An historic win for U.S. soccer team

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An historic win for U.S. soccer team

From Comcast SportsNet
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- After 75 years of frustration in Mexico, the U.S. national team finally won a soccer game at its southern neighbor and regional rival. Dominated for most of the night at one of soccer's most intimidating venues, the Americans beat the Mexicans 1-0 in an exhibition Wednesday night behind Michael Orozco Fiscal's goal in the 80th minute and Tim Howard's late sprawling saves. "The goal was for the U.S. fans and the whole U.S. We made history," said Orozco Fiscal, a 26-year-old defender from Orange, Calif., whose parents were born in Mexico. A trio of second-half substitutes created the goal. Brek Shea cut inside Severo Meza on the left flank and crossed to Terrence Boyd at the top of the 6-yard box. With his back to the goal, Boyd took a touch with his left foot and with his right made a quick backheel pass to Orozco Fiscal, who with his left foot poked it from 3 yards past goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and defender Jorge Torres Nilo for his first international goal. Orozco Fiscal, who plays in Mexico for San Luis, was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic team but hasn't established himself with the varsity. He entered in the 77th minute for his fifth international appearance and first since October. Shea, back with the team for the first time since February following a season of turmoil in Major League Soccer, came on a minute later. Boyd, a German-American who made his U.S. debut in February, had entered to start the second half. "Just happy we won and made history," Shea said. "It's something we haven't done in a long time. Just to be on the roster is cool." Howard, in a snazzy gray-on-white uniform, twice preserved the lead. He moved to his right on a Javier Hernandez shot in the 85th, then sprawled to his left when it deflected off Maurice Edu. Four minutes later, he extended left to paw away a 4-yard downward header by Chicharito. "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 been 0-23-1 against El Tri in 75 years of games at Mexico, including 0-19-1 in the thin air at altitude in Mexico City -- where they had been outscored 81-14. Azteca, with loud, passionate fans, is a difficult site for road teams. "You can shrivel up or you can accept it," Howard said. "We deserved a little bit of luck, and we got it tonight." Mexico outshot the U.S. 15-6 and had a 10-0 advantage in corner kicks. But the Americans came away with their second big win this year, following February's first-ever victory over Italy, in a friendly at Genoa. "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." With the European clubs seasons getting under way, the U.S. used a half-strength roster and a makeshift central defense. Mexico also was below strength following the Olympics. El Tri dominated possession but failed to connect on several open shots as the Americans paired Edu and Geoff Cameron in the center of their back line in the absence of Carlos Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson and Oguchi Onyewu. "For me, it's a game that I grew up watching," Cameron said of the U.S.-Mexico rivalry. "To be a part of a win for the first time speaks for itself." The game marked the start of the Americans' second year under Klinsmann, who replaced Bradley last summer after Mexico overcame a two-goal deficit to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup final 4-2. The U.S. figures 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 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." While the U.S. eliminated Mexico in the second round of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea, El Tri has improved in recent years, winning the Under-17 World Cup in 2005 and 2011 and adding the title in the Olympics, which is for Under-23 teams plus three overage players. Mexico is up to 18th in the world rankings, while the U.S. is down to 36th. The game came at an awkward time for players, many focused on their clubs' season openers this weekend. "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." NOTES: The only previous U.S. non-loss against Mexico in Mexico was a 0-0 tie in a 1997 World Cup qualifier. At the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, the U.S. beat New Zealand and Germany in Guadalajara before losing to Mexico 1-0 in overtime at Azteca. ... Landon Donovan, searching for his 50th international goal, left at the start of the second half because of a tight hamstring and was replaced by DaMarcus Beasley, who made his 97th international appearance.

Steve Kerr's absence from Warriors' bench means two things for sure

Steve Kerr's absence from Warriors' bench means two things for sure

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Steve Kerr’s physical absence from the stage in the NBA Playoffs means a lot of things. It all depends on what you want from this development.

If you think the Warriors should win anyway, you will decide it will mean something but not a lot. If you think they should lose, it is a catastrophe, and when layered with Kevin Durant’s injury, it is a three-story catastrophe with a massive entry hall, a huge spiral staircase, a vast backyard with an Olympic pool and a shooting range.

But here are two things it means for sure.

One, nobody will be able to say they were lucky if they win, which for some reason still bothers people around here, as though luck is some sort of shame-inducing insult to be avoided.

And two, they will not accept your pity if they lose, least of all Kerr. Kerr is much better at showing anger than he is acknowledging pity, and you saw plenty of the former at his presser Sunday.

In an attempt to both granularize and overthink what has been pretty boilerplate playoff series so far, many folks have gone to Mike Brown, Kerr’s new Luke Walton, to declare an Achilles heel.

Except that (a) players determine success in the NBA, and only the very worst coaches impede talent from achieving its true level. Mike Brown is not among those coaches, and those who think he is are fools.

Except that (b) Kerr will be around for planning sessions, and there will be the rest of the coaching staff at Brown’s side so that continuity will not be an issue unless Brown’s voice is so alien that a group of veteran players who have won one title and nearly won a second will somehow lose their way.

The danger here is that we might be minimizing his absence, when in fact we don’t have the slightest idea how it will affect the Warriors. Even with the 43 games Walton coached in Kerr’s absence after this first back reaction, when people feared the team would fall off the earth, the Warriors played more than half those games against non-playoff teams, while playoff games are almost by necessity are high-leverage situations piled atop each other in a gigantic heap.

It’s not comparing cats and dogs, but it is comparing terriers and rottweilers. In short, this could be a lot tougher than we think it is. We have no idea, because there is no real metric for this, only a lot of half-educated guesswork.

You know, what we do best.

Even Five-Thirty-Eight.com, The Place Where Twos And Fours Go To Find Love, took the Warriors’ two wins last week, factored in Kerr’s absence and decided that the Warriors are now 67 percent favorites to win the title, up from 63 percent.

But if the Warriors cannot navigate the postseason without Kerr, then they’ll have failed, pure and simple. Context is all well and good, and we believe in context with all our might, but one of the contexts of this Warrior team is that no excuses will be accepted. It is the price they pay for being a 2-to-1 favorite from the second they signed Durant. After all, life is as windy as it is lonely at the top.

Kerr will return when he can, and it is hoped that he won’t do it until he knows he can, rather than thinks he can or hopes he can. But as it affects the Warriors . . . well, the nation has spoken.

No alibis. No luck. Until there is new evidence, they do, or they do not. Period.

This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body

This is cruel: Steve Kerr imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body

Programming note: Warriors-Blazers Game 4 coverage starts tonight at 6:30pm with Warriors Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

PORTLAND -- Steve Kerr can’t golf. His body won’t allow it, hasn’t in two years. He has spent most of his life being able to golf, enjoying it immensely, and not being able to do so now saddens him deeply.

He can’t play basketball, either. Can’t even shoot free throws, not comfortably, and he spent half of his adult life playing the game at the highest levels.

Kerr, 51, can’t enjoy even the simplest things in life. Not now. So coaching an NBA team, the job he loves, a vocation that fulfills his lifelong need to compete, is out of the question.

Coaching the Warriors in the playoffs, in pursuit of a championship, is put on hold all because 21 months ago he made a reasonable, rational medical decision he may regret for the rest of his life.

Kerr opted for back surgery.

The after-effects have been devastating. He is imprisoned by misery that has engulfed his body. Kerr told NBCSportsBayArea.com earlier this season that he felt he had exhausted just about every possibility he is willing to trust, all in a quest for physical normalcy. He has researched hundreds of books in search of relief. He has talked to dozens of specialists. He has tried opioids and other medical treatments, herbal treatments, spiritual treatments and marijuana in a form he reluctantly revealed. And his reluctance, once revealed, was easily understood.

“I can tell you if you’re listening out there, if you have a back problem, stay away from surgery,” Kerr said Sunday in his first comments since Friday. “I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anybody get in there.”

The covers were pulled back on Kerr’s condition Saturday afternoon, when it was announced he would not coach Game 3 of the Warriors-Trail Blazers series. Now it was public, everybody knowing what those of us who work closely with him already knew. Much of what we’ve known, and some of what we’ve suspected, came tumbling into the open Sunday, when Kerr told the world that his condition, which had nagged at him ever since the summer of 2015, which he had suppressed with an admirable degree of success, finally had gotten best of him -- at least for now.

In private conversations this season with NBCSportsBayArea.com, Kerr has acknowledged his agony. He has admitted that he has never been more miserable and expressed his regret over having the first back surgery, which resulted in a spinal fluid leak, which led to a second surgery -- which has sent him plummeting down this path of torment.

Kerr lives with pain that most commonly might be associated with sinus headaches or, worse, migraines. Now that it has reached a level of utter despair, he no longer can even pretend to hide it. Gutting it out, a term often linked to competitive sport, was possible until this weekend.

“I was able to manage the pain and the discomfort over the last year and a half and, suddenly, things got a lot worse,” he said.

“I don’t know why. I’m trying to figure out why.”

This is cruel, and Steve Kerr knows cruelty. He has a great job, a great wife, a solid family -- yet none of this can completely eclipse the tragic death of his father. Dr. Malcolm Kerr was the president of the American University of Beirut when he was assassinated by a group of terrorists in January 1984.

Losing a father to senseless violence in a faraway place is not something a son gets over, not completely. Steve Kerr doesn’t often reference his father, but every time he does it is beneath a cloud of melancholy.

To have a great childhood, followed by unimaginable heartache while entering adulthood, leaves open the possibility for bitterness, maybe even the desire for vengeance. Not with Steve. He chose to continue living following the example set by his father, namely that the world is a place in need of healing.

It’s why anyone who knows Steve Kerr can only admire his principles and dedication. His innate goodness always shines through.

And now he has this great job, one in which he has more than earned his salary. He is a championship coach who always points to his players and his staff. He has a policy of openness that put everyone around him at ease.

And now this, such an unkind cut it seems profoundly unfair.

Kerr has so much that enriches him and can’t savor any of it. He wants nothing more than another Warriors championship and to be pain-free. At this stage, who could blame him if he yearned more for the latter than the former?