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U.S. NOTES

Arena Expecting Stern Test From South Korea

June 09, 2002|Grahame L. Jones

DAEGU, South Korea — U.S. Coach Bruce Arena believes South Korea will present a different set of challenges Monday than Portugal did in the Americans' first game.

"Korea is a team that has tremendous organization, great athleticism and fitness over 90 minutes and will test us in every part of the field," he said Saturday. "Additionally, they've developed their attacking play quite well over the last four weeks or so. They're very dangerous on the break and excellent on restarts."

Forward Brian McBride, whose goal in the 3-2 victory over Portugal made him the only U.S. player in history to score in two World Cups, said that the heat here--game-time temperatures are expected to be in the mid-80s--and the overwhelmingly pro-Korean crowd of 62,000 will not be factors.

"[When we] play in Mexico City in Azteca Stadium in front of 110,000 fans blowing horns, it feels like we're being swarmed by bumblebees," he said. "Although it's an incredible atmosphere, it's just a soccer game. So you have to concentrate on playing soccer and tune everything else out."

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The possibility of anti-American demonstrations surrounding the game or of crowd trouble should South Korea be beaten by the U.S. was dismissed by Arena.

"My impression is that we're allies with the South Koreans," he said. "I've been up to the DMZ and watched our soldiers work shoulder to shoulder [with Korean troops] in a very friendly and professional manner.

"I don't know where it [the rumor of potential trouble] is coming from. Somebody alluded to the fact that it had to do with the Winter Olympics [and the controversy over the gold medal in short-track speedskating], but we're not aware of any political issues. We consider the South Koreans our friends."

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Injured midfielders Claudio Reyna and Earnie Stewart remain questionable starters for Monday's game and the decision on whether either will play will not be made until then.

"It's day to day," Arena said. "We'll see how they improve. I'm very pleased the way Earnie is moving along.

"If he's not ready for the game on Monday, I believe he will be ready for the last game [against Poland on Friday]. Claudio is moving along equally well and we're hopeful he'll be ready to play on Monday."

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