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Radamel Falcao scores, Colombia beats Poland at FIFA World Cup 2018

KAZAN, Russia — Four years after Radamel Falcao was supposed to lead Colombia at the World Cup, he’s doing just that.

Falcao missed the tournament in Brazil with a knee injury and had to wait until arriving in Russia to score his first World Cup goal. It came in Colombia’s 3-0 victory over Poland on Sunday.

“It’s a dream goal,” Falcao said. “I’m happy for the victory, for the team’s performance and the goal that I scored, which I’ve been waiting for for many years.”

The victory kept Colombia in the running for a spot in the round of 16 and knocked out Poland, the first European country to be eliminated.

Falcao, Colombia’s all-time leading scorer with 30 goals, made sure he would stay healthy for this year’s World Cup by sitting out several matches with his Monaco club this season.

So far, so good.

“We always hope that he can score and hope that he can be fit as he was today, and we want to help him,” Colombia coach Jose Pekerman said. “I think the fact that he scored was very important, not just for today but for the matches to come.

“He is a symbol of the national team. He is a symbol of Colombian football.”

Playing some scintillating soccer in Kazan, Falcao scored with the outside of his foot in the 70th minute after a superb pass from playmaker Juan Quintero in the back of the defense.

Yerry Mina scored the first goal in the 40th and Juan Cuadrado completed the win in the 75th.

Both teams lost their Group H openers and knew another loss would end their hopes of advancing. Colombia will next face Senegal on Thursday in Samara with a chance to win the group, while Poland will play Japan in Volgograd.

Senegal and Japan drew 2-2 earlier Sunday and lead the group with four points each.

Mina out-jumped the Poland defense to head in the opening goal from James Rodriguez’s cross, rewarding a spell of domination by the Colombians.

Rodriguez’s through ball after Poland lost possession in midfield led to the final goal. Cuadrado collected the pass and rushed toward the box, timing his shot perfectly to beat goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Poland got off to an aggressive start in the hot and humid Tatarstan capital, pressing high and winning most of the duels in the opening minutes.

Colombia gradually settled in, though, with Quintero providing attacking width and Cuadrado proving dangerous with his subtle moves on the edge of the box.

Colombia slowed the pace in the second half, showing good counterattacking qualities. Quintero came close in the 56th minute on the break, but his goal-bound shot took a deflection.

Cut off from the rest of his teammates, Robert Lewandowski had a few attempts but could not convert his rare chances.

GROUP DYNAMICS

Colombia is still alive ahead of its final match against Senegal and can still win the group, while Poland can only hurt Japan’s chances of advancement.

KEY TO SUCCESSES

Given his first start after fully recovering from a calf injury, Rodriguez lived up to expectations. He pressed relentlessly, tracked back and delivered an assist for Mina.

Rodriguez has now been directly involved in nine goals in seven World Cup appearances for Colombia, scoring six and assisting on three. He formed an excellent partnership with Quintero to create some beautiful play for Colombia.

Besides scoring, Mina was also excellent in containing Lewandowski throughout the match.

POOR POLAND

Poland played well for 15 minutes but then faded.

The team was overwhelmed in midfield and looked clueless in attack in another error-ridden display that resulted in an early exit.

Poland has now failed to keep a clean sheet in its last 10 World Cup matches, since beating Portugal 1-0 in 1986.

“The Colombian team was a much better team,” Poland coach Adam Nawalka said.

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Reunification prospects unclear for freed immigrant parents

A Texas charitable organization says about 30 immigrant parents separated from their children after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border were freed into its care Sunday, but they don’t know where their kids are or when they might see them again despite government assurances that family reunification would be well organized.

The release is believed to be the first, large one of its kind since President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that preserved a “zero-tolerance” policy for entering the country illegally but ended the practice of separating immigrant parents and children. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offered no immediate comment.

Ruben Garcia, director of Annunciation House in El Paso, says the parents arrived to his group after federal authorities withdrew criminal charges for illegal entry. He didn’t release names or personal details to protect the parents’ privacy, and Homeland Security officials said they needed more specifics in order to check out their cases.

A Saturday night fact sheet by the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies said authorities know the location of all children in custody after separating them from their families at the border and are working to reunite them. It called the reunification process “well coordinated.”

It also said parents must request that their child be deported with them. In the past, the fact sheet says, many parents elected to be deported without their children. That may be a reflection of violence or persecution they face in their home countries.

It doesn’t state how long it might take to reunite families. Texas’ Port Isabel Service Processing Center has been set up as the staging ground for the families to be reunited prior to deportation.

How the government would reunite families has been unclear because they are first stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, with children taken into custody by the Department of Health and Human Services and adults detained through ICE, which is under the Department of Homeland Security. Children have been sent to far-flung shelters around the country, raising alarm that parents might never know where their children can be found.

At least 2,053 minors who were separated at the border were being cared for in HHS-funded facilities, the fact sheet said.

The chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee hedged Sunday when pressed on whether he was confident the Trump administration knows where all the children are and will be able to reunite them with their parents.

“That is what they’re claiming,” Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The fact sheet states that ICE has implemented an identification mechanism to ensure ongoing tracking of linked family members throughout the detention and removal process; designated detention locations for separated parents and will enhance current processes to ensure communication with children in HHS custody; worked closely with foreign consulates to ensure that travel documents are issued for both the parent and child at time of removal; and coordinated with HHS for the reuniting of the child prior to the parents’ departure from the U.S.

As part of the effort, ICE officials have posted notices in all its facilities advising detained parents who are trying to find or communicate with their children to call a hotline staffed 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

A parent or guardian trying to determine if a child is in the custody of HHS should contact the Office of Refugee Resettlement National Call Center at 1-800-203-7001, or via email at information@ORRNCC.com. Information will be collected and sent to an HHS-funded facility where a minor is located.

But it’s unclear whether detained parents have access to computers to send an email, or how their phone systems work to call out. Attorneys at the border have said they have been frantically trying to locate information about the children on behalf of their clients.

Garcia, the Annunciation House director, said his experience has been that telephone contact doesn’t provide any information.

“If we bring in 30 cellphones, they’re going to call that number, they’re not going to reach 30 children,” said Garcia, whose organization has been working with federal authorities to assist immigrants for 40 years. “Actually (they’re) not going to be able to give them any information on what to expect.”

Customs and Border Patrol said it had reunited 522 children and that some were never taken into custody by Health and Human Services because their parents’ criminal cases were processed too quickly. Officials have said as many as 2,300 children had been separated from the time the policy began until June 9. It’s not clear if any of the 2,000 remaining children were taken into custody after June 9.

The “zero-tolerance policy” of criminally prosecuting anyone caught illegally crossing the border remains in effect, officials have said, despite confusion on the ground on how to carry out Trump’s order. Justice Department officials asked a federal judge to amend a class-action settlement that governs how children are treated in immigration custody. Right now, children can only be detained with their families for 20 days; Trump officials are seeking to detain them together indefinitely as their cases progress. Advocates say family detention does not solve the problem.

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Washington Capitals re-sign John Carlson to $64M, 8-year deal

The Washington Capitals have re-signed John Carlson to a $64 million, eight-year contract that allows the Stanley Cup champions to keep the do-it-all defenseman.

Carlson will count $8 million against the salary cap through the 2026-27 season. General manager Brian MacLellan announced the deal Sunday.

“John has been an exceptional and consistent player for our franchise and has blossomed into being one of the top defensemen in the NHL,” MacLellan said. “Defenseman like John are a rare commodity in our League and, at 28 years of age, we feel he is just entering his prime. As a right-handed defenseman, John plays in all key situations and has contributed greatly to our team’s success on the special teams. We are pleased for both parties to have come to an agreement.”

That’s not necessary for the 28-year-old who has made the Washington area his home and wanted to stay if there was a fit. The Capitals got the cap space necessary to re-sign Carlson by trading veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik and backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night at the NHL draft.

Carlson outperformed his last deal that paid him just under $4 million a season and was at his best in a contract year. He led all defensemen with 68 points in the regular season and 20 in the playoffs to help Washington win the Metropolitan Division and then the Stanley Cup.

The contract makes Carlson the second-highest-paid player on the Capitals behind Alex Ovechkin.

Carlson averaged about 25 minutes a game all season, stepping up early when top-pairing defenseman Matt Niskanen missed time with injury and playing an important role on the power play and penalty kill on the Cup run.

“His value is immense,” goaltender Braden Holtby said. “You can see that, how much he meant to our team in this run. As far as growth, I think he’s grown steadily but I think he’s been pretty good for a long time. He’s been really good for a long time. I think this year it just showed through a bit more because we just forced him to play more.”

Carlson has been a mainstay on the Capitals’ blue line since 2010-11. The 2008 first-round pick has 333 points in 608 regular-season games and 55 points in 100 playoff games.

“I’ve always thought he was one of the better defensemen that I’ve ever played with,” winger T.J. Oshie said. “This year, he elevated that quite a bit. In my eyes, he’s got to be a top-three or top-five defenseman in the league. You see what he does- he doesn’t do a lot of things that are really flashy, so maybe he doesn’t get the highlight-reel things that other guys do, but defensively, he rarely ever gets beat.”

Re-signing Carlson was just the first move on MacLellan’s summer checklist. He’s attempting to re-sign trade-deadline pickup Michal Kempny before Carlson’s defense partner can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and he needs to negotiate new contracts for restricted free agent forwards Tom Wilson and Devante Smith-Pelly.

“We’re trying to sign Kempny,” MacLellan said Friday. “We’re trying to sign Wilson as an RFA and then make some decisions after that.”

There’s also the matter of replacing Barry Trotz as coach after he resigned and joined the New York Islanders. Associate coach Todd Reirden, who was a finalist for the Flames’ head job two years ago, is the heavy front-runner, though MacLellan wanted to sit down and formally interview him this week first.

“I think you still need to go through an interview process and ask the right questions,” MacLellan said. “I just want to clarify on what he’s thinking system-wise and how he’s going to handle certain players.”

It helps his case that Reirden coached the defenseman and had a hand in the development of Carlson, Niskanen, Kempny and Dmitry Orlov.

“The players all know him, they’re comfortable with him,” MacLellan said. “He’ll have a good feel for personalities, how to motivate people and so forth.”

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