Soccer

How Brandi Chastain still inspires 20 years after famed World Cup goal

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USATSI

How Brandi Chastain still inspires 20 years after famed World Cup goal

Brandi Chastain’s legacy is set in bronze. Well, at least part of it is.

The two-time world champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist scored the most famous goal in American soccer history 20 years ago last month at the Rose Bowl, drilling a left-footed penalty kick into the top corner to clinch the United States Women’s National Team’s second World Cup title. The Rose Bowl unveiled a statue of Chastain’s iconic celebration last month, and the Bay Area native says she’s “grateful” for the honor.

But the gold, silver and bronze that came in Chastain’s decorated career aren’t what she’ll remember most. 

“[It] wasn't the reason to get started,” Chastain, 51, told NBC Sports Bay Area this week, speaking on behalf of Clover Sonoma’s “Strong Inside” campaign. “It wasn't the reason to stay in it, and it won't be the reason to continue. 

“But the reasons are about the people, and how you get to influence young people's way of not just playing the game, but how they see themselves in society and how they can organize themselves in teams, and how they can become leaders and possibly make positive change.”

Chastain retired from the sport in 2010, and that mindset has guided her post-playing career. She is the executive director of California Thorns FC, a U.S. Soccer development academy program associated with NWSL’s Portland Thorns. She coaches the under-14 team, and the boys varsity soccer team at Bellarmine College Preparatory.

Chastain, along with World Cup-winning teammate Julie Foudy, co-founded the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative in 2005. According to Chastain, BAWSI has provided a free after-school exercise program for nearly 20,000 elementary-school girls in underserved communities since its inception. 

Along with the rest of the World Cup-winning “99ers,” Chastain was cited as an inspiration to many on the 2019 team. By sealing the United States’ first back-to-back titles with this summer’s run in France, the 2019 iteration joined their predecessors in American soccer lore. 

Chastain said she was happy to be someone young women looked up to, since she didn’t have examples of women playing professional sports when she was a young, aspiring athlete. 

“Now that I see these young players that I coach,” Chastain said, “that they are looking to the [USWNT] and they are looking at other national teams, and they have those resources. They have those mentors. … It makes you feel good that these national team players are saying that we’ve had good representation before we came here, and we hope to follow in their footsteps.”

Chastain recently partnered with Petaluma-based dairy Clover Sonoma for its “Strong Inside” promotion that highlighted her, NBC Sports Bay Area Giants reporter Amy Gutierrez, former Stanford basketball star Jennifer Azzi and American middle-distance runner Alysia Montaño as women who are inspiring future generations to find their inner strength.

“It's just a testament to how long she has stayed in the spotlight,” Kristel Corson, Clover Sonoma’s vice president of sales and marketing, said of Chastain. “And that people are still recognizing what she did [20 years ago] as something that's still so important, even in today's world as women athletes are fighting for equal pay and sort of equal rights across the board, she has continued to be in that spotlight and stand up for women and stand up for young girls, helping them achieve what they need.”

Amid recent organizational changes within U.S. Soccer, Chastain sees an opportunity to continue to pay it forward. 

U.S. Soccer officially hired Kate Markgraf, Chastain’s former teammate, as the USWNT’s general manager earlier this week. Markgraf will be tasked with hiring the team’s next leader after Jill Ellis, who is only the second coach to win back-to-back World Cups, announced last month that she would step down.

Chastain said she wants to “become a part of coaching” the youth national team set-up, with an eye on “hopefully one day working with the national team.” Even with all she has accomplished in soccer, she has plenty of passion for the sport.

“I still love soccer as much as I ever have -- maybe even more,” Chastain said. “I'm hoping that, with my age, that will be an asset in terms of my experience and the fact that I've been in this game for over 43 years, and I want to continue to give back.”

Watch Alisson's brilliant assist to Mo Salah to seal Liverpool win

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AP

Watch Alisson's brilliant assist to Mo Salah to seal Liverpool win

Mo Salah's 93rd-minute goal in a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday at Anfield didn't mean much to the result. 

After all, the Reds were seconds away from a victory that moved the Premier League leaders 16 points clear (with a game in hand) of second-place Manchester City. But no goal signaled the league's futility in trying to stop Liverpool's march to history quite like Salah's 11th goal of this Premier League campaign. 

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker booted a ball from his box into Manchester United's half following a corner kick, with Salah yards clear of the Red Devils' last line of defense. Daniel James caught up to Salah, but the Egyptian striker fought of his challenge to cooly finish past United keeper David de Gea. 

Alisson sprinted upfield to celebrate with a shirtless Salah, and for good reason: His assist was the first by a Liverpool keeper in nearly a decade.

[RELATED: Burnley shock Leicester in topsy-turvy weekend for top four]

With Sunday's result -- and, clearly, Liverpool's first Premier League title -- well in hand, the faithful at Anfield finally acknowledged their reality, singing "We're going to win the league" for the first time this season. 

Salah's stunner simply crystallized the inevitability of Liverpool's first top-flight title in 30 years. 

Liverpool-Manchester United live stream: Watch EPL game online, on TV

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AP

Liverpool-Manchester United live stream: Watch EPL game online, on TV

Manchester United (9-7-6; 34 points) have European qualification on the line, but playing spoiler Sunday against rival Liverpool (20-1-0; 61 points) at Anfield might provide bigger motivation. 

The Reds are marching towards history, with their first Premier League title merely a formality at this point. United can end Liverpool's unbeaten run in the league -- and longer on at home -- by springing the upset Sunday, which would provide embattled Red Devils manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a needed boost down the stretch. Winning Sunday would also cut fourth-place Chelsea's lead to just two points, with two sides set to square off in a month.

Liverpool should be up for it Sunday, as Manchester United are the only club to earn points at the Reds' expense this season. Jurgen Klopp's side will be motivated to avoid a repeat at Anfield. 

[RELATED: Roger Bennett breaks down Man United-Liverpool rivalry]

Here's how to watch Sunday's Liverpool-Manchester United match online and on TV. 

When: Sunday, Jan. 19 at 11:30 a.m. ET/8:30 a.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Online: NBC Sports