Eddy Lemaistre/FEP/Panoramic/US PRESSWIRE

Plushenko has spinal disc replaced; hopeful for Sochi

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Torino figure skating champ Yevgeny Plushenko underwent back surgery Thursday in Tel Aviv, and actually had a deteriorated spinal disc removed and replaced with a synthetic one.

“The doctor who performed the operation said it was a success,” Plushenko’s coach Alexei Mishin told Reuters. “It’s too early to make any prognosis about his return to the ice… Looking back we all say he should have done something else but it’s too late now. The disc was in such a bad condition.”

Plushenko, 30, effectively retired after winning his third Olympic medal in 2010, but returned to win his tenth national championship last month despite being sidelined for a year with a knee surgery and back issues. Now he hopes this surgery will help him make one final push toward winning a fourth career medal at his country’s first Winter Olympics.

“He should get a new lease of life and hopefully will come back stronger than he was last year,” Mishin added. “I know he has his mind set on competing at the Sochi Olympics and I’m sure he’ll do whatever it takes to be there in good shape and in good health.”

U.S. men’s soccer blanks Canada, reaches Olympic qualifying playoff

Marc Pelosi
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The U.S. under-23 men’s soccer team kept its Olympic qualifying hopes alive by beating Canada 2-0 in the CONCACAF tournament’s third-place game in Sandy, Utah, on Tuesday night.

Midfielder Marc Pelosi and forward Jerome Kiesewetter scored in the 69th and 84th minutes, respectively, with Canada playing with 10 men for the entire second half.

The U.S. will qualify for the Rio Olympics if — and only if — it beats Colombia in a one-game playoff in Rio de Janeiro in March.

The U.S. failed to qualify for the 2004 and 2012 Olympic tournaments and hasn’t won a men’s soccer medal since 1904, when the Olympic tournament included three teams.

The Americans missed an earlier chance to clinch a Rio Olympic spot when they lost 2-0 to Honduras in the CONCACAF tournament semifinals Saturday.

If the U.S. qualifies for Rio, it can swap in a maximum of three players born before Jan. 1, 1993, to its roster for the Olympics.

The U.S. took advantage of the over-age exception to add World Cup veterans in 2008 (Brian McBride) and 2000 (Brad Friedel).

The U.S. can already add three World Cup veterans without using any over-age spots, since John BrooksJulian Green and DeAndre Yedlin will still be eligible for the U-23 team in 2016. Even though none were used in CONCACAF qualifying.

The 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournament field:

Brazil — possibly with Neymar
Argentina — 2008 Olympic champion when it had Lionel Messi
Germany — possibly with Philipp Lahm, but unlikely for Mesut Özil
Portugal — possibly with 2004 Olympian Cristiano Ronaldo
Sweden — possibly with Zlatan Ibrahimovic
U.S. or Colombia
Three Asian nations determined in January
Three African nations determined in December

MORE SOCCER: Jurgen Klinsmann’s journey to an Olympic bronze medal

Watch ‘Race’ film about Jesse Owens teaser video

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“Race,” a film about Olympic sprint legend Jesse Owens, will hit theaters Feb. 19.

Owens, who won four gold medals at the Berlin 1936 Olympics in the face of Nazi Germany, is played by Stephan James in the film.

Jason Sudeikis and Jeremy Irons are also in the cast for the Focus Features film, according to reports. Sudeikis will reportedly play Owens’ coach, Larry Snyder. Irons will play Avery Brundage, then the president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Angelina Jolie discusses her decision to use Jesse Owens in ‘Unbroken’