Around the Nation: U.S. ready to take on Mexico in World Cup qualifier

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

SOCCER

U.S. ready for World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico

MEXICO CITY -- The U.S. men's soccer team seems confident headed into tonight's important World Cup qualifier on the road against Mexico, which will begin at 10:30 p.m.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsman said Monday that the Americans respect Mexico and that makes it "one of those games you are hungry for. It's an awesome opportunity, and we want to embrace the moment and give them a real game, to battle them."

The game is at the intimidating Azteca Stadium, where the Americans have only beaten Mexico once -- in an exhibition match last August.

Mexico is desperately hoping for a win after disappointing draws with Honduras and Jamaica. The U.S. is in second place in the group, with a loss to Honduras and a win over Costa Rico in a snowstorm last week. Costa Rico is protesting that match.

GOLF

McIlroy to return to Haiti before The Masters

DUBLIN, Ireland -- Rory McIlroy will spend part of his week before The Masters on a humanitarian mission in Haiti.

McIlroy says he will meet with children and their families April 1-2 to see how their lives have changed since the 2010 earthquake that ravaged the country. McIlroy also made a trip to Haiti before going to the U.S. Open in 2011. He won his first major at Congressional with a record score.

McIlroy is an Ireland ambassador to UNICEF and has geared his own charity work toward children.

The 23-year-old from Northern Ireland says he is excited to return. He calls Haiti an inspiring and humbling country where children face daily struggles. McIlroy says he hopes his presence can create international awareness of the plight Haitian children are facing.

COLLEGE

Xavier hires BG's Greg Christopher as next AD

CINCINNATI -- Xavier has hired Bowling Green's Greg Christopher as its next director of athletics, responsible for guiding the Jesuit school into the reconfigured Big East next season.

Christopher replaces Mike Bobinski, who is moving on to Georgia Tech next month.

Christopher has been director of athletics at Bowling Green for the past 61⁄2 years. Previously, he was an associate director of athletics at Purdue. He'll become Xavier's 11th director of athletics.

Xavier and Butler are leaving the Atlantic 10 to join seven current Big East schools, plus Creighton, in a reconfigured league next school year. Georgetown, St. John's, Providence, Seton Hall, Villanova, Marquette and DePaul reached an agreement to leave the current Big East and taking the name with them.

ICE HOCKEY

San Jose trades Murray to Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins continued to bolster their roster for a Stanley Cup run, acquiring San Jose defenseman Doug Murray on Tuesday for a pair of second-round picks.

The 33-year-old Murray will give the Penguins a physical presence at the blue line along with plenty of playoff experience. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound Murray has three assists in 29 games for the struggling Sharks this season and a minus-8 rating.

The trade marks the second aggressive move in as many days for Pittsburgh, which brought in veteran forward Brenden Morrow from Dallas on Sunday in exchange for promising defenseman prospect Joe Morrow.

Pittsburgh has won 12 straight games heading into Tuesday night's showdown with surprising Montreal but is playing without defenseman Kris Letang, who remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

BASEBALL

Wilson Betemit injures right knee ligament

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Baltimore Orioles designated hitter Wilson Betemit suffered a sprained ligament in his right knee in the fifth inning of Monday's game with Boston.

The 31-year-old Betemit, who was the Orioles' regular third baseman until the recall of Manny Machado last August, was on first base and running on the pitch when Machado flied to left. He collapsed near second base and was carted off the field.

When he reached the clubhouse, trainers put a leg brace on Betemit.

The team says he will be reevaluated on Tuesday.

Blue Jays 3B Lawrie to start season on DL

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie will start the regular season on the disabled list because of a strained rib.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons announced the news on Monday.

Lawrie felt discomfort in his left side during an exhibition game with Canada's World Baseball Classic team against the Cincinnati Reds on March 6.

Former Mets exec named new president of MSG Sports

NEW YORK -- Former Mets executive Dave Howard has been hired as president of MSG Sports, and will run business operations for the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty and the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League.

Howard, who spent more than 20 years working for the Mets and Major League Baseball, will assume his role with The Madison Square Garden Company on April 9. MSG President and CEO Hank Ratner announced the hiring Monday, calling Howard "one of New York's premier sports executives for over two decades."

As president of MSG Sports, Howard will be responsible for managing the organization's strategic plan, budgets and forecasting, as well as overseeing the marketing and game presentations of the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty. He will also manage other sporting events at the Garden.

FOOTBALL

Titans agree to terms with DE Ropati Pitoitua

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Tennessee Titans have added another defensive lineman, agreeing to terms with defensive end Ropati Pitoitua.

The Titans announced the deal Monday.

General manager Ruston Webster says the 6-foot-8, 315-pound Pitoitua gives the Titans the size they've been wanting at defensive end. Webster says they believe he'll help them defend the run with the flexibility of moving inside as well.

Pitoitua is a four-year veteran with 37 games played in stops with the New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs.

He started 10 of his 15 games last year with the Chiefs where he led the linemen with 32 tackles. He also had two sacks, five tackles for loss and a forced fumble.

The Titans also signed defensive tackle Sammie Hill at the start of free agency.

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