National Teams Set to Shoot for Gold
Palm, Michael, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Bruce Arena, coach of the U.S. Olympic men's soccer team, watched his squad practice yesterday, and, as he looked on, he knew it was coming together well.
The team, officially announced yesterday, plays South Africa on Saturday in Richmond, giving Arena a chance to see the squad play together for the first time. It will also give the coach an indication of how the team performs under the type of pressure it will face in the Olympics - three games in five days.
"We want to see the kind of contribution these guys bring to the field," Arena said yesterday in a conference call. "It's a dress rehearsal."
The real thing comes July 20 in Birmingham, Ala., when the United States plays Argentina in the first game of the Olympics.
"Our goal is to be the first U.S. team to advance out of the first round of Olympic football competition," Arena said.
As expected, goaltender Kasey Keller, defender Alexi Lalas and midfielder Claudio Reyna were selected as the overage wild-card exemptions.
"The decisions weren't easy," Arena said, "but that's what we concluded in the end. …