Nicol: We need more creativity


Nicol: We need more creativity

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; If Steve Nicol wanted his message to be heard, he yelledloud enough on Saturday night.

Not literally, of course. The New England Revolution coachdidnt raise his voice following his clubs 0-0 draw with the Colorado Rapidsat Gillette Stadium. But his message was clear.

The Revolution need more creativity up front. And with notimetable on the return of Marko Perovic (sprained knee), that answer isntgoing to come from within the organization.

Nicol said just that during his postgame press conference.

We need to go and find somebody whos creative, in the nexttransfer window, said Nicol. Its something were trying to do. Itssomething were looking at now. But we need to do that. We need to be morecreative.

The Revolution had three shots on goal Saturday and heldthe Rapids to only one. Two of New Englands shots were about as high qualityof scoring chances that you could get. But the Revs left the game with no goalsto show for it.

The first opportunity came in the 57th minute, when Coloradogoalkeeper Matt Pickens robbed Shalrie Joseph of a header that was labeled forthe top-right corner.

Joseph was at the left post, and put a perfect hit on theball, but Pickens had a great reaction to it, and just got his right hand up tomake the save.

He made a great save, said Joseph. It was a good ball byKenny Mansally, and I was in a perfect spot. Next time, Ill try to head it alittle bit lower and bounce it off the ground.

Ive just got to put that away. When you have that chancein this league, youve just got to make the best of it.

Then, in the 74th minute, Benny Feilhaber took a perfectpass out front from Sainey Nyassi, and ripped a shot off the cross bar.

They were all good chances, said Nicol. But at the sametime, we didnt create enough with the men on the ball that we had in thefinal third. Thats disappointing. We have to do better. Were not going to wingames unless were better on the ball in the final third.

Nicol made that clear on Saturday night.

We just lacked that imagination in the final third, saidNicol. Other than that, we had three good chances. Shalrie had a great chancewith a header. Benny had a good chance at the bar.

We need to send somebody whos more creative, in he finalthird. Obviously we miss Marko Perovic. We miss his creativity. And we needto get more, thats for sure.

The midfield, we didnt give anything up tonight, addedNicol. We passed it a little better tonight. But were lacking creativity inthe final third. I dont think anybody can disagree with that. And we need tochange that.

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.