United ready to make friendly count

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United ready to make friendly count

The friendly with Paris St. Germain was fun, but D.C. United is hoping the 1-1 tie with the French league giant was also productive. The answer will play out in Saturday's home game against revitalized Eastern Conference rival Columbus Crew.

"I think by the way we played this is a boost of confidence," Dwayne De Rosario said after last Saturday's match. "If we can play with teams like PSG, then we can play with any team. We just have to show up and play with that same confidence."

United's play on the field has matched the uneven summer schedule. In five games over the last two months United managed only an uninspired 1-0 win against Philadelphia and a 3-0 win over Montreal. In July a ten-man United lost to Houston 4-0 and most recently in MLS play a 1-0 road loss to the Crew.

On the heels of the losses to the Dynamo and Crew, United's head coach Ben Olsen wanted the approach to PSG to be like a league match. United had lost its swagger. The rhythm and possession that led the Black and Red to the top of the Eastern Conference were missing. The game against PSG allowed United to play without the pressure of failure.

"I thought our possession was as good as it has been all year," Olsen noted. "It was because of the fact that we just played simple. We didn't complicate, we just got the ball to the next guy and gave the next guy more time on the ball. Everybody wanted the ball and we were confident."

The match against PSG comes with all kinds of qualifiers. It was only a friendly and PSG had only played a couple of pre-season games. Still PSG offered a side worth several hundred million dollars and after conceding an early goal to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, United not only responded but dictated much of the possession.

Against PSG United used the now familiar set up of Dwayne De Rosario playing below the striker and Branko Boskovic in the center of the midfield. Their ability to link together is a driving force in United's way of playing, but it is also critical for outside backs Danel Woolard and Chris Korb to be involved.

"The coaches want to play attacking, quality soccer," Korb said. "I think that comes into play with outside backs getting forward and I think that is why they like me in some games and some spots. That doesn't hurt me at all. I just want to get better going forward and get more assists and help the team win."

In his second year in MLS, Korb is starting at right back in place of Robbie Russell who is out with plantar fasciitis. Over the last season and a half Korb has found himself in the starting eleven twenty times and is growing in confidence. On the left side, with Marc Burch now in Seattle, Woolard has seized the opportunity and become a valuable and versatile defender.

On Saturday United will be looking to avenge its loss in Columbus two weeks ago. On the season the Crew's offense has been anemic with only 20 goals from 19 matches. There is hope for the Crew with the arrival of Jairo Arrieta from Saprissa in Costa Rica. In his third match with the Crew, Arrieta netted two goals in a 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.

The Crew has played one fewer game, but is only five points behind United in the Eastern Conference standings. Like United, the Crew is also energized by success in a friendly, a 2-1 win over Stoke City. Both teams believe they are ready for the finals three months of the MLS season.

"It is our responsibility to win games at home," said Olsen. "Yes we have lost three of four games, but they are away games. You have to take care of home games and you will be okay in this league."

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.