Quakes face challenges bringing in new players


Quakes face challenges bringing in new players

Nicholas Rosano
SANTA CLARA-- Injuries and absences are steadily cropping up for the Earthquakes, and withthe playoffs drawing ever closer and the team behind in the race to make thepostseason, there is a particular sense of urgency around the team. Perhaps themost urgent need, though -- a new attacking player -- will be addressed evenbefore the team takes on the Colorado Rapids on Aug. 13. Scott Sealyis the latest name on the teams mostly growing casualty list with a groinstrain and the squad has become thinner with the need for replacementssimilarly increasing. With the hours ticking away until the Aug. 12 MLSdeadline for receipt of International Transfer Certificates (ITCs) and the endof the intrainter-MLS transfer window a few days later on Aug. 15, theEarthquakes are looking to move fast to bolster their roster for the playoffpush. As Sealys injury would suggest, the forward position is thebiggest one of need for the Earthquakes, as he joins Alan Gordon and StevenLenhart on the list of the Earthquakes absent forwards. Gordon recentlyunderwent surgery to repair a torn rectus abdominus and torn left and right hipabductors, while Lenhart has been granted an indefinite family leave ofabsence. To be honest we just need a real attacking a player, eitheran attacking player or a forward, just to help with that void we have with ourinjury crisis up front a little bit, head coach Frank Yallop said Thursday,reiterating a sentiment he has expressed throughout the last few weeks. Earthquakesgeneral manager John Doyle also explained that the teams injury crisis putplenty of pressure on him and Yallop to find a replacement forward who can comein and help the team win. It puts a lot of pressure, Doyle said. Because you want to win, you want tohave a player come in and helping the team win, and with so many guys injuredwere in a hard position right now. The Earthquakes thought they hada deal for an international player in place Wednesday, but head coachFrankYallop admitted the deal had fallen through, though not by fault of theEarthquakes. It would have helped our team out for sure, but it justfell through at the last minute, not from us, Yallop said. One pieceof news Yallop and the Earthquakes were happy to hear is that young Englishforward Simon Dawkins will return from an injury that forced him out of theteams last three games. While not fully fit, Dawkins will likely see time offthe bench and look to inject some creativity in the attack. WhileDawkins is a welcome return, the absences of Sealy, Gordon and Lenhart mean theEarthquakes are without a serviceable target forward to hold up play, long seena vital component for Frank Yallops various teams. Both Yallop and Doyleadmitted, though, it was not necessarily that easy to find the right fit. Youthink its like we like him, well sign him tomorrow, it doesnt work thatway, Yallop remarked. Its identifying players because agents send youeverything -- this guys free -- but theres no stipulation where he wants togo. Does he want to stay in his own country, does he want go to the States,what money is he looking for, does the club want any money if hes undercontract, just a ton of stuff to get through. Doyle, on the otherhand, highlighted the financial issues behind securing an internationalsigning. It is an especially challenging task for MLS teams to compete on theworldwide market because of the spending restrictions put in place by theleagues single-entity structure.Its financial, thats always aconcern here, its always financial first, Doyle said. Then theres thecompetition of the rest of the world, which kind of is the financialdifficulty. Doyle also made the point that the differing schedules inleagues throughout the world each offered their own complications whenapproaching an international transfer. Right now in Europe, its allpreseason, so you bring a guy in, it takes two weeks to get his visa, hes inpreseason, so hes maybe not as fit as youd like him to be, then you put himon the field right away and theres a chance hes going to get injured, so itsa gamble, Doyle said. Doyle had also recently been scouting in Brazil, both looking at players and furtherdeveloping contacts with San Joses partner clubthere, Internacional, from the southern city of Porto Alegre. However, Doyle acknowledgedthat the South American calendar posed its own problems. South America, its pretty good because theyre inseason, Doyle said. The problem there is, theyre in season and teams dontwant to let them go becausetheyre cover or theyre playing, so then you kindof have to be a little lucky and find somebody thats either fallen out offavor during the season with their coach, thats probably a good player. Despitethe difficulties associated with securing new players and the deal that fellthrough, Doyle did admit that there were a few players on the teams radar asthe transfer window draws to a close. For me its worth it, totallyworth it," he said. If we can find a player that we like and we want andthat were targeting, which theres three or four guys that weve targeted andare trying to get in -- if we can make it work financially with those guys andeverything checks out, then I think even if we have one game left, then itsworth it to bring a player in.For more Earthquakes, MLS andworld soccer musings, you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter:@nicholasrosano

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win


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.

What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras


What they’re saying: Let’s go USMNT against Honduras

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.