SOCCER

MLS, players reach deal, averting possible strike

Major League Soccer and its players’ union agreed in principle to a five-year labor contract, averting a possible strike ahead of Friday’s season opener.

Under the agreement, players 28 and older could become free agents if they have eight seasons of MLS service and their contracts have expired.

The minimum salary would rise to $60,000. The minimum generally was $48,500 last year, but the prior deal contained a provision in which some players could be paid as low as $36,500.

U.S. WOMEN: Carli Lloyd scored two goals and the U.S. women’s national team opened the Algarve Cup in Portugal – a tournament ahead of the Women’s World Cup in June – with a 2-1 victory over Norway.

BASKETBALL

D-LEAGUE: Maine sent Christian Watford to Reno for the returning player rights to DeQuan Jones, who is playing in Italy.

Maine also acquired guard Davion Berry from the available player pool. Berry played 19 games in Italy, averaging 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.2 assists.

Watford started 26 games for Maine with 12 points per game along with 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists.

TENNIS

BNP PARIBAS OPEN: Former U.S. Open winner Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina was given a wild card into the main draw of the tournament at Indian Wells, California, next week.

Del Potro reached the quarterfinals at Sydney this year and is coming back from left wrist surgery in January. His best result in five appearances at Indian Wells came two years ago when he made the final.

OLYMPICS

BOSTON’S BID: Boston Mayor Marty Walsh strongly defended Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid, saying that win or lose, the city’s pursuit of the games represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and would not leave taxpayers to shoulder a massive bill.

Walsh used the bulk of his annual address before the Boston Municipal Research Bureau to tout the benefits of the Olympic proposal. He acknowledged the debate had generated “more heat than light” and many people believed the bid would distract from more pressing needs.

CHEERLEADING

COLLEGE: The cheerleaders and dance teams for Albany State and Tuskegee were sent home from their schools’ conference men’s basketball tournament after fighting.

The fight happened at halftime of a first-round game.

COLLEGES

DIVERSITY REPORT: A diversity report on college sports issued its lowest grade for racial and gender hiring practices in its nearly two-decade history.

The report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport said NCAA schools are hiring fewer women and minorities for sports jobs, while the scores for hiring women in particular have dipped significantly during the past two years.

SKIING

SKIER HURT: Viktoria Rebensburg of Germany injured her left knee in a crash in training ahead of this weekend’s women’s races and will be out for the rest of the World Cup season.

Rebensburg sprained her left knee during giant slalom training in Bad Wiessee, Germany. The 2010 Olympic champion said her ski caught a gate “and twisted my knee.”

– From staff and news reports