DCU's eastern push continues in Montreal

DCU's eastern push continues in Montreal

D.C. United heads into Saturdays match in Montreal against the suddenly surging Impact reassured of its standing as a legitimate playoff contender in 2012. In addition the true depth of its much heralded depth has also been reaffirmed.

United delivered a 4-2 win over the Chicago Fire on Wednesday with defender Emiliano Dudar and midfielder Branko Boskovic suspended on red cards. Starting outside backs Robbie Russell and Daniel Woolard also remained sidelined by injuries. The absences forced changes, but failed to deter United from responding to Sundays disappointing draw with Philadelphia.

While Dudar and Boskovic are available for the Montreal match, it will be interesting to see if head coach Ben Olsen stays with the formation that brought success against the Fire. For the first time this season Perry Kitchen and Marcelo Sargosa started next to each other in the center of the midfield.

The partnership allowed Kitchen to pick his spots and get involved in the attack. Going forward is not typically Kitchens role, but he was effective. Saragosas work rate helped United seize more possession and disrupt on defense. There were also times when Saragosa provided a surprise element coming out of the midfield and into the attacking third.

"On paper it has always made sense, Olsen said after the game. If their spacing is right, they can coexist. Sometimes when you have two like-minded guys in the same spot, you worry about them both doing that holding midfield role and not being able to push out. I'll tell you what they did it very well tonight and I was very pleased. It's an option now going forward for sure."

Wednesday also saw Andy Najar reprise his role as a right back. It was his third start of the season in that position and he excelled. Najars athleticism and defensive skills helped keep the speedy Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko in check and his explosive runs up the flank helped trigger the offense including an assist on Lionard Pajoys first goal with United.

He (Najar) has these unique qualities and they all lend itself to the modern right back, noted Olsen. You look at soccer now and the outside backs have to be good on the ball and dynamic, they have to have great engines to get up and down the field and they have to be brave in their defending.

United is also in a better emotional state. The 1-1 tie against Philadelphia ended in chaos. Along with the red cards to Dudar and Boskovic anger and frustration boiled over to a point where teammates Brandon McDonald and Chris Korb were shouting at each other. Against Chicago Korb assisted on McDonalds goal.

Captain Dwayne De Rosario, who also missed a penalty kick in the closing moments against the Philadelphia, raised his game. Along with opening the scoring against the Fire with his 99th career goal, De Rosario provided the threat and invention that has made him a league MVP. With Saragosa and Kitchen behind him he was able to keep the pressure on Chicago.

It's a long season and this is crunch time where every team is picking it up a gear and we need to do the same, especially me, De Rosario said. Im one of the main leaders of this team. It's going to take that same mental toughness, that same focus going into Montreal. We're going up against another team that has been doing well, but if we play our game, we should be fine."

The Impact has found its legs in its maiden MLS season. Last week at Stade Saputo the Impact surprised 3-1 for its fourth consecutive win. The Impact has played two more games than any team in the Eastern Conference, but is now in sixth place with 36 points from 27 matches.

Former Italian international Marco Di Vaio is settling in as the Impacts striker and has two goals and one assist during Montreals current four-game winning streak. At the back former United backstop Troy Perkins has provided a steadying influence to the Impact since being acquired in a deal that sent Donovan Ricketts to Portland.

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

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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.