Revs look to improve on sixth-place finish

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Revs look to improve on sixth-place finish

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO Pat Phelan used it as motivation. Because, quite frankly, it couldnt be ignored.

Every day that he trained in the offseason, the Revolution midfielder thought about his teams sixth-place finish in the Eastern Conference in 2010. It was a season that ended with a disappointing 9-16-5 record, which kept the Revs out of the playoffs for the first time since 2001.

Entering last season, Phelan had figured they were in good standing, defensively. All they needed was someone to step up and give them some offense.

That offense never really showed up, at least when it mattered, and the Revolution finished with only 32 goals, which was the third-lowest total in the MLS.

But defensively, it wasnt any better. The Revs allowed 50 goals in 2010, which labeled them the worst defense in the league, something that, throughout this offseason and preseason, theyre trying to fix.

Anytime you give up the most goals in the league, you obviously have to make some changes, which we have, said Phelan after Tuesdays training session at Gillette Stadium. And I think our focus throughout preseason is going to start with defense, and end with defense. Its a collective thing. It starts from the top, all the way back. So I think everyones mentality just kind of changes a little bit.

Thinking back to last preseason, Phelan remembers the Revs mindset, and the end result was a whole lot different than he could have ever imagined.

I think we thought the opposite, said Phelan. We were wondering where the goals were going to come from, which still was a problem last year, but I thought we were always comfortable in how we were going to defend. Even throughout the year, we had some games where we got blown out, but had some other games where we felt pretty good, like things were going the right way. But its just got to be more consistent day to day.

You cant just ignore that it happened, but you cant dwell on it either, he said. So its kind of finding that fine line of taking your lessons and learning from your mistakes from last year. But thats in the past. You work to not let those things happen again, but you cant dwell on it.

Phelan recently re-signed with the team, after appearing in 60 games since being drafted by New England 10th overall in 2008.

He admits, this year is a rebuilding year. But the 26-year-old out of Wake Forest wants to be a part of the organizations bright future.

This is where I want to be, said Phelan. I think the clubs in a transition period here, from the last couple years. And I think its only going to get better. I think the coaching staff has done a good job of getting the guys in the right mentality. Kind of shaking the tree and mixing up the team and the players a little bit. So I think its going to be a rebuilding year, but I think weve got some bright days down the road.

The Revolution opened preseason training camp on Jan. 31, and will begin the 2011 regular season March.

Phelan described training camp thus far as being relaxed and acknowledged that while their main goal is to patch up their defense before the season-opener, some of the teams biggest issues still remain.

That issue would be the Revolutions maturity level, which was criticized on several occasions last year by veteran Shalrie Joseph.

With so many new, young faces on this years roster, Phelan says that right now, maturity is still an issue. But having dealt with it last year, the returning players have a better feel for how to handle it.

Theres a lot of timid guys, just because there are so many new faces, and not a lot of veterans, I think with the exception of Shalrie Joseph and Matt Reis. I think Kenny Mansally and Sainey Nyassi are the next tenured players. So there are a lot of young players. Its kind of quiet, but I think everyones kind of just finding their niche and their place.

I lot of guys have grown up from last year. And I think because we had so many young guys last year, it helps the new guys coming in this year, knowing what to expect, know their place. Everyones got a personality. Its just a matter of finding out where it fits, and bringing it out.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 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.