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

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

BOX SCORE
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

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

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AP

Dempsey hat trick lifts US over Honduras in statement win

BOX SCORE

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

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USATSI

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.