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Originally published March 20, 2014 at 8:21 PM | Page modified March 21, 2014 at 12:34 AM

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Lockout of MLS refs comes to an end


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Soccer

Lockout of MLS referees comes to an end

The lockout of Major League Soccer’s referees has ended following an agreement on a five-year labor contract.

The Professional Referee Organization, which manages game officials for the U.S. Soccer Federation and MLS, and the Professional Soccer Referee Association, announced the agreement Thursday. Replacements had been used for the first two weekends of MLS games.

The PSRA was certified by the National Labor Relations Board last May to represent referees, assistant referees and fourth officials working MLS games. The sides bargained since July, and the lockout began a day ahead of MLS openers on March 7.

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service entered talks, and a tentative agreement was reached Tuesday night that was ratified by the union membership and approved by PRO’s executive board.

Tennis

Serena tested as she beginspursuit of 7th Sony Open title

Trailing in the first set of her first match at the Sony Open, Serena Williams grunted with every shot and screamed with every point she won.

And then, on the pivotal point, she didn’t make a sound — or take a swing.

Williams capitalized on a critical double-fault Thursday by Yaroslava Shvedova to survive a 69-minute first set and win, 7-6 (7), 6-2.

“It was an incredibly tough first set,” Williams said. “I just needed to relax and yet keep up the intensity.”

The top-ranked Williams seeks a record seventh Key Biscayne title, and her second in a row.

In men’s play, Lleyton Hewitt became the third active man to win 600 matches when he rallied past Robin Haase 3-6, 6-3, 6-3. Fellow Australian Bernard Tomic, mounting a comeback from surgery on both hips and playing for the first time since January, lost to Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-1.

Bernard Tomic lost the shortest completed ATP match on record, lasting only 28 minutes in his first tournament since undergoing surgery on both hips.

Ending a two-month layoff, Tomic won just 13 points and lost to Jarkko Nieminen 6-0, 6-1. It was the quickest match since the ATP started keeping such records in 1991.

NFL

49ers sign fullback Miller to a three-year extension

Fullback Bruce Miller signed a three-year contract extension with the San Francisco 49ers, ensuring they can keep a key member of the team’s running game through the 2017 season.

The do-everything Miller was lost for the season Dec. 15 with a left shoulder-blade injury sustained during a win at Tampa Bay — and San Francisco greatly missed his contributions the rest of the way before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion and rival Seattle Seahawks in the NFC title game.

The 26-year-old Miller has been a key blocker for 1,000-yard rusher Frank Gore, and Miller had 25 catches for 243 yards along with seven carries for 13 yards last season. He worked to convert from college defensive end to NFL fullback. Gore has long credited Miller with allowing him to break big gains.

Elsewhere, the Bengals signed quarterback Jason Campbell to be Andy Dalton’s backup; safety Charles Woodson agreed to a one-year deal to extend his second stint with Oakland to a second season; Atlanta agreed to terms with return specialist Devin Hester; Arizona agreed on the terms of a one-year contract with free-agent cornerback Antonio Cromartie; and Carolina agreed to a contract with free-agent wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.

Large crowd watches Sam on pro day

Scouts from more than 30 NFL teams, fans and media packed Missouri’s training facilities in Columbia to watch Michael Sam, the former Tigers defensive end, and 14 of his former teammates at the school’s annual pro day.

A little over a month since Sam announced his desire to become the first openly gay NFL player, he lifted 225 pounds 19 times, ran the 40-yard dash in an unofficial time of 4.69 seconds and jumped 30 inches — all improvements from his statistics at the NFL combine last month. He also raised eyebrows after tweaking his right hamstring during the run.

“Just a little sore,” his agent, Joe Barkett, said.

Sam is pegged to be picked in the lower rounds of the NFL draft, if at all.

Elsewhere

Andrea Pirlo scored on a free kick in the 71st minute, giving Juventus a 1-0 victory at Italian rival Fiorentina and a berth in the Europa League quarterfinals with a 2-1 aggregate win.

Benfica, which lost to Chelsea in last year’s final, advanced on 5-3 aggregate after a 2-2 tie against Tottenham.

Bellini, Brazil’s captain when it won its first World Cup in 1958, died in Sao Paulo from complications following a heart attack. He was 83.

• FIFA ethics prosecutor Michael Garcia is interviewing FIFA president Sepp Blatter and other voters who chose 2018 and 2022 World Cup hosts Russia and Qatar.

• Olympic slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin won the giant slalom at the U.S. Alpine Championships in Squaw Valley, Calif., by nearly 2 seconds.

The 19-year-old Shiffrin won her third U.S. title overall, after slalom championships in 2011 and 2012.

She completed Thursday’s two runs in 2 minutes, 30.93 seconds. The race was open to women from other countries, and Marie-Michelle Gagnon of Canada finished second, 1.88 seconds behind. Julia Mancuso, a four-time Olympic medalist who lives in Squaw Valley, was third.

J.R. Hildebrand will drive a second entry for Ed Carpenter Racing in the Indianapolis 500. Hildebrand will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet for ECR. Hildebrand nearly won the Indy 500 as a rookie in 2011 but crashed exiting the final turn. He was passed by Dan Wheldon and finished second.

• Doctors in Sarasota, Fla., expect Indiana wide receiver Isaac Griffith to make a full recovery from a near downing along Florida’s Gulf Coast, a hospital spokeswoman said.

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