Dynamo beat United 3-1 in first leg of East final

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Dynamo beat United 3-1 in first leg of East final

HOUSTON (AP) -- The Houston Dynamo are 90 minutes away from their fourth MLS Cup final since 2006.

Andre Hainault, Will Bruin and Kofi Sarkodie each scored second-half goals to give the Houston Dynamo a 3-1 win over D.C. United on Sunday in the first leg of the Eastern Conference finals.

The win gives Houston a two-goal aggregate lead heading into next Sunday's decisive match at RFK Stadium in Washington.

"We played a wonderful second half," said Dynamo coach Dominic Kinnear. "That just shows the great character we have to score three in the second half after being down 1-0 early."

The Dynamo extended their home unbeaten streak to 30 games in all competitions, dating to June 18, 2011, when they lost to Columbus. Houston is four wins or ties shy of matching Real Salt Lake's league-record 34-game home unbeaten streak.

Nick DeLeon scored for United in the 27th minute.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, the Dynamo tied it in the 51st minute when Hainault one-timed a pass from Boniek Garcia high into the net. It was Hainault's first goal of these playoffs and third of his career.

Houston defender Bobby Boswell made the save of the match in the 66th when he stopped a point-blank shot by Lionard Pajoy on the goal line with Dynamo keeper Tally Hall just out of position.

That set up Bruin's go-ahead goal one-minute later. Sarkodie got his first MLS goal in the 80th minute to seal it for the Dynamo, who are in their fifth conference final in seven seasons.

"The stop by Bobby really changed the game for us," said Bruin, who has scored six goals in seven career matches against United. "That was good awareness, and he is a smart player. It is the little things like that that really have made a difference for our team all year."

DeLeon scored when he put a rebound past Hall. After Lionard Pajoy bounced a shot off the far post, the rebound came back to DeLeon, who fired a shot into the net off Hainault.

Backup goalkeeper Joe Willis made four saves for D.C., while Hall had two for Houston.

"At the half, the mood in the locker was normal, I will say," said Kinnear. "There was no panic, our heads were not down. The guys were a little disappointed to be down 1-0, but by no means were we frustrated."

D.C. captain Chris Pontius left the game in the 12th minute with a left groin strain. Lewis Neal replaced the United striker and recorded the first shot of the game in the 17th.

In the 23rd, Houston fanned on its first legitimate chance of the match. Boniek Garcia sent a free kick into the middle of the box to a wide-open Hainault, but his header was wide.

Houston took the regular season series 2-1, but United won the only game at RFK Stadium back in May. Houston outscored D.C. 7-3 in three games during the regular season and is 9-2-4 all-time against United.

The Dynamo played without several starters due to injury. Jermaine Taylor and Calen Carr sat with left knee and left hamstring injuries, respectively, and Ricardo Clark did not play because of an adductor injury.

"The weeklong break will be good for us," said Kinnear. "It will be a time to heal and get ready for what will no doubt be a hard-fought finish to this series."

Nike releases images of new U.S. Soccer jerseys, receives criticism of familiar design

Nike releases images of new U.S. Soccer jerseys, receives criticism of familiar design

The U.S. National Teams will rock a new look coming up soon. Instead of a blue and white color pallet on their existing jerseys, the new kit Nike unveiled today will be two shades of red. 

The U.S. men will first wear the red kits for their March 24th World Cup qualifying match against Honduras. The U.S. women will don them sooner, for the 2017 SheBelieves Cup from March 1 to 7. 

Similar to the previous designs, the new shirts will have color block sleeves with the words "1 Nation" and "1 Team" appearing on the inside hem. Men's team jerseys are crewneck, while womens are v-neck. 

Like all new uniforms, these have drawn some criticism, specifically for their resemblance to Portugal's 2016 home kit and England's 2016 away kit. 

What do you think; too similar or still too similar? Because it's hard to find the differences...

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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.

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