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

Gold Cup roundup: Five takeaways from USMNT's championship win


Gold Cup roundup: Five takeaways from USMNT's championship win

For the sixth time in Gold Cup tournament history, the United States hoisted the championship trophy – this time in front of 63,000 fans Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.
Jozy Altidore opened the scoring in the 45th minute with a beautiful free kick. However, Jamaica equalized only five minutes into the second half.
Stanford product Jordan Morris later scored the game-winner in the 88th minute to secure a U.S. title. 
Here are five things you should know about the U.S.’ latest tournament championship.
-- Aside from a little extra gold in the trophy case, the biggest thing the United States takes from winning the cup is confidence. They’ll have about a month worth of rest before the Hexagon resumes – and right out of the gate, it’s a date with Costa Rica, who the U.S. beat on their road to the tournament title.
Currently, Costa Rica sits three points clear of the U.S. in the CONCACAF’s 2018 World Cup qualifying table. A victory against Los Ticos on Sept. 1 would be the biggest win of this latest Bruce Arena era.
-- Speaking of Bruce Arena, it can’t be understated just how big of tournament win this is for the U.S. Soccer manager. Hired to jumpstart a team that to many pundits looked flat and lacked fire under Jurgen Klismann, Arena has now won a trophy, helped the USMNT get back into Hex contention and has not lost a match. In 15 matches, Arena has a 9-0-6 record. He now has 84 career wins as the USMNT front man.
-- We’re still on record breaker watch since Clint Dempsey did not start or play in Wednesday’s final. The Seattle Sounders, who recently took down the San Jose Earthquakes to move ahead of them in the standings and are Dempsey’s club of employment, play their next MLS fixture on Saturday. The risk of shot rest could explain Bruce Arena’s apprehension to not start Dempsey. He came in during the 57th minute. Captain America came really close to scoring twice. 
So, the record, shared by Dempsey and Landon Donovan at 57 international goals, will sit there for at least another match.
-- Quick look at the numbers and there isn’t a clear contender for the U.S. Player of the Gold Cup. So after stumbles against Panama and Martinique to start the tournament, what was most impressive is how the U.S. defense came together to close out the Gold Cup. In five games, they surrendered just one goal. So, hats off to Omar Gonzalez, Graham Zusi, Matt Besler and Jorge Villafaña who were instrumental during that stretch – but let us not forget Matt Hedges, Eric Lichaj and Justin Morrow who really got that impressive defensive stretch rolling.
-- Morris had been struggling to score all season but he may have now forced Arena’s hand with his Gold Cup performance. While he did get beat on defense on Jamaica’s goal, the search for a scoring defender by the USMNT as qualifiers creeps up is ongoing. Morris, who burst onto the MLS scene last season, is making a strong case for himself.

Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory


Former Stanford star scores winning goal for USA in Gold Cup victory

SANTA CLARA -- As the victorious American players bounced so hard the podium shook, medals round their necks, a beaming Bruce Arena in the back raised his arms to the air right along with them as gold confetti began to fall.

The U.S. resurgence is off to an impressive start since Arena returned late last year. Another CONCACAF Gold Cup crown, and now on to more important business: qualifying for next year's World Cup.

Former Stanford star Jordan Morris scored a tiebreaking goal in the 88th minute, and the United States beat Jamaica 2-1 on Wednesday night for its sixth Gold Cup title and first since 2013.

Jozy Altidore's goal on a 28-yard free kick in the 45th minute beat backup goalkeeper Dwayne Miller after Jamaica captain Andre Blake left early with a hand injury.

Je-Vaughn Watson tied the score when he got away from Morris for a 4-yard volley off Kemar Lawrence's 50th-minute corner kick.

Morris, who left nearby Stanford in his junior year, has won the 2015 NCAA title, the 2016 MLS championship with Seattle and now the 2017 Gold Cup. He got the breakthrough goal with a 14-yard right-footed shot after Gyasi Zardes crossed.

"I was nervous. It was my guy that scored on the goal, so I was trying to make up for it any way that I could," Morris said. "Obviously. I take responsibility for that. But luckily I could put one in the back of the net."

Jermaine Taylor tried to clear with a header and the ball was knocked by Clint Dempsey with a leg back to Morris. It was the fifth international goal for the 22-year-old Morris, who tied 16-year-old Canadian Alphonso Davies for the tournament lead with three goals.

"That was like a dagger in the heart," Jamaica coach Theodore Whitmore said.

The U.S. extended its unbeaten streak to 14 games (9-0-5) under Arena, who became the first coach to win three Gold Cup titles.

"Bruce brought in a new energy," goalkeeper Tim Howard said. "He just gave us a tremendous lift."

U.S. captain Michael Bradley earned the Golden Ball at the tournament's top player.

The Americans had a chance in the 19th minute when Altidore's swerving 30-yard shot was parried by Blake, who dived left and then beat Kellyn Acosta to the rebound at the 6-yard box. Acosta collided with Blake and appeared to kick the keeper's right hand before Jamaica's Damion Lowe cleared. Blake's hand was wrapped but he couldn't continue and was replaced by Miller four minutes later. As Blake left the field, he acknowledged the cheering fans with a wave of his left hand, then later emerged for the medal ceremony with his hand bandaged after receiving seven stitches. Nothing was broken.

"It was a very unfortunate situation. What to say? Very sad situation," Whitmore said.

Altidore put the U.S. ahead with a curling shot past Miller's outstretched right hand into the upper corner of the net just beneath the crossbar, his 39th goal in 108 appearances.

Lawrence, who scored in a 1-0 semifinal win Sunday against Mexico, took another corner kick in the 75th minute moments after Alvas Powell's shot from close range deflected off Graham Zusi - a sequence that had Howard yelling at the defense.

Using a lineup with about half its regular starters - the rest are in preseason with European clubs - the U.S. reached its record 10th final. The Reggae Boyz were a surprising final opponent after they stunned Mexico in a semifinal Sunday to reach the title match for a second straight time.

With 18 of 22 starters from Major League Soccer, this was a rematch of the 2015 Gold Cup semifinal won 2-1 by Jamaica at Atlanta. For the first time since replacing Jurgen Klinsmann in November, Arena kept his lineup unchanged. He inserted the 34-year-old Dempsey in the 55th minute.

Chunks of turf came loose yet again at Levi's Stadium, the $1.2 billion, 3-year-old home of the NFL San Francisco 49ers. The field has been an ongoing issue.

The Americans hope for momentum built during this run as they prepare to resume World Cup qualifying. The U.S faces Costa Rica in a rematch of the Gold Cup semifinal on Sept. 1 at Harrison, New Jersey, and play four days later at Honduras. The hex concludes against Panama on Oct. 6 in Orlando, Florida, and at Trinidad and Tobago four days after.

"We're not worried one bit about World Cup qualifying today. I can promise you that," Bradley said. "This was about a group of guys winning a trophy and that's been the only goal."

Arena already was looking ahead.

"We're a long way from qualifying for a World Cup, and that's the objective, for sure," he said.