World Cup woes abound as Sofi World Cup final hopes dashed

Soccer fans in Los Angeles were ecstatic with the potential of the 2026 World Cup final being played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. However, the stadium’s chances of hosting the final are now a “non-starter,” according to The Times Chief Sports Reporter Martyn Ziegler. Per Ziegler’s reporting, SoFi’s field, or “pitch,” is too narrow to comply with FIFA requirements for the game.

The final is now favored to land on the opposite end of the United States, with MetLife Stadium in the shadow of New York City emerging as a likely host. According to Ziegler, the stadium “would be better for international time zones.” AT&T Stadium in the Dallas area is also a contender to land the final, having advantages such as a roof and climate control inside.

Football squads flip scripts in opening week action

Both of Los Angeles’ National Football League teams shifted on their respective preseason expectations in Week 1 action.

The Los Angeles Rams, with a supposedly shallow squad following a 5-12 record in 2022, won the 2023 opener on the road 30-13 over the Seattle Seahawks, a playoff team from last season.

Unsung heroes were all over the field for coach Sean McVay, including a duo of surprise performances from Rams wide receivers. Wideouts Tutu Atwell and rookie Puka Nacua stunned the Seahawks secondary for 119 yards apiece, while improved offensive line play gave quarterback Matthew Stafford the time to get his receivers involved.

“Our offense is at its best when you get everybody involved and make them defend the full width and depth of the field … we talk about playing complementary football all the time,” McVay said after the win. “I thought that was really on display yesterday.”

The receiving duo shined in the wake of losing star Cooper Kupp to a lingering hamstring injury. Kupp remains the only significant injury for the Rams unit heading into a Week 2 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers, and the former Offensive Player of the Year will be out until at least Week 5.

At the same time as the Rams’ surprising victory, home field was not the remedy for the Los Angeles Chargers, dropping the team’s opener in last-minute fashion to the Miami Dolphins, 36-34. Expected to continue forward progress after a playoff appearance in 2022, the Chargers defensive unit was unable to slow down an electric Miami offense, which featured a 215-yard receiving day from Tyreek Hill.

“I didn’t do a good enough job (Sunday) getting us adjusted throughout the game,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said. “We tried. Our adjustments didn’t take shape. It turned into a track meet in the passing game.”

The defeat continued the trend of disappointment for Chargers fans, who had to watch the Jacksonville Jaguars come back from 27 points down to win last season’s playoff matchup. Further complicating matters was an ankle injury suffered by star running back Austin Ekeler, who is considered day-to-day leading up to the Chargers’ Week 2 matchup at the Tennessee Titans.

Dodgers, Angels deal with controversy, injuries

While the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels are on different tracks, both are contending with issues in their respective locker rooms.

The Dodgers are among Major League Baseball’s best during the stretch run, holding the second-best record in the National League at 87-56 as of Sept. 12. However, this week’s homestand is shrouded by the separation between the team and pitcher Julio Urias. The World Series-winning left-hander is on indefinite administrative leave after being arrested Sept. 3 on suspicion of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. This is Urias’ second arrest in four years for domestic violence-related incidents, serving a 20-game suspension following a May 2019 arrest.

Urias’ locker has been removed from the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and two murals with his image were covered up at Dodgers Stadium preceding the homestand. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said that the separation with Urias is a “very unfortunate, sad situation,” and that he thinks the moves confirm that the club is moving on from the 27-year-old.

The Angels are far from the lofty record of their National League L.A. counterpart, sitting in fourth-place in the American League West division at 68-77 as of Sept. 12. The Angels fell out of playoff contention following a brutal stretch after the All-Star break, and now continue to deal with injuries to star Shohei Ohtani. Already shut down for the season as a pitcher due to a ligament tear in his pitching elbow, the two-way phenomenon was scratched from the hitting lineup yet again on Monday with a strained right oblique.

Ohtani’s future with the Angels is in question, as the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player is eligible for free agency after the season. The organization has been haunted by injuries all season long, as team stalwart Mike Trout has played just 82 games in 2023.

Thomas Leffler has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Journalism from Penn State University and has been in the industry since 2015. Prior to working at SMDP, he was a writer for AccuWeather and managed...