Same old issues for Revs in 1-0 loss to Chicago

Same old issues for Revs in 1-0 loss to Chicago

By Danny Picard

FOXBORO -- The return from a two-week World Cup break was supposed to be an opportunity for the New England Revolution to start anew, after beginning the year with a 3-7-2 record. Instead, the same issues plagued the Revs on Sunday night in a 1-0 loss to the Chicago Fire at Gillette Stadium.

The Revolution took nine more shots (22) and had one more shot on goal (six) than the Fire on Sunday night, but failed to finish offensively a problem New England has faced all season long.

"In the final third, we just don't have the quality required," said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Sunday's loss. "Tonight it's just staring you in the face. In the final third, whether it's the final ball, whether it's the finish, we had some chances.

"You can't fault the effort or the commitment. It's just the quality, the end of it, it's not there."

Chicago needed only one goal on a night in which Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis made his MLS season debut, after missing the entire first half of the year recovering from offseason shoulder and knee surgeries.

Marco Pappa's goal in the 30th minute went into the net after hitting Reis in the hand, but it was a scoring chance that could have been avoided had it not been the result of a New England communication breakdown on the defensive end.

"The goal was a classic case of what some of our problems are at the moment," said Nicol. "That goal was so avoidable, it's frightening. All it takes is better communication.

"The goal tonight, all it takes is for somebody to open their mouth. All these things are preventable, and we're trying to do something about it."

There was nothing Reis could do with Pappa's rocket from 30 yards out, as he stepped up uncontested and let a hard shot go up the middle, hitting Reis' hand as he dove to his right, and finding the back of the net to give Chicago a 1-0 lead.

But even with Pappa's goal, the Revolution had chances to finish, and continued to put the pressure on late in the second half. Unfortunately for the Revs, Chicago had stacked all 10 players into the box, forcing New England to perfect their service in the box.

That perfection was not there, and the Revolution begin the second half of the season with a hard-fought loss.

"We work hard in practice all week to gain, and then it just feels demoralizing and really bad that we just can't put it together when game night comes," said Revs captain Shalrie Joseph.

Midfielder Pat Phelan added that this type of defeat is tougher to swallow because they didn't necessarily get outplayed by Chicago.

"If we don't put chances away early, and stuff like that happens, we make it awful difficult for ourselves," said Phelan after the loss. "It's our job to come out and establish a game plan and go at them, especially at home, and put them on their heels, and we didn't do that.

"If a team passes the ball around us and beats us 8-0, I don't think that would feel as bad as it does when you shoot yourself in the foot consistently from game to game," he added. "So it's really frustrating."

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.