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Al Chase

Just For Kicks

By Al Chase

Thursday, June 29, 2000

U.S. women face
tough opposition

TWO thoughts come to mind based on the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup pool play results.

First, the American women will have stronger competition closer to home in the coming years with the development of the national teams in Brazil and Canada.

Brazil showed it wasn't far away during the 1999 Women's World Cup. The Brazilians have lost just three matches since losing to the U.S. in the WC semifinal round.

The Canadians have been a pleasant surprise this year.

They beat China in the Pacific Cup, which opened the door for the U.S. to win the tournament on goal differential.

Saturday, Canada plays the Americans in a Gold Cup semifinal match at Louisville, Ky.

Although the Canadians have lost 21 of 22 matches to the U.S., their improvement this year has given them the confidence to think "upset."

And, the U.S. avoided playing China in the semifinal round by winning a coin flip with Brazil following pool play.

Second, the lopsided scores posted by the United States in matches against Trinidad & Tobago and Costa Rica provided the new Americans with much needed playing time.

Lorrie Fair, who is filling in for the injured Michelle Akers at center midfield, notched two goals within a minute against Trinidad & Tobago.

Christie Pearce, subbing for captain Carla Overback at outside halfback, produced two wonderful assists in the first half of that match.

Nikki Serlenga, a midfielder who led Santa Clara to four NCAA Final Four appearances, scored her first international hat trick against Costa Rica.

Susan Bush, a striker who just finished her freshman year at North Carolina, scored a goal and had four assists.

Christie Welsh, who will be a sophomore at Penn State this fall, scored two goals.

The positive is these stars of the future get to meld their talents with the veterans in real-game situations.

It's the best way to improve their thinking, their reactions to situations and the understanding of their teammates' field actions.


THE host country for the 2006 Men's World Cup will be selected next Wednesday or Thursday in Zurich, Switzerland, when the 24-member FIFA Executive Committee meets.

The selection is by secret ballot in a round-by-round elimination format. The winner must receive an absolute majority, at least 13 votes.

Five countries, South Africa, England, Germany, Morocco and Brazil, are bidding for the right to host. Three bidders, Brazil in 1950, England in 1966 and West Germany in 1974, have hosted World Cups.

If the top two candidates are tied, FIFA president Sepp Blatter will cast the decisive vote.

The World Cup has never been played in Africa, lending credence to reports that South Africa is the front-runner.

England and Germany are considered strong candidates.

But how much will the bad reputation of their fans - even recognizing the rowdies are a small percentage of the fan base - weigh on the Executive Committee's decision?


IT seems every month or so another soccer star signs a contract that makes him the highest paid player in the world. Put striker Raul Gonzalez at the top of that list.

Gonzalez has extended his contract with Real Madrid through 2005. The European Cup champions will pay Gonzalez about $5.5 million a year.

And, if another team wants to buy Gonzalez, it will have to pay a transfer fee of $166 million, according to Spanish media reports.

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.

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