Shorthanded Revs shut out in Houston

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Shorthanded Revs shut out in Houston

Special to CSNNE.com

HOUSTON, Texas Defender Hunter Freeman scored the only goal of the game in the 86th minute as the Houston Dynamo defeated the New England Revolution, 1-0, Sunday night at Robertson Stadium.

Freemans goal concluded a bizarre sequence in which Cam Weavers initial header struck the crossbar and bounced straight up into the air and fell directly on the goal line, where Freeman was on hand to bundle the ball into the net. It ruined an otherwise stellar night for Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis, who made seven saves upon his return to the lineup.

The victory helped the Dynamo (2-1-2, 8 points) leapfrog the Revolution (1-2-3, 6 pts.) into a tie for second place in the Eastern Conference. It was the Revs second straight shutout loss after suffering their first setback of the season last weekend against Real Salt Lake.

Revolution captain Shalrie Joseph and central midfield partner Pat Phelan were unavailable while serving one-game suspensions for red cards received last weekend against RSL, while left back Didier Domi (left hamstring strain) missed out because of injury. Meanwhile, Reis resumed his starting duties after missing two games because of a right adductor strain, while rookie A.J. Soares returned from suspension to partner Franco Coria in central defense.

In response to the circumstances, coach Steve Nicol trotted out a makeshift 4-3-3 lineup at Robertson Stadium. Usual center back Darrius Barnes started at left back, the versatile Chris Tierney partnered Stephen McCarthy and Zak Boggs in midfield, and Danish forward Rajko Lekic made his MLS debut alongside Marko Perovic and Zack Schilawski.

Houston almost opened the scoring in just the fourth minute, with the Dynamos attack predictably running through Brad Davis down the left wing. Davis took a powerful long-range shot which Reis saved, but the rebound spilled to Will Bruin 12 yards from goal. The rookies low effort beat Reis, but Soares was positioned on the line to make a lunging clearance.

Bruin threatened again in the 12th minute when he wriggled free to meet Davis corner kick, but he directed his header over the bar from six yards out. Five minutes later the former Indiana forward was at it again, pushing another header wide from close range after Weavers left-wing cross.

The pressure continued to mount and Reis was called upon to make a fine reaction save on Bobby Boswells free header in the 22nd minute.

After weathering the early storm Houston fired 13 shots in the opening 45 minutes the Revs slowly worked themselves into the action as the game progressed, eventually reaching the halftime break scoreless.

But just as the hosts pressed early in the first half, they did so again in the early stages of the second half. Boswell threatened twice in the 57th and 58th minutes, first seeing his rolling effort cleared off the line by Schilawski although Dynamo players claimed the ball crossed the line before hitting the right post just one minute later.

Bruin continued his quest for a goal when he was put through in the 73rd minute, but Reis charged off his line to make a leg save.

Coria almost caught Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall napping in the 76th minute, but his audacious effort from well inside his own half drifted harmlessly over the bar.

Houston finally made the breakthrough with less than five minutes remaining. Davis corner kick was met well by Weaver, whose header ricocheted off the crossbar and high into the air. As the ball came down, Freeman jostled with Reis and eventually pushed the ball over the line to hand the Dynamo all three points.

The Revs will host Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, April 23 at Gillette Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

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.