Quakes fall to Union 1-0 on late penalty kick


Quakes fall to Union 1-0 on late penalty kick

Saturday, April 30, 2011
Posted: 6:14 p.m. Updated: 8:16 p.m.MATCH STATS MLS SCOREBOARD

Ryan Bright
CSNPhilly.com Contributor


CHESTER, Pa. -- Down a man, thanks to a first-half red card to Jordan Harvey, the Union easily could have sat on the one-point and tie or even worse, crumble and suffer the loss. Instead, they decided to show off their mettle at the expense of the struggling San Jose Earthquakes.

Pushing the visiting Earthquakes to their defensive limit all contest, the Union finally got on the board with a penalty kick earned by midfielder Amobi Okugo in the 76th minute. Sebastien Le Toux lined up and fired the ball high over the left-diving Jon Busch to give the Union the 1-0 lead and eventual victory, Saturday afternoon at PPL Park.

We fought like warriors, Okugo said. We fought hard and we played really well in the second half. It didnt even seem like we were down a man. The most important thing is that we got the win.

The win is their fourth of the season and the Union have banked seven of a possible nine points in their last three games and remain in a battle with the New York Red Bulls for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. It also marked the Union and goalie Faryd Mondragons fourth shutout of the season. They recorded only two in the entire 2010 season.

Its just refreshing, to be honest, said defender Danny Califf. I dont think its surprising, really. But I think we were getting there last year. Its a commitment to defending in order to keep ourselves in games.

With just 15 minutes left in the contest and the Union only fielding 10 men, 20-year-old Okugo decided to make a difference. Finding a seam down the left side of the Earthquakes box, the young prospect carried the ball between defenders and to the goal line. Looking to make a cross and while stumbling, Okugo launched the intended pass into the hands of recovering defender Jason Hernandez, earning the penalty kick on a handball.

Carlos Ruiz made a good layoff, I thought I was going to shoot it, said Okugo. There was a space down the line so I just took it down the line. Luckily, the way he slid, his arm was out.

His hand was out and it hit it, clearly

Hernandez claimed the hand ball was less than intentional.

I had a guy get through, kind of break down the defense, and I went over to try and make a tackle to block the cross. And honestly I didnt even know about it. I kind of just felt it, and the ref pointed to the spot.

While the referees gave the Union an opportunity to win in the second half, they took a chunk out of the home teams hopes in the first. In the 41st minute of a Union-heavy opening half, Earthquakes defender Chris Leitch attempted a tackle on Harvey near midfield. Unable to remove the ball, Leich, who was on the ground, became tied up at the legs with Harvey, who was still standing. Harvey high-stepped out of the tangle and out of nowhere, received a straight red card from referee Mark Geiger.

According to Peter Nowak, the card was unjustified and will be appealed to the league in hopes that Harvey will not be suspended for teams next game against the Portland Timbers on May 6.

I think everyone saw the replay, said Nowak. I think the replay created very clearly what was the case. And for me, I saw the replay I think we are going to review this and make the right decision.

Forced to play with a man-down roster, Nowak replaced Danny Mwanga with more defensive-minded midfielder Stefani Miglioranzi and Roger Torres for Michael Farfan, who made his MLS debut. Yet, the Union still managed the majority of the offense in the second half, highlighted by two corner kicks and a Ruiz and Le Toux exchange in the opposition's box that was snuffed out by the defense.

I cant praise this group enough, said Nowak. This group plays great, physically and they prepare mentally. They know that at the end of the game they have the points and go home the champions. Its a good thing and its really important for this group to overcome the obstacles that we have with the red card.

The physical contest began to get chippy in the 30th minute, after Okugo was charged a yellow card for a hard foul on on Steven Lenhart. Moments later, Mondragon, who is never short on emotion, got into a jawing match with Quakes midfielder Brandon McDonald, a confrontation that led to a pushing match between the two squads. Both players received a yellow card.

But the match didnt start out bogged down by referee interjection.

The Union began the contest looking to push the offense with both Mwanga and Torres in the lineup and midfielders Miglioranzi and Justin Mapp on the bench -- a high-powered setup typically used by Nowak late in games when his team needs to milk a goal.

And for the early going, it worked, as the Union held the majority of possession and pressure.

Coach changed up our tactics a bit with Roger Torres, Keon Daniel and Seba (Sebastien Le Toux) in front of us to try and exploit their weaknesses a little bit, said Okugo. I thought we did a fairly good job of maintaining possession and playing our game.

The Earthquakes pushed back in the 21st and 22nd minute, earning consecutive corner kicks. However, taking both, Anthony Ampaipitakwongs attempts into the Union box were both turned away with ease. Mondragon made just one save in the shutout, as the Quakes lacked sustained pressure or any good chances on goal.

E-mail Ryan Bright at ryanbright13@gmail.com

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.