United look to keep rolling vs. SKC

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United look to keep rolling vs. SKC

It's been a good week for Sporting Kansas City. After snaring there points on the road against New England, SKC returned home and worked 120 minutes and won the U.S. Open Cup.

In short, D.C. United is looking to spoil the party.

"The confidence is high on this team right now," said United leading scorer Chris Pontius. "We believe we can go in there and do something special."

United goes into tonight's match at Livestrong Sporting Park on the heels of Saturday's 1-0 home result against Columbus. In that game Pontius continued his magnificent 2012 with his tenth goal, but Dwayne De Rosario suffered a sore shoulder and is now listed as doubtful to play against Kansas City.

De Rosario has played in all 21 of United's matches this season and he would be missed if he is forced to the bench. Still United has proven to be resilient with their depth and versatility. For example, both De Rosario and Pontius have succeeded in forward and midfield roles.

De Rosario and newcomer Long Tan has been the first choice tandem up top for United. Tan is likely to continue in his role. He has impressed with his runs off the ball and ability to get into scoring position. Tan's lone MLS goal was last year against United when he played for Vancouver.

De Rosario did train on Thursday and United's need for him to play is heightened by a shortage of healthy forwards. Head coach Ben Olsen's other favored forward options Maicon Santos and Hamdi Salihi are out. Salihi has a toe injury and Santos is dealing with a stomach virus.

United also knows it will have to go without Robbie Russell again at right back where Chris Korb has served as a more than a capable fill-in. Daniel Woolard, who was having his best professional season, is now also on the sideline with concussion symptoms and that presents an opening at left back.

On the plus side Andy Najar is back with the United after playing for Honduras at the Olympics where Los Catrachos reached the quarterfinals. Najar rejoins a team that has been getting inspired play from its flanks with Pontius and more recently rookie Nick De Leon. Najar will have to again compete for his spot if there is not room in the starting eleven because of injury.

"I talked to Andy to make sure he understands it's D.C. United time," Olsen said. "I have been through that and whether you do well or not it is intense being apart of the Olympics. Doing well may be even is more taxing. He didnt play the last game and he didnt have 90-minute games before that."

On Wednesday Sporting Kansas City claimed its second U.S. Open Cup title, but it took penalty kicks to decide it after the match with the Seattle Sounders finished 1-1 through 120 minutes. The match marked the return of Roger Espinoza from playing with Najar for Honduras at the Olympics.

"Kansas City not an easy place to play," said Pontius. "Hopefully we can catch them on a little bit of tired legs and then make them pay. They are very athletic, very organized and they have Espinoza back and that will be a plus for them."

Sporting head coach Peter Vermes might have to adjust his lineup given the minutes his charges have been put through. It is possible that C.J. Sapong, who is from Manassas, could factor in the game after missing the last two matches with a hip injury. Sapong has five goals and is second to Kei Kamara, who has eight goals, on the SKC scoring chart.

"Regardless of what they (SKC) put out there, it's still a philosophy that's the same," noted Olsen. "The way we want to go about them is not going to change. They have a good team speed about them, they like to pressure high and get you in bad spots."

Sporting does not give up much on defense. In the last six matches SKC has recorded four clean sheets. The 1-0 win over New England was the 10th shutout of the season for goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen, keeping him in a tie for the league lead with Houston's Tally Hall.

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.