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SYDNEY 2000 / SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES | SOCCER

Charles Stepping Down at the National Level

September 29, 2000|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Clive Charles, the coach who led the U.S. men's soccer team to its greatest Olympic success, will retire from coaching at the national team level immediately after today's bronze-medal game against Chile.

"When this is all over, I'm finished," Charles said, a comment that led to an interesting exchange.

"I want to spend more time with that woman over there."

"Do you know her?"

"That's my wife."

Seriously though, Charles, who turns 49 on Wednesday, said his future will be at the college level, where he has developed such Olympic players as Conor Casey from the U.S. men's team and Tiffeny Milbrett, Shannon MacMillan and Michelle French from the U.S. women's team.

"After this game I'm stepping down and concentrating on the University of Portland and just enjoying my life," he said.

"I'm done, finished.

"It's been great. I've had a great time. I was with the Under-20 women, and that was great. I was with the [1998] World Cup team, and that was great. I was with the Olympic team, and that was great.

"It's time for somebody else now. Let somebody else come in and have a go. I've done my time. It's been a great experience for me. I've been proud to do it, and hopefully I've contributed in some manner.

"These jobs are not for life."

The U.S. Soccer Federation could appoint Wolfgang Suhnholz, former Los Angeles Aztec and currently Under-20 men's national team coach, to the position in time for the Athens Games in 2004, or it could turn to John Ellinger, an assistant under Charles on this Olympic team and the man who led the U.S. Under-17 national team to fourth place in the Under-17 World Championship in New Zealand last year.

Charles took over the Under-23 team in 1998 and, going into his final game, against Chile, compiled a 20-10-12 record.

*

LATE RESULT: The bronze-medal men's soccer match between the United States and Chile started at 2 this morning. Results can be found at http://www.latimes.com/olympics or in Saturday's Times.

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