Quakes refuse to lose in 2-1 comeback over Rapids

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Quakes refuse to lose in 2-1 comeback over Rapids

BOX SCORE

The "never say die" San Jose Earthquakes continued their 2012 season late-game comeback magic, earning a 2-1 victory at the Colorado Rapids behind goals from Alan Gordon and Chris Wondolowski.

After giving up a first-half goal to Rapids midfielder Brian Mullan, the Earthquakes came back with a Gordon finish in the 83rd minute and a Wondolowski goal from the penalty spot in the second minute of stoppage time.

The win against the Rapids was the Earthquakes first victory in Colorado since early in the 2008 season and keeps San Jose firmly in second place in the MLS Western Conference.

The Earthquakes started the game as the more dangerous side, nearly finding the net on two occasions in the opening 15 minutes. A Victor Bernardez free kick in the 3rd minute from 30 yards was batted over the crossbar by Rapids goalkeeper Matt Perkins. A Simon Dawkins shot attempt in the 8th minute at the top of the penalty area from the run of play again required Perkins to tip the ball to safety and keep the game scoreless.

Having weathered the early Earthquakes storm, the Rapids took the lead in the 18th minute following a throw-in. Colorado defender Hunter Freeman delivered a crossing pass to the far post where Mullan looped a header just over the outstretched arms of goalkeeper David Bingham and into the far-side inside netting for the game's opening goal. Even Jon Busch, the Earthquakes regular starting goalkeeper sitting out the game due to suspension, would not have been able to save the well placed Mullan shot.

The Rapids nearly doubled their lead in the 29th minute following a free kick awarded to Colorado after Marvin Chavez earned a yellow card for a bad tackle against his right-sided counterpart Luis Zapata. The restart from Martin Rivero required Bingham to make an acrobatic save to keep the ball out of the net.

In the 36th minute, the Earthquakes had their best chance yet in the game to get a goal. Defender Justin Morrow, playing in an advanced role up the left wing sent a cross into the area that Steven Lenhart redirected on target. Instead of registering the equalizer, Lenhart could only watch as Pickens made the save of the game to push the ball around the far post and keep the Earthquakes off the scoreboard.

With the match approaching halftime, Bernardez was shown a yellow card for a dangerous kick on Rapids forward Conor Casey. Colorado could not capitalize on the free kick, and the game entered the interval with the Rapids leading 1-0.

The Earthquakes had a good chance to equalize in the 54th minute, as a yellow card offense by Zapata on Dawkins gave San Jose a free kick deep in Rapids territory. The delivery by Beitashour found Lenhart in the area, but his soft header was easily corralled by Pickens.

Looking to spark some life into their moribund offense, head coach Frank Yallop turned to the bench in the 65th minute and brought on forward Gordon for midfielder Baca. Three minutes later, with the Earthquakes pressuring the Rapids defense, Dawkins forced a good save from Pickens with a low shot from 18 yards. Two more offense-minded substitutions, the first in the 70th minute as Khari Stephenson entered for Sam Cronin and the second in the 75th minute as Shea Salinas replaced Steven Beitashour, saw the Earthquakes go for broke as they still trailed by a lone goal entering the last 15 minutes of the match.

The San Jose substitutions finally paid dividends in the 83rd minute, as a long pass down the right sideline found Salinas with plenty of space to deliver a low cross into the area. Lenhart redirected the ball on goal, but Pickens was there to bat the ball away. Gordon, anticipating an opportunity developing, reached the rebound just ahead of his Rapids marker and touched the ball into the net for the equalizer. The goal was Gordon's fifth of the season, his fourth scored after the 80th minute of play.

Just as the match was nearing stoppage time, Gordon was again the center of attention, as he earned a penalty kick following a collision with Pickens on an Earthquakes counterattack. Wondolowski, San Jose's designated penalty taker, blasted the ball past Pickens to give the Earthquakes their first lead of the evening.

The Rapids pushed forward with numbers in an attempt to find a game-tying goal, but were unable to break through the San Jose defense and the game ended 2-1 in favor of the visitors.

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.