Revs: Can't win if you don't score


Revs: Can't win if you don't score

By Danny Picard Follow @dannypicard

FOXBORO It seems like every week the New England Revolution hit the practice field for a weeks worth of training, theyre working on the same thing.

Well, thats because they are.

You dont need to be a rocket scientist to realize that the No. 1 issue haunting the Revs in recent weeks is goal scoring.

With only three goals in its last six games, New England is currently riding a six-game winless skid (two draws and four losses).

During that six-game skid, the Revolution allowed more than one goal only twice. Hence, the problem is on the offensive side of the ball, something they have been working on improving for a while now.

I think if you look at the table and you look at the goals against and the goals for, were certainly above average defensively, but were below average as far as putting the ball in the net, coach Steve Nicol said on Tuesday. So I think its pretty clear that we just have to try and get better at it, and thats the bottom line.

So how do you get better at scoring goals? It sounds like such a simple, yet impossible task to practice because goals on the practice field dont translate to goals on Saturday nights.

So until this Revolution team disproves that theory, theyll have to find another way. That way could come on Sunday in Seattle, as attacking midfielder Benny Feilhaber is expected to make his return, after missing the last four games with a sprained right ankle.

I expect him this weekend, said captain Shalrie Joseph. I was surprised he wasnt on the bench against Chicago on Saturday, but he told me he was going to be there.

This week hes been working out, just trying to get back his fitness. I expect him to be on the bench, or to be starting.

Feilhaber was upgraded to probable on the teams injury report Tuesday. Nicol said that he will be on the squad for Sundays match. He also said that he didnt yet know if Feilhaber would be starting or coming off the bench. Either way, his presence on the field could be just the thing to get the offense going.

At least, thats what they hope.

Just from a team standpoint, its important that we have him there, Joseph said. Because he allows us to keep possession. He brings a little bit more creativity in the attacking third, which we desperately need. Him being in the middle, he organizes, he keeps possession well, he spreads it wide.

He helps us do great stuff offensively, and we need him there to get a goal, a counter-attack, whatever it is. Hes going to come in, and hes going to give us that extra that we need right now.

Especially on the road.

Five of New Englands next six games are on the road. And while their success this season has been limited in all cities, its away from Gillette Stadium where the Revs struggle most.

Every game weve played, weve been competitive, Nicol said. I mean, the games we have lost, weve lost by a goal. I guess you need to ask the opposition, and how much theyre looking forward to us coming to play them. I guess thats the only way I can describe it, really, because we dont go anywhere and lie down.

We havent made a huge amount of chances on the road, but we have made some and havent taken them, which would have given us points. So its kind of a similar story. Well keep trying to create away from home.

The Revolution are 0-5-2 on the road, and are desperate for a win. The only way they can get three points is by scoring.

We just tell everybody to stay focused, Joseph said. Weve been doing good stuff the last couple of games. The ball hasnt bounced our way but weve just got to keep at it, keep working hard, and its going to break for us. Weve just got to believe that one day its going to break for us. And hopefully it will this weekend in Seattle.

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.