Netherlands beats Cameroon in Group E finale

Netherlands beats Cameroon in Group E finale

By Matt O'Leary
Special to

My fast-paced stretch of 10 games in 13 days came to an end at Green Point Stadium in Cape Town on Thursday night. Upon seeing the game schedule six months ago, I expected Group Es final group match between the Netherlands and Cameroon to be one of the most important games that I had tickets for. But once Cameroon was defeated by Denmark last Saturday, it meant that last nights game in Cape Town would be a mostly meaningless affair.

The Dutch led the group with six points and barring an unlikely set of circumstances where they lost their final game and Japan scored a number of goals in a win against Denmark, the Dutch would remain top and win Group E. Cameroon had been the first side mathematically eliminated from World Cup play following their disappointing showing in a 2-1 loss against the Danish last weekend and had could only play for pride.

The walk to the stadium had the feel of a big game. The vendors stalls were all set along the side of the road, the Dutch fans in bright orange were singing and it was overall a colorful atmosphere. Once the game started though you could tell something was missing, the game simply lacked an edge to it. I was impressed that the Netherlands started the majority of their best players and head coach Bert van Marwijk only rested their players with yellow cards. Cameroon started with a similar lineup to last weekend but star striker Samuel Etoo came out very slow. After creating a few half-chances in the first ten minutes, Cameroon did not see much of the ball in the first half as the Netherlands kept possession through the likes of Kuyt, van Bommel and Nigel de Jong.

One thing of note in the first half was the length of the wave that was started in one corner of the ground. Almost all the games I had been to featured the so-called Mexican wave at some point during games but this match easily displayed the longest wave I have seen. Green Point is a large stadium and the wave convincingly got around the stadium four or five times making for quite an impressive sight. Its the sign of a rather average game however, when the wave is the spectacle that keeps the fans most interested.

The Dutch scored about ten minutes before half-time after another African goalkeeping error. It was good football by the Dutch that allowed Robin van Persie to get behind the Cameroon defense but he should never have been able to score from such a tight angle. The ball went through the Cameroon keepers legs and the Netherlands took a deserved lead into halftime.

The second half began at a rather lazy pace as the neutrals in the stadium started to get behind Cameroon. It seemed that Samuel Etoo was trying to do everything himself and his team severely lacked the killer pass in the final third that would open up the Dutch defense. The breakthrough finally came when the Africans won a free kick on the edge of the penalty area. The consequential free kick struck Mark van Bommel in the arm and the Chilean referee pointed to the spot. The captain Etoo stepped up and fired an impressive penalty into the middle-left corner of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

Another major highlight of this somewhat drab contest was the introduction of Dutch magician Arjen Robben. Robben, considered by many to be the Netherlands most influential player had been sidelined by a hamstring injury since a week or two before the start of the World Cup. Coach Bert van Marwijk must have believed him to be fully fit to give him some minutes in their final group game. He played high on the right and was not getting too many touches in the game before he was played in behind the Cameroon defense in the 85th minute. Robben, was caught by the defenders, pulled the ball back and dribbled across the top of the 18 before firing a terrific shot off the right post. The ball rebounded perfectly to fellow substitute Klaas Jan Huntelaar who coolly slotted into the empty net to give the Dutch the 2-1 lead and the eventual win.

The Netherlands became just the second team after Argentina to win their first three games of the World Cup, and more importantly gave Robben some much needed minutes on the field. The Dutch will now square off against a determined Slovakian side in the round of 16 as the country hopes to reach their first World Cup final since 1978. People say the Netherlands are the best footballing nation to have never won a World Cup and perhaps this could be their year. They are very organized defensively and with Robben back on the field they have the necessary firepower going forward to be capable of beating anyone. Keep an eye on the Dutch as they begin their run through the knockout stage towards the elusive World Cup title.

Revs announce Heaps’ firing, name Soehn interim coach


Revs announce Heaps’ firing, name Soehn interim coach

Tom Soehn will take over as interim coach of the New England Revolution for the remaining five matches of the MLS season after the team confirmed the firing of Jay Heaps with an announcement on Tuesday.

Ives Galarcep of Goal USA was first to report Heaps’ firing on Monday. 

The decision to move on from Heaps comes after two back-to-back losses, one of which was a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Atlanta United. New England is 10-14-5 and in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. The Revs next play Saturday at 5 p.m. against Toronto FC at Gillette Stadium. 

Heaps had been the Revs head coach since 2011, the longest tenure in team history, and was 75-81-43 in the regular season. He also led the Revs to the MLS Cup Final in 2014 where they lost to the LA Galaxy.

“Jay has done a great deal for the club over the years and had considerable achievements. I have great respect for him and wish him well in the next steps of his career,” said Revs general manager Michael Burns. “This decision has not been taken lightly, however, we need to do better than the results have shown from the last couple of seasons and this season left us convinced we need to go in a different direction.”

Heaps has been a central figure in 15 of the Revolution's 22 seasons in MLS, including nine years as a defender for the team from 2001-09. He played a part in all five of the Revolution's Eastern Conference championships, four as a player, and helped lead them to the U.S. Open Cup Final on three occasions, including the club's victory in 2007.
“Jay gave the club his all as a player and coach, and we are thankful to him for all his passion and hard work,” said Revs team president Brian Bilello. “We will always be grateful for his efforts in bringing us back to both an MLS Cup final and a U.S. Open Cup Final and wish nothing but the best for him moving forward.”

Soehn was in his fourth season as an assistant coach after joining Heaps’ staff in January 2014. Soehn has been an MLS player, assistant coach, head coach, and team executive. He began his pro playing career in 1988 and has 13 years of MLS coaching experience as both a head coach and assistant, including three seasons with the Chicago Fire and six seasons with D.C. United.


Report: Revolution part ways with head coach Jay Heaps


Report: Revolution part ways with head coach Jay Heaps

The New England Revolution have fired head coach Jay Heaps, according to Ives Galarcep of Goal USA.

The decision to move on from Heaps comes after two straight losses, one of which was a 7-0 defeat at the hands of Atlanta United.

Heaps has been the Revs head coach since 2011 and compiled a 75-81-43 regular season record. He also led them to the MLS Cup Final in 2014 where they lost to the LA Galaxy.

The Revs are currently 10-14-5 with five games remaining in the season. Galarcep says there is "no word yet" on who will replace Heaps.

Heaps played for the organization from 2001-2009.