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US beats Mexico in Mexico for 1st time

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US beats Mexico in Mexico for 1st time

By Michael Weissenstein
Associated PressMEXICO CITY (AP) -- Second-half substitute Michael Orozco Fiscal scored in the 80th minute to give the United States its first-ever win at Mexico with a 1-0 victory in a friendly Wednesday.

Brek Shea, who entered two minutes earlier, went down the left flank and around Severo Meza before sending a cross to Terrence Boyd. Boyd made a quick backheel pass to Orozco Fiscal, who had entered in the 77th

Orozco Fizcal, who plays in Mexico for San Luis, beat keeper Guillermo Ochoa for his first international goal.

U.S. keeper Tim Howard held on to the lead, changing directions to stop a deflected shot by Javier Hernandez in the 85th, then pawing away a header by Chicharito in the 89th.

"I think it's huge. It's huge for I think all American fans, it's huge for the team, and it's historic," U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. "We were very well aware that we've never won here at the Azteca Stadium. This is an amazing experience for the all the players. We told them before the game: This moment is for you, go and grab it. We are all aware that it was a lot, a lot of work."

The U.S. had lost 23 matches and drawn one 1 against El Tri in 75 years of matches in Mexico, including 19 losses and a draw at the thin air at altitude in Mexico City -- where they have been outscored 81-14.

"Tim Howard kept us in the game I don't know how many times," said Klinsmann, who has been trying to change the defensive mindset the American had at times under Bob Bradley. "It's a mental aspect of it. Eventually, you need a little bit of luck, too, and I think in some instances we were lucky tonight."

It was the second big win for the Americans this year, following their first-ever victory over Italy in a friendly at Genoa in February.

With the European clubs seasons getting under way, the U.S. used a half-strength squad and a makeshift central defense.

Mexico, also below strength following the Olympics, dominated possession but failed to connect on several open shots as the Americans paired Maurice Edu and Geoff Cameron in the center of their back line.

The game marked the start of the Americans' second year under Klinsmann, who replaced Bradley l after Mexico overcame a two-goal deficit to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup final 4-2.

The U.S. expects to have a lineup closer to full strength for a pair of World Cup qualifiers against Jamaica next month, on the road on Sept. 7 and at Columbus, Ohio, four days later. Mexico plays Costa Rica twice on those same days.

"We know we have to improve in many, many elements," Klinsmann said. "We have to keep the ball longer. We have to create more chances. We have to do a lot of work still. But I think this gives us a lot of confidence."

Landon Donovan, searching for his 50th international goal, left at the start of the second half because of a tight hamstring and DaMarcus Beasley came in for his 97th international appearance. Boyd came in at the same time to replace an ineffective Jose Torres.

Cameron got his head on a cross from Elias Hernandez in the 56th minute, preventing Hernandez from an open shot in front. A minute later, Jesus Zavala put an open header over the crossbar.

With Ochoa off his line, Kyle Beckerman put a long, sliding shot just over the crossbar in the 60th.

Andres Guardado hooked a free kick just wide to Howard's right post in the 65th after Cameron fouled Hernandez just outside the penalty area. Hernandez then sent an open header wide in the 76th off a cross from Hernandez.

"It was very difficult in high altitude, with many of them flying in from Europe two days ago," Klinsmann said. "But we had a plan, and we tried to execute that plan and getting that win here, I mean it's quite enjoyable."

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Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

Devante Smith-Pelly named a starter in return to Chicago after ugly racial taunts

The top line for the Capitals on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks is Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie, but the starting lineup is Ovechkin, Backstrom and Devante Smith-Pelly. Why the change?

It all has to do with the last time the Caps visited Chicago nearly a year ago.

On Feb. 17, 2018, Washington went into the United Center and were obliterated by the Blackhawks 7-1. But that wasn’t the ugliest thing to happen that night.

While sitting in the penalty box, Devante Smith-Pelly faced racial taunts from some Chicago fans who began chanting “basketball, basketball” at him.

In the wake of the incident, Smith-Pelly handled himself about as gracefully as one could. So, in the team’s return to Chicago Sunday, head coach Todd Reirden felt he should be on the ice for the national anthem.

According to Pierre McGuire during the game broadcast, the idea came from Oshie himself, who advocated that Smith-Pelly start in his place.

The starters traditionally stand on the ice for the anthem while the rest of the players stand at the bench.

Smith-Pelly has remained active against racism in the sport. He and teammate John Carlson invited a youth hockey team whose lone African-American player had faced racial taunts during a game to the Caps’ game on Monday.

Sunday’s move by Reirden is a classy tribute to Smith-Pelly who handled an ugly situation about as well as one could. 

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

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The Wizards refuse to tank, so be skeptical of those Bradley Beal trade rumors

Apparently Wizards owner Ted Leonsis could have been even more clear when he delivered the edict last week that his team will "never, ever tank."

Despite publicly stating the Wizards would not go through a rebuild, the trade rumors surrounding All-Star guard Bradley Beal have persisted. Bleacher Report created some buzz on Saturday with an extensive look at Beal's trade value and there will likely be many more stories written in the next several weeks leading up to the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 7.

What Leonsis said, however, should change how any rumors are viewed. He expressed firmly what team officials have been indicating for weeks, that if they are active at the trade deadline, it won't be with deals involving their main guys.

That means Beal is highly unlikely to be dealt. Otto Porter Jr. can be considered similarly and John Wall should go without saying given his current injury status and hefty trade kicker.

All of that doesn't mean the Wizards won't get calls. There are reasons why people are connecting the dots on Beal and Porter. The Wizards have underperformed this season and they are good, veteran players. That is generally the most basic formula for trade speculation.

Leonsis, though, made it clear that he doesn't want to go through a rebuild anytime soon and trading Beal would signify a reset. If the Wizards want to make the playoffs this season, as Leonsis said, they have a much better shot with Beal in the mix than without him.

So, for the Wizards to trade Beal, that would require a serious change of face and in a short period of time. Or, it would require someone in the organization with a differing opinion to overrule the owner. Neither scenario sounds realistic.

If the goal is to build on what they have rather than tear it down and start over, you could argue they would be crazy to trade Beal. He is 25, an All-Star who is still improving and he's under contract two more years. The roughly $56 million he's owed through 2020-21 is a relative bargain in this era of supermax contracts.

The Wizards can't 100 percent rule out a trade of any player, of course. No front office really can, with rare exceptions like MVPs or all-time greats in their prime. Generally, everyone has a price.

Nothing can be taken as a guarantee in these situations. But Leonsis' comments have made it about as clear as possible that Beal isn't going anywhere. Just keep that in mind when the rumors inevitably crop up in the next few weeks.

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