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How Gotham’s assistant coach came to teach tactics through chess

Jesús Botello Hermosa wanted to bring players together through the game. What they learned may help them defeat OL Reign in the NWSL Championship.

Photo Copyright Rob Kinnan for USA TODAY Sports

“Growing up, I thought, the nerds play chess.”

That was Gotham FC midfielder Nealy Martin’s first reaction when Head of Tactical Analysis Jesús Botello Hermosa approached her about learning the game at the start of the season. This is not a typical request from an assistant coach to their players. 

“Now, probably half the team is seriously into chess,” Martin said on the eve of Gotham’s first-ever NWSL Championship appearance. “We travel with two chess boards. I have an app on my phone that I play on. It’s getting pretty serious.”

What, you may ask, would inspire a soccer coach to direct his players toward a 1,300-year-old board game? It’s right there in his job title: tactics. 

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