Good things happen to soccer fans who wait.
In the year of the 14th World Cup, slated for June 8 through July 8 at various Italian cities, local soccer enthusiasts will have the chance to watch some outstanding international teams.
On Feb. 20 and 22, the national teams from the Soviet Union, Colombia and Costa Rica, plus the Chivas club from Guadalajara, Mexico, will compete for the Marlboro Cup at the Coliseum.
On the first night, Colombia faces the Soviets at 7 p.m., followed by Chivas against the Costa Ricans at 9 p.m. The losers will meet on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m. with the winners vying for the championship at 9 p.m. Advance tickets are $14 for each night through Ticketmaster agencies or $16 at the gate.
The Soviets, Colombians and Costa Ricans will play in the World Cup. Of the trio, the Soviets have the best chance of qualifying for the tournament's 16-team second round thanks to their grouping with Cameroon, Romania and defending champion Argentina, which is one of the favorites.
Even if they lose to Argentina's Diego Maradona & Co., the Soviets should advance.
Colombia, on the other hand, will make only its second World Cup appearance and Costa Rica is in the World Cup for the first time. Both countries, however, feature some excellent players.
Midfielders Evaristo Coronado and Hector Marchena, and sweeper Roger Flores lead Costa Rica, which finished first in the World Cup qualifying group involving North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
The South Americans count on the services of midfielder Carlos Valderrama and goalkeeper Rene Higuita.
"It's very positive that international teams are coming here. With all the Latinos, Europeans and Asians in this area, there's utmost interest," said Luis Alberto Bravo, sportscaster at KWKW radio.
"You have to realize that after Italia '90 comes the World Cup of 1994 in the United States. All the promotions put together in this country will improve the interest of Americans in this sport."
Unfortunately, the U.S. team chose not to come to Los Angeles, although it played in the Miami Marlboro Cup on Feb. 2 and 4. The Americans will face the Soviets at Stanford Stadium on Feb. 24, and will travel to Europe in March.
The United States, of course, is preparing for its first World Cup in 40 years. But their stay in Italy most likely will be short. They landed in Group A with the powerful hosts, and Austria and Czechoslovakia. Arrivederci!
Key players on the U.S. team include two Latinos, Uruguay-born midfielder Tabares (Tab) Ramos and midfielder Hugo Perez, originally of El Salvador. They arguably are the two most creative players on the team. Perez, after recovering from injuries, scored the only goal against El Salvador in a World Cup qualifying match.
Both Perez and Ramos have clashed with the U.S. Soccer Federation over money but they remain integral components on the team. Ramos had threatened to ply his trade with Leeds United of England but backed off. Perez did go to Europe and is reportedly making $100,000 a year with Red Star 93 in France. But he is free to fulfill obligations to the U.S. national team.
The U.S. team clinched a trip to Italy with a 1-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago last Nov. 19 on a goal by Paul Caligiuri, who played AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) soccer in Diamond Bar and for four years at UCLA.
Those who were hoping to see 1989 Division II women's cross-country national champion Darcy Arreola run track for Cal State Northridge this year will have to wait.
Arreola, from El Cajon, will redshirt the 1990 track season and save the year of athletic eligibility for 1991, when Northridge climbs to Division I, the competition level for the largest U.S. colleges.
The 21-year-old junior has won Division II titles in the 1,500 meters and twice in the 3,000 meters. She tried to make the 1988 U.S. Olympic team in the 1,500 meters but was eliminated in the semifinals at the trials.
She passed up earlier this month a chance to make the U.S. team for the world cross-country championships because of a nagging foot injury sustained in late October.
"We'll just give her some time," said Northridge track Coach Don Strametz. "Her health is more important."
Arreola said she enjoyed the cross-country season last year more than ever, but welcomed the hiatus.
"I'm looking forward to it," she said. "I've been competing so much that I need a break."
Another college athlete who enjoyed a banner season last year was East Los Angeles College running back Adan Avina.
The 5-foot, 9-inch, 185-pound sophomore, who will turn 20 on Feb. 16, established state junior college single-season marks of 1,772 yards rushing and 2,044 all-purpose yards, and his 18 touchdowns ranked him fifth in scoring.
Yet, Avina was relegated to the all-state second team, something that did not settle well with the former Montebello High School star or East L.A. College Coach Al Padilla.
"I just got robbed. That's about it," said Avina, who hopes to pursue a degree in business administration and a few more yards on the field at a Division I school in the fall.