Revs show up to fight

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Revs show up to fight

FOXBORO -- A lot happened on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

Goalkeeper Matt Reis made his 1,000th career save. Shalrie Joseph became the club's leader in all-time minutes played. And Jay Heaps picked up his first career win as a coach.

But through it all, there was one thing that made the biggest difference in the New England Revolution's first win of the 2012 season on Saturday.

These Revs played with a whole lot of fight.

"I think as the game went on, there were things against us, things that were hurting us, but we fought through it," said Heaps after New England's 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers. "And that's what the most special part of the night was. When it got tough, we got tougher."

That determination for 90-plus minutes was something the Revs lacked in 2011. But on Saturday night, after a Saer Sene goal on a header just 28 seconds in, these Revs kept battling, even with a depleted defense.

It was so depleted that midfielder and captain Shalrie Joseph had to play the entire game at central defense, after practicing all week at his normal position. It was a last-minute change, but Joseph stepped right in and led his team to a hard-fought defensive battle after an early goal in the opening minute.

"He's been fantastic," said Reis. "Anything that you ever ask him to do, he does it. Tonight, stepping in, and playing a great game in the back, it just shows the quality player he is."

Reis also had something to do with the team's defensive fight. he recorded three saves in the shutout, and became the sixth goalkeeper in MLS history to reach the 1,000-save mark.

"It's nice," said Reis. "It just means that I've been playing for a long time, and I've faced a lot of shots. But it's nice to have the longevity and to be able to play, and to keep making saves. The more I make saves, the more our team has a chance to win, much like we did tonight."

That defense would have never led to three points, had it not been of Sene's header in the first minute, which was set up perfectly on a cross from Chris Tierney at the left wing, and was the eighth-fastest goal in MLS history.

"Saer's great at getting in on the crosses, so I figured, why not whip one in, just try to put it in a good area, and Saer did great to get on the end of it," said Tierney.

Sene finished with a leaping header that banked off the cross-bar and in, marking New England's first goal of the season, and leading the Revs to their first win of the season, making them 1-2 on the year.

And the biggest difference in that win was the team's fight, which was maybe no more evident than Kevin Alston asking Heaps if he could stay in the game after taking a boot to the nose.

Alston's nose was too "crooked" for him to play on, according to Heaps, and he was taken out of the game in the 70th minute.

"And he wanted to play on," said Heaps. "That shows you the resolve the guys had tonight. A lot of fight, a lot of determination. I think that was the key tonight."

And according to the Revs players, that fight and determination was present because of Heaps.

"We wanted to get this first win for Jay, that's for sure," said Tierney after the game. "He's brought such a refreshing attitude into this locker room. This one's definitely for him. We're behind him as a team, and we really like the changes that he's made. So, it's great for him to get a first win, for sure."

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.