Group F : United States   Castellano  Page 2

Argentina  2

Austria  2

Belgium  2

Brazil  2

Bulgaria  2

Cameroon  2

Chile  2

Colombia  2

Croatia  2

Denmark  2

England  2

France  2

Germany  2

Iran  2

Italy  2

Jamaica  2

Japan  2

México  2

Morocco  2

Netherlands  2

Nigeria  2

Norway  2

Paraguay  2

Romania  2

Saudi Arabia  2

Scotland  2

South Africa 2

South Korea

Spainin  2

Tunisia  2

United States  2

Yugoslavia  2

    US Soccer    

Coach: Steve SAMPSON

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vs. GERMANY

15.06.98 Paris

vs. IRAN

21.06.98 Lyon

vs. YUGOSLAVIA

25.06.98 Nantes

Team Colors: White with Red/White/Blue horizontal stripe, White pants

2nd. Uniform: Red Shirt, White pants

Confederation: CONCACAF

Sixth Appearance in World Cup Finals (1930, 34, 50, 90, 94, 98)

Semi-finalist in 1930 World Cup in Uruguay

Twice in round of 16 (1950, 1994)

Semi-finalist in the Copa America 1995

3rd in 1930

Key players: G Kasey Keller (Leicester, England),

M Claudio Reyna (Wolfsburg, Germany),

D/M Thomas Dooley (Columbus, Ohio, Crew, MLS),

M/F Eric Wynalda (San Jose, Calif., Clash, MLS).

How far?

Kasey Keller ©CnnSi/Allsport

Keep an Eye on: Kasey Keller: Goalkeeper voted American player of the year.

Thomas Dooley: The new Captain, like Wynalda, played in Germany.

Claudio Reyna: Midfield up-and-comer, tagged "the future of US soccer".

Eric Wynalda: The leading scorer in 1998 qualifications with 5 scores. Nursing a knee repaired just a couple of months ago.

Steve Sampson: This is definitely HIS team. Prefered trying rookies than keeping veterans who questioned his playing schemes.

Analysis: This team will have to improve considerably to make any mark in France. Questions exist throughout the lineup except at goalkeeper, which is strong with Keller and Brad Friedel, and central midfield, where Reyna has huge responsibilities and needs to take charge as chief playmaker. The return of M Tab Ramos from a second serious knee injury would be a big help.

We had this on this page a month ago: "John Harkes: Runs the show." No longer the case. Sampson left him off the team and Dooley is now the Captain. A risk which signals Sampson's intention to go with untested rookies and veterans who will comply with his schemes.

History: The USA may be playing in their sixth World Cup but soccer is still a secondary sport, well behind American football, basketball, baseball and possibly ice hockey. Although its national association was founded in 1913 it was only in 1994 when they organized the World Cup on their own soil that America really woke up to soccer. It was feared failure to qualify for France 98 that might jeopardize the new professional league, Major League Soccer, which got under way in 1996.

Surprisingly, the USA reached the semi-finals of the first World Cup in Uruguay in 1930. After beating Belgium and Paraguay they lost 6-1 to Argentina. They have since never got beyond the second round of last 16, as they did in 1994 when they lost 1-0 to Brazil at that stage of the competition. The current team qualified by finishing runners-up to Mexico in the CONCACAF Zone. The majority of their players are involved in MLS, often after a spell in Europe, like Alexi Lalas, who played in Italy with Padova, and Eric Wynalda, the team's leading scorer now with San Jose, who played for Dortmund in the German Bundesliga. Only goalkeeper Kasey Keller, with England Premiership side Leicester City, and Claudio Reyna, with German side Wolfsburg, play for overseas clubs. The Americans hope to prove a point in France but admit their lack of international experience will tell against them.

November 2, 1997: the defining date for the United States, the moment when the final whistle blew amid the throbbing mass of humanity in the Azteca Stadium and they knew they were back on track to qualify for their third successive World Cup finals. They had been riddled with self-doubt, their previous record in Mexico - in Yankee parlance - was 0-17, they had lost Jeff Agoos, sent off in the 32nd minute, and the crowd of 114,600 was baying for American blood. Yet they held on for a goalless draw, defeated Canada 3-0 in Vancouver a week later and qualified.

"It was a golden point," Steve Sampson, the United States coach, reflected on the trip to México City. Sampson, 40, the former coach at Santa Clara University, had at last graduated from administrative assistant on the organizing committee of USA 94 to fully-fledged international coach.

Sampson will rely on many familiar faces in France - Kasey Keller, the globe-trotting Leicester City goalkeeper, Alexi Lalas, the goatee-bearded, guitar-playing defender, and Thomas Dooley. John Harkes, the former captain was left off the team after not agreeing to follow and abide by the playing schemes Sampson proposed. Moreover, the suspect left knee of Tab Ramos, the talented playmaker, has given way again . . . and then there is the slight nuisance of taking on Germany in their first group F fixture.

Wynalda: Deadly from everywhere

Tab Ramos ©ESPN/AP

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POSITION NAME AGE CAPS

G Brad Friedel 26 53

G Kasey Keller 27 25

G Tony Meola 30 33 

D Jeff Agoos 29 75

D Marcelo Balboa 30 122

D Mike Burns 27 61

D Paul Caligiuri 33 114

D Thomas Dooley 36 72

D Robin Fraser 30 16 

D Frankie Hejduk 23 5

D Alexi Lalas 27 91

D Eddie Pope 24 14

M John Harkes 30 83

M Cobi Jones 27 96

M Tab Ramos 31 77

M Claudio Reyna 24 53

M Mike Sorber 26 66

M Ernie Stewart 28 42

F Chris Henderson 26 76

F Kirovski Jovan 21 24 

F Roy Lassiter 28 24

F Brian McBride 25 15

F Joe-Max Moore 26 58

F Preki Radosavljevic 34 12

F David Wagner 26 6

F Roy Wegerle 33 29 

F Eric Wynalda 28 90

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