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Internal Strife Has Poland on the Ropes

U.S. NOTES

June 10, 2002|GRAHAME L. JONES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

DAEGU, South Korea — Cracks are appearing in the ranks of the United States' third World Cup opponent, Poland. A 2-0 upset loss to South Korea left the players questioning one another's commitment and Coach Jerzy Engel's instructions.

"If we want to win, we have to change our tactics," midfielder Marek Kozminski said.

The criticism is not limited to those Poles in Korea. Several at home have voiced their displeasure too.

"We got what we deserved," former national team goalkeeper Jan Tomaszewski told the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. "The form we showed was the result of eight months of antitraining.

"If we had played against Korea the way we did in qualifying, I wouldn't mind. Then, we had a team and now we don't because it has taken itself apart."

Shades of the American team at the France '98 World Cup.

The U.S. plays Poland on Thursday at Daejeon, South Korea.

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The most prominent American so far at the World Cup is neither a player nor a coach. He is a referee.

Brian Hall, who got high marks for his handling of the Italy-Ecuador match at Sapporo, Japan, on June 3, has been selected to take charge of the decisive England-Nigeria game at Osaka, Japan, on Wednesday.

England needs at least a tie to secure its place in the final 16 ahead of either Sweden or Argentina, who play each other Wednesday at Miyagi, Japan.

Nigeria has been mathematically eliminated from advancing.

Hall has been a Major League Soccer referee since the league's inception in 1996.

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When the U.S. team arrived at Daegu by charter plane Sunday after a 30-minute flight from Seoul, it was met on the airport runway by several dozen armed police and two tanks on the tarmac. Dozens of police also lined the road that the U.S. team bus followed on its way out of the airport.

The team's intention after the game against South Korea was to fly back to Seoul in time to watch the other game in its group, between Portugal and Poland later this evening.

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Coach Bruce Arena made a few points with the Korean television media by talking his sister-in-law and her husband into allowing their adopted children, Jason, 14, and Emma, 9, to appear on camera at the U.S. team hotel. The children were born in Korea and adopted as infants.

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