DCU begins road trip in San Jose

750438.png

DCU begins road trip in San Jose

They have new found swagger and they have unbeaten streaks. The San Jose Earthquakes and D.C. United were both spectators in the playoffs last season, but ahead of their Wednesday meeting they are Major League Soccers hottest teams.

For United the match against the Earthquakes will be the first of three straight games on the road and the Black and Red begins its journey with a league-high seven game unbeaten streak punctuated by consecutive wins for the first time since 2009. The Earthquakes have not lost in six matches.

Oh and the swagger is there and was on display for United and the Earthquakes in their most recent matches. Steven Lenhart scored two goals including the game winner in the 93rd minute to life the Quakes to a 2-1 win in Philadelphia. At home United navigated through a disciplined Houston team to win 3-2 on the strength of two Maicon Santos goals.

Theres something to this team, theyve got a little bit of chutzpah, United head coach Ben Olsen said after Saturdays victory over the Dynamo. We had a couple plays when we fouled up, and Houston capitalized and we had guys bail them out. Thats part of being a team.

Now the trick is for United to survive and excel away from home while dealing with the loss of Emiliano Dudar on defense. Dudar is now sidelined with a hamstring injury suffered against the Dynamo. A hamstring injury forced Dudar to miss two games in April. When healthy Dudar has arguably been Uniteds best defender with a precise ability to distribute from the back.

We have some options, Olsen said of Uniteds need to replace Dudar in the first eleven. Perrys (Kitchen) played there before; Robbies (Russell) played there; Daniel Woolards played there. Its not ideal because Dudars been a stud, and well be missing him.

Olsen is confident that United will weather Dudars loss and noted, theres some spirit to this team, and a little adversity isnt going to scare them. Uniteds adversity includes the absence of defender Dejan Jakovic who is recovering from an ankle sprain. Brandon McDonald has been the constant in the middle of Uniteds defense and has only missed one game because of suspension.

With Dudar and Jakovic missing, its hard not to envision Perry Kitchen moving back to the back line from defensive midfield. Kitchen moved to right back when Dudar was injured and then Robbie Russell slotted in next to McDonald. Marcelo Saragosa is back from Brazil after the death of his father and can again be the top choice at defensive midfielder.

United has plenty of healthy options in attack. Up front a connection is being made between Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos. Over the last four games Santos and Pontius have combined to score eight of Uniteds ten goals. Each has found the net four times and Pontius with his runs is drawing defenders and opening space for Santos.

Maicon is a big boy and willing to do a lot of the work as far as holding the balls up and fighting, said Olsen. Chris is very mobile underneath and behind. He plays off Maicon very well. For now, its a good partnership.

The Earthquakes also boast impressive offensive options. Chris Wondolowski has scored 42 goals since the start of the 2010 MLS season, including eight this year. He was shutout last week against Philadelphia, but Lenharts two goals delivered San Joses first win without a Wondolowski goal since last June.

It's official: U.S. Soccer hires Bruce Arena to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

It's official: U.S. Soccer hires Bruce Arena to replace Jurgen Klinsmann

NEW YORK – Bruce Arena is returning to coach the U.S. national soccer team, a decade after he was fired.

The winningest coach in American national team history, Arena took over Tuesday, one day after Jurgen Klinsmann was fired. The 65-year-old Arena starts work Dec. 1.

With the U.S. 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, the U.S. Soccer Federation wants to spark a turnaround when the playoffs resume March 24 with a home game against Honduras.

"His experience at the international level, understanding of the requirements needed to lead a team through World Cup qualifying, and proven ability to build a successful team were all aspects we felt were vital for the next coach," USSF President Sunil Gulati, who fired Arena in 2006, said in a statement. "I know Bruce will be fully committed to preparing the players for the next eight qualifying games and earning a berth to an eighth straight FIFA World Cup."

Arena first took over as national team coach after the 1998 World Cup and led the U.S. to a 71-30-29 record.

"I'm looking forward to working with a strong group of players that understand the challenge in front of them after the first two games," Arena said in a statement. "Working as a team, I'm confident that we'll take the right steps forward to qualify"

A wisecracking Brooklynite known for blunt talk and sarcasm, he coached the University of Virginia from 1978-95, then led D.C. United to titles in Major League Soccer's first two seasons before losing in the 1998 final. He guided the Americans to the team's best World Cup finish since 1930, a 1-0 loss to Germany in the 2002 quarterfinals.

He was let go after the team's first-round elimination by Ghana in 2006. 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, 2012 and 2014.

Arena was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2010.

RELATED: AFTER 18-MONTH DOWNWARD SPIRAL, KLINSMANN FALLS ON HIS OWN SWORD

Marquez's late goal lifts Mexico over US 2-1 in World Cup Qualifier

usatsi_9669071.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Marquez's late goal lifts Mexico over US 2-1 in World Cup Qualifier

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Rafa Marquez scored on a header in the 89th minute, and Mexico beat the United States 2-1 Friday night in the Americans' first home loss in World Cup qualifying since 2001.

Miguel Layun put Mexico ahead in the 20th minute, but Bobby Wood tied the score in the 49th.

The U.S. dominated the second half before the 37-year-old Marquez, unmarked and drifting across the penalty area, got the back of his head on Layun's corner kick and lifted the ball over goalkeeper Brad Guzan.

Guzan lost the goalkeeper job to Tim Howard, who started at the last two World Cups. But Howard injured his right leg on a goal kick and was replaced in the 40th minute.

The U.S. had beaten Mexico four straight times by 2-0 scores in home qualifiers -- all at Columbus -- and the Americans had been 30-0-2 at home in qualifying since a 3-2 loss to Honduras at Washington's RFK Stadium in September 2001.