Rosano: Familiar faces haunt Quakes in loss to D.C.


Rosano: Familiar faces haunt Quakes in loss to D.C.

July 30, 2011Nick Rosano

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Earthquakes were knocked around by D.C. United during their 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium, and ironically enough, most of the damage was done by former Earthquakes. Two former Earthquakes, the recently departed Brandon McDonald, and the long gone but fondly remembered Dwayne De Rosario, were on top form tonight as D.C. extended the Earthquakes winless streak to nine games.

NEWS: Former Quake De Rosario's brace powers D.C.
De Rosario, an attacking midfielder and forward who helped the Earthquakes to MLS Cup titles in 2001 and 2003, struck twice in the second half to stake D.C. to a 2-0 lead it would not relinquish. McDonald, meanwhile, who was traded to D.C. for allocation money on June 27, put in a strong defensive performance, particularly painful given the Earthquakes current struggles with injury and suspension, in the defensive line. De Rosario has a long history with the Earthquakes and head coach Frank Yallop, having worked with Yallop not only at the Earthquakes between 2001 and 2003, but also during Yallops tenure as coach of the Canadian national team between 2004 and 2006. Its always nice coming here and playing, and playing against Frank Yallop, hes the guy that brought me to the Quakes, De Rosario said. Im just happy first and foremost that we came out here and played the way we did and was able to come up with a positive result and that was three points. After a scoreless, back and forth first half, De Rosario signaled his intentions by testing Busch just seconds after the restart, and while the veteran goalkeeper saved on that instance, he was powerless to stop De Rosarios subsequent goals in the 57th and 67th minutes. We talked about De Rosario being a game-changer, Busch said in the locker room after the game. De Rosario changed the game in the second half. We didnt." De Rosarios second goal was particularly well-worked, as the Canadian veteran played a one-two off a throw in before receiving the ball at the top of the area and smashing into the far corner past a helpless Jon Busch. The second goal was right out of the blue, great finish, so thats why he gets paid what he gets paid, Yallop said of the goal. McDonald, on the other hand, has been with the Earthquakes more recently after joining in 2009, he earned a call up to the U.S. national team training camp in 2010 and put in a series of solid performances during that season, helping keep over ten clean sheets while he was on the field. He saw himself increasingly relegated to the bench in 2011 in favor of players like Jason Hernandez, Bobby Burling and at times Ike Opara. This led the Earthquakes to trade McDonald in June to a D.C. outfit in desperate need of defensive help, but with Opara now likely out for the season, Burling suspended for Saturdays game, and Hernandez out with a short term injury, his presence was sorely missed on Saturday evening. Yallop was forced to use left back Ramiro Corrales as a central defender alongside recent acquisition Nana Attakora, who is still regaining match fitness. When you put a lot of guys that have not played together much, that have not really overly confident with their play, it just doesnt turn out to be a good performance, and I think that kind of showed tonight, Yallop said. On the other hand, San Joses loss has been D.C. Uniteds gain. Since McDonalds arrival, the team has posted a number of impressive results on the road, including two shutouts, a 0-0 draw at a hot FC Dallas side and a 1-0 win at a New York Red Bulls outfit high on firepower. Hes been great, he really has, D.C. United head coach Ben Olsen said to reporters after the game. In particular Dwayne tonight and Brandon in the back, I thought was a real man back there. Him and D.C. center back Dejan Jakovic both together worked very hard and were very physical with Alan Gordon, who is always a handful, so overall, a good night for us. McDonald acknowledged that his familiarity with the Earthquakes players did play a part in helping his team to a shutout victory, though conceded there was more to it than just knowing your opponent well. I think you can use that familiarity as an advantage, I think anybody can use that as an advantage, but at the same time you never know what youre going to get when youre facing an opponent that can come out and do something that I didnt expect, he said. We just have to be on our game and do what we have to do to get a victory. When asked about his quick return to San Jose, just over a month after he had been traded, McDonald answered, Its a little bittersweet, but at the same time, more on the sweet side. Coming anywhere, any team you want, as a defender, it was good to get a shutout, so mission accomplished. For the Earthquakes, their mission is far from accomplished, and the team will be counting on improved performances in its upcoming home stand against the Portland Timbers and Colorado Rapids to keep any serious playoff hopes alive.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer musings, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano

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.