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WORLD CUP '94 / 22 DAYS AND COUNTING : Making the Cut : Americans Hope Opponents Will Dread Facing Cobi Jones


Jones will turn 24 on June 16, two days before the United States' first game of the World Cup in Pontiac, Mich., against Switzerland. Although Jones has spent most of his life in Southern California (Westlake Village), he was born in Detroit when his father was in a doctorate program at Wayne State University.

This season, Jones is the only U.S. player to appear in all 17 matches, starting every one. He leads the team in minutes played.

The rapid accumulation of international experience is helping Jones, although he can't exactly explain how or why.

"I never really know because I always feel I'm playing the same," he said. "I guess that's for outsiders to say. After we lost (to Bayern Munich), someone said to me, 'You must be proud of how well you played.' But that's like someone giving advice about relationships and they can't handle their own problems with relationships."

Jones does not believe in giving advice--about soccer or anything else. He was asked and turned down the chance to be on KROQ's "Love Line" program with teammates Lalas and Tony Meola. His hipness does not extend into the Masters and Johnson field.

"I wasn't going to get into that," he said. "It's a dangerous area. I knew what kind of questions are asked and there were questions about (a listener's) sex life."

Potential embarrassment was not entirely averted. Jones agreed to do a turn on KROQ's "Reggae Revolution." Somehow, nestled between cuts of Bob Marley and Black Uhuru, the host posed a question.

"He asked me what I thought of the Switzerland coach not allowing his players to have sex during the World Cup," Jones said. "What did I think of that? And did Bora have those rules?"

So what did Jones say?

The soccer field isn't the only place where he is elusive. "I dodged it," he said, laughing.

Jones would prefer some day to be asking questions, at least when his soccer career ends, which seems far off. After the World Cup, he will probably play in Europe. In the fall of 1992, he trained with FC Cologne of the German first division.

But Jones could see himself in law school if he wasn't playing soccer. Ideally, the emphasis would be on environmental law, combining a career with one of his primary concerns.

"I worry about things that can disappear when I'm doing my thing," said Jones, who was once an avid scuba diver. "Like the rain forest. Not the fact that the rain forest is so big and immense and that it will disappear.

"But by the time I get there it will be so varied from what it is now. Those are the things I wonder about. I want to be able to see everything."

For now, soccer is helping Jones see the world.

And as for saving it?

First things first.

The World's Cup today, the rest of it tomorrow.

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