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Mexico is bringing passion to the 2018 World Cup with 2 breathtaking victories.

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The criticism of Mexico’s national team heading into the World Cup was loud and scathing. The answer has been emphatic.
The Mexicans won their second straight match at the tournament, beating South Korea 2-1 Saturday to move ever closer to a spot in the round of 16.
“We didn’t listen to the criticism,” said Javier Hernandez, one of the scorers against South Korea. “It was just noise.”
Mexico opened its World Cup by upsetting defending champion Germany 1-0. A second victory on Saturday gives it six points and a chance to win Group F on Wednesday when the team faces Sweden.


“We want the Mexican people to enjoy this. We are going to enjoy it,” Hernandez said. “But as of tomorrow we will be working hard thinking about Sweden and regardless of the results of the matches against Germany and South Korea, we are going to go out there to get the three points.”
Hernandez and Carlos Vela scored a goal each at Rostov Arena. Vela converted from the penalty spot in the 26th minute after Jang Hyun-soo handled the ball while trying to stop a cross from Andres Guardado.

Carlos Vela celebrates with teammates

Hernandez added the second in the 66th, scoring his 50th goal for Mexico. He hit the ball low past goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-woo after collecting a pass from Hirving Lozano.
“We have beaten two brilliant and complicated teams, Germany and South Korea,” Hernandez said. “Our talent and hard work have paid off.”
Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio said he prepared more for the match against South Korea than for the game against Germany.
“Very often when you play countries or teams with less of a footballing history, human beings tend to rest on their laurels a little bit. They tend to relax, they tend to lose focus, so every weekend, every match, we insist on being fully focused on not losing that important message,” Osorio said. “We’ve received a lot of praise, we the team, and we’ve tried to remain focused.”
Son Heung-min scored a consolation goal for South Korea in injury time, sending a powerful shot past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa.

South Korea’s Son Heung-min, left, and Mexico’s Andres Guardado challenge for the ball

The South Koreans, who have lost their opening two matches, kept Ochoa under pressure throughout the match with Son often out-sprinting the Mexican defense.
“I think our players had a game they will not regret,” South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong. “All of the players became one, and they did their utmost until the very last minute.”
Mexico relied on keeping possession and long-range shots, with a powerful attempt from Guardado forcing an athletic save from Jo in the second half. A volley from Vela skimmed the bar minutes later.
Mexican fans avoided using a chant, which is considered to be homophobic by FIFA, against the opposing goalkeeper. The chant earned the country’s soccer federation a fine after the previous match.
GROUP DYNAMICS
Mexico will face Sweden on Wednesday in Yekaterinburg with a chance to win Group F, a prospect that could set up a match against Brazil in the round of 16.
South Korea will face Germany at the same time in Kazan.
HISTORY
Mexico has reached the round of 16 in six straight World Cups, but the team has not advanced to the quarterfinals since playing at home in 1986.
Winning the group with three straight victories will be a good sign, but getting past the next round is the ultimate goal.
IN THE CROWD
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in Russia on an official visit, attended the match at Rostov Arena.

Football

Nation’s Soccer Star Tries the Nation’s Game

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The US Women’s National Soccer Team captivated many on their run to a historic fourth World Cup victory. Behind the feet of Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan, the squad had record setting 13-0 type of victories and nail biting 2-1 type of victories along the way and became a story of the summer in sports.

The success has created quite a buzz around the team. Leaders of the USWNT have been outspoken on social injustices, and not backed down when called out by politicians. Additionally, they have been involved in a law suit for several years now over equal compensation with their male counterparts. The popularity of the women on the team has soared, and resulted in several victory tour stops across America, both on the field and on parade routes. The most visible was in New York, which featured droves of fans crowding Manhattan streets and swarming the floats, and ultimately culminating in Megan Rapinoe’s inspirational victory speech.

But now, a USWNT player is eyeing, potentially, a new opportunity. On August 20th, the USWNT twitter profile sent out a video of forward Carli Lloyd hitting a 55-yard field goal at a Baltimore Ravens practice, on noticeably narrow goal posts (designed to make practicing harder than a game). The Philadelphia Eagles also tweeted out the video, confirming the 55-yard make and demonstrably impressed.

Lloyd has received an immense amount of positive feedback from folks around the league. She has commented that she’s “laughing about it, but the more [she] thinks about it, this has the chance to be a sort of a pioneering moment for women.”

“It could be a huge pivotal moment. There is no reason why a woman could not do this. And I actually invite the pressure. I love the pressure. When I have to nail something—shooting hoops, ax-throwing, kicking a field goal—that is the moment I live for and want. It comes down to the mind, training the mind.”

Lloyd commented that she has received some commentary from multiple NFL teams, we may see she (or another female soccer star) try it out one day.

While it may not be Lloyd, her pushing the gender line in the NFL is just the latest in a constant fight for equality out of the USWNT. As the representatives for a nation of “We the people,” no American national team has done as much to represent those people. While it sent shockwaves throughout the twitterverse, it is certainly not off brand for the USWNT to be pushing the present boundaries and speaking on equality.

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MLS

MLS Star Uses Goal to Speak Out Against Gun Violence

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The 48 hours of the weekend were as tough a weekend as any in recent American history. Two mass shooting, with a total toll of more than 30 lives, occurred within 13 hours of one another in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Americans faced a slew of emotions as they woke up each morning to tragic news in very different corners of our nation, none more so than the folks so directly impacted in both communities. Sadness, anger, and despair were just the tip of the iceberg for a nation that continues to see the stories of the weekend all too frequently.

Everyone mourns in their own way, and in the world of sport, most baseball stadiums, soccer stadiums, and basketball gyms took a moment of silence.

In Philadelphia, one man broke silence. Using the platform afforded to him by his talent, the Philadelphia Union captain and attackman Alejandro Bedoya swiftly scored with his right foot, off the left post and in from the front of the box, in the third minute of their match against DC United.   

It was only Bedoya’s third goal of the season, and his eighth in his MLS career, but what happened afterwards will forever make it his most memorable.

Bedoya, a former member of the US Men’s National Team, celebrated by sprinting to the sideline, celebrating with family, then his teammates. Fairly standard when your family is in the front row.

But then, Bedoya broke from his teammates and methodically jogged over to a sideline microphone. As the commentators quieted down, Bedoya loudly, over the crowd noise, charged “Congress, do something, NOW! End gun violence, LET’S GO!”

Bedoya spiked the microphone, and sprinted back to the field. Philadelphia went on to win 5-1, further aided by Marco Fabian’s two goals, fueled by the energy displayed by their captain in the earliest stages of the match.

Needless to say, the moment was the most asked about thing after the match. Bedoya’s clip has gone viral, and the 32-year-old was composed and firm on his stance. “I’m a human being before anything, so I’ll never just stick to sports, and I never have…. fine me if they want. I’ve got to take a stand.”

Soccer has become an American sport of activism this summer. Megan Rapinoe led the US Women’s National Team to gold both on and off the field in the World Cup this summer, and was constantly questioned about her firm stance against the White House.

Further, the team has been a pillar in the fight for women’s rights in the work place, most notably with their ongoing law suit against US Soccer for gender discrimination in their pay.

Alejandro Bedoya, an American born to former Colombian Adriano Bedoya and raised in South Florida. South Florida saw its own version of this American tragedy just under 18 months ago, when Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was the victim of a mass shooting that saw 17 students and faculty members die.

While Bedoya said he is prepared for any fine the MLS offers him, this morning Major League Soccer has said they will not issue any punishments. The League’s official statement was “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.”

The MLS heard Bedoya and understood. The next looming question is, who else did?

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Basketball

James Harden Buys Stakes in Houston Dynamo

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The summer of 2019, in NBA History books, will forever go down as the summer of changing teams. Nearly 40% of returning NBA players are on new rosters, and several of those players have multiple All NBA selections on their resumes. Stars shifting seems to be status quo in the modern NBA… With one bearded exception.

James Harden has recently purchased shares of the Houston Dynamo (MLS) and Dash (NWSL). In speaking on the matter, Harden spoke of Houston as his hometown, and stated several times that he is in Houston for the long haul. Buying into the ownership of local sports franchises seems to indicate a serious investment in just that.

Harden has, for those paying attention, been a soccer fan for a while. In off seasons past, he has spent vacation time with European professional soccer stars like Paul Pogba, Kaka, and Neymar. More recently, Harden took a trip to Emirates Stadium in London to go behind the scenes and watch Arsenal play. The club gave Harden a customized kit (read: uniform) and let him explore the empty facilities early on the matchday.

Harden is one of Adidas’ highest paid basketball players, and Adidas is involved in many pro soccer clubs, including both Houston teams and Arsenal. While Harden’s court vision can remind fans of the beautiful game, Houstonians can rest easy in that the Beard wants to make those passes in Rockets’ red. The lefty made one thing clear in his purchase: he’s invested in staying in Houston for the long haul.

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