Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making a Name: Sorber Plays Key Role for U.S

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Making a Name: Sorber Plays Key Role for U.S

Article excerpt

Who is Mike Sorber and what's he doing playing in the World Cup?

If you still have to ask, you haven't been watching. Those might have been pertinent questions a week ago, but not anymore.

Sorber, a former Aquinas-Mercy High and St. Louis University standout, wasn't even considered a strong candidate to make the United States' 22-man Cup roster. But not only did he make the team, he made the starting lineup. And not only that, he's pulling his weight in midfield for the Cinderella Americans.

The United States suddenly finds itself riding a wave of unexpected attention. A 1-1 tie with Switzerland on Saturday and a 2-1 victory over Colombia on Wednesday have all but guaranteed the Americans passage into the second round, a surprising feat for a soccer minnow.

Sorber, like the U.S. team, is making people take notice.

"It puts expectations out there," Sorber said of his new notoriety. "Now, they've seen that you have done a good job and we've gotten good results.

"But the job's not done and there's always room for improvement. So people expect you to do a good job day-in, day out."

Sorber gladly accepts the added pressure.

"It's a situation you want to be in," he said. "You always want to be a starter and it's what you work for. But now you have to battle with yourself to always be prepared and always give 100 percent. You never want to let down."

In his World Cup debut, Sorber played a solid defensive game against the dangerous Swiss and won coach Bora Milutinovic's praise for playing with confidence.

In the stunning victory over Colombia before 93,000 at the Rose Bowl, Sorber made two crucial defensive plays while the game was scoreless. In rapid succession, he used various parts of his body to block Colombia shots from inside the penalty area before Fernando Clavijo finally cleared the ball out of danger.

Referring to his goalie teammate, Sorber said: "I was being Tony Meola without hands. It was like pinball."

Later in the first half, Sorber's pass sent John Harkes on a left-flank run that resulted in an own goal and a 1-0 U.S. lead.

The win over the highly rated Colombians seemed to turn on the national media to the U.S. team.

Even Sorber found himself in the spotlight. CBS Radio included a short interview with him on its national newscast Wednesday. "Nobody believed it could be done and we did it," he said.

Heady stuff for the unassuming Sorber, whose quietly competent style took some members of the media longer to notice.

But not Milutinovic, who discovered Sorber at the 1991 NCAA semifinals in Tampa, Fla. Milutinovic liked Sorber's "soccer smarts" and once commented that the 23-year-old coach's son "had a good head on his shoulders" for the sport.

Later, in an interview with Soccer Now magazine, Milutinovic expanded on his opinion of Sorber in response to the question "What do you look for in a player? …

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