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Soccer / DAILY REPORT

Teams Exchange Wagner, Hucles

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

Two players on the United States team for the upcoming Women's World Cup switched clubs Wednesday, with the San Diego Spirit's Aly Wagner being traded to the Boston Breakers in exchange for Angela Hucles and the Breakers' second-round draft pick in 2004.

Wagner, 23, was the No. 1 pick in the 2003 Women's United Soccer Assn. draft, the Spirit having acquired the top choice in a five-player trade with the New York Power specifically to bring the 2002 college player of the year to San Diego.

A probable starter in the Sept. 20-Oct. 12 Women's World Cup, Wagner will join former Santa Clara University teammates Devvyn Hawkins and Heather Aldama with the Breakers.

Hucles, 25, a three-year WUSA veteran, has started 53 of her 57 games in the league and strong performances first earned her a place on the U.S. national team and then on the World Cup roster.

China Prepares

China, which finished second to the U.S. in the 1999 Women's World Cup and which is among the favorites to win this year's tournament, swept two warmup games from Australia, one of its first-round World Cup opponents.

Coach Ma Liangxing's team scored consecutive 2-0 victories over the Matildas in Qingdao, China, where goalkeeper Han Wenxia turned in the most eye-catching performance.

The Chinese, who could again meet the Americans in the Oct. 12 final at the Home Depot Center, have games against South Africa today and Sunday.

Rivaldo's View

Qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany begins in South America this weekend and already the controversies are starting.

On Wednesday, Brazil's Rivaldo sharply criticized FIFA for forcing the defending world champions to endure a 30-month, 18-game qualifying process.

"The criterion is completely wrong," he told reporters at the team's training camp near Rio de Janeiro. "We have to travel here, there and everywhere, and it's a tremendous sacrifice."

Coach Carlos Alberto Parreira told Reuters that Brazil could win a sixth World Cup in Germany.

"Brazil only lose to themselves," he said. "If we play as we did at the last World Cup, it will be very difficult to beat us."

The world champions open on the road against Colombia in Barranquilla on Sunday, then play Ecuador in Manuas, Brazil, on Sept. 10.

Argentina Regroups

Argentina striker Hernan Crespo said the national team has to win back the fans' confidence after the disappointment of last year's first-round elimination at the World Cup.

"People are still hurt by what happened at the World Cup and I understand that," Crespo said in Buenos Aires, "but we need them to believe in the team again in these qualifiers."

Argentina plays the first of its 18 qualifying matches Saturday at home against Chile, which will be without striker Marcelo Salas, who aggravated a thigh strain while playing for River Plate in Argentina last weekend.

Quick Passes

Spanish champion Real Madrid reported that it had made a pretax profit of nearly $10 million in the 2002-03 season and expects to earn pretax profits of more than $60 million this season because of a new television contract and increased marketing revenue.... Ecuador has protested to FIFA that the Saudi Arabian club Al Nassr has withheld forward Otilino Tenorio's passport, therefore preventing him from returning to Ecuador to play in Saturday's World Cup qualifier against Venezuela.... Roberto Perfumo, who played for Argentina in the 1966 World Cup in England and was captain of the team in the 1974 World Cup in Germany, has been selected Argentina's Secretary for Sport by President Nestor Kirchner.... MetroStar forward Jaime Moreno, 29, has been sidelined for the rest of the Major League Soccer season after undergoing surgery on two herniated disks in his back.... Scottish champion Glasgow Rangers have lost veteran Dutch midfielder Ronald de Boer for six weeks after the playmaker had to undergo surgery on his left knee.... Argentine international Juan Pablo Sorin has been loaned by Barcelona to Paris Saint Germain for one season.... Former Australian international Aurelio Vidmar, 36, announced his retirement.

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Times wire services contributed to this report.

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