Brazil overpowers Americans in international friendly, 4-1
Neymar converted a penalty kick and assisted on goals by defenders Thiago Silva and Marcelo as Brazil took advantage of a sloppy American backline to beat the United States 4-1 in an exhibition game before an enthusiastic crowd of 67,619 at FedEx Field Wednesday night in Landover, Md.
The 29th-ranked Americans, coming off a 5-1 win over Scotland last weekend, had difficulty coping with the pace of the five-time World Cup champions.
Neymar, the 20-year-old Santos sensation, put Brazil ahead in the 12th minute after a hand ball on Oguchi Onyewu, then took a corner kick that Thiago Silva headed in for his first international goal in the 26th.
Herculez Gomez, making his first start for the U.S. since the 2010 World Cup, scored in the 45th following a fine run by Michael Bradley and cross by Fabian Johnson.
But Marcelo restored the two-goal lead in the 52nd as Onyewu and American captain Carlos Bocanegra left him unmarked in front of the net. Second-half sub Alexandre Pato added a goal in the 87th.
The U.S. plays at Canada on Sunday, then opens qualifying for the 2014 World Cup on June 8 against Antigua and Barbuda.
Woods hires one of his former assistants
Dylan Howard, who played in two NCAA Tournaments and has spent 16 years as a men's college basketball coach, has been named the associate head coach at Morehead State.
Howard will be reunited with Sean Woods, who was recently named the head coach at MSU. Howard was the top assistant under Woods at Mississippi Valley State from 2008-11. The duo put together two top-50 recruiting classes in their three seasons together at MVSU.
"I am excited to be back with Coach Woods because I enjoy working with him and learning from him," Howard said.
Howard comes to Morehead State after spending one season as the head coach at Division III North Park in Chicago. It was his second stint and eighth year as a collegiate head coach.
More competitive Pro Bowl promised
After a promise from players that the game will be more competitive, the NFL will hold the Pro Bowl in Honolulu next Jan. 27, a week before the Super Bowl.
Commissioner Roger Goodell had made it clear canceling the all-star game was a possibility after the uninspired play of this year's 59-41 AFC victory. Following discussions between the league and the players' union, the NFL announced Wednesday that Aloha Stadium would host the Pro Bowl for the third straight year.
It will be the 33rd Pro Bowl in Hawaii.
"The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii," said NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson. "We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season's game."
■ Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Kordell Stewart officially retired Wednesday, saying he needed closure nearly seven years after playing his final NFL down. The 39-year-old planned to sign a one-day contract with Pittsburgh before walking away to give his football career a sense of finality.
Stewart played for the Steelers in eight of his 11 seasons, becoming a sensation in the late-1990s when his versatility as a quarterback, running back, wide receiver and kick returner earned him the nickname "Slash." He helped Pittsburgh to the 1996 Super Bowl and made the Pro Bowl as a quarterback in 2001 after leading Pittsburgh to a 13-3 record.
■ The Minnesota Vikings announced Wednesday that cornerback Asher Allen has retired from football, a curious decision for a 24-year-old who was about to enter only his fourth NFL season.
Coach Leslie Frazier didn't get into specifics of the conversation he had with Allen last week, but did say he was surprised by the decision by the former third-round draft pick, who would have been counted on to provide depth in the secondary this season.
"I didn't see that coming," Frazier said after the team held an optional practice. "Everybody has to make decisions that they think are best for them."
IN THE COURTS
Sandusky lawyer unable to win delay
Jerry Sandusky's child sexual abuse trial remained on track to begin next week following a ruling by the presiding judge on Wednesday. Judge John Cleland rejected the argument for a delay by the defense for the former Penn State assistant football coach, who was charged in November and December with a total of 52 counts involving 10 boys he allegedly abused between 1994 and 2008.
Cleland said starting jury selection on Tuesday would, on balance, protect Sandusky's right to a fair trial, the alleged victims' rights to their day in court, the state's obligation to prosecute promptly and the public's expectation of a swift proceeding.
■ The NCAA is investigating the University of Montana's football program, which already is the subject of investigations by the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice.
The Justice Department said this month it's reviewing how the university, its football team and the city of Missoula have responded to sexual assault and harassment reports by female students, with some cases involving football players. The federal Education Department has opened a similar investigation.
The NCAA hadn't commented on whether it also is investigating, but Montana Associate Commissioner of Higher Education Kevin McRae says university leaders decided to publicly confirm an investigation Wednesday in the interest of transparency.
The last word
San Francisco Coach Jim Harbaugh insists the 49ers planned to have Alex Smith as their quarterback even while they examined the possibility of signing then-free agent Peyton Manning. Harbaugh ended his weekly meeting with reporters on Wednesday by addressing his quarterback situation:
"Alex Smith is our quarterback, was our quarterback and (we) had every intention of always bringing him back."