United hopes to avoid trap against Toronto

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United hopes to avoid trap against Toronto

Two teams in very different places collide Saturday at R.F.K Stadium. D.C. United is tied for second place in the Eastern Conference and has not lost at home since the season opener. Toronto FC has yet to win this season and is coming off the cruelest of road ties.

Torontos last MLS match was the 2-0 loss at home to D.C. United on May 5. Since then Toronto has advanced to the Canadian Championship Final series, but in the opening leg ended up settling for a 1-1 tie on the road Wednesday against Vancouver. The Whitecaps tied the game in the 91st minute.

Eric Hasslis equalizer was a volley rocketed from 14-yards out and fit perfectly in Torontos MLS season of woe. In stumbling to a 0-8 record, Toronto has only led in a league match once and has twice given up goals in the opening ten minutes of matches and lost once in stoppage time.

Those are always tricky, United head coach Ben Olsen said of playing a winless team. They are a pretty desperate team. They are playing much better in the past couple of weeks and they have some keys guys back healthy. We have to be focused and expect a challenge, but we are at home and should take care of them.

Former German international and team captain Torsten Frings missed six games with a hamstring injury and then suffered another setback when he injured his shoulder against D.C. United. While TFC is waiting to get Frings back, it is encouraged that forward Danny Koevermans was healthy enough after a groin strain to be used as a substitute in Vancouver.

United knows all too well about dealing with injuries, but played through a crowded training room and turned in arguably its most complete performance of the season in a 2-0 win midweek against Colorado. Lewis Neal, Branko Boskovic, and Hamdi Salihi were pressed into starting roles and combined on the second goal.

I think we complicated some of the plays in the first half. Early it was sharp and moving, and then we started taking three instead of two touches and complicating the game. Overall, it was a pretty good performance. I was very happy with the depth from some of the guys that havent had 90 minutes. They did a good job.

With Chris Pontius and Maicon Santos out with injuries, Boskovic started in an attacking midfield role with Dwayne De Rosario pushed forward. For Boskovic it was his best game since coming to United in late 2010. He had three shots on target and his fourth shot led to Hamdi Salihis goal. On seven corner kicks, Boskovic also impressed.

Salihi is one of Uniteds three designated players now has three goals in his last four games. It was his first as a starter. Playing with De Rosario up top also allowed Salihi more space for his precise runs. With De Rosario drawing defenders, Salihi was in better position to finish. Neal answered Olsens challenge to be more of an offensive threat on the flank with more crosses.

Ive said from the first game that I like it when I come out here, because we have a clear idea of how we want to work, and we work this way every day, Salihi said. And now everybody can see that every day this is working better and better.

It would seem likely that Salihi would get another start Saturday, but after that Olsens lineup is less clear. It has been a congested schedule with five games in seventeen days and the injury list remains long. Central defenders Emiliano Dudar and Dejan Jakoic are sill nursing injuries and are only listed as probable. Fortunately Daniel Woolard has adjusted to a switch inside from outside back.

Daniel Woolard really seems to like center back, so now Ive got to deal with that, Olsen added. Its a nice problem to have because hes been really good in there, and Brandon McDonalds been a rock as of late. Hes physically been an ironman through this.

D.C. United is closing in on a two-week break after next Saturdays game against New England. They are close to being able to have a chance to heal physically. Mentally United seems to be together. Avoiding a stumble against Toronto will help keep it that way.

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.