Rapids auction jerseys to help teammate’s mom fight cancer

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DENVER (AP) As far as defender Kortne Ford can recall, his mom has never missed a home soccer game.

Not with his youth teams when Laurie Ford was going through treatments for breast cancer. Not in high school. Not when he played at the University of Denver. Not now, with him a homegrown player for the Colorado Rapids and his mother dealing with the return of a disease that’s spread to her bones.

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The two of them leaning on each other — it’s been that way since they moved to Colorado years ago for a fresh start. His teammates are assisting his mom, too, by auctioning their jerseys after the Fourth of July game. Same with the fans, who cheered for her in the 24th minute – Ford’s number – of a recent match.

“The support, it’s just incredible,” said the 21-year-old Ford, who has “Mom” tattooed on his chest inside a breast-cancer symbol. “They gave her a year to live in February. We’re trying to drag that out as long as possible.”

The mother and son moved from Olathe, Kansas, to Greeley, Colorado, when Ford was 12 to escape a tough family situation. She got a job as a math teacher and he directed his passion even more into soccer, joining a local club team and then one in Denver.

His mom would drive him to practice — a round trip that could take two-plus hours. She did this even as she went through chemotherapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer around 2009. She did this even after a procedure that required 320-some stitches.

“She’s been huge about explaining to me how you have to know when to tune things out and focus on the things you need to focus on while you’re on the field, so you can perform to the best of your ability,” Ford said. “Sometimes, it’s difficult.”

In 2012, Ford joined the Rapids Academy, which is part of a nationwide youth initiative organized by the U.S. Soccer Federation to develop some of the country’s top players. He played on their under-16 and under-18 squads.

He chose Denver for college because he felt the Pioneers were on the verge of something special. He was right, too, as the team made it to the national semifinals last season with Ford anchoring the back line. Ford skipped his senior season and signed a homegrown contract with Colorado on Jan. 6.

About a month later, he was at training camp with the Rapids, when his mom called: Her cancer was back and had spread to her bones. A few weeks later, he said doctors told them it was terminal.

“That’s when it all hit,” Ford said.

This meant the world to him: She was in the stands when he made his professional debut at Sporting Kansas City on April 9. The Rapids fans also showed their support for his mom on May 5 by standing and applauding for 60 seconds. He clapped along from the sideline.

“There are really no words to describe it,” he said.

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Or this: Scoring his first MLS goal in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on May 27. After the game, he headed to the stands to embrace his mom.

“I told her, `That goal was for you,'” he said.

There’s a fund set up for her that’s raised more than $20,000 . To help even more, Ford’s teammate, Micheal Azira, suggested the idea of holding an auction for their game-worn jerseys after Tuesday’s game against Seattle. He got goalkeeper Tim Howard to assist in organizing the auction.

“You can’t do life alone,” Azira said on the Rapids’ team page. “He (Ford) being a part of our team means he is family, and no matter what, we try to help each other out.”

As a Mother’s Day tribute, Ford read a stirring letter in a video posted on Colorado’s website (above video):

“To the woman who seamlessly filled the shoes as both a mother and father for the majority of my life.”

“To the woman who pushed me in the classroom, pushed me on the court, pushed me on the field, pushed me to be a better man.”

“To the woman who encouraged me to ask for socks and underwear on each of my birthdays and promptly took me to the Salvation Army to donate them so I could experience the power of generosity.”

In closing, Ford added: “I cannot wait to stand by your side, support you, love you and to witness a miracle on the horizon when you beat this again.”

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

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Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

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Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

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The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Watch Live: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs in action

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Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.

[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ] 

You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


Wednesday’s Premier League schedule

2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM

3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.