Revs 'disappointed' with tie vs. Timbers

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Revs 'disappointed' with tie vs. Timbers

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Steve Nicol walked into his postgame press conference, and grabbed a seat in the front row, right leg crossed, and left arm resting on the back of the chair next to him.

It was as if to say, "You guys will probably have more answers than me."

The New England Revolution coach eventually made his way up to the podium, and gave his analysis of Saturday night's 1-1 draw with the expansion Portland Timbers at Gillette Stadium.

From the outside, it would seem that the Revs would be happy with their fifth point in three games to begin the regular season with a big fat zero in the loss column.

But take a stroll through the New England locker room after Saturday's draw, and you'll find nothing but disappointment, even from rookie Stephen McCarthy, who scored his first career goal in the 22nd minute, putting the Revolution up 1-0.

"It feels good, but it's bittersweet, since we kind of didn't play too great," said McCarthy after the draw.

The Revs were flat, even before McCarthy's low blast from the top of the box beat Timbers goalkeeper Jake Gleeson after hitting him in the hands. And as Nicol pointed out several times after the game, their passing was the biggest issue on Saturday night.

"The bottom line is, we didn't pass the ball well," said Nicol. "It didn't matter who we played tonight. We didn't pass the ball well at all, all night. And when that happens, you'll really struggle. And we did.

"It certainly had nothing to do with how we prepared," added Nicol. "We had a good week . . . But yet, tonight we can't do it. So it probably is about mental stuff, which happens. But at the same time, the bottom line is, we're disappointed. We wanted three points at home, not one. But considering how things went, we did pick something up, so we should be grateful for that."

Grateful, yes. But pleased, absolutely not. And nobody in the Revolution locker room will tell you, but the fact that this draw came against a winless expansion team, is unacceptable.

The disappointment didn't stem from a draw "at home" or a "lack of three points." It came from a draw against a winless, expansion Timbers club that just so happened to be at home, resulting in only one point.

How else would you describe the team's joy after a draw in Los Angeles to open the season. Sure, getting that point on the road had something to do with their happiness. But because it was a draw against one of the league's top teams, it was a solid point.

A point against one of the league's worst teams, is anything but.

Portland forced a point out of the match by tying things up at 1-1 in the 38th minute, when Jack Jewsbury put a low shot to the far, right side of the net, from just outside the box.

Timbers midfielder Jeremy Hall picked up a loose ball at the top of the box, and tapped it over to a wide open Jewsbury, who seemingly caught Revs defenders flat-footed.

"If you go right back to the source, where the goal came from, we gave the ball away too easily," said Nicol on Portland's game-tying score. "You encourage people like Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph to get into the penalty box when he can. And when he does, when you give the ball away so cheaply, then it means people are out of position, because guys are making runs for the guy on the ball. And if he gives the ball away, then you're in trouble.

"It was a rotten goal. It wasn't like we got cut up. It was just half a leg short here, and half a leg short there. It was just a horrible goal. I can't sum it up again."

Revolution midfielder Pat Phelan said after the game that he hopes those two points lost don't come back to "bite them in the butt" come playoff time. And considering those two points lost came at the hands of a team that only played two previous MLS games together before Saturday night, that would be a devastating way to miss out on the postseason for the second straight year.

"We're just disappointed all around," said Nicol. "I mean, we did very few good things tonight. I guess, if you're not on your game and you pick up points, then you should be happy. But obviously, we want all three points. We don't want one point."

And they don't want just one point while playing the lowly Timbers.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

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.