“Yeah, I saw it,” Crawford said. “The fans are unbelievable. The fans truly are unbelievable. I mean, when I’m in the game and I see that one person that has No. 11 on and the one person that’s rooting for me, that’s the thing you kind of, not kind of, but … not that you necessarily play for it but, you know what I mean? It’s like, you really appreciate it.”Rivers candidly talks defenseClippers coach Doc Rivers typically practices diplomacy when talking about his team. Certainly, he’s no Phil Jackson, who was quite the opposite during his coaching days with the Lakers.But Rivers was very forthcoming this week when he was asked about the defensive play of his team. The Clippers in 2013-14 allowed 101 points per game, 14th in the league. This season they are allowing 100.7 points. That’s a tad less, but it ranks them 21st, tied with Toronto.Rivers believes his defense was superior in ‘13-’14. “I think we were better last year defensively,” he said. “I think we’re a better offensive team this year, but I think we’re worse defensively. And what I do like, in certain games, there has been proof that we can be a really good defensive team. And I just don’t like how inconsistent we’ve been defensively.“I don’t know if we’re overall worse or better, but I know we’re far more inconsistent defensively this year than we were last year.”Rivers pointed to the 110-95 victory on Feb. 11 over Houston as proof of his team’s defensive capabilities. The Rockets shot just 39.1 percent from the field. Even worse, the Clippers harassed them into a 9-for-45 (20 percent) performance from 3-point range. And that was without the services of the injured Blake Griffin.“They’re a great offensive team and we took their 3s away, so we’ve proven it,” Rivers said. “But we have not been consistent with it and that’s a concern.”Griffin: This is not an injuryGriffin sustained a broken left knee cap in the final game of the 2009-10 exhibition season and missed all of what was supposed to be his rookie season. He had played in all but four regular-season games the next four-plus seasons until missing the past three games with a staph infection in his right elbow that required surgery.Interestingly, Griffin doesn’t call this an injury.“That was an injury,” he said of the broken knee cap. “I wouldn’t really call this an injury. This is an unfortunate timing thing, an infection. I guess it’s a serious thing, like I said. But not really injured.“That’s kind of what hurts the most about it, having to miss time like this for that. But to miss eight, 10, 12 games is nothing compared to 82.”Griffin figures to a minimum of 12 games with this non-injury injury. When Jamal Crawford saw a group of reporters heading his way in the Clippers’ locker room before their game Thursday against San Antonio, he had some fun.“I thought I got traded,” he joked, alluding to the rush toward him as soon as the locker room was opened.Crawford, the Clippers’ valuable and popular sixth man, was again mentioned in trade rumors as the NBA trading deadline neared and passed Thursday afternoon without the Clippers making a move. It’s been a regular occurrence for Crawford during much of his fine career.More than anything, Crawford expressed appreciation at the outpouring of support he witnessed on Twitter from fans who were peeved that his name was even being mentioned. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error
LAS VEGAS — The greatest male and female mixed martial artists in the world retained their respective titles — albeit in vastly different ways — while another fighter stole the show with a record-breaking knockout in front of 18,358 fans at UFC 239 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV.Jon Jones decided to play with fire against 7-to-1 underdog Thiago Santos and nearly saw his UFC light heavyweight title go to the challenger when he escaped with a split decision victory. Jones deployed a peculiar strategy that saw him stay away from his strengths in an effort to beat Santos at his own game of striking. He never once attempted a takedown and refused to attack the Brazilian’s damaged leg. But Santos proved to be far more dangerous than Jones anticipated. Jones, the man widely recognized as the greatest mixed martial artists to ever live, has always enjoyed playing into his opponents strengths to embarass them. However, Santos’ esteemed striking and ability to remain technically sound under pressure may have caught the champion off guard. Join DAZN and watch more than 100 fight nights a yearThe opening round saw Santos aggressively fight off Jones’ advances as the champion sought to close the distance. Jones chopped at the leg and cut loose shots to the body in an effort to take the steam out of Santos’ attack. As the rounds progressed, Santos wore down from the leg kicks while his gas tank seemingly betrayed him. Jones managed to drop Santos on two occasions. A short elbow in the third round sent Santos to the canvas, but Jones was unable to finish the job. A head kick in the fourth nearly put the former middleweight away. But, again, Santos refused to stay down and fought back. It appeared that Jones could have finished the job at any point with a simple takedown or cranking up the pressure on the leg kicks, but Jones proved to be stubborn and ended up narrowly escaping with two scores of 48-47, while a third judge gave the fight to Santos with a score of 48-47. In the co-main event, Amanda Nunes polished off the last of the women who have held the UFC women’s bantamweight title as she knocked out Holly Holm in the first round of their championship tilt. The highly anticipated showdown between the two women who stopped Ronda Rousey was a tentative affair early on as Holm and Nunes feinted in an effort to force the other to make a mistake. Surprisingly, it would be Holm who would blink and Nunes unleashed a hellacious head kick that sank Holm. A follow-up right hand put the exclamation point on the fight as “The Lioness” has now effectively cleaned out the division and staked her claim as the greatest woman to ever compete in mixed martial arts. But the highlight of the night went to Jorge Masvidal, who entered his blood feud with Ben Askren looking to shut the mouth of the undefeated fighter they call “Funky.”Everyone expected it to be a showdown between a highly decorated wrestler and an exceptional striker. However, few could have possibly predicted how the fight would play out. Two seconds into the fight, Askren shot for Masvidal’s legs and was met with a brutal flying knee that turned the lights out on the former Olympian. If it weren’t for the referee being in shock, the official time would have been less than the record five-second knockout that Masvidal recorded. Nevertheless, the UFC record for fastest knockout was broken against a man who had never lost in MMA. A stunning finish that will likely set up Masvidal for a future title opportunity. (All times Eastern.)UFC 239 live updates, resultsJon Jones retains with narrow split decision victory over Thiago Santos12:48 a.m.: The boos fill up the arena as the scores are read 48-47, 48-47 and 47-48 to give Jones a split decision. Jones controlled the Octagon, but allowed Santos to hang around while his stubborness to beat Santos at his own game nearly cost him his title. The fans aren’t pleased, but Jon Jones is still your UFC light heavyweight champion. Round 5 (12:42 a.m.): It’s obvious that Jones is trying to beat Santos at his own game by scoring a knockout. He refuses to attack Santos’ weaknesses and tried to find a single shot to end the fight. He didn’t and actually gave the final round away. He should retain, but this is a dangerous game to play when the decision is up to the judges. Let’s see what they have to say … Round 4 (12:36 a.m.): Jones has been looking for the knockout, but can’t seem to find an opening. You have to wonder if judges will find a few rounds to give Santos to make this interesting. Santos is on a bad wheel and unable to move, but Jones hasn’t sought a takedown or chopped at the leg. Still in control. 10-9 Jones.Round 3 (12:29 a.m.): Santos had success until he ran into a short elbow that nearly put him out. Santos ate a few head kicks and was chopped down. Jones barely misses a flying knee but it’s clear that Santos is wounded and desperate. 10-9 Jones. Round 2 (12:23 a.m.): Jones landed a huge head kick that dropped Santos, but Santos refused to wilt, popped back up and continued the fight. Santos did well with striking, but Jones is looking to wear him down. 10-9 JonesRound 1 (12:16 a.m.): A closer round than many would have expected. Santos landed several leg kicks and a two-punch combination, but Jones was the aggressor and controls the distance with the oblique kick. A spinning roundhouse at the end may have given Jones the round. 10-9 Jones. 12:00 a.m.: A trio of vicious knockouts have had us on the edge of our seats and now we have one last fight to go as Jon Jones will defend his UFC light heavyweight championship against the heavy-handed Thiago Santos. Will we get one more exciting finish?Amanda Nunes retains title with wicked head kick knockout of Holly HolmRound 1 (11:45 p.m.): For the first four minutes, it was a high energy game of feints and counters. Holm and Nunes danced a dangerous dance as Holm waited for Nunes’ aggression to get the best of her. Instead, a feint by Nunes caused just a small bit of hesitation from Holm, which caused her to drop her hand. Nunes immediately launched a head kick that connected with Holm flush and sent her careening to the canvas. A vicious right hand soon followed and it was all over at the 4:10 mark. Is there any doubt who the best female fighter in the world is? Nunes has staked her claim as the GOAT. Unbelievable. What is going on at #UFC239 tonight?!Amanda Nunes with the KO on Holly Holm in Round 1!pic.twitter.com/4Pue0axUf8— Sporting News Fights (@sn_fights) July 7, 2019 11:30 p.m.: The arena is still buzzing from Masvidal’s stunning knockout, but it is time for the co-main event as Amanda Nunes looks to defend her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Holly Holm. Should Holm win, she’ll be the first two-time champion in UFC women’s history. But if Nunes wins, she will have knocked off every woman who has held the title in her weight class. Jorge Masvidal scores fastest knockout in UFC history with brutal flying knee against Ben Askren11:20 p.m.: All it took was five seconds. Ben Askren came into this fight undefeated and sought to prove he was one of the best fighters in the world. Masvidal knew exactly what the Olympic wrestler wanted to do and launched a flying knee as soon as the fight started. The knee connected and Askren was out. If the referee had got in there sooner, the finish would have been in just two seconds. An absolutely unreal finish that will certainly thrust Masvidal into title contention. 11:09 p.m.: Ben Askren and Jorge Masvidal will end what has escalated into a blood feud over the past few months. Askren remains undefeated and is looking to inch closer to a title shot while Masvidal is also closing in a title opportunity. It’s obvious that these two don’t like each other, but who will see their hand raised in victory?Jan Blachowicz obliterates Luke Rockhold with brutal second-round KO11:01 p.m.: A left hook from Jan Blachowicz completely short-circuited Luke Rockhold in the second round and proved that Rockhold may not quite be fit for 205 pounds. Rockhold had an impressive first round where he mixed his striking and his wrestling. But there was a kick that landed at the end of the first round that clearly hurt Rockhold. Without being fully recovered, Rockhold tried to go after Blachowicz in the opening minute of the second frame. That proved to be bad for business considering that Rockhold was at a clear strength disadvantage and found himself on the wrong end of an absolutely brutal short left hook. Time of stopage was 1:39. JAN BLACHOWICZ!!!! #UFC239 pic.twitter.com/d6Rx1KpsGT— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2019 10:45 p.m.: Up next is Luke Rockhold making his debut as a light heavyweight against Jan Blachowicz. An impressive win here for Rockhold could fast track him to a title shot against Jon Jones. Being Daniel Cormier’s teammate and the lack of contenders at 205 gives a Jones-Rockhold an interesting narrative. But first, he must take care of business against Blachowicz. Michael Chiesa outworks Diego Sanchez for unanimous decision10:40 p.m.: This fight was all Chiesa from the opening bell as the bigger, younger and stronger fighter was simply too much for the aging veteran. But Sanchez managed to not get stopped or submitted and will certainly live to fight another day. Chiesa’s grappling was excellent as he neutralized everything that Sanchez tried to offer. For what it’s worth, Sanchez proved to be a slippery veteran and found escape routes whenever Chiesa threatened to submit him. Nevertheless, the 30-26 scores were justified as Chiesa seeks a top 10 opponent. 10:30 p.m.: After two rounds, Michael Chiesa is beating up Diego Sanchez. But it’s far different than the Melendez-Arnold fight earlier when Melendez was nothing but a shell of himself. Sanchez is fighting with a ton of heart and cardio. On more than one occassion, Sanchez looked like he was going to get choked out. But “The Dream” managed to escape as the crowd erupted. One round left in this one. 10:13 p.m.: It’s time to get started with the PPV portion of UFC 239 as Michael Chiesa and Diego Sanchez prepare for a battle of “The Ultimate Fighter” winners. Sanchez won season one while Chiesa was the victor in season 15. Sanchez recently left Jackson Wink and has been bouncing around. He’s being cornered by one man tonight rather than the usual team that accompanies a fighter to the cage. All of this is intriguing. 9:58 p.m.: Arnold Allen beat Gilbert Melendez by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27 & 30-27), but the real story was how bad “El Nino” looked in this three-round affair. He was sluggish, unable to land anything of significance and it’s time we wonder if Melendez should consider calling it a career. This will be his fifth consecutive loss in the UFC. For what it’s worth, he managed to survive, but it’s dangerous for him to keep trotting out there and putting himself at risk. 9:32 p.m.: It appears that Nate Diaz has immediately found himself in a bit of a skirmish. Shortly after taking his seat, a dustup happened that appeared to be with Khabib Nurmagomedov, who was seated just a few feet from Diaz. It didn’t take long for security to get involved and put a halt to it before matters escalated. Both Diaz and Nurmagomedov are no longer cageside. Security moved Nate Diaz to sit somewhere else. He almost started a brawl with Khabib. Their seats were in the same row, couple seats apart. Diaz actually left his seat and tried to get around and wanted to start a fight. #UFC239— Farzin Vousoughian (@Farzin21) July 7, 2019 9:27 p.m.: We’ve got one more preliminary fight left before the main card as Gilbert Melendez returns to the Octagon for the first time in nearly two years to face Arnold Allen. Melendez hasn’t won a fight in nearly six years and is 1-5 since joining the UFC in 2013. The former Strikeforce lightweight champion isn’t getting an easy out as the 37-year-old has dialed up an opponent on an 8-fight winning streak. 9:18 p.m.: The arrival of Nate Diaz at UFC 239 coincidentally led to Marlon Vera turning up the pressure and submitting Hernandez in the second round. After a first frame saw Hernandez escape an armbar attempt and land some ground and pound, the second frame seemed to be more methodical. And then, all of a sudden, Nate Diaz appeared in the arena. Once he took his seat, Vera fired off a flying knee that connected, fell into mount, transitioned to Hernandez’ back and sunk in a rear naked choke to get the tapout. That’s four in a row for Vera. 9:02 p.m.: Marlon Vera is up next and looking to extend his winning streak to four when he faces Nohelin Hernandez in a bantamweight tilt. The arena is still filling up as we get closer to the PPV portion of the card. 8:54 p.m.: After a pair of first-round finishes, the crowd wasn’t here for the tactical standup battle between Markos and Gadelha. Nevertheless, Gadelha got herself back into the win column with a 30-27 sweep of Markos. It wasn’t an action bout and the crowd let them have it. Gadelha switching camps certainly had something to do with it, but improved conditioning and poise were certainly on display. 8:26 p.m.: Business is picking up as Claudia Gadelha finds herself at the crossroads when she faces Randa Markos. Gadelha has gone 3-2 since losing to Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the UFC women’s strawweight title almost exactly three years ago to the date. After a loss to Nina Ansaroff, Gadelha absolutely must beat Markos — who is coming off of a submission victory over Angela Hill back in March. For Markos, a win here will thrust her into title contention. 8:15 p.m.: Yadong Song set Perez’ soul on fire with a blistering straight left hand that sent his opponent on the highway to hell. Absolutely brutal first round knockout and the formal announcement that Song has arrived. Another 21-year-old looking to make noise. The right hand puts Perez away in the FIRST ROUND!Wow! #UFC239 pic.twitter.com/bbnxvMBpYI— UFC (@ufc) July 7, 2019 8:04 p.m.: The ESPN prelims are kicking off with bantamweight action when Alejandro Perez looks to hand Yadong Song his first defeat of his mixed martial arts career. Song enters the Octagon to Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting” and that gets a rise out of the crowd. 7:40 p.m.: Well, that didn’t take long. Shahbazyan wasted little time taking Marshman down, unleashing some ground and pound, taking Marshman’s back and finishing him off with a rear-naked choke. Shahbazyan is only 21, but has been a decisive finisher during his short time as a mixed martial artist. Certainly, one to watch. 7:30 p.m.: Welcome to Sporting News’ live coverage of UFC 239. We’ve already had a significant upset as Chance Rencountre stunned Ismail Naurdiev to win a unanimous decision despite being a 4-to-1 underdog. Also, Julia Avila pulled off a clean sweep on the scorecards against Pannie Kianzad. Up next, Edmen Shahbazyan and Jack Marshman close out the UFC Fight Pass prelims with a middleweight tilt. UFC 239 fight cardWinners in boldMain CardLight Heavyweight Jon Jones (c) vs. Thiago Santos for Jones’ light heavyweight titleWomen’s Bantamweight Amanda Nunes (c) vs. Holly Holm for Nunes’ women’s bantamweight title Welterweight Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben AskrenLight Heavyweight Luke Rockhold vs. Jan BłachowiczWelterweight Diego Sanchez vs. Michael ChiesaPreliminary card (ESPN)Featherweight Gilbert Melendez vs. Arnold AllenBantamweight Marlon Vera vs. Nohelin HernandezWomen’s Strawweight Cláudia Gadelha vs. Randa MarkosBantamweight Alejandro Pérez vs. Yadong SongEarly Preliminary card (UFC Fight Pass)Middleweight Edmen Shahbazyan vs. Jack MarshmanWelterweight Ismail Naurdiev vs. Chance RencountreWomen’s Bantamweight Julia Avila vs. Pannie Kianzad UFC 239 latest newsIf Jon Jones can stay out of trouble and keep winning, it’s likely we’ll forget about his turbulent past. Make no mistake, Amanda Nunes is already the greatest women’s mixed martial artist who has ever lived. E Spencer Kyte explains why here.Holly Holm is in a must-win situation against Amanda Nunes or else she will be the MMA version of Buster Douglas. Nothing has changed much for Ben Askren aside from getting new fans and having an opponent that he plans on beating up at UFC 239.
“There’s just a lot more nerves,” Howard, now an analyst with Turner Sports, told Sporting News. “You can feel it. It is palpable. When you go into a normal game, or even a big game, there’s nerves and people are anxious. But when you get into a derby, you know, both sets of fans are feeling it. It’s nail-biting; it’s just very intense. There’s an intensity about a derby that other games don’t have simply because there’s more than just a win or a loss. It’s about city pride and city supremacy.”The Manchester derby in which Howard appeared roughly 15 years ago was far different from the one that will be staged — or should we say waged — Saturday afternoon at Etihad. It will be the same in all the ways Howard described. In other words, it still will be a derby. It no longer is controlled by the team in red, however.It has been altered, for at least the foreseeable future, by the injection into City of so much incredible wealth through the purchase of the club by the Abu Dhabi Group in 2008, as well as by the subsequent retirement of Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson.City got richer. United got, well, less smart.Since the City purchase in September 2008, the record in league games between the two is City 10 victories, United nine victories and three draws. In this decade, though, the record favors City 10-7-3. And since Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012-13 season, it is City by a 7-3-1 margin. The derby has been played since 1894. More than 21 percent of City’s league victories in this series have occurred since the takeover, which represents only 9 percent of those 125 years.“It’s a wonderful case study, if you will, of the transition of these super clubs,” Fox Sports soccer analyst Alexi Lalas told SN. “You have your traditional, staid, old money, and then you have this nouveau riche that came in, and the juxtaposition between the two, and the competition between the two, from a locale standpoint. But also these are two — certainly at this point — global brands. One amassed that type of recognition globally very quickly, and one filtered over decades.“The ability for that old money to compete with this new money is as fascinating to me as the Xs and Os on the field. It plays out every day and every week, oftentimes through the scores of the games or the players that are signed or the coaches that are signed. It’s really amazing what they are, or what we perceive them to be, and how different it is from what they were 10 years ago.”When U.S. soccer hall of famer Claudio Reyna played at City from 2003 to 2007, or when fellow American great DeMarcus Beasley was there on loan in the 06-07 season, Manchester City was what might have been called, charitably, a “mid-table” team. City averaged 45 points in that period, flirted with relegation twice, only finished in the top 10 once.The two Americans were gone only a year when the ownership team arrived from the United Arab Emirates, with businessman Sulaiman Al-Fahim promising significant spending on player talent that was personified by the purchase of Brazilian star Robinho’s contract from Real Madrid.As the spending on players escalated — with Robinho, Nigel de Jong and Vincent Kompany followed by Carlos Tevez, Gareth Barry, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott and Emmanuel Adebayor in 2009 (for a combined 100.5 million pounds), then Yaya Toure, David Silva, Edin Dzeko, James Milner and Mario Balotelli in 2010 (a combined 117 million) and Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy in 2011 (a combined 74 million) — City advanced from 50 points in 2008-09 to 67 and fifth place, to 71 points and a first-ever spot in the UEFA Champions League, to 89 in 2011-12 and the club’s first title since 1968.“I think it’s a little disingenuous to say that it’s all about money,” Lalas said. “Yes, it’s about money, but there’s plenty of money out there for other clubs. I don’t think City often gets enough credit for the smart way they have spent ridiculous amounts of money. You look at the infrastructure that’s been built, albeit very quickly … and it’s translated into success and results but, most important, it’s translated into relevance. I don’t look at Man City through the lens of what they were 10 and 20 years ago.”Brian Dunseth, the former U.S. international who now is co-host of the Counter Attack program on Sirius/XM FC, has a personal stake in the City-United derby and agrees with Lalas’ assertion.“I think the first thing everybody’s going to talk about is the money, and that’s rightfully so,” Dunseth told SN. “I think the thing that’s been incredible is you can throw as much money as you want at things, and we’ve seen that happen in the Premier League, but the reality is you’ve got to have a plan. You’ve got to have a vision. And you have to have the right people in place to execute said plan and vision. I think that’s what’s been one of the most amazing things to watch.“As a fan of the Premier League, to see the idea start to be put in play, and to see how they’re executing and the level of competition, and to see the amount of players around the world that want to be part of such an incredible project.”A veteran of more than a decade as a television and radio soccer analyst, Dunseth also happens to be a longtime Manchester United fan. You can hear it reflected in his conversations with co-host (and avowed AC Milan fan) Tony Meola on their afternoon program. Dunseth’s love of Man U began when he was a high school player in Southern California and teammates with a young man named Ben Hooper, whose family was from Oldham, a city in the Manchester region, where they had become loyal United fans.When Dunseth slept over at his friend’s house on a Friday night, he was puzzled to discover the family waking up at uncomfortably early hours. “I just kind of inadvertently fell in love with United watching the games with a friend.”As the group that came to be known as the Class of 92 developed — David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and Ryan Giggs — and coincided with the purchase of Eric Cantona midway through the 1992-93 season, following Man U became even more delightful for Dunseth, and he also got the opportunity to visit its training site and compete in training games with U.S. youth teams against the Man U reserves.From the time Dunseth adopted the Red Devils, they won four of the five Premier League titles between 1993 and 1997 and 13 in 21 years under “Sir Alex”. There also were Champions League titles in 1999 and 2008 and five FA Cup victories, including the one featuring Howard in 2004.Good times, right? And then came the City revolution, led by elite managers Roberto Mancini, Manuel Pellegrini and, best of all, Pep Guardiola. And the Man U devolution, with Ferguson’s retirement followed by a series of managerial missteps including the overmatched (David Moyes) and the overconfident (Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho). United’s average finish in the Premier League since Sir Alex departed: fifth. The only trophies won were one FA Cup, one Europa League, one League Cup and one Community Shield. That’s a decent month for City at this point.“Obviously, being a Manchester United fan has not been the greatest,” Dunseth said. “We’re in a phase where they’ve passed Manchester United in a lot of ways. But being able to watch them, nonetheless, has been incredible.”There is a sense among some Manchester United fans that the heart of the problem with their club is ownership, specifically American ownership, with the club in the hands of the Glazer family of Florida. The anti-Glazer campaigns would have greater merit were they not launched almost immediately after the late Malcolm Glazer took control of the club in 2005 — at a time when Ferguson and his team still were a dominant force in the league.It is clear, though, that however much the club’s front office knew about the timing of Ferguson’s retirement in 2013 — he made his announcement just weeks before claiming his final Premier League title — there was no coherent plan regarding how to move forward without Sir Alex even though he had passed age 70. Dunseth contends that the departure that same year of chief executive David Gill also was an issue.“How do you replace two heavyweights that had created such an identity?” Dunseth said. “And on top of that, when Sir Alex walked away that was an incredible squad but also an aging squad. And I think to this day you’re trying to figure out how to replace that.”This has become a delightful time for Manchester City supporters around North America — not all of whom hopped on board what had suddenly become a shiny, gleaming vehicle during the past decade.Ryan Marshall launched the Man City supporters’ group in Indianapolis in 2016, so it seems a little like that’s how it went. The timing was somewhat connected to Manchester City expanding its outreach across the Atlantic. But he became a fan in the mid-2000s and chose the club specifically because it was not one of the established powerhouses.“I’ve always been kind of, more of an underdog,” Marshall told SN. “Which I know City is not seen as anymore. But I think I identified with that. And most of the City supporters I had met were always super friendly, no matter where I was. Maybe some of the criticism they get not only here, but also abroad, is for not being the loudest or the typical ‘empty-seat’ banter that they get.”Marshall loves City enough that even though he since has moved to Florida, he still runs the MCFC Indianapolis (@Cityanapolis) Twitter account and is active in the group. He does not, though, fly in each week to watch games at Chatham Tap in downtown Indy, instead watching with his new group in the Tampa area.And though he knows it would be better for the rivalry if Man U were, well, Man U again, and that those who follow the game worldwide would enjoy these derby games that much more if they regained the relevance in place during the brief period between the Abu Dhabi takeover and Sir Alex’s departure, he is enjoying seeing the Red Devils standing 10th in the league with just 18 points from 14 matches.“I love the way they’ve been playing. I hope they keep playing the same way for the next 50 years,” Marshall said. “I think in terms of just if you’re a fan of somebody outside the top six, it makes it more relevant and watchable and you get more excited for it if Manchester United is succeeding.”As we saw last weekend when Michigan played Ohio State and the Pittsburgh Steelers played the Cleveland Browns, American fans understand and appreciate rivalries as well as any fans in any country.Canadian fans understand it, too — the long rivalry between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens extends beyond the ice and into the political realm. American soccer legend Tim Howard filled the most pressurized position in the sport in the FA Cup final, through 121 appearances with the U.S. men’s national team, in that harrowing 2010 World Cup group game against Algeria that ended with Landon Donovan’s magical goal. Through all of that, however, he experienced nothing quite like the feeling of a Premier League derby.He stood in goal for Manchester United against Manchester City at both Old Trafford and what is now Etihad Stadium. He felt the intensity course through the city — no, honestly, it raged through the city — in the week leading up to the game. There is a difference, though, between a rivalry and a derby that only occasionally infiltrates the North American sporting culture. It’s there in the basketball rivalries between North Carolina and Duke, Louisville and Kentucky and Cincinnati and Xavier — that sense of proximity, that one literally could be living next door to the enemy.The truth about the Manchester derby is that Manchester United’s rivalry with Liverpool probably is more hotly contested, more enduring and deeply felt. There are some Man U fans who will be conflicted regarding the inevitable by-product should the Red Devils win or draw in Saturday’s game at Etihad and undermine City’s pursuit of first-place LFC.“These derby matches are like nothing American sports fans have seen,” Howard told SN. “It truly is a city divided. It’s all people care about and its all you hear about. You know that you just have to win. It’s the bare minimum. When I was at United, Man City hadn’t quite been taken over and splashed all their millions and billions of dollars. So it was a known thing that we were meant to win every one of these games.”