Playoff-Bound Quakes Fall 1-0 to Houston

Playoff-Bound Quakes Fall 1-0 to Houston

Oct. 16, 2010

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Their dreams of qualifying for a fifthconsecutive postseason since moving to Texas may be long dead, but the Houston Dynamo are not willing to mail in the remainder of their 2010 schedule.Houston defender Andrew Hainault scored with a diving header in the 23rd minute and Dynamo goalkeeper Tyler Deric posted a shutout in his MLS debut as the former San Jose Earthquakes beat the current Quakes 1-0 on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium.It was a second win in the space of four matches for Houston(8-15-6), who had been on a 2-11-5 slide since May 22, and allowed themto leapfrog Chivas USAand out of last place in the Western Conference. A victory in theirseason finale at home against Seattle would provide Houston a nice bitof momentum to carry into 2011.San Jose (12-9-7) lost for the second time in as many home games,and despite clinching a postseason berth with two weekends to spare,their performance against Houston on Saturday night was hardlyplayoff-worthy.Quakes coach Frank Yallop said earlier in the week that his foremostgoal for his teams final three matches was to avoid having anystarters get injured. That made things all the more frightening for SanJose in the first minute of the match when Houstons Corey Ashe fed a cross from the left wing to the edge of the Quakes six-yard box and keeper Jon Busch took an inadvertent boot to the head from Dynamo forward Cam Weaver.Weavers studs caused a laceration to Buschs left earlobe that bled quickly and profusely enough for Dynamo forward Dominic Oduroto call for a trainer. The game was delayed for seven minutes whileBusch had his head swathed in bandages and changed to a fresh jersey,but he continued in net.Busch could do nothing to keep out Hainaults diving header, which came off a corner kick by Brad Davis in the 23rd minute. The ball buzzed over the head of Quakes midfielder Bobby Convey, who was stationed at the near post, and rippled the roof of the net.That was hardly the Dynamos only bite at the apple. Davis, racing onto a loose pass from Sam Cronin,beat Busch from 35 yards but banged his shot off the left post in the37th minute. Weaver followed up in a matter of seconds with a freeheader from 10 yards that Busch did well to parry over the crossbar.Oduro had a free run at goal in the 66th minute after Ramiro Corrales making his first appearance since Aug. 7 and Geovanni conspired toturn the ball over in the Quakes defensive third, but Busch chargedout and body-blocked Oduros attempt from 12 yards. It marked Busch'sthird stop of an Oduro shot on goal in the second half.With Tally Hall slowed by a high ankle sprain and Pat Onstadnursing a hand injury, Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear tapped thehomegrown Deric to man the nets on Saturday. The 22-year-old product ofthe Dynamo Academy became the firsthomegrown player to start an MLS game for Houston.The Quakes did not test Deric much, however, barely putting the ballon net and forcing Deric to make only three saves on the night. Dericbriefly bobbled his first touch, on a 30-yard rip from Chris Wondolowski in the 28th minute, but did well to cleanly hold a couple of second-half drives from Arturo Alvarez.San Jose did penetrate Houstons defense periodically with longballs ahead and passes back to cutting teammates, but on multipleoccasions, Houston defender Mike Chabala broke up the play with deft touches.Bobby Convey's 15-yard shot in second-half injury time glanced offthe outside of the near post. And Wondolowski almost forced a tie withthe final touch of the match, but his volley from 30 yardsoutparachuted just over the crossbar as the whistle sounded.

Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention


Shocker: US Men's National Team eliminated from World Cup contention

COUVA, Trinidad — Twenty-eight years after one of the United States' most important victories came in stunning fashion at Trinidad to end a four-decade World Cup absence, the Americans' chances for the 2018 tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

The U.S. was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking 2-1 loss to Trinidad and Tobago ending a run of seven straight American appearances at soccer's showcase.

The Soca Warriors scored a pair of first-half goals, getting one off U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, and the United States made too many other mistakes to recover. The Americans are out of the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"We let down an entire nation today," Gonzalez said.

Shocked American players slumped on the bench, and Matt Besler sat on the field after the final whistle as Panama's game ended and then Costa Rica's. At the end, dejected U.S. players filed into their locker rooms with blank looks.

"We foolishly brought Trinidad into the game with the own goal," coach Bruce Arena said. "That was a big goal for Trinidad psychologically. That got them motivated."

The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat — coupled with Honduras' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres' 88th-minute goal — dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Mexico and Costa Rica already had clinched berths, and Panama claimed the third and final automatic spot and will go the World Cup for the first time. Honduras will meet Australia in a two-game playoff next month for another spot at next year's 32-nation tournament.

Missing the World Cup is a devastating blow to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners. It also is a trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN. The USSF hopes to co-host the 2026 tournament with Mexico and Canada, and Morocco is the only other bidder.

After an 0-2 start in the hexagonal last fall under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USSF replaced him last November with Arena, the American coach from 1998-2006. The team revived with home wins over Honduras and Trinidad last spring and draws at Panama and Mexico. But the 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica in New Jersey at the start of Labor Day weekend proved one hurdle too many to overcome.

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when Gonzalez made a casual attempt with his left foot to clear Alvin Jones' cross and sent the ball looping over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Tim Howard from 18 yards.

Jones doubled the lead in the 37th with a 35-yard strike, again to Howard's upper right corner, and nearly scored another in the 44th when his swerving shot bounced off Howard's chest and spilled into the penalty area.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans' 19-year-old star midfielder, scored in the 47th minute from the arc with a right-footed shot. He played a role in 12 of the 17 American goals in the hexagonal.

One minute later, Howard made a kick save on Shahdon Winchester's short-range shot, and DeAndre Yedlin blocked Levi Garcia's follow-up attempt.

The U.S. bench was tense, as Honduras scored twice early in the second half to take the lead over visiting Mexico in the 60th minute and Panama tied the score against visiting Costa Rica in the 52nd.

Clint Dempsey, who entered at the start of the second half, was denied by goalkeeper Adrian Foncette's leaping save in the 69th and hit a post from 22 yards in the 77th. Pulisic's shot in the 87th was saved by Foncette.

All American reserves were standing for much of the final minutes, and Arena had repeated exasperated looks.

"No excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point," Arena said. "It's a blemish for us."

Just a few hundred fans were in the stands at 10,000-capacity Ato Boldon Stadium, located 24 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Paul Caligiuri's famous goal at the National Stadium in 1989 put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Among the spectators were a few dozen American Outlaws, the U.S. supporters group.

Water that had flooded the track surrounding the field ahead of the U.S. training session Monday was gone.

USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama


USMNT back on track with 4-0 pounding of Panama

ORLANDO, Fla. — Teenage star Christian Pulisic scored with a brilliant touch to complete a field-length attack just eight minutes in, then split the defense with a pass that set up Jozy Altidore for the first of the forward's two goals and put the United States back on track for next year's World Cup with a 4-0 rout of Panama on Friday night.

Pulisic fed Altidore for a 2-0 lead in the 19th. Altidore converted a penalty kick with a chip in the 43rd after Bobby Wood was fouled, and Wood added a goal in the 63rd.

The U.S. ended a three-match winless streak in qualifying and with 12 points and moved two points ahead of Panama into third place — the last automatic berth — in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. Honduras has nine points going into its match Saturday at Costa Rica, which is second with 15.

Goal difference means the Americans put themselves in great shape to reach an eighth straight World Cup, almost certainly with a win Tuesday at Trinidad and Tobago and likely with a draw if Honduras fails to win Saturday. The U.S. is plus-five to minus-two for Panama and minus-seven for Honduras.

The region's fourth-place team advances to a playoff next month against Australia or Syria.

"We could have finished better on the day and scored more goals," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said.

Playing his first international match since he turned 19 last month, Pulisic was moved to central midfield from the flanks by coach Bruce Arena and sparked the attack from the opening whistle with pace and ball control seldom seen from Americans.

After Gabriel Gomez broke free from Omar Gonzalez and shot over the crossbar, Tim Howard's goal kick was headed forward by Bobby Wood about 10 yards past midfield.

Altidore one-timed the ball ahead to on a sprinting Pulisic, and the midfielder reached back with his left leg to flick the ball ahead. Pulisic jumped to avoid Roman Torres' challenge and used the outside of his right foot to play the ball forward. As goalkeeper Jaime Penedo came off his line, Pulisic used the outside of his right foot again to play the ball wide and jumped over Pinedo's outstretched arm. At the edge of the 6-yard box and just 2 yards from the endline, Pulisic reached with his right foot to slot the ball in, completing a 112-yard U.S. move. Pulisic tumbled over as the ball rolled in for his eighth goal in 19 international appearances, his fourth in the hex.

Pulisic created the second goal when he played the ball between his feet and faked Michael Murillo on the left flank Pulisic broke ahead and fed Altidore, who split the center backs and redirected the ball in from 5 yards for his first goal of the hexagonal. At that point, Pulisic had played a part in 11 of the Americans' 14 goals in the hex.

After Wood and Altidore failed to convert good chances, Wood drew the penalty kick when he exchanged passes with Paul Arriola along a flank, broke past Felipe Baloy, spurted diagonally into the penalty area and was pushed down by Armando Cooper. As Pinedo dived to his left, Altidore chipped the ball down the center for his 41st international game.

Hacked down several times by Panamanians, Pulisic was removed in the 57th minute and walked out to a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 25,303 at Orlando City Stadium, which opened in February,

Wood added his 10th international goal off a pass from Arriola.

Panama was trying to move into position to qualify for its first World Cup. The Panamanians were 90 seconds from advancing to a playoff against New Zealand four years ago, when Graham Zusi and Aron Johannsson scored late goals at Honduras, which dropped Panama behind Mexico and into fifth place.