Twellman's retirement 'not a choice'

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Twellman's retirement 'not a choice'

FOXBORO -- After more than a season of being unable to play for the New England Revolution, Taylor Twellman announced Wednesday he is hanging up his cleats.

Twellman, the victim of concussion issues, has suffered an unwelcome fate for an athlete -- forced to watch his teammates struggle without him.

"To come to every game knowing you're not going to play and somehow walk into that locker room and look every one of your teammates in the face -- and they'll tell you I come in loud, obnoxious -- that's the hardest thing," said an emotional Twellman, who admitted that boisterous persona lasted as far as the parking lot.

"Every single time -- and I'm tearing up now -- I'd walk right in the car and I'd cry. Because I did nothing for them and it's the one thing this team needed," said Twellman, who scored 101 goals in his MLS career. "We didn't make the playoffs this year. I'll tell you why: They needed a goal scorer. And I wasn't there."

The pain of feeling he let his teammates down will fade with retirement. Sure, Twellman would have loved a farewell tour, a season during which each stop would feature a celebration of his highly-productive career. But it is not an option; this decision is out of his hands.

"It's unfortunate to lose a career to an injury," said Twellman. "I don't have a choice, unfortunately. When you're told that if you want to live your life and be healthy then soccer needs to stop, the decision's made for me."

For two years, Twellman has undergone different treatments in hopes of curing his ailment -- acupuncture, sitting in a dark room for months, and so on. But the effort was of no avail. The phrased peppered at Twellman by his father -- "Give 'em hell; you never know when it's your last game" -- proved an omen.

"I sure as hell didn't know New York last year was going to be my last game," said Twellman.

"The hardest part about this injury is I can do zero about it," said Twellman, calling it the most humbling experience of his life. "I've done it all, I've tried it all, I'm sick and I'm injured."

Despite the career-ending injury, Twellman wouldn't change much. Maybe he'd add a few outcome-changing goals in the disappointing MLS Cup matches. The overall experience, though, he would take again and again.

"I did something that I love and I was born to do it and I got paid to do and have fun," said Twellman. "Honestly, wrap your heads around that. All I can say is, 'Are you kidding me?' "

The next step

Twellman has started a foundation to rebuild Boston's athletic fields. He will also begin offering Twellman soccer camps in 2011, providing a place for the children to build their dreams, much like he had growing up around the professional soccer fields where his dad played.

Perhaps most important will be the challenge he is taking up to help educate on the topic of head injuries in sports.

"It's the most frustrating thing to have people look at you and not know you're injured -- you don't have a cast on your arm, you're not on crutches and it's an invisible injury," said Twellman. "I hate the fact my career has ended on a brain injury -- a concussion -- but I have an opportunity to educate parents and kids on the dangers about concussions and their effects."

Twellman is one of 300 athletes to join a Boston University medical program in which he is volunteering to donate his brain to research. By following through with his promise to educate on head injuries and making a postmortem donation to science, he'll be doing to concussions what his dad always advised -- he'll give 'em hell.

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.