U.S. moves to capitalize on World Cup success
CHICAGO (Ticker) -- MLS and U.S. Soccer are both hoping that the spectacular run through the World Cup by the Americans pays some dividends.
Within a week, one or both organizations will be announcing plans that include a chance of an MLS All-Star Game between league players and the U.S. national team. The U.S. team may not feature European-based players due to those players' club commitments.
The USSF has already taken its players on a whirlwind tour of the talk-show circuit and is looking to shore up its support base.
"Commercially, it puts you on the front page, so to say," U.S. Soccer general secretary Dan Flynn said. "You now have the ability to place a call to a potential sponsor and it (background) has already been framed for you to a certain success. That's very positive. This was success for us at a new level; this was not a friendly or the U.S. Cup."
Flynn said there is an open FIFA date in August and that the USSF is attempting to line up a match with Brazil or Germany. If that doesn't work, he said there were talks between the U.S. and Korean federations during the tournament for a potential friendly with the South Koreans.
MLS also has retained Dan Klores Communications, a New York-based public relations firm, to help promote and capitalize on stars such as DaMarcus Beasley, Brian McBride and Landon Donovan.
However, the impact the team has had on the world at large isn't as great as it might have been. The general feeling is that the U.S. did not mint any new stars.
"I would be lying if I said that anyone had yet made their reputation here," said Kevin McCarra, who covers European soccer for the London Times. "The people who are well regarded are the ones we already knew: Claudio Reyna, Brad Friedel, etc. Maybe that is just a comment on Europe's insularity. Landon Donovan is the cause of some interest, but judgment will probably be reserved until he proves himself (in Europe)."
Although MLS attendance has both held and increased this season, the league will not be able to continue this year's pace of steady growth if new stadiums are not built.
McKinney, Texas is evaluating one plan to host the Dallas Burn. A critical area remains in Chicago, where the Fire are suffering with their ill-considered decision to play at Cardinal Stadium.
One MLS insider said, "People are calling for (general manager) Peter Wilt's head, even if it wasn't his fault.
WORLD CUP NEWS: Antonio Oliveira will be replaced as coach of Portugal's national team after the country's dismal performance in the World Cup. "The federation's decision is that he cannot continue (in the job)," federation chief Gilberto Madail said.
Oliveira was out of the country, but Madail said the federation sent him a fax proposing an amicable agreement to end his contract, which expires in 2004. Portugal, which entered the World Cup ranked fifth in the world, failed to advance past the first round after losses to South Korea and the United States.
The United States' 1-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals was ESPN's most-watched soccer telecast ever, despite a 7:30 a.m. EDT start. The game drew an average of 3.77 million homes, the network said.
The previous high was 2.88 million households for the 1999 Women's World Cup semifinal between the United States and Brazil, which started at 4:30 p.m. EDT on July 4. The previous best for a men's game was 2.71 million homes for a 2-1 upset of Colombia during the 1994 World Cup, a game that started at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
ALBANIA: Giuseppe Dossena has signed a contract with the Albanian Federation to manage their national team. He will earn about $221,000 a season. Dossena will be in charge of managing the Albanian team during the Euro 2004 qualifiers.
CROATIA: The Croatian Football Federation (HNS) has dismissed Mirko Jozic as national team coach following the country's unsuccessful performance at the World Cup. The 62-year-old Jozic was removed as the coach a month before the expiration of his contract on July 31. ... Hajduk Split officials have revealed they have received a $1.6 million offer from Besiktas for goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa. Hajduk is asking $2.1 million for the national team goalkeeper.
ENGLAND: Southampton signed Swedish international defender Michael Svensson for $3.5 million from French club Troyes. The English Premiership side said that the 26-year-old center-back had signed a four-year contract. ... Stuart Murdoch has been appointed manager of English first division side Wimbledon on a permanent basis. The 51-year-old former goalkeeping coach took over from Terry Burton as caretaker manager toward the end of last season and won four of six games while in charge. ... Blackburn Rovers signed 21-year-old German defender Marc Sebastian Pelzer on a two-year deal from FC Kaiserslautern. ... Japanese midfielder Junichi Inamoto has decided to return to London, where he played in the past with Arsenal, to play with Fulham. ... Leed United chairman Peter Ridsdale rejected claims he had sacked manager David O'Leary because of his resistance to selling star defender Rio Ferdinand. Ridsdale insisted Ferdinand was not for sale, and certainly not to a Premiership club as there is a clause in his contract blocking a transfer to an opponent. Ridsdale said O'Leary had been sacked because of a lack of success on the pitch after outlaying $135.8 million on players and added he had no firm idea who would replace him as he had received several calls from interested parties which had widened the field. Korean coach Guus Hiddink is said to be on the short list, along with Terry Venables.
FRANCE: Chilean Hctor Tapia has signed a four-year contract with Lille.
ITALY: AC Milan announced on its official web site that Croatian defender Dario Simic will play in a red and black jersey next season. He has signed a three-year contract through June 30, 2005. This transfer is only half of the current operation that would also allow Umit Davala to join FC Internazionale. It is already known that the player will go on loan to Turkish side Galatasaray. ... English midfielder Paul Ince could join Brescia to replace Josep Guardiola, who has left for AS Roma. According to rumors arriving from England, Ince has ended his contract with Middlesbough and has frequently admitted his desire to return to Italy. ... Juventus midfielder Gianluca Zambrotta has a left thigh muscle injury that will sideline him for almost three months. He suffered the injury during Italy's World Cup match with South Korea.
JAMAICA: Jamaican international Theodore Whitmore must stand trial for manslaughter in the death of teammate Steven "Shorty" Malcolm in a car wreck, a jury ruled Thursday. Malcolm was killed in January 2001 in a crash in Trelawny in western Jamaica. Whitmore was freed on bail but must appear in court.
MEXICO: Javier Aquirre, who guided Mexico into the second round of the World Cup, has been appointed manager of Spanish first division side Osasuna. At a news conference Thursday, Aquirre revealed that he had turned down an offer to stay on as manager of Mexico in order to join Osasuna. "I've always had a lot of affection for this city and its people," said the 52-year-old Aquirre, a player here for a spell in the 1980s. "Fate has led me back here 16 years after I left, I've now got the chance to come back to this club and draw a line under what was a delicate period of my career."
UEFA: European football's governing body confirmed the ban on Israel hosting any football matches would stay in place until there is a dramatic reduction in the violence in the Middle East. UEFA general secretary Gerhard Aigner announced the decision after meeting with Gabriel Levi, the president of the Israeli Football Federation. The ban has been in place since March 6, when the UEFA Cup quarterfinal between Hapoel Tel Aviv and AC Milan was played on neutral territory.
UNITED STATES: Argentine club River Plate and Santos of Brazil will face Glasgow Rangers as part of July doubleheaders at Giants Stadium. Rangers, 49-time Scottish Premier League champions, will take on Argentine champions River Plate on July 13 following the 4:00 p.m. EDT match between the MetroStars and Chicago Fire. Santos will meet Rangers on July 20, kicking off after the MetroStars' 4:00 p.m. EDT match against the New England Revolution.
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