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The life of Bert Trautmann: Broken neck, Prisoner of War, Man City legend

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Today the sad news arrived that legendary goalkeeper Bert Trautmann has passed away.

The Manchester City legend died at the age of 89, after one of the most encapsulating careers soccer has ever seen.

Trautmann was a German paratrooper who was captured by British forces and became Prisoner of War.

His intriguing and incredible story starts there.

Trautmann made 545 appearances for City between 1949 and 1964 after winning over a nation with his brilliance and bravery, but the German soldier faced fierce opposition when City first signed him, as over 20,000 people signed a petition against him playing for the English club.

However Trautmann’s status as one of the bravest goalkeepers in soccer history still remains today. That’s all because of one brutal moment during the 1956 FA Cup final at Wembley.

In the second half, Trautmann dove bravely at the feet of Birmingham City’s Peter Murphy but was hit hard by the impact. However the German ‘keeper played on for the final 16 minutes of the game… with a broken neck. City won the FA Cup and it’s gone down in history as a day that belonged to Trautmann.

On that day he was immortalized into British sporting history.

Trautmann’s heroics won over his doubters and despite being German, he claimed in later life to be very proud of his time in the UK. “When people ask me about life, I say my education began when I got to England. I learnt about humanity, tolerance and forgiveness.”

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Trautmann was written into soccer folklore, after playing on despite breaking his neck in the 1956 FA Cup final.

Despite people having to show a lot of forgiveness to Trautmann when he began his soccer career in England, he soon won them over with one virtuoso display after another. After soccer Trautmann became the first German ambassador to the UK following the second World War and was given an OBE for “promoting Anglo-German understanding through football.”

After that he travelled the world and coached in countries such as Burma and Pakistan, but England always remained close to his heart and he was a fan of Manchester City and attended games in recent years before his health deteriorated.

Personally, growing up and playing the game in England, you would often hear references to Trautmann’s bravery from aging coaches. “What are you crying about a scrapped knee for? There was a goalkeeper who once played with a broken neck, get up.”

Something along those lines often cropped up when youngsters feigned injury or over-reacted on the pitch. Trautmann’s legend lives on amongst many generations.

But even though his life has now come to an end, the soccer world respects his bravery on the field. Trautmann often frustratedly referred to himself as the ‘goalkeeper who broke his neck.’ He will never be forgotten in the British Isles and further afield for that.

Yet Trautmann was much more than that, as the incredible story of his life portrays.

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.

VIDEO: Alex Morgan scores goal against Costa Rica in 12 seconds

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The United States got off to a historically roaring start in Olympic qualifying. Taking on Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas to begin Group A play, Alex Morgan opened the scoring in just 12 seconds, taking just six passes to complete the masterpiece.

According to the USWNT twitter account, the goal is the fastest in U.S. Soccer history.

According to CONCACAF, the goal is also the quickest in CONCACAF Olympic qualifying, breaking Abby Wambach’s of 35 seconds in a 14-0 domination of the Dominican Republic in 2012.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

The United States scored three goals in the first 15 minutes against Costa Rica tonight. They will take on Mexico and Puerto Rico across the next five days.

Watch Live: USWNT vs Costa Rica in Olympic qualifying

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 23:  (L-R) Carli Lloyd #10 of the United States is congratulated by teammate Alex Morgan #13 after a goal against Ireland at Qualcomm Stadium on January 23, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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The United States women are set to begin Group A play in Olympic qualification, taking on 36th ranked Costa Rica at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas at 8:30 a.m. ET.

The game takes place after a 17-day camp at the national training camp in Carson, California.

[ WATCH LIVE: USWNT vs Costa Rica live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]

Other teams in the group include Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Mexicans dominated Puerto Rico 6-0 in the first game.

LINEUP

United States: Solo; Krieger, Johnston, Sauerbrunn, Klingenberg; Brian, Horan, Dunn, Lloyd, Heath; Morgan.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.