Pair of first-half goals sink Revs in Desert Diamond Cup opener

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Pair of first-half goals sink Revs in Desert Diamond Cup opener

By Jeff Lemieux

TUCSON, Ariz. Brad Evans converted a first-half penalty kick and Eddie Johnson added an insurance strike just before halftime as the New England Revolution suffered a 2-0 loss to Seattle Sounders FC in the first game of the Desert Diamond Cup on Wednesday night at Kino Veterans Memorial Stadium.

The game was a physical at times reckless affair, featuring a total of six yellow cards and two red cards as New Englands Sainey Nyassi and Seattles Marc Burch were both sent off in the 80th minute. Additionally, the Revolutions Clyde Simms and the Sounders Osvaldo Alonso were both subbed off before halftime when a scuffle ensued following a rough challenge on Chris Tierney.

Chad Barrett (illness), Ryan Guy (calf), Matt Reis (illness), Kelyn Rowe (knee) and Saer Sene (ACL surgery) were unavailable for the Revolution, which used largely different lineups for the first and second halves.

Jerry Bengtson made his first preseason appearance after returning from international duty, creating the games first chance in the fifth minute. The Hondurans flick sent Diego Fagundez into the right side of the box and the Revolution forward drilled a shot which Sounders goalkeeper Michael Gspurning tipped over the crossbar.

Evans opened the scoring for Seattle in the 27th minute, converting a penalty kick after the Revolutions defensive wall was whistled for a handball while blocking a free kick. The effort was slotted low into the right corner as Evans sent New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth the wrong direction.

Johnson doubled the Sounders lead just before halftime, finishing off a strong individual move after receiving a long pass from Mauro Rosales down the right wing. After cutting inside onto his left foot, Johnson curled his shot inside the far post to give Seattle a 2-0 advantage at the break.

New England created the better of the chances throughout the second half and forced Seattle goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann into a pair of saves 10 minutes apart. Training camp invitee Marko Jesic directed a 20-yard shot on frame in the 68th minute, while Stephen McCarthy saw his header saved by Hahnemann in the 78th minute.

Nyassi and Burch were both ejected in the 80th minute when a fracas erupted near midfield, which began with a sliding challenge from Nyassi.

The Revolutions best chance to cut into the deficit arrived in the 83rd minute when the Sounders Lamar Neagle twice cleared the ball off the line. Following a corner kick, Neagle first directed Darrius Barnes header onto the crossbar before he was on hand to clear the follow-up effort away from danger.

The Revs will continue Desert Diamond Cup group play on Saturday, Feb. 16, when theyll take on the New York Red Bulls at 8 p.m. ET.

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.