Olsen, United ready to take New York

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Olsen, United ready to take New York

U.S. Open Cup disappointment aside, D.C. United is trying to keep the feel-good factor going. The Black and Red navigated their way to three points last week in Philadelphia to remain in first place and now feature an All-Star coach on the sideline for Sundays game against New York.

It was announced this week that Ben Olsen will serve as head coach when the Major League Soccer All Stars play Chelsea next month in Philadelphia. Olsen, who takes his job seriously but not himself, joked that he was the choice because they ran out of candidates and with the game at PPL Park it would be an easy commute for him.

In reality Olsen, in only his second full season as head coach, is honored at his All-Star inclusion. Olsen is quick to make it a team honor with credit to his players and staff. It adds up because United continues to come together as a group. Depth had added competition within the squad and the strength is showing in the results.

In jumping back into league play after a 22-day break, United found a way to get the desired result against the Union and extend its winning streak to four games. As expected the Union, playing in interim head coachs John Hackworths first game, brought fresh ideas and energy to the field. The Union had the better of the possession and play, but United had Chris Pontius goal to secure the 1-0 win.

The ability to grind out results is a big difference this year, said Olsen. Last year we were in a bunch of games, but we just did not have the experience to manage games and see games out. We do want to get to that point where we are dominating possession and style. That still needs to come.

As United goes in pursuit of that style, the plot thickens. With the aid of some traveling United supporters, Sunday nights nationally televised match against the Red Bulls is sold out. The match will also be the second in the Atlantic Cup. With the support of Chris Pontius hat trick United won the first meeting back in April 4-1.

United vs. Red Bulls is also a top of the table clash. After 16 matches United is at the top with 30 points. The Red Bulls are in third place and have 27 points from 15 matches with Sporting Kansas City sandwiched in between on 29 points from just 14 matches. The Red Bulls managed to salvage a 1-1 tie mid-week on the road against Vancouver.

The Red Bulls have now gone three games without a win since running up an impressive five-game winning streak. Most of that winning streak was accomplished without forward Thierry Henry, who has been bothered by a calf strain. In addition defender Rafael Marquez has been absent because of a thigh injury, but both players could be on the field Sunday.

If Henry is in the lineup we know what he offers, added Olsen. But for the most part well try and get ourselves as ready as we can be on our side and everything we can control on our end and then see what their lineup has in store when we get to New York.

Indeed regardless of who is in on New Yorks side, United has to be focused on developing the way Olsen wants his team to play. There are no excuses. United is healthy and can use the summer months for a launching pad for a strong finish to the season and a road win on Sunday would add rocket fuel to the cause.

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.