Tag Archives: ties

Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to Larry Nassar dies by suicide after charges

A former U.S. Olympics gymnastics coach with ties to disgraced sports doctor Larry Nassar killed himself Thursday, hours after being charged with turning his Michigan gym into a hub of human trafficking by coercing girls to train and then abusing them, authorities said.

John Geddert was supposed to appear in an Eaton County court, near Lansing, Mich. His body was found at a rest area along Interstate 96, according to state police. No other details were immediately released.

“This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said.

Nessel earlier announced that Geddert was charged with two dozen crimes, including sexual assault, human trafficking and running a criminal enterprise. The charges were the latest fallout from the sexual abuse scandal involving Nassar, a former Michigan State University sports doctor now in prison.

Geddert, 63, was head coach of the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team, which won a gold medal. He was long associated with Nassar, who was the Olympic team’s doctor and also treated injured gymnasts at Twistars, Geddert’s Lansing-area gym.

Among the charges, Geddert was accused of lying to investigators in 2016 when he denied ever hearing complaints about Nassar. But the bulk of the case against him involved his gym in Dimondale and how he treated the young athletes whose families paid to have them train under him.

The charges against Geddert had “very little to do” with Nassar, said Assistant Attorney General Danielle Hagaman-Clark.

‘It can happen to anyone, anywhere’

Geddert was charged with using his strong reputation in gymnastics to commit a form of human trafficking by making money through the forced labour of young athletes.

“The victims suffer from disordered eating, including bulimia and anorexia, suicide attempts and attempts at self harm, excessive physical conditioning, repeatedly being forced to perform even when injured, extreme emotional abuse and physical abuse, including sexual assault,” Nessel said.

“Many of these victims still carry these scars from this behaviour to this day.”

The attorney general acknowledged that the case might not fit the common understanding of human trafficking.

“We think of it predominantly as affecting people of colour or those without means to protect themselves … but honestly it can happen to anyone, anywhere,” she said. “Young, impressionable women may at times be vulnerable and open to trafficking crimes, regardless of their stature in the community or the financial well-being of their families.”

Geddert was suspended by Indianapolis-based USA Gymnastics during the Nassar scandal. In 2018, he told families he was retiring.

On his LinkedIn page, Geddert described himself as the “most decorated women’s gymnastics coach in Michigan gymnastics history.” He said his Twistars teams won 130 club championships.

But Geddert was often portrayed in unflattering ways when Nassar’s victims spoke during court hearings in 2018.

“What a great best friend John was to Larry for giving him an entire world where he was able to abuse so easily,” said gymnast Lindsey Lemke. “You two sure do have a funny meaning of friendship. You, John Geddert, also deserve to sit behind bars right next to Larry.”

Rachael Denhollander, the first gymnast to publicly accuse Nassar of sexual abuse in 2016, said she was proud of the women who stepped forward against Geddert.

“So much pain and grief for everyone,” she said on Twitter after Geddert’s death. “To the survivors, you have been heard and believed, and we stand with you.”

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Boris Johnson says Trump ties won’t weaken bond with U.S. under Biden

Britain and the United States will work together to support democracy and combat climate change, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday, while denying that his close ties to President Donald Trump would hurt U.K.-U.S relations once President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

Johnson congratulated Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris on their victory and said the two countries’ “common global perspective” would be vital to shore up a rules-based global order that is under threat.

“The United States is our closest and most important ally,” said Johnson, who has yet to speak to Biden. “And that’s been the case under president after president, prime minister after prime minister. It won’t change.”

Johnson told The Associated Press during an interview Sunday at his offices in 10 Downing St. that he looked forward to “working with President Biden and his team on a lot of crucial stuff for us in the weeks and months ahead: tackling climate change, trade, international security, many, many, many, many, many other issues.”

Conservative Party leader Johnson is widely seen as an ally — and to critics, a copy — of the populist, “America First” Trump, who has referred to Johnson approvingly as “Britain Trump.” Last year, Biden called the British leader a “clone” of Trump, and he has criticized Britain’s exit from the European Union, which Johnson has championed and led.

But Johnson said “there is far more that unites the government of this country and government in Washington any time, any stage, than divides us.”

‘Huge amount of work’ to be done

“We have common values. We have common interests. We have a common global perspective,” said Johnson. “There’s a huge amount of work we need to do together to protect those values: a belief in democracy, in free speech around the world, in human rights, in free trade, in the rules-based international order.”

He shrugged off suggestions that Biden’s victory would scupper chances of a U.K.-US trade deal, and make it more urgent for Britain to secure a post-Brexit free trade deal with the 27-nation EU.

Britain had been hoping to secure a quick trade agreement with the U.S. after its official departure from the EU in January. The change in administration in Washington leaves prospects of a deal uncertain and could raise pressure on Johnson to seal a deal with the EU before the U.K. makes an economic split from the bloc at the end of this year.

U.S. expected to remain tough on trade

Post-Brexit trade talks are due to resume Monday, with the deadline imposed by the two sides just days away.

“I’ve always been a great enthusiast for a trade deal with our European friends and partners,” said Johnson, who has repeatedly said he is prepared to walk away from the Brexit trade talks without an agreement. “I think it’s there to be done. The broad outlines are pretty clear. We just need to get them to do it if we can.”

Johnson said he still hoped to get a U.S. trade deal but knew the Americans would be “tough negotiators.”

“I’ve never believed that this was going to be something that was going to be a complete pushover under any U.S. administration,” Johnson said, adding “I think there’s a good chance we’ll do something.”

In his first address as president-elect of the United States in Wilmington, Del., Joe Biden pledged to unite Americans and make the country ‘respected around the world again.’ 14:30

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Tropical storm Eta forms, ties record for most named storms in single Atlantic season

Tropical storm Eta formed in the Caribbean late Saturday, tying the record for most named storms in a single Atlantic hurricane season.

The system reached maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h late Saturday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said in an advisory. It’s centred 435 kilometres southeast of Kingston, Jamaica.

Forecasters expect Eta to become a hurricane by Monday. The system is forecast to be near the northeastern coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras by Monday night. A hurricane watch was issued for parts of both countries. Eta was moving west at about 24 km/h.

Eta is the 28th named Atlantic storm this season, tying the 2005 record for named storms. However, this is the first time the Greek letter Eta is being used as a storm name; in 2005, after the season ended, meteorologists went back and determined there was a storm that should have gotten a name but didn’t.

Hurricane season still has a month to go, ending Nov. 30. And in 2005, Zeta formed in the end of December.

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NHL’s Coyotes reverse course, cut ties with draft pick who bullied Black schoolmate

The Arizona Coyotes renounced their rights Thursday to their top 2020 draft pick after saying they learned more about his bullying of a Black classmate with developmental disabilities four years ago.

The team parted ways with Mitchell Miller after taking criticism for selecting him in the fourth round earlier this month despite knowing of his 2016 assault conviction. Arizona acknowledged it knew about the incident when it selected Miller 111th overall.

“We do not condone this type of behaviour but embraced this as a teachable moment to work with Mitchell to make him accountable for his actions and provide him with an opportunity to be a leader on anti-bullying and anti-racism efforts,” President and CEO Xavier Gutierrez said.

“We have learned more about the entire matter, and more importantly, the impact it has had on Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family. What we learned does not align with the core values and vision for our organization and leads to our decision to renounce our draft rights.”

Miller pleaded guilty at age 14 to one count of assault and one count of violation of the Ohio Safe Schools Act. He and another teenager were accused of making 14-year-old Isaiah Meyer-Crothers eat a candy push pop after wiping it in a bathroom urinal, and surveillance video showed them kicking and punching him.

Meyer-Crothers told the Arizona Republic earlier in October he was stunned and saddened when he found out the Coyotes drafted Miller, who he said taunted him with racist language and repeatedly hit him when they were growing up in a suburb of Toledo.

“It hurt my heart to be honest,” Meyer-Crothers told the newspaper. “It’s stupid that [the Coyotes] didn’t go back and look what happened in the past, but I can’t do anything about it.”

Miller sent a letter to all 31 NHL teams acknowledging what happened and apologizing for his behaviour. Meyer-Crothers’s mother, Joni, said Miller never personally apologized to Isaiah or their family other than a court-mandated letter.

New general manager Bill Armstrong, who was not allowed to participate in the draft as a condition of the Coyotes hiring him away from the St. Louis Blues, voiced support for the decision.

“Mitchell is a good hockey player, but we need to do the right thing as an organization and not just as a hockey team,” Armstrong said. “I’d like to apologize to Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family for everything they have dealt with the past few months.”

Miller was the Coyotes’ top pick in the draft because former GM John Chayka traded their first-rounder to New Jersey for winger Taylor Hall — who since left in free agency — and their third-rounder to Colorado for forward Carl Soderberg, and their second-rounder was forfeited for violating scouting combine policy. Arizona also was stripped of its 2021 first-round pick for breaking NHL rules by conducting physical testing of draft-eligible players.

The 18-year-old defenceman becomes a free agent, effective immediately.

“We are building a model franchise on and off the ice and will do the right thing for Isaiah and the Meyer-Crothers family, our fans and our partners,” said Gutierrez, who earlier this year became the first Latino CEO in the league. “Mr. Miller is now a free agent and can pursue his dream of becoming an NHL player elsewhere.”

The Coyotes said they and their charitable foundation will look to partner with local organizations that combat bullying and racism.

Advocacy group says practice what you preach

On Wednesday night, the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA), an advocacy group led by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and ex-NHL player Akim Aliu, posted a message to social media challenging the Coyotes and the league to “start practising what they preach.”

Formed in June, the HDA had hoped the NHL would partner in its mission to “eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey.”

However, the group decided to part ways with the NHL in early October, asserting the league was not committed to addressing racial inequality. 

WATCH | CBC Sports’ Jamie Strashin discusses HDA split from NHL:

The Hockey Diversity Alliance has announced it will separate from the NHL after months of negotiations. The initiative led by Black NHL players said it didn’t see enough action from the league, only performative public relations efforts. 2:03

The HDA pointed to Item No. 6 of its pledge on Wednesday which says in part: “We will not support, partner with or accept support from any organization that has engaged in, promoted or failed to appropriately respond to racist conduct in their organization of any kind.”

In September, the NHL released a set of initiatives, including mandatory training for players, aimed at fighting racial inequality and to promote inclusion.

But the HDA said it felt a lack of commitment from the NHL in putting the plan in place. 

“We have waited many months for a response to the common sense HDA pledge we proposed, and it is clear that the NHL is not prepared to make any measurable commitments to end systemic racism in hockey,” the HDA said in the statement.

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CFL sponsor threatens to cut ties unless Edmonton changes team name

One of the sponsors of the Canadian Football League’s Edmonton Eskimos says it will cut ties with the team unless it changes its name.

Longtime sponsor belairdirect, a car and home insurance company, said Tuesday the team’s name, which has been used since the late 19th century, is no longer appropriate.

“One of our core values is respect, which is founded on seeing diversity as a strength, being inclusive and collaborative,” the company said in a statement to CBC News.

“Guided by this value, in order for us to move forward and continue on with our partnership, we will need to see concrete action in the near future including a commitment to a name change.”

Belairdirect’s statement said the company has shared its position with the team.

A spokesperson within the Eskimos organization told CBC Sports the team was preparing an internal statement that would likely be released Wednesday.

WATCH | Washington NFL team reviewing team name:

The NFL’s Washington Redskins say they will undergo a “thorough review” of the team’s Indigenous-slur name, after pressure from sponsors and an international focus on racism. 2:06

The threat from belairdirect comes days after the Washington NFL team’s stadium sponsor FedEx, along with other sponsors, asked the team to change its name.

The team responded by launching a review of its name. Major League Baseball’s Cleveland team also said it will review its long-debated nickname.

In February, the Eskimos announced they were keeping their name, saying the team had conducted a year-long research process that involved Inuit leaders and community members across Canada. That study found “no consensus … to support a name change,” the team said.

Last Friday, the team reiterated that it would not change its name, but promised to increase its engagement with Inuit communities to evaluate their views on the CFL team’s name.

“We recognize that there has been increased attention to the name recently and we will ramp up our ongoing engagement with the Inuit communities to assess their views,” the CFL team said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks said they will continue to use their team name because it honours a Native American leader who has been an inspiration to generations.

 “The Chicago Blackhawks name and logo symbolizes an important and historic person, Black Hawk of Illinois’ Sac & Fox Nation, whose leadership and life has inspired generations of Native Americans, veterans and the public,” the NHL team said in a statement Tuesday. 

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Concerns grow that Iran will use downed Flight 752 to reopen ties with Canada

Iran’s efforts to resume diplomatic relations with Canada — while the country is under international pressure to release flight information and conduct a transparent investigation into the downing of Flight 752 — has some worried that Iran is using the tragedy as a bargaining tool.

“At this moment, they need to show some level of co-operation … before starting to talk about a diplomatic relationship,” said Reza Akbari, the president of the Iranian Heritage Society of Edmonton. 

“It’s absolutely inappropriate.”

Iran shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 in January, killing all 176 people on board, including 55 Canadians. Iran initially denied responsibility for the incident, but later admitted its role in downing the jetliner. 

The country has since been accused of stalling international efforts to conduct a transparent investigation as Canadian officials continue to push for the country to release the flight recorders involved in the crash.

Canada cut diplomatic ties with Iran in 2012 over concerns about human rights abuses committed by the Iranian regime, expelling Iranian diplomats from Canada and closing its embassy in Tehran. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said at the time that he viewed Iran as the world’s “most significant threat to global peace and security.”

Last week, a spokesperson for Iran’s foreign affairs ministry said the country had spoken to its Canadian counterparts about renewing diplomatic relations between the two countries.

In an email to CBC News, Global Affairs Canada confirmed that Iran had raised “the issue of re-establishing consular relations” with Canadian officials, though the department says its “focus and priority is on making progress on issues related to PS752.”

Iran taking advantage of tragedy, victim’s mother says

On Friday, the family of a University of Alberta student killed aboard the plane gathered in Edmonton to commemorate the life of Amir Hossein Saeedinia — and to call on the Canadian government to hold Iran accountable for its actions.

Saeedinia’s mother, Leila Latifi, said she hoped Canada would not allow Iran to reopen its embassy in Ottawa. Her family fled Iran after Flight 752 over concerns for their safety and have now filed for refugee status in Edmonton. 

Speaking to CBC News in Farsi through an interpreter, Latifi said she felt that Iran was using the tragedy to “take advantage” of improving its international relationships.

Leila Latifi fled Iran after she says the military pressured her not to speak publicly about the downing of Flight 752, which killed her son. On his birthday Friday, Latifi called for the Canadian government to ensure the victims receive justice. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Akbari, who was also attending the remembrance for Saeedinia, called any talks to restore diplomatic ties “gut wrenching”. Edmonton lost more than a dozen people in the downing of the plane. 

“Iran must be prosecuted in the International Court of Justice for the tragic crime that they have done, for the many unanswered questions,” he said.

Canada’s leverage with Iran

Thomas Juneau, an associate professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, said it was not unusual for the two countries to be discussing the state of their diplomatic relations.

“Both sides have said that they are open to the prospect of relaunching these discussions at some point,” Juneau said. “So just speaking in general terms, it is not necessarily surprising.”

But it would be a misstep to advance those discussions, Juneau warned, before securing the release of the airplane’s so-called black boxes, getting compensation for victims’ families and ensuring that a fully transparent investigation will be conducted.

“Right now, the incentive of eventually having that level of diplomatic representation is one of the only sources of leverage that we have with Iran. So giving that away … I think would probably weaken our hand.”

Canada is pushing to fully participate in the investigation into the downing of Flight 752. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via The Associated Press)

Juneau said that although details of talks between Canadian and Iranian officials are not known,  it’s not likely that either country would go as far as reopening their embassies any time soon. 

There are more plausible alternatives, Juneau said, such as hosting an office within another country’s embassy in order to handle matters like consular services. 

The international relations expert said it’s not surprising that Iran would be stoking conversations about improving its relationships at this time, given that it is currently under “massive” economic, diplomatic and domestic pressure.

But Canada should be very cautious about navigating such talks, Juneau said. 

“To move towards any form of diplomatic re-engagement before these issues [are] fully resolved — or at least on the way to being resolved — politically, that would be very difficult for Canada from the perspective of the families of the victims.”

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Panthers cut ties with QB Cam Newton after allowing him to seek trade

The Cam Newton era is over in Carolina, as the Panthers released the 30-year-old quarterback after nine seasons.

The move became a mere formality after the Panthers made it clear last week they were moving on from Newton by giving him permission to seek a trade and then agreeing to a three-year, $ 63-million US contract with free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater about 90 minutes later.

On Monday night, Newton posted on his Instagram account that he was “hungrier” now because he is “unemployed.”

“Cam has meant a lot to this organization and the Carolinas,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement Tuesday. “Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching.

“He’s the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise.”

Hurney added: “His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organization.”

‘You forced me into this’

The breakup did not end well.

After the Panthers announced Newton was free to seek a trade, the QB took to Twitter, posting a message directed at the front office that read, “Stop the word play!! I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one; I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this: You forced me into this.”

Given the inevitable outcome of a Newton-Panthers breakup, it was not surprising that no teams were willing to trade for Newton.

Newton now becomes a free agent and can sign with another NFL team immediately.

The move frees up $ 19.1 million in salary cap space for the Panthers. They’ll have to absorb $ 2 million in dead cap money.

Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey thanked Newton on Instagram Tuesday, posting, “You changed the way I approach the game and put the fun back in it for me. I’ll always owe you for that. I speak for the Carolinas when I say thank you for all memories and smiles you brought us. Love!”

Newton joined the Panthers in 2011 as the top pick in the draft after winning a national championship and the Heisman Trophy at Auburn. He stepped in right away as the team’s starting quarterback and threw for 400 yards in each of his first two starts.

2015 MVP

Newton went on to throw a franchise-record 29,041 yards and 182 touchdowns in nine seasons with the Panthers and ran for 58 touchdowns, the most ever by an NFL quarterback.

His best season came in 2015 when he led the Panthers to a 15-1 record in the regular season and an NFC championship when he threw for 3,837 yards and combined for 35 touchdowns en route to earning league MVP honours.

But Newton struggled in a 24-10 Super Bowl loss to the Denver Broncos and was widely criticized for not jumping on a loose ball after a strip-sack by Von Miller late in the game. Afterward, a downtrodden Newton answered questions about the loss with abbreviated answers before abruptly walking out of the interview session.

Newton became a fan favourite on the field in Carolina early in his tenure, endearing himself to young fans by pretending to rip apart his jersey like Superman during touchdown celebrations and then giving the football away to young fans.

On the field, he used his chiseled six-foot-five, 240-pound frame to run over defenders in Carolina’s zone-read offence and his strength and elusiveness to turn almost certain sacks into runs for first downs.

But during his tenure in Carolina he was hit more than any quarterback in NFL history, which may have taken a toll on him physically.

  • He had surgery for a partially torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder last off-season after struggling to throw the ball more than 20 yards downfield in the second half of the 2018 season.
  • He returned to the field last summer in training camp, but injured his foot in the third pre-season game at New England. He battled back to start the first two regular-season games, but it was evident he wasn’t the same player and was eventually placed on injured reserve where he had surgery for a Lisfranc fracture.

He lost his last eight starts for the Panthers.

Questions remain about Newton’s health moving forward, which could limit his options in free agency especially with doctors currently unable to put players through medical examinations because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They could’ve did this two weeks ago,” tweeted former Panthers wide receiver Torrey Smith. “Terrible timing for a Qb.”

Panthers sign Anderson

A person familiar with the situation says free agent wide receiver Robby Anderson has agreed to terms on a two-year contract worth $ 20 million with the Panthers.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team hasn’t announced the move since he hasn’t taken a physical.

ESPN was first to report the news.

The 26-year-old Anderson becomes the fourth former Temple player to rejoin coach Matt Rhule in Carolina. Rhule was the Owls head coach from 2013-16.

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Wild’s Galchenyuk ties game late, adds SO winner to steal crucial point from Canucks

Alex Galchenyuk scored the tying goal and the shootout winner as the Minnesota Wild beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Wednesday.

Kevin Fiala and Luke Kunin also scored in regulation for Minnesota and Mats Zuccarello had two assists. Devan Dubnyk stopped 31 shots.

J.T. Miller scored twice in the third period and Jay Beagle had the other Vancouver goal, while Quinn Hughes recorded two assists. Jacob Markstrom made 25 saves.

The single point moved the Canucks (32-22-6) into a tie with the Calgary Flames for second place in the Pacific Division.

The Wild (28-24-7) moved to 1-1-0 since Dean Evason took over the head coaching duties from Bruce Boudreau last Friday. Minnesota is five points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Wild opened the scoring just 63 seconds into the game, when Fiala collected his 15th goal of the year on Minnesota’s only shot in the first 11 minutes of the game.

Dubnyk was busy at the other end of the ice in his first start in four games. He squeezed a Miller shot from a breakaway between his pads and denied Antoine Roussel on a close-in attempt from the slot as the Canucks outshot the Wild 10-5 in the first period.

Vancouver evened the score early in the second when Hughes threaded a goalmouth pass through to Beagle for his second goal of the year and first in 42 games.

The Wild retook the lead with 6:57 left to go in the second, when a Kunin redirection trickled between Markstrom’s pads and into the net.

The Canucks came out strong to start the third. After Miller hit the post on an early 2-on-1, he was rewarded with his career-high 23rd goal of the season when he deflected a point shot from Tyler Toffoli past Dubnyk. Toffoli’s assist was his first point as a Canuck after being acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in a trade on Monday.

Miller put the Canucks ahead just over three minutes later with his second of the night, a blast from the left circle after a sharp pass from Troy Stecher.

Galchenyuk tied the game with under five minutes left, with his first point since being traded to the Wild on Feb. 10. He scooped a wraparound off Vancouver defenceman Troy Stecher and past Markstrom.

Galchenyuk beat Markstrom for the winner after Bo Horvat was denied on the other end in the fifth round of the shootout.

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Whitecaps goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau ties MLS saves record in loss to Quakes

Chris Wondolowski scored his MLS record 155th goal and San Jose overwhelmed Vancouver 3-1 on Saturday night ending a three-match losing streak.

Jakob Nerwinski put the Whitecaps on the board first scoring six minutes in but it was all San Jose from there. Wondolowski set up Judson a minute later before Wondlowski converted the go-ahead at the 34th minute. Andres Rios ended the scoring at the 73rd minute.

The Earthquakes (12-10-5) established MLS records with 43 total shots and 19 on goal. Vancouver (6-13-9) keeper Maxime Crepeau tied Tony Meola’s 22-year-old MLS record with 15 saves on the night. San Jose beat Vancouver by the same score at BC Place on July 30.

WATCH | Wondolowski scores game winner:

Watch Chris Wondolowski give his San Jose Earthquakes the lead in their 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps. 1:01

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