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Al Chase

Just For Kicks

By Al Chase

Thursday, February 24, 2000



U.S. women’s team still
has long way to go

DON'T be alarmed by the United States National Women's team 0-2 beginning for new head coach April Heinrichs.

Between now and September, her primary goal is to prepare the team to win the gold medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.

The 3-2 and 2-1 losses to Norway earlier this month were atypical for the U.S. women, both coming on late goals.

The defeats also followed a lengthy boycott by the top players, who admitted they were rusty and out of shape.

Julie Foudy said she was so tired she kicked the ground.

For many of the Americans, the brain was telling the legs to do something and the legs were not responding.

Heinrichs also made liberal use of younger U.S. talent, including six players who haven't reached their 20th birthday.

The next step is preparing for the Algarve Cup, played March 12-18 on the southern tip of Portugal.

Heinrichs issued invitations to 29 players for the March 2-6 training camp and you know rusty legs won't be tolerated.

Success has escaped the U.S. team in five visits to this competition. The best finishes were second place in 1994 and 1999.

The U.S. will be joined by Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and host Portugal. The U.S. pool includes Portugal, Denmark and Sweden. The two pool winners for the championship March 18.

Tapa

Heinrichs hired three youth coaches yesterday.

Jillian Ellis, head women's coach at UCLA, will coach the Under-21s; Steve Swanson, who recently left Stanford to take the head women's job at Virginia, will coach the Under-18s, and Tracey Leone the Under-16s and Under-14s.

The three also may serve as assistant coaches with the women's national team.

Leone played for the 1991 U.S. Women's World Cup champions. She will take a leave of absence as co-head coach of Clemson's women's team.

Tapa

The U.S. men (2-1-1) lost their first match of the year last Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

After playing to a 2-2 tie, Columbia prevailed on penalty kicks, 2-1, at Miami.

In a shocker the next day, Canada ousted four-time champion Mexico, 2-1, at San Diego.

The U.S. men's next match is against Tunisia, March 12, at Birmingham, Ala.

Tapa

The Hawaii Soccer Association will not hold a Hawaii State Cup tournament this weekend. No teams entered any of the four divisions.

One problem was the $500 bond teams had to post to insure the winning team met its obligation to travel to the mainland for regional competition.

Another reason cited by Cup director Michael Weitzenhoff was the difference in league seasons on the various islands.

Oahu's adult leagues operate primarily from late summer to late spring.

The neighbor island leagues run from early spring to early fall, due in part to a lack of fields and not wanting to conflict with high school schedules.

General organization, the collecting of fees, setting of practice times, etc., is another difficulty in getting adult teams ready for formal competitions.

"It's not like we have those resourceful soccer moms who organize and orchestrate all the logistical requirements for youth teams," Weitzenhoff said.

However, at a Sunday meeting, Weitzenhoff said a decision was made to change the focus of the Hawaii State Cup.

"We are working on the 2001 Cup and our approach is just to make it a state tournament without the bond or obligation to compete in regionals on the mainland," Weitzenhoff said.





Al Chase has been covering sports in Hawaii
since 1968. His column appears on Thursdays.
From the local ranks to the World Cup,
Al Chase will help keep you up to date on futbol.
achase@starbulletin.com



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