Wondolowski leads Quakes to 3-0 win in Toronto

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Wondolowski leads Quakes to 3-0 win in Toronto

Despite some rough moments, the Earthquakes left Toronto with a 3-0 win. Chris Wondolowskis two goals sandwiched an effort from Shea Salinas, though Wondolowski missed a pair of opportunities to get a hat trick. Sam Cronin was instrumental on both sides of the ball for San Jose, putting up a strong performance against his former team. "It feels good, great to get the win most importantly, much needed," Cronin said. "Our first road win, good to set a precedent continuing into next weekend's game in Seattle, who is a tough team to play on the road."Tressor Moreno was handed his first MLS start by Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop, and Marvin Chavez returned to the starting lineup after coming off the bench in the teams 1-0 loss to Houston.The Earthquakes looked bright early, and Steven Lenhart had the ball in the back of the net just four minutes in, but he was whistled offside. Shea Salinas also had an early strike on goal, but it was saved by Toronto goalkeeper Milos Kocic. However, the Earthquakes did end up taking an early lead in the ninth minute. Marvin Chavezs corner was initially cleared, but ended up at the feet of Sam Cronin, who curled the cross in for Wondolowski to head the ball home. After the goal, Toronto started to come into the game more, but had a tough time finding space in the Earthquakes penalty area. Cronin admitted the team struggled at times in the first half, though."We were quite happy with the early goal especially in the first ten minutes we were on top of them," he said. "The rest of the half they pressed us and we had a difficult time keeping the ball."

Eventually, the home team would get some chances as Luis Silva saw an effort rise over the bar and Ryan Johnson couldnt get a shot off under pressure from Victor Bernardez. Toronto finally got its first shot on target late in the first half as Ryan Johnson hammered a low shot from the edge of the area, but it was right at Jon Busch, who saved it comfortably. Dutch forward Danny Koevermans came on at halftime and nearly made an immediate impact. The Designated Player took the ball around Busch but too close to the endline, and Steven Beitashour was able to clear his cross. Toronto continued to apply pressure with Koevermans and Joao Plata at the center of things. However, just as Koevermans went close with a header, the Earthquakes bagged their second. Plata slipped, allowing Beitashour to burst forward and play Marvin Chavez through on goal. Instead of shooting, Chavez pulled it back, and Salinas powered the ball home with his left foot after a late run into the area. "We came in trying to get behind their back four and we accomplished that quite a few times especially in the second half." Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop said. "It's nice to see what you work all week in practice come out in the game."Torontos defensive woes continued, and 11 minutes after Salinas goal the Earthquakes made it three. Cronin who was at the heart of things all game scooped a ball over the top for Rafael Baca, who found Wondolowski at the far post for the finish. The goal was Wondolowski's sixth against Toronto, and he has now scored more goals against Toronto than any other team. Five of his goals against Toronto have come on the road.

"It's not just BMO field he is good at; Chris is good everywhere," Yallop said. "He can just sniff out the chances and is very clean with his finishes on any surface. Whether it be heading it, driving it, tucking it, whatever he needs to do he scores."Wondolowski should have had a hat trick 15 minutes from time, but scooped his finish well over the bar off a cross from Lenhart. Their roles switched just a couple minutes later as Lenharts deflected effort from a Wondolowski cross was acrobatically turned over by Kocic. The Earthquakes forward pairing continued to torment the Toronto defense in the late minutes of the game, but couldnt add to the lead. Wondolowski missed another chance at a hat trick after substitute Simon Dawkins found him at the far post, but he turned his effort onto the post with the goal at his mercy.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

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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.