Revolution dedicate win to Myra Kraft


Revolution dedicate win to Myra Kraft

By Jimmy Toscano

When you think of Robert Kraft, you automatically affiliate him with the New England Patriots.

It makes sense, he's the owner of the team -- a team that many consider the Team of the Decade, and one that Kraft bought, saved, and put on the map for good back in 1994.

But Kraft is also the owner of the New England Revolution, a team that is obviously, and will always be, far less popular than the Patriots, but one that he bought just a year after buying the Patriots. He believes in the Revolution much like he believed in the Patriots decades ago.

Kraft has done so much to promote the Revs brand, and soccer as a whole, and the team has been relatively successful in its short existence. They've gone to the MLS Cup three times, including a 2002 match against the L.A. Galaxy at Gillette Stadium in which an MLS record 61,316 people attended.

For those reasons and more, Revs players were hit just as hard by the news that Myra Kraft, Robert Kraft's wife, had passed away Wednesday.

Former Revolution and MLS star Taylor Twellman tweeted this morning, "Today is a very sad day. Myra Kraft in '02 when I came to Boston opened her arms to me and made me feel like her son. And will forever remember what MyraRobert meant to me and my parents when I signed @NERevolution. My 2nd set of parents were n Boston!"

You can bet that Twellman speaks for all Revs players when he sends his heartfelt condolences to the Kraft family, and the team showed it in Wednesday night's 1-0 win over D.C. United, which also happened to be their first win in over two months.

The Revs wore black arm bands during the game in memory of Myra Kraft.

Matt Reis, the backbone and starting goalie on the Revs since he was traded to the team back in 2003, has undoubtedly spent time with the Kraft's over the years. After the game, he went on air to dedicate the game in memory of Myra Kraft.

"I'd like to say -- this is from the Revs players and staff -- this was dedicated to the memory of Myra Kraft," Reis said. "We all had it on the back of our minds. I saw Robert Kraft in the tunnel before we left for this game Tuesday and he said we could really use a win. So Robert that one's for you. Thank you for letting me play the game of soccer, and we're deeply sorry for your loss."

After the win, in which Reis made several impressive saves en route to the shutout, he could be seen giving the arm band a kiss.

The outpouring of support and respect for the Kraft's is a true testament to the type of people that the Krafts are.

She will be missed dearly, but her legacy lives on in each and every New England athlete that steps on that Gillette Stadium field.

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.