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‘Now I got to clean up your mess’: How a father’s words sparked the Lomachenko-Lopez feud

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Teofimo Lopez Sr. was in a hotel lobby in New York City in December 2018. The world didn’t know it yet, but when he ran into Vasiliy Lomachenko — the two-time Olympic gold medalist, three-division world titlist and boxing’s pound-for-pound king — and extended his hand, Lopez’s plan for his son was already in motion.

Lomachenko stared at Lopez, and, as the father explained to Mark Kriegel last year, that look sent a message.

I’m better than you. Your son is not at my level.

But Lopez Jr.’s success was telling a different story. After starting his professional career in 2016 by racking up some impressive wins, he promised to “take over” boxing and laid out his path for making that happen — by defeating Lomachenko.

The Lopez family has been calling out Lomachenko for the past two years, predicting victory. On Saturday night, predictions and callouts will yield to one of the must-see fights of 2020 as Lopez faces Lomachenko in Las Vegas. Here’s a look at how Lopez earned his shot against Lomachenko, and the knockouts and banter that paved the way.


Oct. 10, 2016: Top Rank signs Teofimo Lopez Jr. to a multiyear promotional contract.

“I think this kid is a real talent,” Top Rank founder and CEO Bob Arum tells ESPN at the time. “The [matchmakers] are really high on him. He’s a real strong kid and has a really big future as a professional. He’s a good fighter.”

Lopez, 19 at the time, is already comparing himself to some of the greats.

“I’m an entertainer — got to entertain,” Lopez says. “My style — I’m technical, very technical. I’m very smart when I’m in the ring, like Albert Einstein. I’m like a Sugar Ray [Leonard], Floyd Mayweather. I’m a boxer, but if the knockout comes, it comes.”


Feb. 1, 2018: Lopez introduces the slogan “The Takeover” on Instagram ahead of his fight on Feb. 3, 2018, against Juan Pablo Sanchez in Corpus Christi, Texas. Lopez went on to win an six-round unanimous decision in his eighth pro fight.


May 12, 2018: Lopez continues The Takeover with a first-round KO of Vitor Freitas. Lopez celebrates the victory with the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite. The fight is on the Lomachenko-Jorge Linares undercard at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, and the talk about a possible fight between Lopez and Lomachenko begins.

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Teofimo Lopez Jr. lands a grazing right hand that sends Vitor Freitas to the canvas, and he uses the “Take the L” dance from Fortnite.

“I love this. I live for this,” Lopez says. “I told you guys that this is ‘The Takeover.’ I’ve been training hard, and I’m always ready to put on a show for all the fans. I have the power to hurt people. I’m not here to play.”


July 14, 2018: Lopez scores another impressive TKO victory, this time against William Silva in Round 6.

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Teofimo Lopez throws a flurry of punches at William Silva in the sixth round, knocks him to the ground to improve to 10-0 and celebrates in style.

“Man, what can I say? I told you I was going to take over,” Lopez says during the postfight interview.

Lopez fractures his hand during the fight and undergoes surgery afterward.


Early December 2018: A couple of nights before Lopez is scheduled to fight Mason Menard at Madison Square Garden, Lopez Sr. tells Mark Kriegel about running into Lomachenko in the hallway of the hotel where both fighters are staying.

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Teofimo Lopez describes his mentality in the ring and backing up his father’s words.

“How you doing, Lomachenko?” Lopez Sr. says, offering his hand.

But then Lomachenko gives him that look.

Lopez Sr. starts screaming, cursing, making a scene.

“Yo, you ain’t gonna do nothing. We coming for you. F— you! Come Saturday we’re gonna steal the show!”

It upsets Teofimo when his father tells him. He can see Lomachenko, boxing royalty, disrespecting his father without having to say a word. It pisses him off, Lopez Jr. explains to Kriegel. Then again, his dad pisses him off, too.

“Why would you do that?” Teofimo says he thought. “Now I got to clean up your mess.”


Dec. 8, 2018: With his son fighting on the Lomachenko-Jose Pedraza undercard at the Hulu Theater, the elder Lopez tells Kriegel he is feeling the heat from Top Rank for insulting Lomachenko. Senior pulls his son aside before the walkout. “We gotta do something great,” he says. “You gotta look spectacular.”

Teofimo kisses his father on the cheek. “I got you, Dad. I’m always gonna have your back.”

Lopez scores an eye-opening first-round KO of Mason Menard in just 44 seconds. After the victory, he promises to win a world title in 2019.

“2019, it is ‘The Takeover,'” Lopez Jr. says. “‘The Takeover’ has begun. In 2019 you will see me with a strap that says world’s champion. We’re in the stage of my career where we can change boxing and bring it back. You all haven’t seen anything like me in a long time.”

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Teofimo Lopez knocks out Mason Menard with a brutal right hand, then dons a Kyler Murray jersey and does the Heisman pose.

Says Lopez Sr.: “It was like God spoke to me again.”

Father and son watch the main event from a lounge in the Garden. Lomachenko — still recovering from shoulder surgery — goes the distance to beat Pedraza.

Teofimo turns to his father. “Dad,” he said, “You got in his head.”

Later in the month, ESPN names Teofimo its 2018 prospect of the year.


Feb. 2, 2019: Lopez continues his takeover with an impressive seventh-round knockout of Diego Magdaleno at The Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.

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Teofimo Lopez takes it to Diego Magdaleno with a knockdown in the sixth round, and a crushing knockout in the seventh round to finish the fight.

“Teofimo Lopez, whether you hate him or you like him, you’re still going to watch him,” Lopez Jr. says. “What I’m doing right now is entertaining. [In] 2019, we’re ready right now [to fight for a world title]. We have to work in the gym. There’s always room for perfection.”


Feb 19, 2019: Lopez tells Max Kellerman that he wants to face the world titleholders.

“If [the fight with Lomachenko] happens, it happens,” the boxer says. “What we are looking for is a world title. Who has a world title right now, Lomachenko has a world title, Richard Commey, he has a world title, Mikey Garcia has a world title, but he’s at 147 right now. … We are here to fight the world champions, we are here to win the world title, it doesn’t matter who it is.”

Lopez also tells Kellerman that Lomachenko is predictable.

“I feel like [Lomachenko] does the same thing over and over again when it comes to footwork, moving to the same side. There’s three or four ways to beat Lomachenko. … But I can’t say.”


April 12, 2019: Lomachenko beats Anthony Crolla, and at the postfight news conference Lomachenko is asked who would be the most difficult to fight and in what order, among Garcia, Lopez and Luke Campbell.

Lomachenko says: “I think the [hardest] will be Campbell, second place is Mikey and … second Mikey,” ignoring Lopez completely.

After the fight, Lopez’s father told FightHype.com: “[Lomachenko’s performance was] terrible, terrible, to me. When we throw jabs, we throw jabs to kill you. Anybody that throws jabs like [Lomachenko throws], I don’t really like it. Everybody is looking for a great performance, and what you got to bring into a great performance, you better bring a thrill, you know, and everybody was just quiet throughout the whole performance. He knocked the dude out, but you got to go in there, not respect Lomachenko. You got to go in there and try to take the fight off him. … My son goes in there, you know, to whup your ass, he does it from the beginning. We are not gonna let Lomachenko just do anything like that.”

Asked about how they are going to get a fight with Lomachenko, Lopez Sr. says they are going to get a win by KO in a title fight and then go for Lomachenko to complete The Takeover.

“We are fighting in a co-main event on pay-per-view, which I don’t remember Lomachenko being in any pay-per-view card,” Lopez Sr. says. “My son only has 12 fights, and in his 13th fight we are in the co-main event of a big card, which is the [Terence] Crawford-[Amir] Khan fight in New York City, which is the best scenario, I mean, knock the guy out, in New York, like he’s always done. He’s been in New York five times already, five knockouts. It’s gonna be the sixth knockout in New York, and we are just gonna make it devastating and entertaining, like what everybody wants, you know.

“Lomachenko said he doesn’t want to fight my son unless he has a belt, so we are going to bring the belt, and then you know what you are gonna see? You are gonna see him drop to 130 because he’s scared of my son, and I know that already. … My son is going to take this guy [Lomachenko] out in less than three rounds.”


April 19, 2019: Lopez shows confidence ahead of his fight against Edis Tatli, telling ESPN’s Mark Kriegel he’s the best fighter in the world.

“You guys haven’t seen nothing yet.”

When asked who’s the best fighter in the world between himself, Crawford and Lomachenko, Lopez gives an emphatic, “Me, because I am. I’m just that great — people coming to see me.”

When Kriegel asks Lopez what is going to happen in the fight with Tatli, Lopez predicts what actually takes place.

“What you guys are gonna see is not just speed, power, but ring IQ,” he says. “That’s the whole thing: I’m a technician when I’m in there. It’s all about entertainment, man, watch the celebration, the Fortnite dances, everything coming together, and finishing with a backflip and calling it a night.”


April 20, 2019: Lopez demolishes Tatli in a fifth-round KO on the Crawford-Khan undercard, and two days after the fight he posts on Instagram: “We came, We saw, We conquered! #TheTakeover”

“I want a world title shot next. That’s what I want. We promised to take over the show, and once again, I took it over,” Lopez says after the fight. “I’m ready for [world titlist] Richard Commey or the [potentially vacant] WBC title. As long as it’s for a title, I am ready to go. No one can take my power.”


June 29, 2019: Knowing he needs to win a world title to solidify the idea of fighting Lomachenko, Lopez posts a photo of himself with then-potential opponent Commey with the caption reading, in part: “See you soon.”


July 16, 2019: Lopez and his father are guests on the 3 Knockdown Rule podcast, hosted by Mario Lopez and Steve Kim. Teofimo Lopez Sr. calls Lomachenko “terrible” once again.

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Vasiliy Lomachenko and Teofimo Lopez were each raised very differently by their fathers.

“Everybody glorifies this guy, and that’s one thing that [Teofimo] doesn’t understand. The guy [Lomachenko] is terrible,” Lopez Sr. says. “We’re going to take this guy out in less than three rounds, I’ll say it right now.”

Lopez Jr. isn’t too complimentary of Lomachenko either.

“He had a huge amateur background, he has a huge amateur pedigree and all that stuff,” he says. “He paved the way. Don’t get me wrong. You can’t take that away. But it’s the fact that, did anybody really know him as much as they do now? No. It’s because we mentioned him and everything like that, and we’re hot now.”

Added Lopez Sr.: “He hasn’t done nothing.”

Lopez Jr. is days away from facing Masayoshi Nakatani, but he and his father keep going at Lomachenko, trying to get the fight done.

“People want to see this fight, and they call it a megafight,” Lopez Jr. says during the podcast, as if he’s talking directly to Lomachenko.

“My dude, you’ve been a two-time Olympic gold medalist, multiple weight division champion and all that, yet you still can’t get a pay-per-view fight?”


July 17, 2019: Two days before the Nakatani fight, Lopez Jr. shares with ESPN his three-fight plan, which includes a victory over Nakatani, a fight against Commey for the IBF lightweight title and then Lomachenko in a unification fight.

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Teofimo Lopez is one of boxing’s biggest rising stars, but it doesn’t come without an enormous amount of help from his trainer, his father, Teofimo Lopez Sr.

It ends up being a very accurate plan.

“What I see in my son is the best fighter that ever lived,” Lopez Sr. tells ESPN. “That’s the way I see my son. I will never lie about my son. If my son sucks, he sucks and he wouldn’t be in this sport.”

Lopez Jr. understands what his father is trying to do and doesn’t see it as pressure.

“There’s times … I’m like, dang, he put me in this position,” Lopez Jr. says. “All right, I gotta back him up. … I’m not gonna make nobody make fun of my father.”


July 19, 2019: Lopez wins a unanimous decision over Nakatani, but he doesn’t look good in victory against the tall and lanky fighter. Is he ready for the top fighters at 135 pounds? Is he ready for a title shot?

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Masayoshi Nakatani hits Teofimo Lopez with a right-hand punch, and Lopez answers with a punch of his own. For more Top Rank Boxing, sign up here for ESPN+ https://plus.espn.com/.

“I just need little tuneups. It’s part of the process. I’m thankful right now,” Lopez says after the fight. “It was my first main event. It was 12 rounds. Am I proud of it? No, but I’m proud that I showed everyone I could go 12 rounds.”

Lopez had earned a title shot against Commey, the IBF titleholder. The Takeover was a step closer.


Dec. 14, 2019: An incredible second-round TKO victory over Commey to win his first world title erases every doubt about Lopez’s talent.

One right hand puts Commey down. Lomachenko is next.

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Teofimo Lopez Jr. puts on a Joe Burrow jersey after defeating Richard Commey at MSG in December, similar to when Lopez sported a Kyler Murray jersey in his win the previous December.

“I’m at a loss for words right now. This is a dream come true,” Lopez says after the fight. “[Commey] is a bad man. His shot could’ve done the same to me if he hit me with that shot.

“You all know who I want to fight next — 2020 is going to be a big year. ‘The Takeover’ has arrived, and you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Lomachenko, who is ringside, tells ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna after Lopez’s victory: “Now he’s a world champion. Welcome to my club. I see you in April.”


May 19, 2020: After extended discussions, it is clear that Lomachenko and Lopez have their eyes squarely on each other. There’s nobody else in the picture, and both fighters state they are willing to fight even without fans.

“In talking with Lomachenko and Lopez, neither of them want an interim fight,” Arum said. “So we would plan to do that in September, with or without an audience.”

Lopez Sr. reiterates the desire to go for Lomachenko sooner rather than later.

“One hundred percent,” he says. “We don’t need no tuneups. We are focused with Lomachenko. That’s all we want is Lomachenko.”


July 22, 2020: Lopez Jr. records videos that are posted on Instagram and Twitter in which he calls out Lomachenko and tells him to “bring my belts.”

Aug. 12, 2020: The Lomachenko-Lopez lightweight unification fight is officially announced for Oct. 17 on ESPN.


Aug. 13, 2020: Lopez Sr. predicts a third KO victory for his son, saying that the fight is going to make Teofimo “a superhero.”

It’s not going to even last three rounds,” Lopez Sr. tells ESPN after the fight is announced. “When that monster hits him with the first punch, you’re going to see a hurt dog without no legs. He’s done. The first punch is going to change the whole fight. He’s going to wish he was never in that ring.

“Two years ago, you remember when I started this, you know why? Because that’s what God put in my head. That’s what God put in my head and I know we had to beat him. And let me tell you something … there never had been nobody in the world predict a world championship [for Teofimo] in [just] 15 fights, and then fight Lomachenko in our 16th fight.

“This kid is from another planet, this kid is not normal,” he said of his son.

While Lopez Jr.’s purse for the fight is less because fans aren’t able to attend, Lopez Sr. persuaded his son to take the fight, saying that not making it could have had a long-lasting negative impact on his career.

“I told him, ‘I’ll give you my percentage, bro’, I don’t care about money,” Lopez Sr. recalls. “This is what we did this s— for — for the glory. You can ask for anything you want after this.”

And a victory will go a long way for Lopez’s legacy as well.

“This is the fight that’s going to make my son a superhero,” Lopez Sr. says. “He’s going to be like Superman.”


Sept. 8, 2020: Lopez Jr. says on ESPN’s First Take that he plans to finish Lomachenko.

“Everything that this man does that they say, [making opponents quit], he’s decreasing. … He’s already on his way out, and it’s showing,” Lopez says. “Your body can only take so much, so much damage, and I guarantee you, we are going to put some damage on this man.”


Sept. 29, 2020: Lopez Sr. tells ESPN that through their talk they’ve been able to rattle Lomachenko and that his son will knock him out on Oct. 17.

“Lomachenko doesn’t know what is coming. He is very nervous. I know that we are going to win that fight before my son enters the ring, because that is my job — I have to get inside Lomachenko’s head,” Lopez Sr. says. “He has never spoken well of any boxer and now he says that my son has a high IQ in boxing, and before he did not say that. I know I’m in his head.

“And my son is not the same boxer who beat Commey — he is a boxer who believes more in himself. Destroying Commey, a person that no one has ever knocked out before, a strong boxer, good jaw, and the way we destroyed him gave my son more confidence, even though my son always has the confidence. Lomachenko would never have done that to Commey, ever. That fight would have been won by Lomachenko, of course, but he would have won on points — he would never have knocked him out the way my son did.

“My son got rid of Commey quickly, and that’s what we are gonna do with Lomachenko, as well.

“I already predicted the fight’s not going six rounds, and that’s just the way it’s going to go,” the elder Lopez says. “We’ve been right all these times, and we’re going to be right on this fight, too. There’s no way a 126-pounder is going to beat my son. It’s just impossible.

“[My son] is going to look way better than all the other fights he has fought. This guy Lomachenko, he’s going to make us look good, and I can’t wait. I told everybody the better the fighter is, the easier the fight it’s going to be for us.”


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1:28

Take a look back at Teofimo Lopez’s biggest wins as he fearlessly climbed the ranks and won the IBF lightweight championship.

Oct. 12, 2020: Lopez Jr. says that no matter what his father says, he knows it is because of the confidence he has in him to deliver in the ring.

“I love my father,” Lopez Jr. tells ESPN, “but it isn’t about proving his prophecy. He talks whatever he wants to talk. He made this bigger than it needed to be — I think everyone needs to congratulate him on that part. But really what it is, it’s just that he knows what I’m all about. He talks what he talks, he’s very confident about it because he sees in me what no one else sees in me, yet.”

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Toronto FC hoping to make MLS Cup run having spent much of 2020 far from home

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On a recent Thursday in Hartford, Conn., Toronto FC goalkeeper Quentin Westberg pondered the dichotomy of wanting to reach MLS Cup on Dec. 12, but also desiring to see his family again. Meanwhile, Jim Liston, the team’s director of sports science, was planning a trip to Lowe’s to buy 15 garbage cans so players could have an ice bath after training. As for manager Greg Vanney, he was fretting about his team’s health and the lack of practice time their schedule was affording.

Such is the life of a team as it attempts to not only navigate its way through the COVID-19 pandemic, but has been forced to do it away from home.

Due to travel restrictions between the U.S. and Canada, TFC — like the league’s other two Canadian teams, Montreal Impact and Vancouver Whitecaps — set up a “home” base in the U.S. for the remainder of the season; Toronto were stationed in Hartford. (Vancouver Whitecaps took roost in Portland, ground-sharing with Timbers, while Montreal Impact split use of New York Red Bulls’ facilities in Harrison, N.J.) This was on top of nearly every team spending nearly a month inside a bubble back in July at the MLS is Back Tournament outside Orlando, Florida.

The Reds spent about seven weeks back in Toronto as they played a series of matches against Canadian teams. In mid-September, the remainder of the regular season — and the temporary move to Hartford — beckoned. The vagabond nature of the campaign is what led Liston to joke that he was willing to discuss “whatever five seasons” the team has been through so far. But for Vanney and the players, the campaign has required a special kind of focus.

“A lot of what we’ve done here, and what we try to preach here is just control the controllables, and don’t get too drawn into the things you can’t,” Vanney told ESPN. “Roll with it, and make the best out of whatever the situation is.”

Stream FC Daily on ESPN+
– 2020 MLS Playoffs: Who’s in, schedule and more
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Toronto has largely succeeded in spite of its odyssey. While there was disappointment at missing out on the Supporters’ Shield to the Philadelphia Union, TFC went 7-3-2 during its Hartford sojourn and finished with the second-best record in the league. But the challenges have still been immense. Simply being out of one’s home environment is difficult enough, but the time spent away from family and loved ones weighs heavy on the psyche, even as Vanney has given players the occasional trip back to Toronto — under quarantine — to reconnect with loved ones.

“It’s just very different, very challenging and emotionally exhausting,” Westberg said of his experience while based in Hartford.

Westberg has arguably had it tougher than most. The TFC goalkeeper is married with four children, including a baby girl who was born in June. For that reason, Westberg and his wife, Ania, made the decision at the end of September that it would be better for her and their kids to head back to his native France so they could be surrounded by family. Westberg called it “the least bad decision,” but there are difficulties nonetheless.

“I’m a very even person, and this year has challenged me a lot,” he said. “I’m still pretty even, but I keep a lot to myself and for sure there’s some difficult days, seeing your family [struggle] from your absence.”

The inability to be home has affected the players and staff in other ways. In Toronto, there are ways of disengaging from the game. Being with friends, loved ones or even in familiar surroundings can be the best medicine in terms of forgetting a bad game or training session. But in Hartford, at the team’s hotel, that escape is nearly impossible even as players try to distract themselves by reading or taking online classes.

“You don’t really unplug,” Westberg said. “You FaceTime family, or this or that, but it’s too short. You’re 100 percent focused on your soccer, and your whole day basically relies on being ready for whatever soccer activity that you have next, whether it’s practice or game. It’s good for your physique, it’s optimal for the way you eat and the way you [train]. But mentally, you’re not as fresh as your body.”

That isn’t to say there are only negatives to the separation. There is also an us-against-the-world mentality that Toronto has adopted, given that their players and personnel are experiencing the season in a way that is vastly different than most other teams. The team staff has done what it can to make their surroundings a home away from home, whether it’s personalizing the locker rooms at Rentschler Field or having hotel staff brand the surroundings in TFC colors. The hotel went so far as to bring in a barista who could consistently give the players their coffee fix. Supporters groups have even sent down banners in a bid to convey the fact that the players are remembered.

The care that TFC takes for players has extended to families back home, with the club supplying meals to loved ones three times a week.

On the logistical side, Liston made sure that one of the gyms used at MLS is Back was brought to TFC’s hotel in Hartford, and he remarked that the food at the hotel is “arguably the best we’ve ever had on the road.”

There have also been efforts to create new routines. Assistant coach Jason Bent, aka DJ Soops, has been in charge of the pregame music selection for the past 18 months — no easy feat for a squad that has a considerable international presence. In Hartford, Bent has set aside Thursday nights to spin music in one area of the hotel. He’ll even go live on Instagram or Twitch for those who prefer to relax in their rooms.

“[We] opened it to players and staff and basically anyone that’s part of our bubble to come relax, listen to music and just enjoy each other’s company,” Bent said. “I enjoy making people happy so if it’s helping everyone even in the slightest, I have no problem arranging the set and spinning.”

For Vanney, the pandemic and operating outside of the team’s home market has meant any number of challenges. He said the team has used three different training facilities in Hartford, with varying field conditions. He recognizes that the trips home are vital for the mental health of his players and staff, but any breaks also mean less time spent on the practice field. The compressed schedule, which at times involved games every three or four days, has had an impact as well. Even the best-laid plans in terms of squad rotation were impacted as minor injuries began popping up.

“We end up with a lot of guys in different positions because they need special kinds of treatment or care to help them get fit and back to health,” Vanney said. “So it ends up being a lot of different things kind of going on all at once, and that’s been the challenge of it.”

Recovery from matches has been complicated by the fact that TFC doesn’t have access to the same level of facilities that it does at home — hence Liston’s emergency trip to Lowe’s to fashion impromptu ice baths for the players. Then there are the different ways the players occupy themselves on the road as compared to home, especially amid the pandemic.

“There’s really no life outside of the hotel,” Liston said. “[At home], you may go walk the dog in the afternoon or go for a walk with your wife or friend or girlfriend or family and you’re out and about. The recommendation [here] is to kind of stay put. So you’ve got a really active population and pro athletes, who we’re asking them to be sedentary the rest of the time, kind of stay in the hotel from a COVID and safety standpoint. That’s not optimal for recovery either.”

There are also the creature comforts of home that are no longer available on the road, which can impact sleep.

“Sleep is the number one tool for recovery, and that’s definitely been a challenge,” Liston said. “We do well-being questionnaires and the scores on quality of sleep, and hours of sleep, just drop.”

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Tom Barlow and Brian White seal Toronto’s fate in a 2-1 win for New York Red Bulls. Watch MLS on ESPN+.

Another change has been same-day travel, which has drawn mixed reactions from the TFC players and staff. Vanney and Westberg are generally in favor, saying it reminds them of when they each played in France. Flying back the same night also means a training day isn’t lost. Liston has a different perspective in that he prefers arriving the day before, and then leaving the same day.

“I think [same-day travel] makes for a really long day,” he said. “And there’s definitely a negative impact on performance, taking three bus rides and a plane ride before your game. You’re getting home — it can be 12:30, but it could also be 1:30 in the morning, and that’s where you know our well-being scores and sleep hours and quality just disappear. When you have so many games in succession, you can’t make up the sleep.”

With the playoffs set to begin for TFC on Nov. 24, the end is in sight, even as it makes for a complex — and even conflicting — set of emotions.

“This is the tricky part. I miss them a lot,” Westberg said of his family. “But in a way I want to see them as [late] as possible in December, because obviously, there’s this idea that we want to do well in the playoffs and we want to keep going. TFC has a history of setting high standards and high expectations. It’s a heavy load to carry but also an exciting one.”

Win or lose, it’s a season they’ll never forget.

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Bettman: NHL is mulling temporary realignment

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The NHL is considering a temporary realignment of its teams for the 2020-21 season due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to commissioner Gary Bettman.

Bettman said Tuesday that restrictions on travel across the Canadian border, as well as “limitations in terms of quarantining when you go from certain states to other states” within the United States, could mean the NHL creates a more regionalized alignment for its upcoming season.

“As it relates to the travel issue, which is obviously the great unknown, we may have to temporarily realign to deal with geography, because having some of our teams travel from Florida to California may not make sense. It may be that we’re better off — particularly if we’re playing a reduced schedule, which we’re contemplating — keeping it geographically centric and more divisional-based; and realigning, again on a temporary basis, to deal with the travel issues,” Bettman said during a 2020 Paley International Council Summit panel with fellow commissioners Adam Silver of the NBA and Rob Manfred of MLB.

The NHL board of governors has a meeting scheduled for Thursday which will provide a progress report and possible recommendations for a season format, based on talks between the league and the NHL Players’ Association. The target date for starting next season remains Jan. 1.

Bettman said the league is considering a few scheduling options for the 2020-21 season. Something that’s off the table: playing the entire season in the kind of bubbles the NHL had in Toronto and Edmonton, Alberta, to complete last season. But Bettman said teams opening in their own arenas is a possibility, along with a modified bubble.

“We are exploring the possibility of playing in our own buildings without fans [or] fans where you can, which is going to be an arena-by-arena issue. But we’re also exploring the possibility of a hub. You’ll come in. You’ll play for 10 to 12 days. You’ll play a bunch of games without traveling. You’ll go back, go home for a week, be with your family. We’ll have our testing protocols and all the other things you need,” he said.

Bettman also indicated that the NHL is exploring “a hybrid, where some teams are in a bubble, some teams play at home and you move in and out.”

The NBA’s board of governors unanimously approved a deal with the players’ union that sets the stage for a season that will open on Dec. 22 and with a reduced schedule of 72 games. Silver said that the commissioners are in communication on COVID-19-related issues, especially the NBA and the NHL, since the two leagues’ teams share arenas and, in some cases, team owners.

Silver said he senses that the NBA will have fans in many of its buildings this season.

“We’re probably going to start one way, where we’re maybe a little bit more conservative than many of the jurisdictions allow,” he said. “What we’ve said to our teams is that we’ll continue to work with public health authorities. Arena issues are different than outdoor stadium issues. There will be certain standards for air filtration and air circulation. There may be a different standard for a suite than there will be for fans spaced in seats.”

Silver said there will be standardized protocols that are consistent from arena to arena, such as proximity between players and fans: “In certain cases, for seats near the floor, we’re going to be putting in testing programs, where fans will certify that they’ve been tested — some within 48 hours, some within day of game.” While Silver supported a continued expansion of the NBA postseason through its play-in tournament, Bettman said that he’s not in favor of expanded playoffs or “playing with the fundamentals of the game.” The NHL had 24 teams in its postseason last summer.

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The Battleground States Where We’ve Seen Some Movement In The Polls

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With apologies to The Raconteurs, the presidential race continues to be “steady as she goes,” with little sign of tightening despite a plethora of new polls. FiveThirtyEight’s presidential forecast gives Joe Biden an 89 in 100 shot at winning the election, while President Trump has just an 11 in 100 chance. This makes Biden the favorite, but still leaves open a narrow path to victory for Trump, for whom a reelection win would be surprising — but not utterly shocking.

At the same time, we also have fewer polls from live-caller surveys, which have historically been more accurate and have shown slightly better numbers for Biden, than polls that use other methodologies, such as polls conducted primarily online or through automated telephone calls. Nevertheless, while the overall picture has shifted only a little in recent days, a few battleground states have seen at least some movement in their polls, which has slightly altered the odds Biden or Trump wins in each of those places.

What election stories need to get more coverage | FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast

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