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U.S. and Brazil Meet in Gold Cup

July 23, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

The last time Kasey Keller lined up against Brazil was also the last -- and indeed only -- time that the United States has defeated the South Americans.

That was at the Coliseum in February 1998 in the semifinals of CONCACAF Gold Cup. Keller's world-class performance drew fulsome praise from Romario after the now 33-year-old goalkeeper had shut out the Brazilians and the U.S. had won, 1-0, on a goal by Preki.

Tonight, Keller again will be in the nets as the U.S. and Brazil square off in the semifinals of the 2003 Gold Cup at the Orange Bowl in Miami. The Americans enter the match having shut out their previous five opponents, including El Salvador, Martinique and Cuba in this tournament, and have not been scored upon for the last 518 minutes.

Keller has a couple of streaks of his own. He is unbeaten in his last 22 matches in the U.S. (18-0-4) and has not given up a goal for 469 consecutive minutes.

Still, with the U.S. having defeated Brazil only once in 11 matches over 68 years, Keller knows the task ahead of him tonight.

"It's a more difficult opponent than we've played in the last three games," he said, "but the fear of playing Brazil isn't what it used to be for us. You still have to respect them tremendously, but we know we can compete now."

The second semifinal pits Mexico against Costa Rica on Thursday at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City, which is also the site of Sunday's championship final.


Reyna of the Rovers?

With Blackburn Rovers having earned $17 million Monday from the sale of Irish international Damien Duff, Coach Graeme Souness has made U.S. captain Claudio Reyna one of his targets as he tries to plug the gap left by Duff's departure for Chelsea.

Souness has watched Reyna play in the Gold Cup and is said to be considering an offer in excess of $2 million to Sunderland, which paid Rangers $6 million for Reyna two years ago.

"My main focus is helping the USA in the Gold Cup and then on returning to Sunderland," Reyna said. "But if anything else develops, then we'll just have to wait and see what happens."

Rovers already feature U.S. and former UCLA standout Brad Friedel, the English Premier League's top goalkeeper last season.


Hiddink, PSV Prevail

Guus Hiddink, who coached South Korea to the World Cup semifinals a year ago, Tuesday finally won a trophy in Seoul when Dutch champion PSV Eindhoven defeated French champion Lyon, 1-0, in the final of the Peace Cup.

A 23rd-minute penalty kick by Mark Van Bommel produced the game's only goal on a rain-drenched night, but was enough to earn PSV the $2-million winner's prize.

"In the first half it was a football match," Hiddink said of the conditions. "In the second half it was almost a water ballet, or water polo."

Lyon, which earned $500,000 as runner-up, lost French international Sydney Govou to injury, but what was feared to be a broken right ankle turned out to be a severe sprain.


Quick Passes

Real Madrid canceled its planned Aug. 10 match against Malaysia's national team in Kuala Lumpur when local organizers failed to come up with the $2.9 million David Beckham's new team charges as an appearance fee.... German champion Bayern Munich was ousted, 4-1 on penalty kicks, by Hamburg after the teams played to a 3-3 tie in the semifinals of the German League Cup. Hamburg will play Borussia Dortmund in Monday's final.... The Canadian Soccer Assn. announced plans to build an $82-million, 30,000-seat stadium in Toronto.... Former German international Andreas Moeller, 35, announced his retirement after an 18-year career in which he helped Germany win the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 European Championship and scored 30 goals in 85 games for his country.... In a game between teams heading for the fourth FIFA Women's World Cup, Japan defeated South Korea, 5-0, in Sendai, Japan.... Gregorio Manzano, 47, who coached Real Mallorca to victory in the 2003 Spanish Cup, was named coach of Atletico Madrid.

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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