Quakes score early, go quiet in loss to New York City FC


Quakes score early, go quiet in loss to New York City FC


NEW YORK -- Jack Harrison scored in the first half, Thomas McNamara scored four minutes after entering as a second-half substitute and New York City FC beat the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 on Saturday.

New York City (2-1-1) tied it at 1-all in the 10th minute. Harrison ran to David Villa's back-heel pass and powered a shot off goalkeeper David Bingham's hands. McNamara made it 2-1 after a nice combination play. Ronald Matarrita ran past the defense to Villa's flick and found a trailing McNamara.

NYCFC had a man advantage at the 80-minute mark after Victor Bernardez was given a straight red card for a late studs-up challenge.

Marco Urena scored his first goal for San Jose (2-2-0) in the sixth minute. He forced a rushed clearance by goalkeeper Sean Johnson, won the loose ball and scored from a tough angle at the corner of the six-yard box.

Johnson pushed away Nick Lima's close-range attempt in the 74th minute.

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


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.”

Alejandro Bedoya, Major League Soccer stand tall against gun violence


Alejandro Bedoya, Major League Soccer stand tall against gun violence

The days of “shut and dribble” are gone, kicked into the national trash bin, where it joins such passe phrases as “stick to sports,” “stay in your lane,” and “who asked you?”

Thank you, Alejandro Bedoya.

And thank you, Major League Soccer.

As refreshing as it was to see Bedoya, a Philadelphia Union midfielder, react to scoring a goal by sprinting to the corner of a soccer pitch on Sunday and grab a hot microphone to plead for a humane response to the latest mass shootings in the United States, what happened on Monday was more significant.

While folks waited to see how MLS would react to Bedoya for making what always has been described as a “political statement” -- fine, suspension, or both -- the powers that be did no such thing.

Rather than issue discipline, they instead announced Bedoya, had been voted MLS Player of the Week.

Though there was, officially, no direct link between the award and the in-game plea uttered to a national audience through a TV mic -- “Congress, do something now. End gun violence! Let’s go!” -- that members of such an institution did not wring their hands or seek to repress Bedoya is an admission of recognition long overdue.

That sports and society are not mutually exclusive. Not that they ever were.

Like millions across the country, Bedoya, who was born in New Jersey but grew up in Florida, was sickened by the events hours earlier in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. An angry young man in El Paso killed 20 people (two more died Monday, raising the total to 22). Another angry young man killed nine in Dayton. There were calls to action from coast-to-coast, from politicians, entertainers, sports figures and beyond.

Even country music stars, usually careful to avoid tweaking their generally conservative fan bases, were on message with Bedoya. “True leaders don’t stand back and watch the world burn,” tweeted Kacey Musgraves. From Billy Ray Cyrus: “Be the change you wanna see.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, speaking in Las Vegas, where he is an assistant coach for Team USA as it prepares for the FIBA World Cup, said in part, “It's up to us as Americans to demand change from the gutless leadership that continues to allow this to happen and continues to somehow claim the second amendment is doing its job.”

What’s rare, however, for an American sports league to offer much more than sympathies. MLS not only not only gave its weekly honor to someone blazing through the news cycle for reasons beyond soccer, it also offered a few words that imply at least a measure of support for Bedoya and his spontaneous public-service announcement:

“The Major League Soccer family joins everyone in grieving for the loss of lives in Texas and Ohio, and we understand that our players and staff have strong and passionate views on this issue.”

MLS didn’t go far enough, but it also did not run from the issue. And by citing Bedoya as an example, it inches forward the conversation in ways other sports leagues wouldn’t dare. Perhaps it understands that silence, now, with mass homicidal madness on graphic display almost daily, is to be complicit in America’s unwillingness to confront the worst of itself.

Not only was MLS on message with Bedoya, but so was his team, which also issued a statement: “The Philadelphia Union support Alejandro Bedoya. He is taking a stand. The events that transpired this weekend across the country are deplorable. Our hearts go out to everyone affected.”

Union coach Jim Curtin took it a step further.

“I’m on his side. It’s outrageous. Things need to change in this country for sure,” Curtin told reporters in Washington. “And I’ll support anyone who speaks their mind and is intelligent and informed on it every time. That’s what Alejandro is. He’s passionate. He cares.

“And again, it’s a real issue in our country now that needs to change. A lot of people will tell me now and Ale to shut up, to stick to sports and all these stupid lines that come up. But it’s crazy. It’s crazy in our country right now and I think it needs to change as well.”

Bedoya, 32, is a former member of the U.S. Men’s National Team and among the most respected players in MLS. He was prepared for any heat that came his way from the Union, and from MLS.

He instead was given an award by one and a pat on the back by the other in what we can only hope this is a turn toward systematic enlightenment.