- The Washington Times - Friday, December 17, 2004

Brandi Chastain has the moniker “Hollywood” for a reason. At an awards event in the District not long ago, it was obvious to the crowd of more than 300 where she was sitting. The U.S. national team star was loud, happy and making sure everyone around her was having a good time.

That’s just how Chastain always has been, on and off the field, through good times and bad.

She has won two World Cups and two Olympic gold medals, but Chastain always will be remembered for ripping off her shirt at the 1999 Women’s World Cup after scoring the decisive penalty kick. It put Chastain on the covers of Newsweek, Time and Sports Illustrated and no doubt made Nike — the makers of her famous sports bra — a buck or two.

While Chastain loves her soccer, she is concerned true sportsmanship and gamesmanship are in short supply in the competitive environment of organized sports. That’s why she wrote “It’s Not About the Bra: How to Play Hard, Play Fair and Put the Fun Back into Competitive Sports” (HarperResource, $21.95, 197 pages).

Chastain wants young people playing soccer — and their parents — to enjoy the game just as she did growing up in a supportive family in San Jose, Calif. She sums up her philosophy in “Brandi’s Rules”:

• If you can’t lose gracefully, don’t play the game.

• … And if you can’t win gracefully, you’re not a true winner.

• When you mess up, own up. Stop blaming the coach, the ref, your teammates.

• Be supportive from the sidelines or put a sock in it.

• It’s more valuable to assist than to score. (But don’t pass up an open net!)

• Dress for success: chill on the jewelry, polish your cleats, hike up your socks and, OK, keep your shirt on.

So why did she take her shirt off after downing China with her famous penalty kick?

“It was spontaneous.” she writes. “It made me notorious. It was not the sort of thing anybody expected a woman athlete to do. … At that instant, as I lifted my shirt, it was as if I’d shed the weight of the entire tournament and replaced it with the thrill of victory and fulfillment at the same time.”

And what about that penalty kick? Chastain took good advice from her college coach at Santa Clara — now her husband Jerry — who told her great goal scorers make as little movement as possible when they shoot.

“Shooting this way, off my laces instead of the side of my foot, was a strategic tradeoff [of] power over placement,” Chastain says. “If I hit the ball solidly, I knew that — even if the goalkeeper got a hand on it — it would still have a chance to go into the net.”

While Chastain talks about fun in her book, she has seen tough times. She has endured serious injuries — her knees are covered in scars — and broken bones, but that was nothing compared to losing her parents in recent years. Her mother died of an aneurysm Sept.7, 2002, and her father died seven months later of a torn aorta.

While her famous teammates Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy and Joy Fawcett have retired, Chastain still wants to play. Chastain, 36, has played 191 games for the U.S. team and wants to reach 200 before she retires.

Friedel on the move? — American goalie Brad Friedel could be on his way to England’s Newcastle United if goalie Shay Given leaves the team in January, according to the Guardian newspaper.

Newcastle is coached by Graeme Souness, who brought Friedel to Blackburn (his current club) in 2000 and to Turkish club Galatasaray in 1995. Friedel tried to join Newcastle in 1995 but was denied a work permit.

MLS moves — American forward Clint Mathis likely will leave German club Hannover 96 next month and join MLS expansion team Real Salt Lake. Mathis, 28, spent a year at Hannover. He scored four goals in 16 matches last season but has played in just four of 17 games this season. … Midfielder Ramiro Corrales is leaving San Jose to join Ham-Kam of the Norwegian Premier Division. Corrales, 27, is a nine-year veteran of MLS.

Rooney a Golden Boy — Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney won the Golden Boy prize for the best player under 21 in Europe. Rooney, 19, finished ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Fernando Torres, Arjen Robben and Obafemi Martins.

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