Congregation Beth Israel on Saturday morning because he appeared to need shelter.

Cytron-Walker said the man wasn’t threatening or suspicious at first, but later he heard a gun click as he was praying.

One hostage was released hours later, and the rabbi and two others later escaped after Cytron-Walker threw a chair at the gunman.

During the standoff, Akram could be heard on a Facebook livestream demanding the release of Aafia Siddiqui, a Pakistani neuroscientist who is suspected of having ties to al-Qaida and was convicted of trying to kill U.S. Army officers in Afghanistan. The prison where Siddiqui is serving her sentence is in nearby Fort Worth.

An attorney in Texas who represents Siddiqui said the prisoner had no connection to Akram.

The investigation stretched to England, where over the weekend police announced that two teenagers were in custody in connection with the standoff. The teenagers are Akram’s sons, two U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press. The officials were not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

On Tuesday, police in Britain said the teenagers had been released without charge. They were detained in Manchester, about 30 miles from Akram’s hometown of Blackburn.

Akram’s family said he had been “suffering from mental health issues.”

Federal investigators believe Akram bought the handgun used in the hostage-taking in a private sale, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still going on.

___

Stengle reported from Dallas and Tucker reported from Washington. Also contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Paul J. Weber and Acacia Coronado in Austin; Michael Balsamo in Washington; and Danica Kirka and Sylvia Hui in London.

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

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Becky Hammon: It was easy decision to leave NBA, return to WNBA

Becky Hammon said she has always followed her heart and not worried about what other people think of her career decisions.

There were concerns when she chose to play at Colorado State instead of a bigger school. There was backlash about her playing for Russia in the Olympics and now she has heard rumblings about leaving the NBA and coach the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

“My heart was saying it was time to go. This is where I am supposed to be right now,” she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “There were a lot of sleepless nights getting to this conclusion.”

She spent eight years as an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs becoming the first fulltime female coach in NBA history. She learned from one of the NBA’s best in Gregg Popovich and now feels it is time to for a different path, so she pivoted to the WNBA, where she played for many years.

“Las Vegas sees me as a head coach now,” she said. “The WNBA has called every year with job openings. … I’ve always said thank you I’m very flattered, but stayed on this path. This was first time where I was like I’ll listen.” ”

She’s proud of her still–being-written legacy as a trailblazer, having interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs. But for now, her dream of becoming the first woman to lead an NBA team is on hold.

“Women are getting hired in all sorts of positions now. Not just the NBA, but across professional sports leagues,” she said. “For anyone to say the needle hasn’t moved is wrong. The process (interviewing) in Portland moved the needle. It was a great process for me.”

Hammon has heard the outside noise that taking the WNBA job is a step down and she takes umbrage with any who believes it.

“I think it’s an ignorant statement. To think I’ve outgrown the WNBA in a coaching capacity is ridiculous,” she said. “I’d rather be a coach in the WNBA and have my own organization and be running a team.”

There are still a half dozen women assistant coaches in the NBA. Hammon’s resume jas earned her plenty of respect: A person familiar with her contract says she will be the WNBA’s highest-paid coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the deal has not been publicly announced, and they are still unclear.

“It’s a great opportunity to have a head coaching job at that level.,” Popovich said. “To prove herself. She’s already proven herself to me, but that doesn’t matter in the long run. She’s interviewed for a few jobs in the NBA, and she’s more than qualified and would have done a great job.”

Hammon will be pulling double-duty for the next few months until the Spurs’ season is over. One of the first things that she’ll have to do is hire her own coaching staff. She’s begun calling Aces’ players to get to know them.

“Right now I’m reaching out to all the players on the roster,” she said. “Establish a relationship with them and talk a little bit about roles what we’re doing offensively and defensively.”

The Aces finished with the second-best record in the WNBA last season at 24-8 before falling to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. The franchise, looking for its first WNBA title, has a solid core led by former MVP A’ja Wilson.

Hammon was coy about what her on-court philosophy will be, only saying that the team which was last in 3-pointers attempted will definitely shoot more this season. The 44-year-old former WNBA player says she just wants to coach for now and not worry about being the team’s general manager.

“Down the road we’ll talk. I just want to coach. That’s it. Get out there, get with the players,” Hammon said. “Get in the foxhole with each other.”

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