'Quakes look at offseason overhaul

549768.jpg

'Quakes look at offseason overhaul

SANTA CLARA -- With the Earthquakesplayoff hopes existing almost exclusively in the realm of theory the team inall likelihood will need a win to stay alive this weekend thoughts are slowlyturning towards the teams rebuilding for the 2012 season. After a largelydisappointing 2011, it is only natural to expect there will be some changeswithin the team, and head coach Frank Yallop said as much. We can clean out some people and they can go on and get onwith their careers and we can move on as a club, Yallop said of his teamsoff-season plans. While Yallop would not point to any specific players, hemade clear what he expected from his players and explained that those whowerent meeting his expectations would be the ones You should play hard every minute of every game. I know theones that do that and the ones that dont do that wont be here, so thatspretty clear, he said, clarifying that the last four games of the season wouldnot provide an opportunity to make a new impression. Yallops position his been further strengthened by the factthat he will likely have more money to make roster moves in the off-season.While the Earthquakes have generally been at or near the bottom of the leaguein terms of overall salary, comments from Yallop and general manager John Doyleindicated that the ownership group would be making money available in additionto the money freed up by departing players. It will be a busy off-season for us to add some players,but looks like we should have some good tools to do that with some money fromthe ownership group, some money from players leaving, so hopefully we canreplace them with some good quality players that we need, Yallop said. To be fair, I think well probably go both routes, Doylesaid, when asked if hed rather sign one high-salary player or a fewlower-salary players. I think were going to throw everything we can at it andownership has said that much. One potential issue for the teams management, however, isthat among the players whose future is uncertain is one that has actuallyperformed quite well in his first year with the Earthquakes young midfielderSimon Dawkins. The 23-year-old joined the team on loan from English PremierLeague outfit and Earthquakes club partner Tottenham Hotspur, and has fit rightin, having overcome a long battle with injuries. He has scored four goals and notched an assist in his 22appearances for the team, with his good vision and ball skills providing acreative spark in the teams attack. As recognition for his season ofcontributions, Dawkins was recently ranked 21st on mlssoccer.coms24 Under 24 list of the best young players in MLS under the age of 24. Simons been playing well, hes playing most weeks if hesnot injured Yallop said. If he has any hopes and dreams of going back toTottenham, which he does playing here is going to help him do that. Despite all his success with the Earthquakes, Dawkinsfuture is very much up in the air. His loan deal will end at the end of theseason and his Tottenham contract runs until 2013. While he his found a placeto get regular playing time in the Bay Area, he could very well find himself inhigher demand in the off-season, a a result of his improved play. Ive still got two more years at Tottenham, so I want toplay somewhere next season, whether it be, who knows, but Im just working hardto keep my fitness up and it will take care of itself at the end of the day, sowell wait and see, Dawkins said, though he added, Yeah, of course, whenasked if he would return to San Jose, given the opportunity. Ultimately, Dawkins goal is to return to Tottenham andbreak into the first team squad there. Its no mean feat, but for Dawkins, itsa childhood dream. Its my team when I was growing up, Ive been there since Iwas 13, Dawkins said. Its somewhere where I would like to play and if itdoes happen, then it will be a dream come true, but if it doesnt, then theresother teams around the world, so well see what we can do. With Tottenham firmly in the upper echelon of Premier Leagueteams and competition for a place in the squad fierce, it is unlikely thatDawkins will feature for the first team in the near future. In the meantime,the Earthquakes management will be hoping to cement Dawkins return for 2012 asone of the multitude of tasks ahead to restore the team to winningways.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

dempsey-usa.jpg
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

pulisic-christian-us.jpg
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.