Feilhaber makes difference in Revs debut


Feilhaber makes difference in Revs debut

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- @font-face font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; To think, had Pat Phelan dressed on Saturday night for theNew England Revolution, then perhaps newly acquired midfielder Benny Feilhaberwouldnt have made his first start with his new team.

At least, thats what he said after his Revolution debut.

In the end, its tough to say that I was ready to play, butit all worked out for the best, because I dont know if I would have started,had Pat Phelan not had a little trouble, said Feilhaber. Hes a little bangedup. But in the end, it helped me out a lot, because now Ive played a solid 90minutes, and my fitness is only going to go up from there.

After playing the last six years in Europe, the 26-year-oldwas acquired earlier in the week through the MLS allocation process. Thanks toChivas USA and the Philadelphia Union passing on Feilhabers services, the Revswere quick to add him to their roster.

In hindsight, Feilhabers presence early in the game was inthe best interest of the Revolution.

Phelan missed the game with what the team is callingheadaches and Feilhaber even after having minimal training this week madethe start in the midfield.

Feilhaber played all 90-plus minutes in Saturday nightscome-from-behind 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City at Gillette Stadium. Hefinished his debut with an assist on New Englands first goal of the match,that went to Marko Perovic in the 12th minute.

Feilhaber is known as an attacking midfielder, and did justthat early in the first half. His slight hesitation at the left wing gave himenough time to push the Kansas City defenders off him, and make a pass toPerovic, who was wide open at the top of the box.

I was really joining the attack a lot on the first half,said Feilhaber. I had the opportunity to get close to the box on that one. Therebound came right to me. I took a touch. I was ready to shoot, but it didntset up perfect for me. Then I had to take a step. The defender kind of drewtowards me, and I saw Marko sitting at the top of the box, so I just kind ofslipped it to him, and he banged it in, he did the rest.

You see the quality he has, and that fakes the oppositionas well, because they dont know whether to stand off him or close him down,said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after the win.

He made a big impact tonight.

Nicol praised Feilhaber after the game, for being able toplay the complete 90 minutes, and produce in the process.

His fitness wasnt really our concern, it was just hissharpness, said Nicol. He hadnt really trained all week. I had a goodconversation with him on Friday, and he said he hadnt really trained all week,which, kind of takes the edge off you. But at the same time, when you have thequalities that hes got, then . . . we can always bring him off.

Hes smart, hes experienced, he uses the ball, addedNicol. He serves his legs by making the ball do all the work. So it wasobvious that he was cruising, and there was no way he was coming off.

Feilhaber said he started to get tired midway through thesecond half, but ddint seem too concerned about it after the game, mainlybecause he understands its going to take more than just one game to get usedto his new surroundings.

On Saturday night, Feilhaber was a difference-maker. And he believes he'll only get better.

Its different, said Feilhaber of the MLS. A higher pace,I think its more physical. Theres a lot of fouls, a lot of cards. But at thesame time, I think, once I get to know the speed of the game and get more usedto it, I think Ill be more effective as well here. Because of the speed of thegame, you tend to have more options to find those little seams, and ball theball to our forwards. Ill keep getting better at that.

More and more, I think people will know what Im about, andIll know what theyre about. And I think Rajko Lekic was one of the guysthat I found a lot behind the defense . . . The more I get to know the guys,and the more they get to know me, Im sure well combine a little bit more, andbe able to find those scoring chances.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Jurgen Klinsmann fired as coach of United States soccer team


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.