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U.S., others enter final phase of World Cup tune-ups

American team will play host to the Czech Republic on Tuesday and to Turkey on Saturday before leaving for South Africa on Sunday.

May 24, 2010|By Grahame L. Jones

World Cup news was being made all over the globe Monday except in East Hartford, Conn., where the U.S. was quietly preparing to play the Czech Republic on Tuesday night.

The U.S. team will leave Sunday for the World Cup tournament in South Africa after Tuesday's warm-up game against the Czechs and another Saturday afternoon against Turkey in Philadelphia.

Sometime before Sunday, and probably between the two games, U.S. Coach Bob Bradley will name his final roster of 23. The announcement could come as early as Wednesday.

"It's really important now to get to 23," Bradley told reporters attending training camp. "It's important for the group that's going to know they're going. The nerves that you sense at times — once the decisions are made, a little of that goes away."

Meanwhile in London, David Beckham, just back from a jaunt to visit British troops in Afghanistan and showing little evidence that his torn Achilles' tendon is bothering him much, watched England defeat Mexico, 3-1, in an unconvincing display by both teams.

In Tignes, France, William Gallas managed to overturn his go-cart while racing teammates but escaped with only scratches on his hand. Later in the day, he was included in French Coach Raymond Domenech's final roster of 23.

And in Melbourne, Australia, Coach Pim Verbeek ripped into two of his players for crude and potentially dangerous tackles they had made in a 2-1 victory over New Zealand in front of 55,000 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"In think in the World Cup that's probably two red cards," an angry Verbeek said.

Meanwhile, Germany lost its second player to injury when midfielder Christian Traesch twisted his right ankle in a training match. Traesch, 22, was one of those under consideration to replace team captain Michael Ballack, who was ruled out of the month-long Cup tournament last week because of an ankle injury.

In Saitamo, Japan, Coach Takeshi Okada volunteered to resign after the Blue Samurai were trounced, 2-0, by rival South Korea. His offer was rejected but Japan's players were lambasted by their boss.

"I only saw brief glimpses of desire not to be beaten," said Motoaki Inukai, president of the Japanese soccer federation. "It's a real disappointment. That sort of performance won't get anyone excited about the World Cup."

And in Covilha, Portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo, the world's most expensive player, played for 90 minutes without achieving anything as Portugal was held to a 0-0 tie by the Cape Verde Islands, a team listed 114 places below third-ranked Portugal in the global rankings.

In Johannesburg, where the 32-nation World Cup will begin June 11, Carlos Alberto Parreira, South Africa's Brazilian coach, pronounced himself satisfied after his team had tied Bulgaria, 1-1.

Vicente del Bosque, the coach of European champion and World Cup favorite Spain, told his players at their training site just outside Madrid that they were forbidden to use social network sites such as Twitter and Facebook during the tournament. Del Bosque wants no distractions.

In Buenos Aires, Lionel Messi watched from the bench as Argentina routed Canada, 5-0, in the South Americans' final tune-up before the World Cup.

"The fans can relax, we have good players," said Coach Diego Maradona, who intentionally rested Messi.

grahame.jones@latimes.com

Jones reported from Los Angeles

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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