From Comcast SportsNetMETAIRIE, La. (AP) -- The Saints have placed recently re-instated linebacker Jonathan Vilma on the physically unable to perform list, meaning he'll be out through Week 6, even if he has not been served a new bounty suspension by then.The Saints have also brought back fifth-year receiver Adrian Arrington, who had been cut on Saturday after struggling with right knee soreness heading into Week 1, and signed offensive tackle Bryce Harris from Atlanta's practice squad.Vilma is rehabilitating his surgically repaired left knee and did not play Sunday, two days after his suspension stemming from the NFL's bounty investigation was vacated, but not permanently voided, by an appeals panel. The panel directed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to reconsider punishment of all four players sanctioned in New Orleans' alleged pay-for-pain bounty pool.
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.
DALLAS – In just two-and-a-half weeks, the Sharks will have the opportunity to defend their Western Conference title when the Stanley Cup Playoffs get underway.
(Take a deep breath. They won’t fall out of playoff position.)
Still, it’s a terrible time for them to be playing their worst hockey of the season, and going through the foulest stretch of coach Pete DeBoer’s two-year tenure.
The Sharks were flat-out embarrassed by the Stars on Friday night in their fifth straight regulation defeat, 6-1 in Dallas, showing no signs of life for the duration. Not even a verbal tongue-lashing from their normally reserved head coach in full view of the cameras in the second period got their motors going.
How do you explain this one, Joe Pavelski?
“I don’t know, good question,” said the captain. “There’s a commitment that needs to be there to win in this league right now consistently. Right now, we’re searching for that.”
DeBoer, too, was puzzled.
“You have a handful of those a year where nothing goes right and nobody’s got any kind of legs or energy,” he said. “It was one of those nights. I don’t have an explanation for it. I felt we prepared the right way the last couple days. I thought we felt pretty good about ourselves. Then, the puck dropped and everything went bad.”
It was evident early that the Sharks were off, as they couldn’t figure out a way to get the puck through the neutral zone for the first several shifts and didn’t register a shot on goal until 7:17 into the first period. The first of three Adam Cracknell goals – yes, Adam Cracknell – had them trailing 1-0 after the opening frame.
Traditionally, the Sharks would have found a way to jolt themselves to life at the intermission, as it was so plainly obvious that they didn’t seem focused or driven over the first 20 minutes.
This was a game, too, in which they were healthier, getting Jannik Hansen back in the lineup, and more rested than the Stars, who were playing their second game in as many nights while San Jose was coming off a rare two-day break. Furthermore, the Sharks have seen a nine-point lead in the Pacific Division evaporate to just two points headed into Friday’s action. Motivation should have been easy against a team that shut them out on Monday, to boot.
But the mental mistakes to start the second were even worse. Brett Ritchie was left alone by Brenden Dillon for a goal just 1:58 into the middle frame, and at 5:19, Brent Burns was caught staring at the puck off of a faceoff as Jamie Benn got free in front of the net to push the Dallas lead to 3-0. DeBoer's timeout and screaming session after that third goal did nothing, as Dallas got two more goals off of the rush and another on a breakaway by Cracknell after a gift turnover by goalie Aaron Dell before the night was through.
“That’s a month worth of mistakes in one night, so hopefully we get it out of the system,” DeBoer said.
The defensive miscues should be easily correctable, according to Dillon.
“If you look at a good chunk of those goals, we kind of know whether it was d-zone coverage, or off the rush, or just communicating with one another,” he said. “Stuff that’s not like us. I think if we watched the other 70 games this year, those kind of things don’t happen.”
Of course, the defensive errors become all the more glaring when a team isn’t scoring, either. The Sharks managed just one Joe Thornton power play goal, and have just five total goals in their last five games.
That part of their game wasn’t any better against Dallas than their defense, as Kari Lehtonen had a relatively tranquil evening.
“We have a lot of guys that are going through some tough times right now and struggling to get on the scoresheet,” Logan Couture said. “We're going to need all of those guys to bring more. That's from our top guys, including myself and on down. We need to do more offensively. Score goals, and do more defensively, as well.”
They have just eight more games to figure it all out.
“It’s not ideal, by any means,” Dillon said. “I think it’s maybe a bit of a wakeup call for us. … You can’t take a night off and you have to be emotionally invested. You’ve got to take every shift as hard as you possibly can.”
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DeBoer had no update on Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who didn't play in the third period. The defenseman was seen leaving the dressing room under his own power, but looked to be walking a bit gingerly.