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U.S. being criticized for not sending its top-flight players

July 05, 2007|From the Associated Press

MARACAIBO, VENEZUELA — An official with CONMEBOL, South American soccer's governing body, was not pleased that the United States sent a second-choice team to the Copa America, while leaving many of its best players -- such as Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley -- off the roster, one of the organization's top officials said Wednesday.

The U.S. team arrived in Venezuela for the Copa America on June 26 with only seven players from the roster that won the CONCACAF Gold Cup over Mexico two days earlier.

Using a squad in which 16 players had 10 caps or fewer -- including three who had never played internationally, the United States lost its first two matches against Argentina and Paraguay by a combined score of 7-2.

"We like for the continent's most important competition to be respected with the best players," CONMEBOL General Secretary Eduardo Deluca told the Associated Press.

He said the Americans "opted to send a team with some players who aren't their regulars. That doesn't please us."

Deluca said the organization hopes for continued U.S. participation in the tournament.

Like the United States, Brazil also was short some of its best players, including Ronaldinho and Kaka, who asked to be rested.

Six members of the U.S. Gold Cup team were sent back to their clubs in Major League Soccer, while another, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley's son Michael, was sent with the American youth team to the Under-20 World Cup.

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