World Cup off-day wrapup: Sunday

World Cup off-day wrapup: Sunday

By Adam Vaccaro

What happened Sunday: American World Cup hero Landon Donovan prepared to return to MLS action, as his Los Angeles Galaxy was set to host Seattle Sounders FC at the Home Depot Center for a 10:30 p.m. match. Teammate Edson Buddle, who also represented the US in South Africa, will join Donovan in receiving what should be quite a hero's welcome on this Independence Day. The only MLS team to send two players to the World Cup, the Galaxy (10-1-3) are the clear class of the league in 2010. Donovan, who earlier this week downplayed speculation that he'd bolt to Europe after this season, leads America's top domestic league with nine assists. Buddle's nine goals also front the pack, and the squad is coached by former U.S. manager Bruce Arena.

The other two MLS-based U.S. players Chivas USA defender Jonathan Bornstein and Real Salt Lake striker Robbie Findley already returned to action this weekend and were each warmly welcomed home by American fans. Findley scored the last of Real Salt Lake's goals in the reigning MLS Cup champions' 5-0 drubbing of the Revolution on Friday night.

The Nigeria Football Federation has fired its president and vice president in hopes of getting the nation's president, Goodluck Johnson, to reconsider his two-year ban on the Super Eagles from international competition. Johnson is under pressure from FIFA to reconsider, having been told that he has until Monday to rescind the ban before the country faces disciplinary measures. The organization strongly prohibits government involvement in all soccer matters.

Some good news for the Netherlands: striker Robin Van Persie and defender Joris Mathijson should both be fit to play in the semifinals against Uruguay. Van Persie injured his shoulder during the team's upset victory over Brazil while Mathijson was scratched just before game time after hurting his knee during pregame warm-ups. The center back's absence particularly showed as the Dutch defense struggled to come together in the match's early going. But the defensive breakdown that led to Robinho's first half goal and gave Selecao a 1-0 lead is a distant memory for Dutch supporters, who celebrated heavily following the Oranje's second half comeback en route to the stunning 2-1 win.

Spanish coach Vincente Del Bosque suggested that striker Fernando Torres may be benched against Germany on Wednesday. Torres has not scored in the tournament and has had very little field presence. Del Bosque spoke highly of Liverpool's star scorer but said that he is not certain to start against a German side that he believes to be the best still standing in the tournament.

Argentina will return home to very disappointed supporters after its quarterfinal loss to Germany. And by disappointed, I mean potentially threateningly disappointed. Police are taking every precaution to guard for the players safety and will bar fans from the airport at which the team is scheduled to arrive.
Question of the Day: Are you one of nearly 790 thousand to have signed the U.S. Soccer Federation's Go USA Bid petition? In May, the Federation officially submitted its bid for the United States to host the World Cup in either 2018 or 2022 and aims to collect 1 million signatures to show off by selection time in December. Just imagine a potential Fourth of July weekend with the U.S. still alive late in the tournament on home soil. Maybe that weekend's quarter or semifinal match would even be held at Gillette Stadium. If you're into that (and I bet you are), make sure to head to and add your signature to the already very long list.
Quote of Note: "Pepe Reina had told me Cardozo sent his penalty against him to the left and hard. His advice paid off." - Spanish keeper Iker Casillas, explaining how Reina, his backup who had faced penalty shots from Paraguay's Oscar Cardozo in club play, assisted him in saving Cardozo's penalty bid on Saturday.

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.