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This week in soccer

Corner Kicks

Five things happening around the world:

June 18, 2008|Grahame L. Jones | Times Staff Writer

1 After having played three of the top-ranked teams in the world and given up a total of only three goals to England, Spain and Argentina, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley was able to enjoy Sunday's 8-0 rout of Barbados in Carson as the American team set out on the long road to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"It was good to get the whole thing under way," Bradley said.

But the coach dodged the question of whether it really is necessary for the U.S. to play 18 qualifying games over the next 16 months when the end result is a foregone conclusion that they will be in South Africa.

"I'm not ready to tackle that one," Bradley said.

The U.S. team is training in Miami this week prior to leaving on Friday for Bridgetown, Barbados, and the second leg of the series on Sunday. With an eight-goal advantage, Bradley has released a handful of players, including the Galaxy's Landon Donovan, back to their club teams and will use a new-look lineup.

2 Even though the U.S. swamped Barbados and likely will do so again, there was no really dominating performance by any American player.

Guatemala, on the other hand, had one player stand head and shoulders above the rest when it beat St. Lucia, 6-0, in Guatemala City in a World Cup qualifier on Saturday.

Galaxy forward Carlos "El Pescadito" Ruiz scored in the 36th, 40th, 58th and 90th minutes and will be looking to add to his growing tally of national team goals when the teams meet again Saturday night at the Coliseum.

St. Lucia agreed to play its "home" game in Los Angeles because it lacks a stadium that meets FIFA standards.

3 Because Belize was in the same sort of fix as St. Lucia, it was willing to play Mexico in Houston, hoping for a big payday if Mexican fans turned out in large numbers.

They did. Attendance was 50,137, which should guarantee the Belize soccer federation a tidy sum.

4 Although it seems as if the English Premier League season has only just ended -- it did so on May 11 -- on Monday the schedule for the 2007-2008 season was released.

Champion Manchester United will begin defense of its title on Aug. 16 at home to Newcastle United; runner-up Chelsea, under new Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, starts out at home against F.A. Cup winner Portsmouth; third-place Arsenal also begins at home against West Bromwich Albion, and fourth-place Liverpool launches its campaign on the road at Sunderland.

Look for one of the big four to be English champion again. Combined, they have won 25 of the last 30 titles.

5 Brazil is going through its usual stumbling run toward the next World Cup. That it will qualify is not in doubt. That it will make heavy going of it is also a given.

On Sunday, the Brazilians were beaten, 2-0, in Asuncion, Paraguay, by the host nation, which heads the South American qualifying group for South Africa 2010.

Today, the Brazilians are at home in Belo Horizonte against their old rival, Argentina, and Coach Dunga has promised that his team will "certainly play a lot better."

That would make a change after back-to-back shutout losses -- first in a friendly to Venezuela and then to Paraguay. But Dunga is not planning on changing his lineup.

"Sometimes, a change in attitude is better than a change of player," he said. "We're not going to change our entire way of working because of one game."

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grahame.jones@latimes.com

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