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14.12.2018 11:18
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The scowl became part of American soccer. Fixed across Heather OReillys face each time she sped toward the end line and curled her foot around a cross, it seemed to neither age nor change.As OReilly grew from a teenage phenomenon into a veteran who this week will retire from the national team after 231 appearances, the scowl was so familiar it was almost comforting.So it was that as the national team escaped its own adolescence this century, OReilly was a constant.Aging because we all do. Changing because a player must. Somehow always comfortably familiar.And if it is no longer difficult to imagine what the national team will be on the field without her, it will be forever difficult to picture the events of the past decade and a half unfolding sans scowl.Except that, when you get right down to it, labeling hers a scowl seems barely sufficient.University of North Carolina coach Anson Dorrance -- the architect of the most prolific dynasty in college sports who watched so many former Tar Heels first debut for and eventually retire from the U.S. womens national team -- offered a better appraisal.What sort of made her fierce was this angry chicken face that she had when she competed, Dorrance said.Beyond the field, though, there was a smile with a hint of native New Jersey wryness.Theres no arrogance to her, Dorrance continued. She would not call a team that defeated her a collection of cowards. There are so many things about her that are genuinely good and nice. Shes just a very old-school athlete that loves her family, loves her teams and her coaches, and isnt this incredibly irritating social media presence. Its almost like she is from a different era.Mind you, irritating or not, she does have a social media presence. OReillys combined Twitter and Instagram followings are more than half a million strong. She is of this time. But the coachs point is taken. It never has been easy to pin down the era to which she belongs. Perhaps it is her own.OReilly will retire from international competition after Thursdays match against Thailand (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) having played more games for the United States than all but six women. At 31, she is 2? years younger than one U.S. captain, Carli Lloyd, and only six months older than the other, Becky Sauerbrunn. And while OReilly was an Olympic alternate this summer in Brazil, she still plays with the skill of someone who has a lot of soccer left in her story.Dorrance said he turned on an NWSL game last week just in time to see OReilly, of FC Kansas City, carve Chicago Red Stars defender Julie Johnston, a U.S. teammate and rising star, and deliver a cross that Kansas Citys Shea Groom finished for the opening goal in a K.C. win.In other words, the kind of play OReilly has been making ever since she made her international debut against Sweden on March 1, 2002 -- three days before Grooms ninth birthday.But with last years World Cup championship medal sitting alongside three Olympic gold medals, and with three long years until the next major tournament -- not to mention the national teams undisguised youth movement, to which OReilly fell victim this year -- she makes her exit.As much as I would like to play in the national team until Im 80 years old, thats just not realistic, OReilly said. There are other amazing things Im looking forward to as well. Im genuine about this -- Im looking forward to being a fan and being behind this team forever and ever because its part of me and always will be.And she is a part of it. Not just because of 52 assists. Not just because of 46 goals, including a memorable winner in overtime of an Olympic semifinal against Germany in 2004. Not merely for the gold medal that followed or any of the other medals added later. She played her first game alongside Joy Fawcett, Julie Foudy and Kristine Lilly, all of whom played in the first World Cup in 1991. She will play her final game alongside some combination of Morgan Brian, Lindsey Horan and Mallory Pugh, some of whom might still be playing when the 2031 World Cup rolls around.That is a whole lot of history connected through one person.Most of OReillys career took place in that most difficult of historical settings, when the glow of something momentous -- in this case, the national teams culture-changing success in the 1996 Olympics and 1999 World Cup -- gives way to the arduous task of making a new reality stick. That is why it matters when she says she feels that she leaves the national team in better shape than she found it.I think being a professional soccer player is the coolest gig in the world; I love playing, OReilly said. I think sometimes when you look at our male counterparts and what they are able to do in a domestic league and certain international players, we certainly have a ways to go. So yeah, thats frustrating. And Im proud to be part of certain initiatives to level that playing field because were not there yet. Hopefully I will continue to be a positive person in that charge to make things more equal, in terms of conditions, in terms of pay, in terms of visibility of the sport.Although she has been one of the most thoughtful speakers on rosters that rarely lacked candidates in that category, OReilly isnt the first name that comes to mind when it comes to using the platform. That is our fault, not hers. We digest and discuss Megan Rapinoe kneeling during the national anthem because it is, by intent, visible and provocative. We hung on Abby Wambachs every spoken thought for the same reason.How many fewer words, as absent here as anywhere, have been devoted to the work OReilly quietly does with America Scores, among others? The nonprofit organization works with children in 13 major cities who almost exclusively live below the poverty line. Through soccer, but also community service and even poetry, it attempts to provide opportunities that might not otherwise exist in a sport still very white, suburban and expensive.I think that soccer is a powerful game, said OReilly, who graduated from North Carolina with a degree in education. Its changed my life, and I know that it has the power to change the lives of a lot of people. And I dont know if everybody across our country is getting the same access to this amazing game.She was among those heard on the subject of artificial surfaces in the most recent World Cup. She believes in the ongoing fight for wage equality. But her career is also a study in the idea that it is not always the loudest and the brashest who make the biggest difference.For 15 years and more than 200 appearances, she didnt try to be anything but herself. The angry chicken face is just the photographic proof.At first I was sort of embarrassed by when Id see pictures, OReilly said. Over the years Ive just embraced it because its who I am. I play with passion. I live with passion. Im proud of that. I feel like thats what made me successful in my career. And I dont know another way. Air Max 98 Wholesale .C. -- Kemba Walker and the Charlotte Bobcats got off to a fast start, and the Sacramento Kings were never quite able to catch up. Wholesale Air Max 98 Cheap .7 million, one-year contract, a raise of $2.2 million. Wieters had asked for $8.75 million and the Orioles had offered $6. http://www.wholesaleairmax98.com/ . Those lessons were more than enough to overwhelm the Utah Jazz. Lou Williams scored 25 points and the Hawks continued their offensive upswing as they rolled to an easy 118-85 victory over the Jazz on Friday night, winning their third straight and for the fourth time in five games. Air Max 98 Clearance .B. - Sebastien Auger made 44 saves as the Saint John Sea Dogs edged the visiting Acadie-Bathurst Titan 2-1 on Saturday in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action. Air Max 98 Sale Cheap . The phone hearing is scheduled for 4:30pm et/1:30pm pt. Winchester, who was not penalized for the hit, appeared to make contact with Kellys head early in the first period of Thursdays game in Boston. TORONTO -- On Friday, Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant will face a Boston Celtics team that courted him vigorously in the offseason and failed.Boston presented a creative pitch at The Hamptons outside New York that included its players and management and the assistance of?New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Celtics were one of six teams to meet with the seven-time All-Star during his free agency, but Durant ultimately chose the Warriors -- and that ticked off some individuals in the Massachusetts area.What can they be mad about? Durant said Wednesday night, when asked about how the Celtics faithful might receive him Friday. I never played there. I never said I was going there. But theyre going to support their team. Its one of the best fan bases in the league -- top-five, easily. So no matter who goes in there, theyre going to boo them. But I have no attachment to Boston at all.One of those individuals who was clearly annoyed was Celtics forward Jae Crowder.We were the only team in the NBA to beat [Golden State and the?Cleveland Cavaliers] on their home court. The only team in the NBA, the Boston Celtics, Crowder told MassLive.com three weeks after Durants decision. We told him that. We played him clips from both games and told him basically the scouting report of how we guarded?Steph [Curry] and Klay [Thompson]?-- our entire game plan, basically. Thats what made me mad. We f---ing told him everything we do to beat these guys, and we beat them, and he went and joined them.Afterward, I was talking to?Isaiah [Thomas], like maybe after you sit back, [we] shouldnt have told him everything, but who the f--- thought he was going to Golden State, realistically? It was like a slap in the face for us, basically.Durannt was asked if Crowders comments irked him.ddddddddddddNah, it dont bother me, he said. All these guys that you ask the same questions, you know what youre going to get from them. So youre [asking] the same questions. Why am I going to be mad about a guy who has an opinion? I respect all these players. If they dont respect what I did, I cant control that.After Wednesdays 90-83 win over the Dallas Mavericks, Thomas was asked if there was any lingering bitterness because Durant chose Golden State.No, Ive been past that. Maybe for Jae, Thomas said with a smile. Jae still might be mad. But Im past it.Asked about his initial reaction to Durants decision, Thomas said, I was just surprised. Probably like everybody else. I wasnt mad. I knew we had a chance -- we had a pretty good chance at that. I was just surprised he chose the Warriors, but thats that mans decision.It is unknown whether Crowder and Durant will meet Friday. Crowder has missed the past seven games with a left ankle injury.If Crowder is a go for the game, Durant will respectfully welcome the challenge of competing against him -- and anybody else in green and white.I got nothing but love and respect for Jae Crowder and how he approaches the game and how he plays, but we disagree on me coming here, Durant said. Thats just how it is. Its all good. Were going to compete no matter what. Thats one thing -- you can say a lot of stuff in the media or wherever you are, but were going to compete when were in between the lines. That doesnt change anything.Fridays game will be broadcast on ESPN.ESPN staff writer Chris Forsberg contributed to this report. 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