Nation and World Sports Briefs | Nov. 20

Uruguay earns final World Cup berth

Uruguay earns final World Cup berth

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MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — Uruguay claimed the 32nd and final berth at next year’s World Cup, tying Jordan 0-0 Wednesday night for a 5-0 aggregate win in the South American-Asian playoff.

Uruguay, a two-time world champion, won the first leg last week in Jordan and defended compactly throughout the second leg.

With a population of only 3.3 million, will be among the eight seeded teams for the draw on Dec. 6 along with host Brazil, defending champion Spain, Argentina, Belgium, Colombia, Germany and Switzerland.

This was the 816th match since qualifying began when Montserrat played Belize in June 15, 2011, a process that narrowed 203 nations down to 31 to join Brazil, which qualified automatically as host.

Robin van Persie of the Netherlands, Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Deon McCaulay of Belize shared the lead for goals in 2014 qualifying with 11 each. There were 2,334 goals, an average of 2.86 per match, up from 2.75 in 2010 qualifying but down from 2.91 in 2006.

NFL fines 49ers LB Brooks $15,570 for hit on Brees

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — San Francisco 49ers linebacker Ahmad Brooks was fined $15,570 by the NFL on Wednesday for his hit on Saints quarterback Drew Brees last Sunday.

Brooks’ agent, Greg Williams, said his client would appeal the penalty — the standard fine for such hits to the head and neck area.

Brooks leveled Brees, forcing a lost fumble. But the personal foul penalty kept the ball in the Saints’ possession, and they soon kicked two late field goals to win 23-20. The tackle left Brees with blood on his chin.

Brooks vehemently argued against the penalty, saying he didn’t use his hands or helmet and called it a “bear hug.” Brees labeled the hit a clothesline tackle. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh also reiterated Monday he thought the hit was clean.

“Our interpretation was, when we grade a player, if he’s got a penalty we give him a minus, but we did not assign a minus on that play,” Harbaugh said Monday. “The play occurred that occurred. I thought Ahmad hit at the right level, hit at the shoulder level. The quarterback kind of shrunk down and that’s the official’s call to make. I’m going to see it the way I see it and that’s going to be a slanted view. I really don’t know much more to say about that.”

The linebacker also was fined $12,750 for a roughing-the-passer call against Aaron Rodgers during the season opener against Green Bay.

Brooks declined to speak to reporters Wednesday, when a downpour in the Bay Area caused Harbaugh to cancel an outdoor walk-through and move preparations for Monday night’s game at Washington indoors.

LeBron on MLS in Miami: ‘We’re working on it’

ORLANDO, Florida — LeBron James spoke out again Wednesday about his involvement with David Beckham and the retired superstar’s plan to bring an MLS team to Miami.

Specifically, James talked about finding a place for the team to call home.

“We’re working on it,” James said.

Beckham scouted some Miami locations last week. Beckham, who played for the Los Angeles Galaxy in MLS, has the right to pay $25 million to start an expansion franchise, and is seeking investors to assist with the overall startup costs such as stadium construction and player acquisitions.

“I wish it was easy,” James said. “We’re working on it. We’ll see what happens.”

MLS expansion is all the rage in Florida these days, with Beckham deciding last month that the former England captain wanted to bring a team to Miami and after Orlando was awarded a team that will begin play in 2015.

James and the Miami Heat were in Orlando on Wednesday to play the Magic.

“I think the passion is the No. 1 thing,” James said, asked why he finds football appealing. “The passion that the fans have about the game of soccer, it’s pretty intense. It’s pretty awesome. I had an opportunity to go to a game in England and it was an unbelievable experience. It’s a world-renown sport.”

James has a small ownership stake in Premier League club Liverpool through his involvement with Fenway Sports Management.

Cardinals sign Matheny to 3-year extension

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals gave manager Mike Matheny a three-year contract extension Wednesday, rewarding him for deep postseason runs in his first two seasons in the job.

The team also said that 2005 NL Cy Young Award winner Chris Carpenter is retiring after missing this season with a recurring nerve issue in his shoulder.

Matheny led the Cardinals to the World Series this year, losing in six games to Boston. In 2012, his first season managing at any level, St. Louis fell one game shy of reaching the Fall Classic. The 43-year-old Matheny was a four-time Gold Glove catcher with St. Louis and had one year left on his deal.

“We didn’t want any distractions, we knew we wanted Mike to be a part of this organization for a long time,” general manager John Mozeliak said Wednesday. “So we might as well deal with it and get it behind us.

“Obviously, with the success he’s had he deserves this contract,” Mozeliak added.

DeWitt characterized Matheny’s first two seasons as “pretty historic.” Matheny called it “amazing ride.”

“You look at how everything’s kind of unfolded and you just never know,” the manager added. “Opportunities come up and fortunately I’ve been surrounded by some very, very good people.”

Mozeliak said the team hoped to “identify a future role” in the organization for the 38-year-old Carpenter.

“When you think back to everything this organization has been through in regard to his ups and downs, he will still go down as one of the greatest we’ve ever had,” Mozeliak said.

Dierdorf to retire from broadcasting after season

NEW YORK— If Dan Dierdorf could beam himself into the press boxes of NFL stadiums around the country, he might keep calling games a few more decades.

But with two artificial knees, two artificial hips and a bad back, the travel required by his analyst job for CBS just became too much.

The 64-year-old Hall of Famer announced Wednesday he would retire after this season — his 43rd straight involved with the NFL.

Dierdorf played offensive line for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1971-83, earning All-Pro honors six times. He then headed straight for the broadcast booth. His three decades as an analyst marked the longest current tenure on TV.

“I’ve just never done anything else in the fall other than be in an NFL stadium,” Dierdorf said in a phone interview.

Now he hopes to spend some time in a college football stadium. Dierdorf estimates that in those 43 years, he’s attended just five games played by his alma mater, Michigan.

“I want to go tailgate with some of my old buddies,” he said.

All those years of practicing on artificial turf in St. Louis wore down his joints, and walking through airports got harder and harder. Using a cane, he’d have to sit down every 100 feet.

Dierdorf said he still feels mentally sharp, a serious concern among retired NFL players. In some ways, the physical limitations made the decision easy; he really had no choice.

Dierdorf considered retiring after last season. The hardest part was “breaking up” with play-by-play announcer Greg Gumbel and their production team, he said with a chuckle.

Making the announcement now will allow Dierdorf to thank all the team personnel who helped him over the years as he calls his final few games. This Sunday, he’ll work Jets-Ravens in Baltimore.

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He still may do some broadcast work in St. Louis or radio that doesn’t require much travel.

By wire sources