Wednesday’s Sports In Brief

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SOCCER

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) - Brazil’s day has finally arrived.

The sun rises Thursday on a tropical nation hosting its first World Cup in 64 years. Nearly half the world’s population, well over 3 billion spectators, is expected to watch soccer’s premier event and get a glimpse of the country that in two years will host the Summer Olympics.

Soccer will take the spotlight when play begins with Brazil and Croatia meeting in Sao Paulo on Thursday. Brazilians are hungry to see their soccer juggernaut deliver a record sixth World Cup crown to a nation desiring something - anything - to celebrate after enduring a year of grueling protests and strikes.

SAO PAULO (AP) - A subway strike in Sao Paulo that threatened to disrupt the opening of the World Cup was averted Wednesday night even as airport workers in Rio de Janeiro declared a 24-hour work stoppage in the main destination for soccer fans traveling to Brazil.

Some 1,500 subway workers in Sao Paulo voted against going back on strike in a pay dispute. They had suspended the walkout Monday amid a popular backlash and government pressure to end the transportation chaos in Brazil’s biggest city.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - ESPN hired Landon Donovan to offer commentary on the U.S. soccer team he was cut from just before the World Cup.

The 32-year-old Donovan, the American career leader in goals and assists, was dropped last month in a highly debated move by coach Jurgen Klinsmann. Donovan made his debut during ESPN’s two-hour World Cup preview show.

SAO PAULO (AP) - Jurgen Klinsmann maintains the United States shouldn’t be expected to win the World Cup, even if that stance is upsetting to some fans back home.

Klinsmann won the 1990 World Cup as a player for West Germany and coached Germany to the 2006 semifinals. He caused a stir last weekend when he was quoted by The New York Times Magazine as saying in a December interview “we cannot win this World Cup, because we are not at that level yet.”

The U.S. opens Monday against Ghana, then plays Portugal and Germany in one of the more difficult first-round groups.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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