Pontius honored in MLS Awards

pontiusolendeleon.jpg

Pontius honored in MLS Awards

D.C. United captain Chris Pontius was honored this week with his selection to the 2012 MLS Best XI side, as voted on by MLS players, staff and media.

Today Pontius fell agonizingly short in the polls to Sounders striker Eddie Johnson for the Comeback Player of the Year award.  Pontius, returning from a broken leg that ended his 2011 season, led his club in scoring with 13 goals, 4 assists in 31 games and captained the Black and Red to their first playoff berth in five years. Pontius was also named to this year's All-Star team and voted the Most Valuable Player after scoring the equalizer and assisting ont he game-winner in a 3-2 victory over Europena champs Chelsea FC. 

Three of United's finest were named as finalists for three different MLS awards but despite their outstanding accomplishments in D.C.'s rebound season, each fell short in voting.

Last week Chicago defender Austin Berry stole Rookie of the Year honors for 2012 with former college teammate, Nick DeLeon, coming in as his runner up. DeLeon notched six goals in his rookie campaign --a record for a DCU freshman-- and played an integral role in three of United's four playoff goals this season.

Olsen, a finalist for MLS Coach of the Year, came in third behind Peter Vermes (SKC) and the overwhelming winner, San Joe's Frank Yallop.

In just his second full season at the helm of his former club, Ben Olsen pulled DCU from the bottom of the Eastern Conference to the top, finishing the 2012 season with a seven game unbeaten streak and advancing to the the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 2006. Olsen's club claimed second place in the regular season standings with its 17-10-7 record, which included an 18-game unbeaten streak at home.

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.