Fagundez's heroics take sting out of miscues

806952.jpg

Fagundez's heroics take sting out of miscues

FOXBORO -- Diego Fagundez was due.

The 17-year-old had only appeared in five games this season for the New England Revolution, but his substitution in the 81st minute on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium was a successful cry for help from Revolution coach Jay Heaps.

"The first thing he said was, 'You go in there, this is your night. Let's get the first goal this year, right now,'" said Fagundez afterwards.

And that's exactly what he did.

Fagundez scored his first goal of the season with just seconds left to play in stoppage time, forcing a 2-2 draw with Seattle Sounders FC, and salvaging a point in dramatic fashion for the second-straight match.

The Revolution salvaged a 2-2 draw last weekend in Toronto, thanks to a 94th minute goal. And on Saturday night against the Sounders, the Revs did the same thing. They scored in the 94th minute. This time, it was with a Fagundez header out front, after Fernando Cardenas sent in a nice aerial pass from the left wing.

"I didn't think we were going to get a goal on a header, to be honest with you," said Heaps. "And I didn't think it was going to be Diego."

But it was, as Fagundez stepped into the dirty area and put the header home.

"I don't think it's about the battle, I think it's about whoever gets to the ball first," said Fagundez while describing his effort to get to open space out front. "When I'm looking for that spot, I'm looking to get open."

"I think it shows a good resolve," said Heaps after the draw. "It shows that we have that instinct to say, 'Not today. We're going to fight until the end.'

"Unfortunately, the two games are almost mirror images of each other," added Heaps. "To give up two unanswered goals on two headers. It makes me upset, because we work on those things. It's not anything other than owning up to it, knowing that that's coming in and you've got to be better on it."

With the draw, the Revolution now have at least a point in their last four games. But Heaps wanted more. He wanted a win. And he believes they could have had one on this night. But because of missed opportunities early on, and allowing a pair of goals on Eddie Johnson headers out front, after Saer Sene gave the Revs an early 1-0 lead in the 12th minute, they were unable to do so.

"Unfortunately, as the game went on, we made the exact same mistakes we made in Toronto," said Heaps. "And believe me, we work on that all week, so that's even more frustrating.

"The second header, it was bad all the way around," added Heaps later on. "It was bad pressure on the ball, it was bad by goalkeeper Matt Reis. He's got to come out and get that. And defender A.J. Soares needs to put a body on him. So there's three guys at fault."

Heaps called out Reis, Soares, and even Sene, who put several balls over the net from wide-open looks out front.

"He hits that at practice all day long, and in the second half he had a chance in the same spot," said Heaps about Sene. "I think he was pressing a little bit. He got the goal, but we wanted more from him."

And while Heaps' frustration with a draw was evident, he does realize that a draw is better than a loss.

"We made two mistakes and they scored two goals, and then the rest of the game was trying to get back in," said Heaps. "Credit our guys, they keep believing that we can get back in games. Unfortunately we didn't get the win, but it's better than zero points."

Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team

usa_jurgen_klinsmann_112116.jpg

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.