Revs win home opener over D.C. United

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Revs win home opener over D.C. United

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- Two games into the 2011 season, the New England Revolution know they still have a lot of area to improve in, but if they keep picking up points, while improving, Revs coach Steve Nicol admits, "that's perfect."

The Revolution didn't play a perfect game on Saturday against D.C. United in the team's home opener at Gillette Stadium, but they got some early breaks that gave them enough cushion to earn three points in an imperfect game.

New England took a 2-0 lead just 17 minutes in, thanks to goals from Zack Schilawski and Shalrie Joseph, and were able to hold on for a 2-1 win after a late D.C. goal from Charlie Davies.

That's four total points for the Revolution, in just two games, and a 1-0-1 record to show for it. With a team that's young, and still has a lot of work to do, that 1-0-1 record to begin the season was the cause of many smiles in New England's locker room on Saturday night.

"It's huge," said Schilawski. "That was the goal before the game, obviously. We felt like, if we could get a win here, four points out of two games, this would be a good start for us, and we'd feel confident going out there the rest of the way."

Schilawski put the Revs up 1-0 in the eighth minute, when his second effort on a shot in the box paid off. Schilawski's original kick was blocked, but it came back to him for a second chance, and he put it away for the early 1-0 lead at home.

But perhaps he shouldn't have even got the first chance.

Joseph sent a cross pass into Schilawski, who seemingly hit the ball with his hand before the initial kick. No call was made, and the Revs won't complain.

"On the first one, I think we probably got away with one there," said Nicol after the win. "I think most people on the ground, saw what happened."

Everyone saw what happened nearly 10 minutes later, as Joseph was rewarded a penalty kick in the 17th minute, and a chance to put New England up 2-0.

Joseph decided to take a low, hard shot to the right side, and even though D.C. goalkeeper Pat Onstad dove the correct way, the ball just got a piece of his fingertips and had enough power on it to go into the back of the net.

"Just trying to tuck it in the corner. I know once I get it in the corner and put a little bit of power in it, it's going to be hard for Onstad to save it," said Joseph. "He guessed the right way, but I put enough power into it, and it went in for me."

For those goalkeepers taking notes, Joseph said his scouting report shouldn't read "low-right."

"I think that's probably the second time I went there," said Joseph. "That's probably the second time I went to that side. I just felt like I wanted to put it at that side. I don't have a favorite side, but I just wanted to go that way."

Charlie Davies cut New England's lead to 2-1 in the first minute of extra time, but it was too little, too late for D.C. Still, it was a sign that the Revs have more work to do.

"Getting that point last week on the road, we dug deep," said Joseph. "Sometimes we have to defend, we had 11 guys behind the ball last week. Tonight, we played a really attacking style, a very physical style. And I think if we do that every week, we can definitely make some noise.

"But this team is young. We've still got a lot of growing to do, and this is just step one in the process of what we're trying to do."

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.