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Agoos, U.S. Want to Decorate Their Play With a Medal


SYDNEY, Australia — Decorating the walls of his home, Jeff Agoos has the framed and mounted jerseys of some of the opponents he has come up against during his 15 years of playing soccer for the United States.

There are also some of Agoos' jerseys on the walls. Such as those he wore while winning Major League Soccer championships with Washington D.C. United in 1996, 1997 and 1999. Or while winning the InterAmerica Cup with D.C. United in 1998 or playing for the FIFA World Stars in South Africa.

Then there are the medals: the bronze picked up after the U.S. finished third at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico last year and the silver won at the indoor FIFA World Futsal Championship in Hong Kong in 1992.

Valuable mementos, each and every one.

But on Friday night, Agoos has the chance to win something he would treasure perhaps more than all of them--an Olympic bronze medal.

The U.S. plays Chile at Sydney Football Stadium and Agoos, a 32-year-old veteran of more than 100 games for the U.S. national team, is determined to give it all he has.

Win or lose, though, the left-sided defender believes the experience in Australia has been a highlight of his long career.

"It's been great," he said after the U.S. was beaten, 3-1, by Spain in the semifinals on Tuesday night. "It's my first Olympics and I'm on a team that is probably one of the better teams I've ever been around. It's a great bunch of guys."

After the Olympics, Agoos rejoins the national team as it prepares to meet Costa Rica in a key World Cup 2002 qualifying game in Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 11.

Despite the Americans' success in these Games, there is no comparison between Olympic and World Cup soccer.

"It's a different level," Agoos said. "You're really talking about 19- to 22-year-old players who are still learning and still growing versus full internationals 25 and up who have got a lot of experience, not just in MLS, but abroad.

"It's really exciting because you never know what's going to happen. It's kind of like college basketball versus pro basketball."

Reaching the final four, as the U.S. has done, should open a few eyes, he said.

"Right now, all the emphasis has been on the women's team, and deservedly so. They've won a gold medal [in 1996] and now they're competing for another.

"We, I think, have had something to prove and I think we've proved it here. The rest of the world has the best athletes playing soccer and we're trying to catch up. I think we're doing a very good job of that.

"I think we've made a mark in this tournament and a mark for American men's soccer back in the States, saying, 'Look, we can compete with the rest of the world. We're one of the better teams. We've got some top-level individual talent on this team.'

"Hopefully, the American public responds and supports us."

Friday night's game will see team captain Brian Dunseth make his Olympic debut. He was sidelined by injury and then saw his place in the defense won by Danny Califf. But Chad McCarty is suspended from the bronze-medal game because of accumulated yellow cards, so Dunseth, from Upland, finally gets his chance.

For the U.S., the challenge is obvious.

"We've got to win," Agoos said. "I don't know exactly how yet. We have to take a look at Chile. Chile's got another impressive team. They've got [Ivan] Zamorano up front and a lot of very good individuals, so we're going to have to play a very good game against them."




2 a.m. PDT Friday

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