Wondolowski, Bernardez named to MLS XI

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Wondolowski, Bernardez named to MLS XI

SAN JOSE -- San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski and defender Victor Bernardez picked up league-wide recognition on Monday as the duo earned spots on the MLS Best XI. The selection is Wondolowskis third in as many years and Bernardezs first following his debut campaign in the league.

The Earthquakes were one of three teams with multiple representatives on the MLS Best XI. The last time San Jose placed two or more players on the list was in 2005 with Pat Onstad, Danny Califf and Dwayne De Rosario.

Wondolowski posted one of the best seasons by any player in league history, tying the league record for goals in a single season with 27 while also notching seven assists. The prolific scorer had 11 game winners in 2012, a league record. The Danville native also won Player of the Month honors a record four times during his memorable campaign and is a finalist for Volkswagen MLS MVP.

Bernardez keyed a San Jose defense that posted seven shutouts in 2012. The Honduran international started 24 games for the Supporters Shield winners, scoring two goals and recording one assist in the process. Both of his goals came at opportune moments, the first sparking a comeback 4-3 win against the LA Galaxy on June 30 and the second a swerving free-kick winner against Chivas USA on Sept. 2. Bernardez is also a finalist for Newcomer of the Year and finished second in Defender of the Year voting to Sporting Kansas Citys Matt Besler.

MLS BEST XI

Goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen (Sporting Kansas City)

Defenders Victor Bernardez (San Jose Earthquakes), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Aurelien Collin (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders Osvaldo Alonso (Seattle Sounders FC), Landon Donovan (LA Galaxy), Chris Pontius (D.C) United), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards Thierry Henry (New York Red Bulls), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

PLAYER BIOS

Victor Bernardez
A finalist for MLS Defender of the Year and Newcomer of the Year, Bernardez has emerged as one of the top center backs in MLS. The hulking center back helped lead the Earthquakes to the Leagues best record (19-6-9), contributing two goals and one assist. The Honduran international joined the Earthquakes after three years with Belgian Pro League giant RSC Anderlecht. This is his first MLS Best XI selection.

Chris Wondolowski
The winner of the 2012 Budweiser Golden Boot award, Wondolowski led the League in scoring with 27 goals, tying the all-time single season record. He is the only player in MLS history to score the most regular season goals in three consecutive seasons. A finalist for the 2012 Volkswagen MLS MVP, Wondolowski tallied seven assists while helping the Earthquakes win the 2012 Supporters Shield. This is his third consecutive MLS Best XI selection.

Courtesy San Jose Earthquakes media services

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.