USWNT wins Olympic bronze with wild 4-3 win over Australia (video)


KASHIMA, Japan — Although the color of their medal wasn’t what they wanted, the USWNT prove that the spirit of their mettle was just what they expected.

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The USWNT salvaged a rocky tournament by winning bronze in women’s soccer at the Tokyo Olympics on Thursday. Megan Rapinoe and Carli Lloyd scored two goals each in a 4-3 win over Australia after opening the Tokyo Games with an uncharacteristic 3-0 loss to Sweden.

“It’s very satisfying. I think we all realized we didn’t play the best this entire tournament,” USWNT captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “So to have the response that we did after a very disappointing semifinal, to show the USA mentality and the resiliency, to put the performance in that we wanted to be playing the entire time, and to finally find it in a game like that – very satisfying.”

The loss spoiled the Australians’ first-ever trip to the medal round at the Olympics. No Australian soccer team, men or women, has ever won a medal.

The Matildas were the underdogs against the USWNT, the top-ranked team in the world and the defending World Cup champions who came to Japan vying for gold. But the Americans struggled at times, including in a 1-0 loss to Canada in the semifinals. The Canadians hadn’t defeated their North American counterparts since 2001.

The USWNT that came out against Australia looked completely different.

“That was the U.S. mentality,” Lloyd said. “We played well, we strung some really good sequences together, scored some great goals. And I’m extremely proud of the way we persevered, they way we turned things around. We’re going home with a medal, and there’s no greater feeling than that.”

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Rapinoe scored directly from a corner kick in the eighth minute to give the Americans an early lead. It was the second time Rapinoe has scored an Olimpico, as goals from corners are known: She also had one in the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics against Canada.

Sam Kerr pulled the Australians even with a goal in the 17th minute that got past USWNT goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

Franch got her first start in a major tournament in place of Alyssa Naeher, who injured her right knee in the U.S. team‘s semifinal loss to Canada.

Just 27, Kerr became the all-time leading scorer for the Australians with 48 goals. She led all scorers remaining in the tournament with six goals.

Rapinoe’s second goal came on a stunning volley in the 21st, and it became obvious that the Australians were missing defender Ellie Carpenter, who was handed a red card late in the Matildas’ 1-0 semifinal loss to Sweden.

Lloyd made it 3-1 in first-half stoppage time when her left-footed shot got past Australia goalkeeper Teagan Micah. She added another on a break in the 51st minute, giving her a USWNT-record 10 career Olympic goals. She is the first American woman to score in four Olympics.

Lloyd made her 312th appearance for the national team in the match, passing Christie Rampone for second on the all-time list. Kristine Lilly leads the career appearances list with 354.

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Lloyd is 39 and likely playing in her last major tournament. When she was replaced in the 81st minute, teammates ran over to offer handshakes and high-fives, and the bench gave her a standing ovation.

Lloyd said afterward that she had not made a decision about her future just yet.

Caitlin Foord kept the Australians in the game with a goal in the 54th minute before Emily Gielnik scored to narrow it further in the 90th, but ultimately the Matildas couldn’t make up the difference.

Kerr sat alone on the field for a long time after the final whistle.

“Being so close and really taking it to one of the top teams in the world, and out-playing them at times and getting so close to scoring in certain moments, it just feels like we were right there and it’s been snatched from us,” Australia defender Steph Catley said. “It’s definitely tough to take.”

The Australians had already met the United States at the Tokyo Olympics, holding the Americans to a scoreless draw in the final game of the group stage. Australia was also the only team in the group to score on the Swedes, who are headed for the gold medal match Friday against Canada.

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The USWNT’s tournament-opening loss to to Sweden snapped a 44-match unbeaten streak. After a rebound victory over New Zealand came the scoreless draw with Australia. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. got past the Netherlands inn a penalty shootout.

But they were thwarted in a quest to become the first team to win an Olympics after a World Cup title by their Canadian rivals. Jessie Fleming scored on a penalty kick in the 74th minute for the game’s lone goal.

The players said Thursday they had a team meeting after the loss to Canada.

“I felt like we just had a good vibe going into the game. We’ve done, as you can imagine, lots of talking and meetings and hashing it all out and doing the autopsy,” Rapinoe said. “But I felt like we just got to a good place.”

The USWNT has reached the gold medal match at the Olympics five times. The Americans have four gold medals, more than any other team since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996.

But it is the second Olympics they have failed to reach the gold medal match. They were beaten by Sweden in the quarterfinals five years ago in Brazil.

Three things we learned from West Brom – Leeds


West Brom – Leeds: Marcelo Bielsa’s side jumped on the Baggies early and often as they handed out a 5-0 drubbing at The Hawthorns on Tuesday.

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The victory sends Leeds up to 10th in the Premier League table, once again in the top half after a turbulent couple of months. West Brom, meanwhile, remain rooted in 19th place, only spared the indignity of 20th by Sheffield United’s historically horrid pace.

3 things we learned: West Brom – Leeds

1. A big ask, even for Big Sam: Perhaps it’s time to consider that West Brom, as currently constructed, is simply not cut out for the Premier League. Sure, they showed a fighting spirit to come back and take a point off Liverpool on Sunday, but when they went down early to Leeds, their heads dropped and the team looked like a beaten bunch. If Allardyce can’t reach the players in a motivational sense, all hope is lost.

2. Leeds more than a little lucky: With all of that said, Leeds built their 4-0 halftime lead on the back of an absurd own goal, a genuine wonder-strike, a piece of actual build-up, and a wicked deflection. They were undeniably the aggressors, which perhaps curried a bit of favor with the goal gods.

Sam Allardyce’s side fell behind first once again, just as they did against Liverpool on Sunday, only this time the deficit was 100 percent of their own doing. Romaine Sawyers received the ball no less than 25 yards from West Brom’s goal and played it back to goalkeeper Sam Johnstone. The only problem was Sawyers did so without looking, and Johnstone was all the way out of goal, halfway up the end line. Everyone in blue and white shirts watched in horror as the ball slowly rolled over the line.

West Brom managed to keep the score at 1-0 until the half-hour mark, at which point the floodgates opened and things began to get away from them. Ezgjan Alioski smashed a stunning left-footed strike off the inside of the far post to make it 2-0 in the 31st minute, bringing with the goal a feeling of overwhelming inevitability and finality.

Jack Harrison made it 3-0 with a tough finish after Patrick Bamford played him into the penalty just five minutes later.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Four minutes after that, Rodrigo got on the end of Mateusz Klich’s cross to guide it home, with the help of a massive deflection, and it was four for Bielsa’s side.

The fifth goal, courtesy of club-record signing Raphinha, was a purely sensational strike that put the exclamation point on a banner result.

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USWNT star Sam Mewis signs for Man City

Sam Mewis
Man City

Sam Mewis to Manchester City is a huge move both for the USWNT star and the WSL club.

Mewis, 27, was a star for the USWNT as they won the 2019 Women’s World Cup and the central midfielder has left the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL to sign for the FA Women’s Super League side in England.

Speaking about her move to Man City, a club among one of the most ambitious in the women’s game, Mewis is delighted to start a new adventure after three seasons with NC Courage.

“I’m so happy to have everything sorted. The opportunity came along at a really great time – as soon as I heard about the chance of coming to play for Manchester City, I was immediately interested,” Mewis said. “The club is one of the best in the world and I’ve heard such good things about the women’s side as a whole and the incredible facilities. I’ve followed the men’s team too for a long time. This is a really cool, unique and amazing opportunity in my career and I’m so excited to come and see Manchester as a city, be a part of this incredible Club and hopefully help the team achieve their goals.”

Mewis follows in the footsteps of USWNT legend Carli Lloyd who played for Man City in recent seasons, while Canadian star Janine Beckie is also in City’s squad and England captain Steph Houghton is also the captain at City. The new WSL season in England kicks off on Sept. 5-6 and Man City are among the favorites to win it all in England and will also compete in the UEFA Champions League in 2020-21.

Man City battle with Chelsea each season to be crowned the WSL champions and the arrival of Mewis will give them a big boost towards becoming the dominant force in the women’s game in England. She is an unsung hero for the USWNT and has been instrumental in the NC Courage dominating the NWSL in recent seasons with back-to-back championships in 2018 and 2019.

It will be intriguing to see if more USWNT players follow Sam Mewis to Manchester City, and other WSL clubs in England, in the coming months.

Race and Sports in America: Conversations


“Race and Sports in America: Conversations” airs this Monday across NBC Sports as prominent Black athletes discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, social injustice and the current situation in the United States of America.

Steph Curry, Charles Barkley, Ozzie Smith, James Blake, Troy Mullins, Anthony Lynn, Jimmy Rollins and Kyle Rudolph all feature, with NBC Sports’ Damon Hack as host, as the prominent athletes discuss how sports can help combat inequality.

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The show airs Monday, July 13 at 8pm ET on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel and all of our RSN channels. Segments from the show will also be available to watch on Peacock and YouTube, while the audio podcast version will be available on Monday too.

In the Premier League we have seen players and staff collectively taking a knee before every single game since the restart in order to show respect and solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, while each team wears a badge on their sleeve saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their jerseys.

Below is a snippet from “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” as Damon Hack, Ozzie Smith, Charles Barkley and Steph Curry discuss how Black athletes are treated different to a Black person on the street.

DAMON HACK: It’s interesting. You guys have all played at the highest level. You’ve had people that would cheer for you when you were in uniform. But if you were walking down the street and not wearing your uniform and you had a hoodie on, they might look at you a little bit different. How do you navigate that?

OZZIE SMITH: Let me say this here. Where I live in St. Louis it’s going to be different for me than it is for some other Black guy. I’m not treated the same way other Black people are treated. I don’t know if that’s the case for these guys. If I had to guess, I’d say it’s a little bit different when Charles walks in or Steph or Jimmy, because we’ve been out there and people see us and people have an idea what our personalities and things are like. They know we’re not bad people. So it’s different for us than it would be for somebody else. But in St. Louis, I can’t say that it’s been a terrible experience for me. I haven’t had a lot of bad experiences because of who I am and what I did.

CHARLES BARKLEY: I want to piggyback on something Ozzie said. He’s 100% correct. The notion that rich and famous Black people are treated like regular Black people, that’s not right. We get treated great. But I always worry about how we treat poor Black people.

You know, there’s a great thing and Spike Lee, who I really admire and respect in that movie, “Do The Right Thing,” that’s a perfect illustration what Ozzie is talking about, what I’m talking about, when the guy says, you know, you hate Black people. He says, yeah, I hate Black people. He says, who is your favorite entertainer. He says Michael Jackson. He says, who is your favorite jock. He says, Michael Jordan. He’s says, they’re Black. And he said, well, they’re not “Black.”

And that’s the disadvantage that us four we’re at a disadvantage because White people treat us great. And, like I say, I’m not worried about how they treat us because it really comes down to economics, too, at some point, because rich Black people aren’t treated like poor Black people. And that’s the thing we’ve got to really engage conversation. How can we get more Black people and poor White people also, but they’re in the same boat, give them economic opportunity. That’s what America’s really got to grapple with.

STEPH CURRY: I think one thing you said, too, is the preconceived notions of how they view rich, successful Black people as anomalies and our intelligence and our well spokenness, that’s always the first thing you hear. If somebody knows how to be articulate, if they know how to

ALL: So well spoken.

STEPH CURRY: Come into a room that’s the subtle racism and prejudice that kind of starts to add on itself. And if another White person hears that comment, they’re going to think the same thing. And it’s not going to trickle down to anybody else, and be able to create opportunities for somebody else to get that in that room and prove their value, prove their worth. It’s just shifting perspectives and, again, holding everybody accountable whether it’s a private conversation, whether it’s a tweet, whether it’s a video. Whatever it is, to do the right thing, no pun intended, but to see everybody as equal and that’s all we’re asking for.

Ronaldo first soccer star to reach $1 billion in career earnings

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Cristiano Ronaldo has become the first soccer player to reach $1 billion in career earnings, and is only the third active athlete to break through that barrier.

According to Forbes, Cristiano Ronaldo, 35, has earned over $650 million in salary during his 19-year playing career to date, while the other $350 million has come via commercial deals and endorsements.

Tigers Woods and Floyd Mayweather are the other two active athletes who have made over $1 billion during their careers, but Cristiano Ronaldo is the first from the soccer world to do it, although a few other big name stars aren’t far behind him.

In terms of earnings for athletes in 2019, Ronaldo ranked second with $105 million, while Lionel Messi was in third with $104 million and Neymar in fourth with $95.5 million. There are no other soccer players in the top 10.

Cristiano Ronaldo has a huge contract at Juventus after arriving from Real Madrid in the summer of 2018, as the former Manchester United and Sporting Lisbon has a huge endorsement deal with Nike and many others and that is why he has made over $1 billion and counting.

Below is a look at the top 10 highest-paid athletes in 2019, according to Forbes.

1. Roger Federer – $106.3 million
2. Cristiano Ronaldo – $105 million
3. Lionel Messi – $104 million
4. Neymar – $95.5 million
5. LeBron James – $88.2 million
6. Steph Curry – $74.4 million
7. Kevin Durant – $63.9 million
8. Tiger Woods – $62.3 million
9. Kirk Cousins – $60.5 million
10. Carson Wentz – $59.1 million