Quakes protect 11 players ahead of Expansion Draft


Quakes protect 11 players ahead of Expansion Draft

With the 2011 MLS Cup in the books, teams across MLS aregearing up for a flurry of buying, selling and trading as they prepare toattempt to dethrone the newly-crowned champions Los Angeles Galaxy in 2012, andthe first transactions are already in motion. The Earthquakes, along with 17 other teams announced onMonday their list of protected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft, whichis set to take place at 10 a.m. PT on Nov. 23. In the draft, the Montreal Impact set to become theleagues 19th team will have the opportunity to select 10 playersfrom among the unprotected players around MLS and cannot select more than oneplayer from each team.

Each team can protect 11 players from selection, includingthree international players, provided a team has at least four. Players signed to a Generation adidas contract as well ashomegrown players are exempt from selection. The Earthquakes currently have nohomegrown players, but defender Ike Opara and goalkeeper David Bingham are bothon Generation adidas contracts, meaning they did not have to be protected. There were very few surprises on the Earthquakes list, withmost of the expected names including star forward Chris Wondolowski and otherkey contributors from 2011 such as right back Steven Beitashour, center backJason Herhandez and midfielder Khari Stephenson being protected. Stephenson, from Jamaica,Rafael Baca (Mexico) andSimon Dawkins (England)accounted for the teams international selections. Two players whose futures were the subject of speculation,Dawkins and Steven Lenhart, were both protected. Lenharts contract is up atthe end of the year, but team president Dave Kaval confirmed earlier that theclub is seriously considering re-signing the forward after he tallied fivegoals and three assists before missing the last half of the season on apersonal leave of absence. Like weve said publicly and like Earthquakes GM JohnDoyle and Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop have said publicly, hessomeone that we felt made a very, very positive impact on the team when heplayed, Kaval said in a Nov. 12 interview Its the time of year where were looking at contracts, andwere trying to understand what his thoughts are. Dawkins situation is slightly more complicated as he playedfor the Earthquakes on loan from English Premier League club Tottenham, and hisloan finished at the end of the season. Kaval confirmed the Earthquakes areinterested in bringing Dawkins back for the 2012 season, but that the situationis not entirely in their hands. Theres no final decisions either way obviously theunderstanding whether or not Tottenham is comfortable with him being over herefor another is sort of critical to our offseason planning, Kaval said. TheyTottenham were all happy, I think its more whether Simon has a spot in England. Sothat is not decided yet and because of that, were sort of just in a holdingpattern. However, a tweet from the teams official Twitter accountexplained that his inclusion on the protected list was in order to protect hisrights and prevent his acquisition by another MLS team. Notable unprotected players include left midfielder BobbyConvey, whose option is not expected to be picked up after a falling out withYallop, left back Ramiro Corrales, as well as center back Nana Attakora andright midfielder Jacob Peterson, who were both acquired in a trade midwaythrough 2011, along with Alan Gordon, who was protected. The full protected list is as follows: Rafael Baca, SteveBeitashour, Jon Busch, Sam Cronin, Simon Dawkins, Alan Gordon, Jason Hernandez, Steven Lenhart, JustinMorrow, Khari Stephenson, Chris Wondolowski. The full list of unprotected players available for selectionis as follows: Anthony Ampaipitakwong, Nana Attakora-Gyan, Bobby Burling, BobbyConvey, Ramiro Corrales, Joey Gjertsen, Maxwell Griffin, Chris Leitch, Matt Luzunaris,Ellis McLoughlin, Jacob Peterson, Brad Ring, Scott Sealy, Tim Ward, AndrewWeber.For more Earthquakes, MLS and world soccer chatter,you can follow Nick Rosano on Twitter @nicholasrosano

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.