U.S. Men's Soccer rebounds after shaky start

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U.S. Men's Soccer rebounds after shaky start

By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Clint Dempsey had a pair of goals and assisted on Carlos Bocanegra's equalizer, and the United States rallied to beat Guatemala 3-1 Tuesday night and reached next year's final round of World Cup qualifying.

Facing their first elimination game in qualifying since 2000, the Americans needed merely a draw to advance to the six-team finals in North and Central America and the Caribbean. After Carlos Ruiz put Guatemala ahead in the fifth minute, Dempsey set up Bocanegra's goal in the 10th minute, then scored in the 18th and 36th. With 30 international goals, Dempsey tied Brian McBride for third-most in American history.

The U.S. (4-1-1), seeking its seventh straight World Cup appearance, topped its semifinal group with 13 points.

Guatemala, which has never appeared in a World Cup, was eliminated when Dane Richards scored two goals late in the second half in Jamaica's 4-1 win over Antigua and Barbuda. Guatemala and Jamaica were both 3-2-1 for 10 points apiece, but the Reggae Boyz overtook Guatemala on goal difference, plus-3 to plus-1.

U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said before the game that "you can only win a game if you attack and go forward, and that's what we're going to do. We're not going to look for a tie."

That certainly held true.

The Americans were the more the aggressive team its German coach has been trying to develop and less like the side that struggled over a muddy cricket pitch to a 2-1 victory over Antigua on Friday -- an outcome that took most of the pressure off Tuesday night's game.

Still, Los Chapines caused tension when they scored in the opening minutes.

Jose Contreras took possession in the midfield and sent a looping pass ahead to Ruiz, who managed to beat Bocanegra to the ball as Geoff Cameron was caught upfield. Bocanegra joined Cameron at center back while Michael Parkhurst took over on the left and Clarence Goodson was benched in the only American lineup changes from Friday.

Ruiz rounded goalkeeper Tim Howard and side-footed the ball into the goal. As if a harbinger of things to come, Ruiz appeared to hurt himself seconds after scoring.

He reached out to steady himself on the electronic signage near the field, and may have sliced his hand. He grimaced and immediately began shaking it while a trainer rushed out to tend to him.

The tying goal came just a few minutes later.

Sporting KC midfielder Graham Zusi, playing in his home stadium, sent a corner kick arcing into the penalty area, and Dempsey got just enough of it to redirect to Bocanegra, who was left alone by Manuel Leon near the far post and easily found the back of the net.

It was Bocanegra's 14th goal with the national team, moving him past Marcelo Balboa for the most among American defenders. It also generated a roar from a sellout crowd of 16,947 that would have been much larger if officials could have sold standing-room tickets.

Ruiz nearly had his second goal in the 18th minute when his header went over the crossbar, and the Americans quickly came back on the counter. The ball was pushed ahead to Eddie Johnson on the wing, and he found Dempsey cutting to the net ahead of defender Jonathan Lopez.

Dempsey deftly scored over the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez for a 2-1 lead, while Johnson picked up an assist to go with the two goals he scored against Antigua in his first international appearance in two years.

Guatemala had a couple of other good scoring chances later in the half, including a shot by Contreras from a sharp angle that Howard knocked away, and a breakaway on which Ruiz was called for a foul on American defender Steve Cherundolo near the top of the penalty box.

Cherundolo tried to shake hands with Ruiz, who was having none of it.

The U.S. pressure paid off again in the 36th minute, when Michael Bradley popped a pass over the sprawled-out Jerez and Dempsey tapped the ball across. Dempsey nearly had a hat-trick when he just missed on a header early in the second half, and then picked up a yellow card for diving in second-half stoppage time.

The Reggae Boyz needed to make up a three-goal differential on Guatemala in a victory. Richards' goals in the 78th and 88th minutes in Kingston, Jamaica, allowed them to advance.

Also advancing to the six-team finals are Mexico, Honduras and Panama, while Costa Rica and El Salvador played late games for the final spot in the hexagonal.

NOTES: The finals start March 22. ... The Americans likely will play an exhibition at Russia on Nov. 14 in their final game this year.

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

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AP Photo/Rui Vieira

Leicester City clinches EPL title, greatest underdog season in sports history

On Monday afternoon, Chelsea and Tottenham F.C. played to a 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge, meaning Leicester City clinched the Barclays Premier League championship. 

While Leicester City still has a few games left, they have already clinched an outright title thanks to 77 points and a 22-11-3 record and the mantle of greatest underdog season in sports history.

Yes, sports history. All of it.

 The Foxes were promoted to the Premier League after winning the Football League Championship in 2014. Imagine a baseball team being called up to join the AL East and in just the second season, they clinched the pennant after leading the entire season.

Leicester City's estimated payroll for the 2015-16 season is 48.2 million pounds, which is good enough for 17th place, with Chelsea (215.6 million), Manchester United (203 million), Manchester City (193.8 million), Arsenal (192 million) and Liverpool (152 million) firmly cemented at the top.

Unlike a majority of American sports, there are no salary caps in international club football. A player can be bought by another team at any time during the transfer window. The teams at the top of the league, the traditional powers, are typically able to buy the best players because they have more money at their disposal. Since the formation of the English premier League in 1992, only one team outside the traditional powers has claimed the championship — the Blackburn Rovers in 1993.

Leicester City is now the second.

Leicester City had  5000-to-1 odds to win the championship at the beginning of the season. Think about this: Indiana, Illinois, and Colorado have 2000-to-1 odds to win the College Football Playoff championship this season. 

The Foxes were led by Jamie Vardy, who set an EPL record for consecutive games with a goal scored in with 11. Vardy has scored 22 goals in 34 appearances this season and is behind just Tottenham's Harry Kane (24) and Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (23) in the league's scoring table. Aguero's salary calls for nearly 220-thousand pounds a week. Vardy makes roughly 45-thousand a week.

In clinching the championship, Leicester City has clinched a spot in the UEFA Champion's league, the top club competition in Europe., the first time in club history. The club was founded in 1884, 24 years before the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series. Not only has Leicester City never qualified for the UEFA Champion's League, but they have never qualified for the UEFA Europa League, the international competition for the teams that just miss out on the Champion's League.

Leicester City winning the Barclays Premier League makes what George Mason did in the 2006 NCAA Tournament look like a regular season MLB series in May.

Simply put, this is the most unthinkable and unexpected championship season in sports history.

 

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

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USA TODAY Sports

D.C. United's late goals secure 3-0 win over Revolution

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Lamar Neagle scored on a penalty kick in the first half and D.C. United added two late goals to beat the New England Revolution 3-0 on Saturday.

Neagle converted from the penalty spot in the 33rd minute with a low shot into the left corner. Marcelo Sarvas drew the penalty on a run up the right side where Je-Vaughn Watson's foul occurred just inside the area.

Luciano Acosta scored his first MLS goal in the 86th minute on 20-yard chip shot that glanced in underneath the crossbar. Alvaro Saborio capped the scoring for D.C. United (2-3-3) with a breakaway goal in the 90th.

Revolution (1-2-5) defender Chris Tierney and United forward Fabian Espindola left the game before halftime with leg injuries.

United coach Ben Olsen served a one-game suspension for stepping on the field last Saturday. Assistant coach Chad Ashton oversaw the team in Olsen's absence.

Toronto ends winless-streak against United

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Toronto ends winless-streak against United

Sebastian Giovinco's goal in the first minute stood up in Toronto FC's 1-0 victory over DC United on Saturday.

Jozy Altidore got to the ball inside the box to the right of goalkeeper Travis Worra and rolled a cross that a sliding Marco Delgado reached and redirected a bit to his left and Giovinco was on the spot to tap it in for his fourth goal of the season.

That was enough for Toronto (2-2-2) to end a three-match winless streak as goalkeeper Clint Irwin made three saves. The toughest save came in the 30th minute when he got a hand on a tight shot by Patrick Nyarko out of traffic in front of the net.

DC (1-3-3) had 18 attempts but 10 were off target.

Toronto playing its sixth straight game on the road to open the season, had 10 shots, three on Worra.

[RELATED: Espindola, Saborio score twice as United tops Whitecaps 4-0]