SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The Earthquakes closed out a largelydisappointing 2011 by matching their best result of the season, putting fourfirst-half goals past FC Dallas en route to a 4-2 win, but Chris Wondolowskifell just short in his quest to retain the MLS Golden Boot. Simon Dawkins proved the hero on the day as the Earthquakesscored four goals in the span of 11 minutes. The Englishman put two past ashaky Dallas defense to open and close the Earthquakes scoring. Rafael Bacatallied a minute after Dawkins 27th minute opener, squeezing in afar post header for his first professional goal. Wondolowski scored his 16thgoal of the season from the penalty spot in the 34th minute. Asked if the performance was San Joses best of the season, head coachFrank Yallop replied, I think playing-wise its been similar to that but nottook our chances, but we did tonight for sure. Simon Dawkins getting twogoals was terrific, and I think we well deserved the win. FC Dallas scored once at the end of each half, with GeorgeJohn connecting with a diving header to pull one back on the stroke of halftimeand Ruben Luna scoring from close range in the 90th minute.The Earthquakes players and staff admitted afterward thatthe late goal was at least partly a result of the team pushing extra-hard toget Wondolowski his second of the game.If you look at the game, we had the ball a lot, Yallopsaid. I thought we were going the length of the field a lot of the time. Dallas are a dangerousteam, we knew that. The pace of the game was high, we put a lot into it.Wondolowski took a unique point of view on his teamconceding two goals.I blame myself that they scored two goals because they myteammates were trying to go hard and feed me and kept going, Wondolowskisaid. To have teammates like that to have my back like that its one of a kindand I really appreciate and love them.Wondolowskis penalty allowed him to tie D.C. UnitedsDwayne De Rosario on 16 goals, giving him a share of the league lead inscoring, but De Rosario an Earthquake from 2001 to 2005 won the tiebreakerfor the Golden Boot award by virtue of having 12 assists to Wondolowskis four,one of which he tallied on Dawkins final goal.Wondolowski had three good opportunities to score in thesecond half, including two looks at a nearly open goal, but each time Dallas goalkeeper ChrisSeitz was able to pull off the save, and difficult ones at that.Its a shame because another night when you have fivepretty good chances to score and only get one obviously from the penalty was not like Wondo, so I just felt for him, Yallop said.Seitz himself mentioned that he was not even thinking aboutdenying Wondolowski his chance at the Golden Boot, stressing the importance ofputting together a solid second half after conceding four goals in the first.In all honesty, I dont look at it that way, Seitz said.I look at it as us coming out in the second half and trying to put up a zero.We were going to do whatever it took to achieve that, and as a whole we playeda lot better. We tried to shut him Wondolowski down and not give them as manychances.Despite losing out on the Golden Boot, Wondolowski becomesjust the fourth player to twice lead the league in scoring after Carlos Ruiz(2002, 2003), Taylor Twellman (2003, 2005) and Jeff Cunningham (2006, 2009).It means a lot, he said. Its just one of those thingsthat Im glad I can show myself and even others and the league and my teammatesthat I can do it.. His teammates were also full of praise for hisaccomplishment, veteran goalkeeper Jon Busch in particular.To me, Wondo over the last few years showed what a trueprofessional he is in scoring goals, Busch said. The mark of a trueprofessional is consistency, day in day out, game in game out, year in yearoutto put the numbers up back-to-back years that he did just shows he is a toppro and hes one of the best goalscorers in this league. Furthermore, with the Earthquakes finished for the seasonand U.S. national team games scheduled for November and a camp in January,Wondolowski hopes that his goalscoring exploits have put him on the radar ofrecently-appointed head coach Jurgen Klinsmann, himself a prolific goalscorerin his playing days. I would love it. It would be a true honor, Wondolowskisaid of the possibility of returning to the national team fold. Coach Klinsmannsdone a great job so far and I know he has the team in the right direction. Ijust hope and pray that I can be a part of it somehow, some way and hope to geta chance. What is certain, though, is that Wondolowski and theEarthquakes will be looking to return to the playoffs in 2012 after missing outthis year, and the teams star forward believes that process could start withthis win.We have a great core group of guys and I think we canreally build on that, Wondolowski said. Its just one of those things thatstoo little, late, its just unfortunate. I think we have a great group of guysand were going to build and one things for sure: I think well be moremotivated coming in and we have a bitter taste in our mouth right now.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter: @nicholasrosano
SAN JOSE — Bruce Arena's return as U.S. coach reignited American confidence, and his players responded with an emphatic rebound in World Cup qualifying.
Clint Dempsey returned from an irregular heartbeat to score his second international hat trick, 18-year-old phenom Christian Pulisic had one goal and set up three others, and the U.S. routed Honduras 6-0 Friday night to get right back in contention for an eighth straight World Cup berth.
Surprise starter Sebastian Lletget got his first international goal in the fifth minute after Pulisic's shot deflected off the goalkeeper, Michael Bradley doubled the lead in the 27th and Dempsey scored off Pulisic's perfectly weighted chip in the 32nd.
Finding room to maneuver in a central midfield role, Pulisic made it 4-0 just 12 seconds into the second half with his fourth international goal, Dempsey rounded the keeper to score following a Pulisic feed in the 49th, and Dempsey got another on a 23-yard free kick in the 54th. With 55 international goals, Dempsey moved within two of Landon Donovan's American record.
In its first competitive match since Arena replaced Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. moved from last to fourth in the final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region, tied at three points with Honduras but ahead on goal difference, Mexico leads with seven points, followed by Costa Rica with six and Panama with four.
The top three nations qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, and the fourth-place nation advances to a playoff. With a victory at Panama on Tuesday, the Americans could move into the top three.
The U.S. had never before won a hexagonal game by more than three goals.
And oh how the American Outlaws and others among the lively home crowd loved every second of this long-awaited showing, chanting "Michael Bradley!" and "Demp-sey! Demp-sey!" through the Bay Area rain and cool March air.
Then, it was "Bruce Arena! Bruce Arena!"
Gloom descended upon the Americans in November when they opened the hexagonal with a 2-1 home loss to Mexico and a 4-0 wipeout at Costa Rica. The defeats caused the U.S. Soccer Federation to fire Klinsmann, who had coached the Americans since 2011, and bring back Arena, who lead the team from 1998-2006.
Dempsey, 34 and hoping to reach a fourth World Cup, was sidelined from August until this month by an irregular heartbeat and likely was starting only because of injuries to Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris. Tim Howard, the Americans' 38-year-old goalkeeper, got the shutout after returning only two weeks ago from a leg injury sustained in the loss to Mexico.
Geoff Cameron, back from a knee strain that had sidelined him for fourth months, was shifted to right back from central defense because of injuries to others, and Jorge Villafana was inserted on the left.
But there were yet more injuries. Lletget hurt his left ankle on Ever Alvarado's tackle and was replaced in the 18th minute, and defender John Brooks was stretchered off the field, hand over his face, in the 69th due to dehydration.
From the opening whistle, the U.S. played more aggressively than in the latter years of Klinsmann's reign. Arena revamped the midfield, giving a prominent role to Pulisic, who last week became the youngest American to score in the Champions League. He inserted Lletget and Nagbe, who were largely overlooked by Klinsmann last year, on the flanks.
The U.S. went ahead when Jozy Altidore picked up a loose ball and on his second try poked the ball ahead to Pulisic. His left-footed shot that went off goalkeeper Donis Escobar, and Lletget tapped in the ball with his right foot from 2 yards.
Bradley, given his debut by Arena in 2006, doubled the lead when he took a pass from Alejando Bedoya, cut to his left, took four touches and cut the ball back to beat Escobar with one-hopper from about 25 yards.
Showing poise beyond his years, Pulisic created the third goal when he lofted a pass to Dempsey, who allowed the ball of bounce off his right shoulder. Dempsey held off Henry Figueroa and while falling scored with his right foot from 8 yards.
The United States Men's National Team faces a critical match against Honduras.
With an 0-2 record, and currently in last place, the USMNT is on the brink of not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
Motivation across the sports world is pouring in for the Red, White and Blue.