Lekic breaks drought, but draw 'feels like a loss'

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Lekic breaks drought, but draw 'feels like a loss'

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Follow @dannypicard
BOSTON -- @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"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1; In Steve Nicols eyes, it felt like a loss.

The New England Revolution coach wasnt pleased withSaturday nights 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium. It gavethe Revs a point, but considering they had eight shots on goal, New Englandscoach thought his team should have walked away with three points.

Instead, the Revolution extended their current winless skidto six games.

Its disappointing because, to be honest, it feels like aloss, said Nicol after the game. We come in at halftime, one down, and weshould be three up.

Defensively, weve been great this year. But tonight wedefended terribly. Saying that, moving forward, we created chances.

At least one of those chances was finished. Revolutionforward Rajko Lekic scored just his second goal of the season on Saturdaynight. It came in the 48th minute, and tied the game at 1-1.

Lekic stood wide open in front of the Chicago goal, andreceived a pass up the middle and through traffic from midfielder Pat Phelan.Lekic took the ball, turned, and fired it into the right side of the net.

On the one hand, it looks simple, but if you panic,certainly it becomes a lot harder, said Nicol on Lekics goal. But he kepthis cool and just stroked it. It was a great finish.

Lekic hadnt scored a goal since April 23, so getting one togo in and break an eight-game drought, was a huge confidence booster.

Im here to score goals, said Lekic after the game. So itwas a tough time for me, and when I saw the ball in the net today, it was a bigtime for me.

I saw that Pat Phelan had the ball, and he was trying toshoot it on goal, and I was thinking, If Chicagos defender missed the ball,Im all alone there. And he missed it.

The Revolution missed many chances on Saturday night. And inthe final 10 minutes, they also took away several high-quality scoring chancesfrom Chicago.

It was a 10-minute span that Nicol said was a result of hisplayers losing their legs.

We were trying to get forward, and you cant do that whenyoure tired, youre going to leave holes, said Nicol. And Matt Reis made acouple saves in the last 10 minutes. Other than that, I thought we pushed thegame, most of the time.

-- Midfielder Benny Feilhaber missed his fourth straight gameon Saturday night. Going into the game, the thought was that Feilhaber wouldreturn coming off the bench from a sprained right ankle against the Fire.

But Nicol and the team are playing it safe, and took thedoctors orders to be cautious.

The doctors looked at him again, and just felt that, thattype of injury, three weeks was pushing it, said Nicol. Had it been the cupfinal, hed have been available. But we always listen to the doctors advice.

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

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.