Revs seeing red on road trip to Houston

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Revs seeing red on road trip to Houston

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO Saturdays 2-0 loss to Real Salt Lake was bad enough. What made it even worse was that the New England Revolution left Gillette Stadium that night, knowing two of their biggest leaders would be unavailable for their next game Sunday night in Houston, against the Dynamo.

The reason? Captain Shalrie Joseph and midfielder Pat Phelan both received second-half straight red cards in Saturdays loss. For those unfamiliar with the sport, a straight red card causes an ejection from the current game, followed by a one-game suspension in the next match.

So while the Revolution find themselves in third place in the Eastern Conference, with just one loss in five games, they also find themselves trying to prepare for the Easts fourth-place team, without Joseph and Phelan in the equation.

We have to obviously make changes there, said Revolution coach Steve Nicol after Wednesdays practice. And the changes we make, were going to have to make sure we solve it. Were away from home, so were going to have to be solid.

Nicol was handling the questions like any coach should. He wasnt trying to come off as if he was in panic mode. And in April, nor should he actually feel that way.

But clearly, the loss of Joseph and Phelan doesnt benefit them in any way, and the lineup that Nicol comes up with for Sunday, wont be the teams best lineup because that lineup would include both Joseph and Phelan.

Still, Nicol doesnt believe hanging their heads over it is the right strategy to have.

Its just one of those things, its about being a good pro, and things happen, Nicol said. But its how you react, that matters most. Obviously were disappointed that we dont have them, but the thing is, we dont. Well move on and organize without them.

Its about professionalism, added Nicol. Things happen over the course of the season, and its really about how you deal with it. We can complain about it, and cry about it all week, and carry that into the game, or we can accept it, and move forward and do something about it.

Houston is just one point behind New England in the standings, and the Dynamo will certainly be licking their chops with the unavailability of Joseph and Phelan.

But the Revolution will see the return of two other players in the process, in A.J. Soares and goalkeeper Matt Reis.

Soares will be available for Sundays game after serving a one-game suspension on Saturday for picking up a red card last Wednesday night in Vancouver.

Reis, on the other hand, has missed the last couple games with a groin injury, and while the goalkeeper hasnt been 100-percent involved this past week at practice, Nicol said on Wednesday that hes hopeful Reis will be 100-percent and playing on Sunday.

Also seeing some action on Sunday will be newly acquired Danish striker Rajko Lekic. The forward signed with the Revs on April 8, and joined the team for training for the first time on Tuesday.

Nicol said he expects the striker to hit the pitch on Sunday.

Im sure hell see the field at some point, said the Revs coach. Were working on some things, so it will depend on a few days to sort things out.

He looks great. Hes a good player, no doubt about that, so we just have to try and make the best use of what he has, and we have to get the ball in the penalty box, so that he can do his stuff.

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.