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WOMEN'S WORLD CUP

Chastain, Hoch Watch Closely

October 04, 2003|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

PORTLAND, Ore. — Two American world champions have been watching the Women's World Cup from the sideline -- one of them not by choice and the other because she is paid to do so.

Brandi Chastain, who broke a bone in her foot in the opening match against Sweden, has been the cheerleader on crutches ever since, trying to drive the U.S. team into the Oct. 12 final at the Home Depot Center, possibly also against Sweden.

Tisha Venturini Hoch, another of the girls of summer from 1999, when her back-flip celebration after one of her two goals against North Korea was one of the tournament's memorable images, has been working as a television sideline reporter this time around.

Both women were in Beaverton, Ore., on Friday morning watching the U.S. prepare for Sunday's semifinal against Germany.

Chastain, 35, was asked whether, in light of her injury, she would delay retirement until after the next Women's World Cup, in China in 2007.

"I love this World Cup like I love every game I've played," she said. "It's not so much the tournament that makes it special, it's the people.

"A World Cup four years from now will be different. It won't be the same team. It will be special like this team is special, but it will be different. So that, I think, has a bearing on the decision.

"But also in terms of health. I would never have predicted this [injury] could happen. I think you have to take your opportunity as it comes and if you don't walk through that door you'll never know."

In other words, Chastain will make the decision later, not now.

Hoch, 30, the first woman to win an NCAA championship, an Olympic gold medal, a world championship and a Women's United Soccer Assn. (WUSA) championship, has swapped her cleats for a headset and a microphone and is enjoying the experience.

"It's a whole different perspective.... " she said. "I'm lucky that I've been on the other side. You really appreciate it more after it's gone."

As for TV, she acknowledges to being "still very nervous and new with it" but liking the experience.

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