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Immediately after the final whistle blew on a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands to signal the United States had claimed its record fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup title, there were moments in which Megan Rapinoe could share the thrill with her teammates. The greatest would come later, when the trophy was presented and lifted and then bathed in a shower of confetti.The instant that summed up the 2019 Women’s World Cup, though, came in between. Rapinoe had marched twice through the handshake line of dignitaries and onto the makeshift stage at Lyon Olympic Stadium, first to accept the Golden Boot presented to the tournament’s leading scorer and then to accept the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. With a hunk of gold in each hand, Rapinoe stood alone in front of the TV cameras and the still photographers and the full audience of fans and raised her arms skyward in a “V.” She had backed it all up — as well as anyone could.MORE: 10 crazy facts from the USWNT’s victory in the Women’s World CupRapinoe became the Namath for the 21st century.“We’re crazy. That’s what makes us special,” Rapinoe told Fox Sports on the field. “We just have no quit on us. We’re so tight. And we’ll do anything to win.”The attention on her when the tournament began hadn’t been extraordinary. She was a key veteran on the left side of coach Jill Ellis’ 4-3-3 formation, one of the truly excellent players in American soccer history. Rapinoe was expected to perform, but no more so than Alex Morgan in the center or Tobin Heath on the right.Rapinoe had had her moment of controversy in 2016, when she chose to kneel for the national anthem as one of many athletes who had followed the lead of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. But U.S. Soccer wisely — and rightly — insisted a player who is wearing the U.S. crest ought to stand for its anthem, and that was that.We were in a very different place as the tournament ended.The day the U.S. played Spain in the round of 16, the website “The Hill” published an exclusive quoting president Donald Trump as saying, “No, I don’t think so,” when asked if Rapinoe should “protest during the national anthem.” Which was kind of interesting, because she wasn’t really protesting. Not singing? Not putting her hand over her heart? That’s not a protest, sorry.From that misleading article came the result that might have been expected. Many of the president’s supporters became fans of whatever opponent the USWNT faced on their run through the World Cup gantlet: Spain, France, England and ultimately, Sunday against the Netherlands.When a six-month old clip was released of Rapinoe responding to a question during a magazine photo shoot about whether she would visit the White House if the U.S. won the World Cup, the noise around Rapinoe grew cacophonous. To be fair, her rejection of the suggestion should not have included a profanity, especially given that it modified not the word “going” but “White House,” which is why her eventual apology was worthwhile and necessary.It wasn’t accepted, though, not widely by those now mounting against her.MORE: Megan Rapinoe explains United States’ celebrations in face of criticismShe kept her cool in the face of this sudden notoriety. It almost seemed to fuel her. She did not hide from the commotion. She spoke to the media at every opportunity: eloquently, insightfully, defiantly, honestly, brilliantly. She did so two days before the final, and at the official matchday-minus-1 presser in Lyon, Rapinoe was the player chosen to accompany Ellis to the podium.Over the course of the past two weeks, Rapinoe handled questions about her political disagreement with the Trump administration, about her political disagreement with FIFA. A lesser athlete, a lesser person, might have been overwhelmed by the imposing burden she helped to fashion for herself.However, when Morgan was kicked in the shoulder by Netherlands center back Stefanie van der Gragt in the 58th minute of a tense final Sunday, and when it was decided after a three-minute video review that Morgan had earned a penalty, Rapinoe stood behind the spot and prepared herself for the decisive play of the 2019 World Cup. She’d already scored twice on penalties, so goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal had a book on Rapinoe. What could Rapinoe do that would deceive the keeper at this point?The answer: disguise. Rapinoe did not even hint which direction she would strike the kick as she approached. There was no tell. When Rapinoe was on the ball, van Veenendaal felt she had to do something, so she threw her weight to her right. And then she realized Rapinoe had shot to her left. Sure, van Veenendaal could have thrown herself to the ground to make it look like she’d just guessed wrong. Instead, she just stood and watched over her shoulder as Rapinoe’s mastery ripped into the net.Rapinoe, 34, had become the oldest player to score in a Women’s World Cup. And the U.S. had the game-winning goal.Midfielder Rose Lavelle’s individual brilliance, fueled by a perfect interception from left back Crystal Dunn, will go down as the game-clincher and the most artistic U.S. goal of the 2019 World Cup.“That was what she was missing, just that little bit,” Rapinoe told Fox Sports. “All tournament, she’s been on the dribble, so dangerous for us. She’s opened up everything for us. For her to get that reward tonight on the biggest stage that you possibly can — I’m so proud of her. She’s a superstar — not even in the making. She’s a straight-up superstar at this point.”Becky Sauerbrunn’s 90 mountainous minutes in central defense, Julie Ertz’s best international game ever as a defensive midfielder, Dunn’s dominance of the left and Ali Krieger’s one half filled with crucial interventions on the right in relief of concussed Kelley O’Hara were keys to earning a shutout. “It’s unbelievable, just to know all of the people in our group who put in so much work,” Rapinoe said. “I don’t know how to feel right now.“It’s ridiculous.”There will be some who say this without smiling. Rapinoe, though, also conquered them.
– Lewis’ team actually looked the best of the bunch before bungling one away in Chicago, 24-21, with personal fouls, wasted timeouts and turnovers. AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org “I know that’s kind of a bad answer, but it’s the truth. All of a sudden, we find ourselves tied for first place. We also find ourselves tied for last place. That’s where we’re at.” Not just them. They’re all feeling the blues this week in the AFC North. All four teams in the NFL’s most successful division over the last five years have started the season at 0-1. It’s only the second time that’s happened, according to STATS LLC. The other time? Way back in 2002, when the league went to the current division format. “Yeah, it helps ease it a little bit,” defensive end Carlos Dunlap said. “But you can look at it the other way, too, and say we could’ve been one up.” – The defending Super Bowl-champion Baltimore Ravens went back to Denver, the scene of their improbable playoff comeback last season, and had their revamped defense get taken apart for a record-seven touchdown passes by Peyton Manning in a 49-27 route. And it’s not just that all four lost, it’s how they lost: In the last five years, no division has sent more teams to the playoffs than the AFC North – 11 overall. It’s the only division that has sent at least two each season, including three in 2011. None of them looked like a playoff-caliber team for very long. Worse, Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey tore ligaments in his right knee and linebacker Larry Foote ruptured his right biceps, ending their seasons. The Ravens opened the season on Thursday night, so they’ve had a little extra time to sort out their problems on defense. On Sunday, they host the Browns, who have a new coach in Rob Chudzinski but played like they were ready to hold up the bottom of the division for yet another year. There were plenty of SINS in a division with the league’s best playoff pedigree. AP Sports Writers David Ginsburg in Baltimore, Tom Withers in Cleveland and Will Graves in Pittsburgh contributed to this report. So, there’s that recent history to fall back on after those dismal debuts. The Bengals looked good in the first half at Chicago before reverting to their old Bungles ways. The final flub was linebacker Rey Mauaulga – a team captain last season – throwing down a Bears defender after the whistle for a penalty that allowed Chicago to run out the clock. – Over in Pittsburgh, the towel-waving crowd at Heinz Field put those towels away and filed out quietly near the end of a shocking 16-9 loss to the Titans that was in most ways the worst of the division’s opening flops. CINCINNATI (AP) – Bengals coach Marvin Lewis watched a little video of Pittsburgh’s season-opening disaster and felt a kinship with the failure. “We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. “Nobody cares about our problems. They’re glad we’ve got them. We need to understand that. We need to stick together and persevere.” Up next: a Monday night game in Cincinnati against the Bengals and former Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Pittsburgh hasn’t opened a season 0-2 since 2002. And that wasn’t all of it. Twice, the Bengals had to call a timeout because they had the wrong number of players on the field on defense, leaving them with no way to stop the clock in the closing minutes. At least everyone else lost. A North team has reached the Super Bowl three times in the last five years, winning two titles. The Ravens have reached the playoffs each of the last five seasons; the Steelers have reached the Super Bowl twice during that span. ___ ___ “The great thing about it is – and we all know this – it’s week-to-week in this league,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “If we take care of our business, we’re going to be in the hunt and make it interesting. And if we don’t, we’re not. “I just watched the first half of their game and I’m sure they feel the same way we do,” Lewis said. Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis yells out to his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Sept. 8, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)by Joe KayAP Sports Writer “A lot of we call it SINS – self-inflicted negatives,” receiver Davone Bess said. “A lot of times when you’re backed against the wall, you need to be able to execute from assignment and alignment standpoint. If you don’t do that, you’re killing yourself before the play even starts.” – In Cleveland, the Browns did their annual looking-a-little-better tease before falling apart and losing to the Dolphins 23-10, dropping their ninth straight opener and their 14th in the last 15 years. The Steelers might have the toughest go of it. They missed out on the playoffs last season by finishing 8-8, unable to run the ball consistently or protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. They drafted Le’Veon Bell to boost the running game, but he got hurt during camp. Pittsburgh ran for only 32 yards in the opener and Roethlisberger was sacked five times.
A buoyant NorthEast United FC will be eyeing nothing less than a win against FC Goa in their second successive Indian Super League (ISL) football home match in Guwahati on Tuesday.NorthEast began their campaign with a confidence-uplifting 1-0 win against Kerala Blasters in the tournament’s opening match at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium on Sunday.Japanese midfielder Katsumi Yusa scoring the winning goal and the encouraging start would have surely put new coach Nelo Vingada in a positive frame of mind.But the Portuguese knows there is plenty of scope for improvement.”I know we have to play better to reach the semis which is my target and of my players, so we have to be more consistent. If we don’t grow as a team and play better, it won’t be enough,” he said in an ISL release.NorthEast is unlikely to change their winning combination.”For me this was the best eleven which I could use for the game because some players are injured and most of the players are not fully fit for 90 minutes. But I am satisfied with the foreign players and I am also very happy with the Indian boys,” said Vingada.NorthEast’s opponents FC Goa, last year’s runners-up, will once again be helmed by Brazilian legend Zico. They played attractive football last year but faltered in the final against Chennaiyin FC.Zico will seek solace from last year’s bitter pain with a promising start this time.Goa conducted their pre-season in Brazil and played four friendlies with Zico using different players to try out varied formations. It isn’t clear who will be named in their first team.advertisementGoa will be without several players who are nursing injuries. Defenders Gregory Arnolin, Denzil Franco, goalkeeper Subhashish Roy Chowdhury and striker Robin Singh are all on the teatment table, having picked up knocks during their pre-tournament training.Zico has retained the core of the squad, with emphasis on Brazilian and local talents.Focus will be on the new joiness like Trindade Goncalves, Rafael Dumas, Julio Cesar and Richarlyson and how they will be accommodated in the starting team by Zico.
New Delhi, Jul 15 (PTI) A total of 18 Bills have been listed for passage in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament, a research body, PRS Legislative Research said today.Nine of these legislations, which includes The Whistle Blowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015 and the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 have been passed by the Lok Sabha and are listed for passage by the Rajya Sabha, Vatsal Khullar of the PRS Legislative said.The Whistle Blowers Bill specifies grounds under which disclosures related to corruption may not be made public while the National Commission for Backward Classes (Repeal) Bill, 2017 proposes to annul the National Commission for Backward Classes Act, 1993.Bills like the Indian Institute of Management Bill, 2017 the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 have been listed for passage by both the Houses.The Monsoon session of Parliament will begin from July 17 and continue till August 11.Sixteen Bills are listed for introduction, consideration and passing, these include drafts like the National Sports University Bill, 2017, the Financial Resolution and Deposit Insurance (FDRI) Bill, 2017.Two bills have been listed for withdrawal, the PRS Legislative said.These are the Participatory of Workers in Management Bill, 1990 and The Northeast Council (Amendment) Bill, 2013. PTI PR SMJ