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Beckham exercises option on MLS expansion franchise

Soccer moved a step closer to returning to South Florida on Wednesday when David Beckham confirmed he has exercised his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami. The deal will be finalized when the former English national-team captain can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium.

Beckham attended a news conference with MLS commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County mayor Carlos Gimenez to discuss their progress.

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The retired soccer icon has scouted possible stadium sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as construction and player acquisitions. Among those who might become involved is Miami Heat star LeBron James, who has had recent conversations with Beckham about bringing a team to Miami.

New teams have been announced for 2015 in New York City and Orlando, Fla., increasing the league’s total to 21. Beckham declined to offer a timetable regarding when Miami might play its first game, but a likely target is 2017.

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo was suspended for three Spanish league games for receiving a red card and then making a mocking gesture toward the match officials during a game at Athletic Bilbao.

Ronaldo, however, was available to play in the Copa del Rey semifinal against Atletico Madrid that started Wednesday. Real beat the defending champions 3-0 to extend its unbeaten streak to 22 games and end Atletico’s unbeaten run at 23 matches.

In the other semifinal, Barcelona won 2-0 at home against Real Sociedad.


Schilling reveals he has cancer

Former star pitcher turned television analyst Curt Schilling, 47, announced that he is battling cancer. Schilling, who spent 20 years in the major leagues before retiring in 2009, did not indicate what type of cancer he has, when he was diagnosed or what his prognosis might be.

ESPN said Schilling is taking a leave of absence. He recently signed a multiyear contract extension with the network and was to be part of the “Sunday Night Baseball” broadcast team.


CBS gets Thursday night games

The NFL announced that CBS won the bid to air Thursday night games during the first eight weeks of the season, simulcasting them with the NFL Network. The league’s cable network will show six Thursday night games alone later in the season. Two Saturday games are included in the deal, but it is unclear whether they will be on CBS or the NFL Network.

The NFL said the contract is for one year, and the league has an option to extend it for 2015. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Matt Cassel will void the 2014 option on his contract and become a free agent, a person familiar with his decision told The Associated Press. He was set to make $3.7 million this year.


Johnson’s group buys Sparks

Former Lakers great Magic Johnson is part of a group buying the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and keeping league MVP Candace Parker and the team in L.A.

Johnson is joined in the ownership group by Mark Walter, the controlling owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and co-owners Todd L. Boehly, Robert L. Patton and Stan Kasten. The WNBA and NBA Board of Governors unanimously approved the purchase of the Sparks by the new ownership group.

Previous Sparks owner Paula Madison said her family had lost $12 million, including $1.4 million last season, operating the franchise since buying it from the Buss family in 2007.

Corey Crawford made 29 saves in his first shutout of the season and the Chicago Blackhawks pulled within one point of host Anaheim for the overall NHL lead with a 2-0 victory over the Ducks.

Marian Hossa scored in the second period and captain Jonathan Toews added a late goal for the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, who improved to 3-0-2 on their six-game trip before the Olympic break.

Jonas Hiller stopped 23 shots for the Ducks, who have lost four of five. Anaheim also has lost four of its past seven home games after starting the season 20-0-2 at Honda Center.

The two teams had 15 combined Olympians on the Honda Center ice, including five key members of the Canadian team headed to Sochi.


Louise Brough Clapp, whose powerful serve-and-volley game propelled her to 35 championships in Grand Slam tournaments of the 1940s and ’50s and made her one of the most brilliant doubles players in women’s tennis, died Monday in Vista, Calif. She was 90. The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., announced her death.

• The San Diego Padres said left-hander Cory Luebke will need a second reconstructive elbow surgery and will miss the 2014 season.

• The Texas Rangers reached a 10-year deal to immediately change the name of their 20-year-old stadium to Globe Life Park in Arlington. Financial terms weren’t disclosed.

• The U.S. women’s soccer team will play Japan, Sweden and Denmark in Group B of the Algarve Cup in Portugal next month. Sweden is coached by former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage.

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