'Quakes fail to spoil Keller's party in 2-1 loss to Seattle


'Quakes fail to spoil Keller's party in 2-1 loss to Seattle

For 82 minutes, it looked as though the Earthquakes wouldspoil the party for the 64,135 Seattle Sounders FC fans gathered to honorretiring Sounders goalkeeper Kasey Keller. However, as has often been the caseover the 2011 season, the Earthquakes threw away a late lead to fall 2-1. Chris Wondolowski put his team ahead in the 24thminute with his 15th tally of the year, but late goals from SammyOchoa and Fredy Montero condemned the Quakes to defeat in their visit to the Pacific Northwest. The result dropped the Earthquakes toa 6-4-5 record when taking the lead, meaning they have given up 22 points insuch circumstances. Im not sure we could play any better and not be two up,Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. We didnt get the second goal andthat changed everything. It is the story of our season; we had good ballmovement and created some chances to score the second one. Even in the final regular season home game of his career,Keller who has spent 22 years as a professional and represented the United States102 times put in a sterling performance to keep Wondolowski from adding tohis total and keep his own team in the game. Yeah, he did come up with some very big saves, Yallopsaid. I think he had a couple of moments where we hit it straight at him andshould have picked a corner. Im on the sidelines and cant see the angles, butI cant fault our boys for their effort. After Rafael Baca put Wondolowski behind the Seattle defense to score San Joses opener, Keller proved unbeatabledespite the teams best effort. The veteran goalkeeper made a stunning reflexsave on Wondolowskis header just prior to halftime and showed incrediblestamina to deny the Quakes four times within the space of a minute late in thesecond half. He made some really good saves and that is something he hasdone for a number of years now. He is a great goalkeeper, Wondolowski said ofKellers performance. Wondolowski had a second goal a header from a freekick called back in the second half after it was adjuged that Sam Cronin hadtaken the free kick too early. While that call ended up being fairlystraightforward, the Earthquakes took issue with another call, one that saw theOchoa ruled onside as he went on to score Seattles equalizer. I havent seen the play Seattles first goal but the boys said hewas offsides, Yallop said of the late equalizer. But we have to play asmentally strong as we can in those late stages. There was to be no gripe with the officials when at leasttwo Earthquakes players played Montero onside, allowing him to seal the winnerwith a toe poke finish past Jon Busch and cement a storybook sendoff forKeller. Despite the loss, Wondolowskis goal a composed, lowfinish across Kellers body let him keep pace with D.C. Uniteds Dwayne DeRosario in the race for the MLS Golden Boot, awarded to the leagues topscorer. The former Earthquake scored his 15th goal of the seasonfrom the penalty spot in D.C.s dramatic 2-1 loss to Colorado. We did a good job pressuring and they turned it over toRafael Baca and he plays a good ball to me, Wondolowski said. It was Wondlowskis sixth goal in five games, nearlyreplicating his torrid form last October, when he scored 10 goals in the lasteight regular season games. He started the season out well and had a little bit of adry patch in the middle of the year, Yallop said of Wondolowskis form. He isa goal scorer; he has 15 goals this season, no penalty kicks. That is a goodtally for anyone in any league, not just this one. Wondolowski will have one more chance to pull away from DeRosario who currently holds the Golden Book tiebreaker by having tallied 12assists to Wondolowskis three when the Earthquakes play host to FC Dallas onOct. 22, the teams final game of 2011.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccerchatter, 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.