The National Women’s Soccer League has set the schedule for the opening round of its tournament starting later this month in Utah, with the Portland Thorns playing the defending champion North Carolina Courage on the opening day.

The NWSL is scheduled to be the first U.S. pro team league returning to play amid the coronavirus pandemic. The tournament will be held in the Salt Lake City area starting June 27 with no fans in attendance.

The Thorns and Courage played for the league championship in 2017 and 2018, splitting the results. The Chicago Red Stars and the Orlando Pride will also meet on opening day. One of those games will be broadcast nationally on CBS, the league’s new television partner this season.

The league’s nine teams will play four preliminary round games, with eight teams advancing to the quarterfinals. The final match on July 26 is also set to be broadcast on CBS.

FOOTBALL

NFL: The Arizona Cardinals have signed tight end Dylan Cantrell to a one-year deal.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Cantrell is switching positions to tight end after being selected as a receiver by the Los Angeles Chargers in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. He played in college at Texas Tech under current Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, who is now in his second season in Arizona.

Cantrell spent most of the 2018 season on the Chargers’ practice squad and was released prior to last season. He had 158 catches for 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns during a four-year college career with the Red Raiders.

COLLEGE

FOOTBALL: Clemson receiver Justyn Ross, considered a first-round NFL draft pick next spring, will miss the upcoming college season due to a spinal condition uncovered after he was hurt at practice in March.

Tigers Coach Dabo Swinney said Ross will have surgery Friday because of a congenital fusion of vertebrae he has had since birth. Ross also has a bulging disc.

The condition was found after Ross apparently hurt his shoulder during a spring practice session before workouts were shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was shocked,” Swinney said

Ross is a 6-foot-4, 205-pound sophomore from Phenix City, Alabama, who led the Tigers with 66 catches a year ago. He first gained national attention as a freshman in Clemson’s 44-16 national championship win over Alabama in January 2019 when he had six catches for 153 yards including a 74-yard TD.

• Defending national champion LSU has for the first time scheduled football games with Southern and Grambling State, LSU athletic director Scott Woodward announced on Monday.

Both games involving the historically black Louisiana schools will be played in LSU’s Tiger Stadium, with Southern visiting on Sept. 10, 2022 and Grambling visiting on Sept. 9, 2023.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Clemson leading scorer Aamir Simms is returning for a final season after withdrawing his name from the NBA draft.

Simms had until June 3 to pull out of the draft. He had announced in March his intentions to go pro. He did not hire an agent, making him eligible to return for his senior year.

Simms is a 6-foot-8 forward from Palmyra, Virginia who was a third-team all-Atlantic Coast Conference pick this past season after averaging a team-best, 13 points a game. He also averaged 7.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists.

Simms was instrumental as Clemson defeated three programs ranked in the top six in the Top 25 for the first time in school history in No. 3 Duke, No. 5 Louisville and No. 6 Florida State. Simms had 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists as the Tigers won for the first time at North Carolina, beating the Tar Heels 79-76 in overtime last January.

SOCCER

PROTEST: Liverpool players took a knee around the center circle at Anfield Stadium on Monday in a gesture of support following the death of George Floyd.

Squad members posted a picture of the act on their social media accounts with the caption, “Unity is strength #BlackLivesMatter.”

The picture of 29 players from the English league leaders was taken during a training session.

Star players Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and captain Jordan Henderson were among those to post the picture that was retweeted by the official account of Liverpool, which is owned by Fenway Sports Group — the U.S. company which also controls the Boston Red Sox. Liverpool also tweeted out the picture.

• FIFA urged soccer competition organizers on Monday to apply “common sense” and consider not sanctioning players for solidarity with George Floyd during matches.

The recognition of the “depth of sentiment” over Floyd’s death came in a rare statement by FIFA telling the global game to show flexibility and not enforce laws of soccer it helps to set.

Players used weekend games in Germany to reveal messages demanding justice for Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after he pleaded for air as a white police officer pressed a knee on his neck in Minneapolis.

Germany’s soccer federation announced earlier Monday that it was assessing whether to sanction the players for breaking laws of the game that prohibit “any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images” on equipment.

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