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WUSA watching World Cup

CyberRays soccer junkie Chastain plans nightly parties

Posted: Saturday June 01, 2002 1:11 PM

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  • By Scott French, Soccer America

    The World Cup kicked off on Friday, and that means late-, late-night viewing for American soccer fans. Games will be played when this part of the globe is sleeping, but one can always tape the games to watch at more reasonable hours.

    That's what San Jose CyberRays coach Ian Sawyers said to Brandi Chastain, the WUSA's No. 1 soccer junkie. Her reply: "No! You have to watch them live!"

    Chastain is serious. She plans to stay up every night, all night, to watch games that will kick off at 11:30 p.m., 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. on the West Coast.

    "Party at my house!" she says when asked her plans. "Two o'clock in the morning, 11:30 at night-I'm going to watch them all." As for sleep, "hopefully, I can take naps in between."

    WUSA coaches are asking their players not to stay up all night, to tape the matches; that's what most plan to do. "I'm definitely going to be taping matches, especially at 5 in the morning," Carolina forward Danielle Fotopoulos said. "Two in the morning, I might be able to hack, especially if [daughter Alexia] has me up."

    Big games, and those involving the U.S. team, might persuade some to stay up late on occasion, but Chastain will likely be the only WUSA player glued to her television every night until dawn.

    "I know she will, because she's crazy," New York forward Tiffeny Milbrett said when told of Chastain's plans. "But, you know, she operates on different energy levels than everyone else, and she'll be OK."

    Sawyers says he's not worried. "She's such a pro," he said. "She'll sleep the rest of the day."

    Atlanta coach Tom Stone doesn't have such concerns about his players. "We don't have a lot of soccer junkies," he reports. How many would recognize Zinedine Zidane's name? "About half," Stone replies.

    More should be able to do so within a week or two. Stone plans to tape the games and show his team a Game of the Day every afternoon on the large-screen TV in the Beat's clubhouse. Players may take tapes home to watch.

    All of the WUSA coaches will use video of World Cup games as teaching tools, and there is plenty players will gain from watching the matches on their own.

    "Definitely there are things to look for," Sawyers said, "in terms of how they protect leads, how they get into positions where the defender has to foul them to get the ball, and getting into a rhythm to play. ... I'm always interested in the nuances of the game. The fundamentals are the fundamentals, and the tactics are the tactics, but how to achieve them is something I'd really like my players to be able to figure out. That's what we're going to allude to."

    Said Stone: "The forwards at [the World Cup] level in the men's game are so precise. They have such a small window of opportunity, and they make the most of it. So few of the world's best women have mastered that. We've seen bits and pieces with Mia [Hamm] and Millie [Tiffeny Milbrett] and Sun Wen and Katia. As a whole, scoring with a half-chance, or when it's not a chance, is something the women's game still needs to strive for."

    Chastain, who is rooting for the U.S. team and then Argentina, said she hopes she's not alone among the late-night viewers. "I would hope the majority of [WUSA] players, if not all of the players, would watch the games, whether live or on tape. I think it's critical for the development of the player. If you're going to get better, you need to watch the highest level."

    The World Cup, being contested in Japan and South Korea, will climax with the championship game in Yokohama on June 30. ABC, ESPN and espn2 will broadcast matches with English commentary; Univision and TeleFutura will offer Spanish commentary.

    Scott French is senior editor at Soccer America magazine.

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