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Coach still must set U.S. lineup

By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 26, 2002

Unlike some, the United States isn't planning any last-minute scrimmages against other World Cup teams before its opener June5.

That's not to suggest the U.S. players will be kicking back in Seoul.

"We travel with 23 players, and we can get a lot done between ourselves," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "Sometimes, there's opportunities to see a club team, but I don't think we're going to go in that direction.

"I think we feel good that we've got plenty of work in over the last couple of weeks. And if we just need to train among ourselves, we can do that."

Arena said he hasn't settled on his starting lineup for the Portugal game, with choices left between goalkeepers Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, among "six or seven candidates for our back four" and even a midfield spot and forward combination.

"Funny things happen with players," he said. "Over the next two weeks, we can have some players that look sharp and are really coming into form.

"If we see particular players look like they're really moving forward or are in great form, they're going to have an edge to get in the starting lineup."

INJURIES Two Portugual midfielders were injured during a 2-0 victory over China on Saturday. Armando Teixeira Petit hurt his spinal cord and Paulo Sousa his right thigh. Their status hasn't been determined.

In addition, Luis Figo, the FIFA player of the year, entered in the 75th minute. He takes anti-inflammatory painkillers for an injured ankle.

MASS EXPOSURE: Not only was U.S. forward Clint Mathis on the cover of the most-recent issue of Sports Illustrated, the first U.S. player pictured on one of America's top magazines since 1994, he also will be profiled in an upcoming TV Guide.

MAKING THE CALL: Referee Brian Hall will be the first U.S.-born official to work the World Cup. A veteran of MLS, Hall is scheduled to call a first-round game in Japan.

FIELD OF DREAMS: The Sapporo Dome, which hosts three first-round games, including the anticipated England-Argentina showdown June7, will introduce the "hovering soccer stage." A natural turf, grown outdoors, will be supported on a cushion of air indoors.

READY TO GO: Argentina star forward Gabriel Batistuta scored four goals in 34 minutes in a tuneup against the champions of Japan's pro league.

SO MUCH FOR AN ENDORSEMENT DEAL WITH GILLETTE: Spain's top goalkeeper, Santiago Canizares, won't play after injuring his foot last week.

He reportedly dropped a bottle of after-shave and damaged a tendon.

"It's a terrible mess-up," said Lee Gwang-chan of the South Korean organizing committee.

ROOMS TO GO: FIFA's World Cup accommodation agent missed the mark on the number of hotel rooms needed in South Korea and canceled a few -- more than two-thirds.

"We thought it would be as good as the 1988 Olympics, but we were burned," said Alex Chung, an official at a hotel in Incheon.

GETTING THE LATEST: U.S. Soccer has kicked off a new feature at www.ussoccer.com, World Cup Plus, which offers the most detailed and latest news on the U.S. team. The page will include player Q&As, online chats and postgame quotes.

HE SAID WHAT?: "We're a 23-man team, and the fact that one man is gone is not the whole story." -- Milo Corcoran, Football Association of Ireland president on the dismissal of midfielder Roy Keane from the team. But Keane, who argued with his coach and was pegged as a "disruptive influence," is the captain for Manchester United and unquestionably one of the world's top players. His absence is a big chunk of what might be a sad story.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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