Fagundez gives Revolution hope after loss

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Fagundez gives Revolution hope after loss

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard

FOXBORO -- The defense was atrocious and the offense couldnt finishas much as they probably should have on Saturday night, so it isnt an idealsituation to be talking about positives, following the New England Revolutions3-2 loss to Chivas USA at Gillette Stadium.

But if there was ever a time to look at the bright side ofthings with a team thats sporting a 4-10-9 record, it would be after a16-year-old homegrown player shows the type of guts, skill, and swagger thatthe Revolution seem to have been lacking all season long.

Meet Diego Fagundez, a soon-to-be sophomore at LeominsterHigh School who made his MLS debut in the 66th minute on Saturday night, whilethe Revs trailed 2-0.

Two minutes into that debut, Fagundez took it upon himselfto put his head down and carry the ball hard into the box, forcing a penaltykick for his team.

Captain Shalrie Joseph took the kick, and sniped thetop-left corner with a bullet, cutting Chivas USAs lead to 2-1.

Chivas USA eventually made it 3-1 in the 81st minute, but itshortly after that Fagundez scored his first career MLS goal. He received adeep cross from Kevin Alston, and after a Chivas USA defender misplayed theball, Fagundez took the loose ball in the box and put it into the back of thenet, making it a 3-2 game in the 86th minute.

It was too little, too late for the Revolution at thatpoint. But Fagundez presence was certainly felt, giving New England somethingto be happy about after a tough loss.

He was huge, said Joseph after the game. He gave thewhole team a spark.

Hes been putting on a show at practice, you can say,added Joseph. Hes a very confident kid at that age. For him to be soconfident is a plus to him, and he came in tonight and gave us a huge spark.Hopefully he can keep going and keep pushing the team.

Fagundez has played for New Englands Under-16 academy teamall season, and finally got his shot on Saturday night in the 66th minute.

The first thing I thought was, Im going to have to try helpingthe team score a goal. And I did.

Revolution coach Steve Nicol said after the game thatFagundez wouldnt be thrown into the starting lineup anytime soon. But he didadmit that his play was one of the only bright spots on Saturday.

We were hoping to get a spark, said Nicol. We hadthoughts of playing him at some stage tonight anyway, because hes been doinggreat in training. He just likes to play. You can see his enthusiasm. It lookslike hes got a footballers brain. So it was a no-brainer to get him on.

He did a fantastic job. He gets the penalty, he gets thegoal. What else can you ask for?

You couldnt have asked for anything more from Fagundez. Butfrom the rest of the team, specifically the defense, it could have been a wholelot better on Saturday night.

The goals we gave up were atrocious, said Nicol. We havethree away. We could have scored seven ourselves. We could have had a 6-or-7-3victory. Instead, we lose 3-2. We go to halftime one down. We should have beentwo-up.

The three goals were atrocious. You know I always defendthe players, but occasionally, when your defense gives up goals like that,theres no hiding place. The goals were atrocious. Really, defensively, we letdown the rest of the team tonight.

The biggest problem for New England, defensively, was thefact that when they got their offensive chances and attacked, they werentgetting back and covering for one another, leaving Chivas USA to create evenhigher quality chances.

We have to make sure, defensively, that when were goingforward, were filling the holes, said Nicol. And thats what we didnt do .. . The source of the problem was when we were actually attacking in theirpenalty box. We need to fill the holes in behind.

We pressured them. We said before the game, we knew we weregoing to get chances tonight. But we had to make sure that when we wentforward, defensively we filled in the gaps, we filled in the holes. And theguys went forward, and we didnt do that.

And when the offense attacked, they couldnt finish as muchas they probably should have, thanks to shots and headers that went wide, andseveral big saves by Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who deserved the gameball on this night.

If it werent for Kennedy, perhaps Fagundez would be the onegetting the game ball. But hes only 16, and after his stellar showing onSaturday night, you can bet on him getting plenty of those in his Revolutioncareer.

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Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team

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Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team

NEW YORK - Jurgen Klinsmann was fired as coach of the U.S. soccer team Monday, six days after a 4-0 loss at Costa Rica dropped the Americans to 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying.

Los Angeles Galaxy coach Bruce Arena is the favorite to succeed Klinsmann, and his hiring could be announced as early as Tuesday. Arena coached the national team from 1998 to 2006.

Qualifying resumes when the U.S. hosts Honduras on March 24 and plays four days later at Panama.

"While we remain confident that we have quality players to help us advance to Russia 2018, the form and growth of the team up to this point left us convinced that we need to go in a different direction," U.S. Soccer Federation President Sunil Gulati said in a statement. "With the next qualifying match in late March, we have several months to refocus the group and determine the best way forward to ensure a successful journey to qualify for our eighth consecutive World Cup."

A former German star forward who has lived mostly in Southern California since retiring as a player in 1998, Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley in July 2011 and led the team to the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup title and the second round of the 2014 World Cup, where the Americans lost to Belgium in extra time.

The USSF announced in December 2013 a four-year contract extension through 2018, but the successful World Cup was followed by poor performances. The U.S. was knocked out by Jamaica in last year's Gold Cup semifinals and lost to Mexico in a playoff for a Confederations Cup berth. The team rebounded to reach this year's Copa America semifinals before losing to Argentina 4-0. But this month Mexico beat the Americans 2-1 at Columbus, Ohio, in the first home qualifying loss for the U.S. since 2001.

And last week, the Americans were routed in Costa Rica, their largest margin of defeat in qualifying since 1980. They dropped to 0-2 for the first time in the hexagonal, as the final round of World Cup qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean is known.

While there is time to recover, given the top three teams qualify for the 2018 tournament in Russia and the fourth-place finisher advances to a playoff against Asia's No. 5 team, players seemed confused by Klinsmann's tactics, such as a 3-4-1-2 formation used at the start against the Mexicans.

"Today we made the difficult decision of parting ways with Jurgen Klinsmann," Gulati said. "There were considerable achievements along the way ... but there were also lesser publicized efforts behind the scenes. He challenged everyone in the U.S. Soccer community to think about things in new ways, and thanks to his efforts we have grown as an organization and expect there will be benefits from his work for years to come."

The U.S. had not changed coaches in the middle of qualifying since the USSF made the position a full-time job and hired Bob Gansler in 1989 to replace Lothar Osiander, who also at the time was a waiter at a San Francisco restaurant.

Klinsmann made controversial decisions, such as dropping Landon Donovan from the 2014 World Cup roster while taking along relatively inexperienced players such as John Brooks, Julian Green and DeAndre Yedlin. Brooks and Green were among five German-Americans on the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster, which drew criticism from some in the American soccer community.

He coached the team to a 55-27-16 record, including a U.S.-record 12-game winning streak and victories in exhibitions at Italy, Germany and the Netherlands. He has worked in the past year to integrate more young players into the lineup, such as teen midfield sensation Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris.

Arena, a 65-year-old wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk, was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010. He coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then coached D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. As U.S. coach, he led the Americans to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals in the team's best finish since 1930.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination in 2006. Gulati unsuccessfully courted Klinsmann, who won the 1990 World Cup with West Germany and the 1996 European Championship with Germany, then coached his nation to the 2006 World Cup semifinals.

When Gulati and Klinsmann couldn't reach an agreement, the USSF hired Bradley, who coached the team to the second round of the 2010 World Cup. A year later, the Americans stumbled in the Gold Cup, and Klinsmann replaced Bradley.

Arena coached the New York Red Bulls of MLS from July 2006 to November 2007, then was hired the following August by the Galaxy. He led the team to MLS titles in 2011, '12 and '14.