Revs surprised, delighted to nab Feilhaber


Revs surprised, delighted to nab Feilhaber

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- In the minds of everyone in the New England Revolution organization, midfielder Benny Feilhaber was going to either Chivas USA or the Philadelphia Union.

Those were the top two teams in the MLS allocation process. The Revolution were third in the leagues allocation order, which gives MLS teams a chance to acquire the returning U.S. National Team player.

Feilhaber, 26, was a member of the 2010 U.S. World Cup team, and has played the last six seasons in Europe. So there was never really the thought that both Chivas and Philadelphia would pass up on a talent like that.

Speaking frankly, theres no way that we thought he was going to be available, said Revolution vice president of player personnel Michael Burns in a conference call on Wednesday. The 5 oclock deadline kind of came and went, and we didnt get anything. Then all of a sudden I got a call from the league saying that both Chivas and Philly had passed. So we were quite surprised, to say the least.

We just felt like it was an opportunity that we couldnt pass up.

As for why Feilhaber decided to return now, he just felt the timing was right. And hes looking forward to being an everyday starter in the MLS.

I think Europe teaches you things that are tough to learn when youre playing close to home, said Feilhaber in Wednesdays conference call. Its really all about football. Thats the only reason why Im in Europe. Theres nothing else. I think you really learn a lot of things.

I think Im ready to come back. I think the MLS will do something for me that Europe hasnt been able to.

Feilhaber brings plenty of experience to a Revolution club thats looking to become a more mature team on the field. He also brings them improved passing as an attacking midfielder.

Some of the problems we had last year were a lack of experience and passing the ball, said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Wednesdays practice. Hes a guy who, without a shadow of a doubt brings loads and loads of both. It makes sense.

Everyone involved in New England admits this is a rare acquisition. But its one that will bring about a healthy competition in the teams midfield, with Feilhaber surely taking over an everyday starting role.

Well, Im sure there are a couple of guys that are wondering whether its their spot or not, said Nicol. But thats always a good thing.

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.