DC United

Zardes, Pulisic help US top Bolivia 4-0 in final Copa tuneup

Zardes, Pulisic help US top Bolivia 4-0 in final Copa tuneup

By TATE STEINLAGE, Associated Press

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Gyasi Zardes had his first two-goal international game, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic became the youngest American scorer in the modern era and the United States routed Bolivia 4-0 in an exhibition Saturday night to sweep its three warmup matches for next month's Copa America.

Zardes scored in the 26th and 52nd minutes around defender John Brooks' goal in the 37th. Pulisic, the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, got the final goal in the 69th minute. At 17 years, 253 days, he bettered the mark set by Juan Agudelo (17-359) against South Africa in 2010.

The 29th-ranked Americans had their largest victory margin against a South American opponent, beat opponents from that continent in consecutive matches for the first time and swept their three warmup matches by a combined 8-1 after defeating Puerto Rico and Ecuador.

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At the Copa America, the U.S. plays fourth-ranked Colombia on Friday in the opener at Santa Clara, California, then faces Costa Rica four days later at Chicago and closes the first round versus Paraguay on June 11 at Philadelphia.

Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the first two goals against 79th-ranked Bolivia.

The U.S. went ahead after Geoff Cameron played a 20-yard pass to Clint Dempsey, who flicked the ball to Bedoya on the right flank. He in turn lofted a one-touch pass over a shoulder of Zardes, who streaked past defender Nelson Cabrera and let the ball take a bounce. Zardes one-timed a right-footed shot from 19 yards over onrushing goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra, who was making his international debut.

Brooks doubled the lead after U.S. captain Michael Bradley rolled a through pass on a free kick from 35 yards out to Bedoya, who burst past Carmelo Algaranaz and from the corner of the 6-yard box made a sliding cutback pass in front of the goal. Brooks, 21, redirected the ball in with his left foot from 7 yards for his third international goal. Brooks scored late against Ghana to win the Americans' 2014 World Cup opener and also got a goal in an exhibition win at the Netherlands last year.

Zardes, 25, scored again after playing the ball back to Bradley in midfield. He lofted a pass to Bobby Wood on the left side of the goal, Wood crossed to Zardes, who beat defender Luis Gutierrez and scored again with his left foot, this time from 6 yards. Zardes has five goals in 26 national team appearances.

Pulisic, who made debuts for Borussia Dortmund in January and the U.S. in March, scored after Jermaine Jones forced a turnover. Jones exchanged passes with Darlington Nagbe, who ran past three Bolivians and rolled the ball into Pulisic's path. The teenager slid the ball to Viscarra's left from right of the penalty spot, causing many in the crowd of 8,894 to chant his name.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann shifted Matt Besler, normally a central defender, to left back in his starting lineup and started Michael Orozco at right back. Fabian Johnson replaced Besler at the start of the second half and DeAndre Yedlin came in for Orozco, joining Brooks and Cameron in central defense, the first time the likely back four for the match against Colombia played together. Cameron had not played since injuring a hamstring in Stoke's season finale on May 15.

Bedoya and Jones flanked Bradley, who dropped back in a defensive midfield role; Zardes and Wood played aside Dempsey; and Brad Guzan started his fourth straight match in goal, making the lineup for the first 18 minutes of the second half the possible starting 11 against Colombia. That array was broken up when Pulisic and Nagbe replaced Zardes and Bedoya.

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US out of World Cup contention with 2-1 loss at Trinidad

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AP

US out of World Cup contention with 2-1 loss at Trinidad

COUVA, Trinidad -- The United States was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking loss at Trinidad ending the Americans' streak of seven straight appearances at soccer's showcase.

Twenty-eight years after a stunning victory here put the Americans back in the World Cup following a four-decade absence, their chances for next year's tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

Trinidad and Tobago scored a pair of first-half goals, and the United States was eliminated with a 2-1 defeat -- its first time missing the World Cup since 1986.

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.

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 Bruce 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.

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

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when defender Omar 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 Americans 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.

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.

D.C. United beat Revolution for third-straight win

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USA TODAY Sports Images

D.C. United beat Revolution for third-straight win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Luciano Acosta scored off a volley from close range in the 71st minute and D.C. United beat the New England Revolution 1-0 on Saturday night for their third straight victory.

D.C. United (8-15-4) has won all three games 1-0, with the first two coming on own goals. Bill Hamid had his third consecutive shutout.

D.C. United is 8-0-0 when Acosta scores. Kofi Opare and Lloyd Sam assisted on the goal. D.C. hasn't lost to New England in its last seven games, going 4-0-3.

New England's (8-12-5) had scored in six straight road games.