- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 21, 2001

After struggling with injuries for the last three seasons, former United States team striker Eric Wynalda seems to have revived his career in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire.

The U.S. team's all-time leading goal scorer with 34 has helped the Fire secure the lead in the Central Division while boosting his chances of a possible return to the national team.

Wynalda, 32, is currently second on the Fire's scoring chart with six goals and three assists behind Dema Kovalenko (six goals, five assists).

"We were able to provide a change of scenery that was good for him, and he has responded really well," Fire coach Bob Bradley said.

Wynalda spent three seasons with San Jose before moving to Miami in 1999. He left Miami for the New England Revolution last August and was traded to the Fire just three games into this season.

"To be honest, if it wasn't for Bob Bradley, I don't think I'd be playing soccer right now," Wynalda said. "Bob called me at home and asked me, 'If we create a good environment for you in Chicago, would you come play?' After I said yes, he told me he had just traded for me."

With six goals this season for the Fire, Wynalda has tied his second-best season in San Jose in 1998. He notched 10 goals in the league's inaugural season of 1996 after scoring the league's first goal in the opening game as the Earthquakes downed D.C. United 1-0.

With injuries to two of his top forwards, U.S. coach Bruce Arena may be forced to take a second look at one of America's greatest players.

"Eric has done well, no question about it," Arena told the Chicago Tribune. "He is getting back into the rhythm of being a real soccer player."

Wynalda played four games for the U.S. team last year, recording a goal and two assists. The Fire acquired the veteran forward in May in a trade for John Wolyniec and a 2002 conditional draft pick.

Ivanisevic's dream Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic hopes to be hitting the ball into the net soon as he pursues his lifetime ambition of being a professional soccer player.

The tennis star has been invited to train with his hometown club, Hajduk Split. The Croatian club has offered the 29-year-old a contract, and Ivanisevic is claiming that he will make his debut for the club in today's Champions League qualifier against Hungarian side Ferencvaros.

"I had two dreams in my life," Ivanisevic told the BBC. "One was to win Wimbledon. The other was to play for Hajduk Split. Just three minutes would satisfy me."

It's unlikely that the tennis pro will play in today's crucial game, but Hajduk coach Nenad Gracan has promised to put him on the team in a game against local rival Dinamo Zagrab in the upcoming season.

"His ability is close to professional level," Gracan said.

In 1997, Ivanisevic said he would rather play for Hajduk than for Croatia in the Davis Cup.

World Cup 2002 Tunisia became the third African nation to qualify for the World Cup, beating Congo 3-0 on Sunday to join Cameroon and South Africa in the 32-nation field. Six berths have been filled for the event in Japan and South Korea, with the three African qualifiers joining defending champion France and the co-hosts, who have automatic berths.

Liberia (5-3), captained by 1995 FIFA player of the year George Weah, has completed its games and leads Group B with 15 points, two ahead of Nigeria (4-2-1), which can win the group with a victory at home against Ghana on July 29.

Three nations are still alive in Group C. Morocco (4-1-3), which has completed play, has 15 points, three ahead of Egypt and Senegal (both 3-1-3).

In the final games today, Egypt is at Algeria and Senegal is at Namibia. Goal difference is the first tiebreaker, and Egypt is plus-nine to plus-seven for Senegal and plus-five for Morocco. Egypt played in two previous finals in 1934 and 1990.

Women's World Cup Despite being defending champion, the U.S. women's team will have to qualify for the 2003 World Cup in China. The regional CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2002 will serve as the qualifying round with two teams advancing from the region. The Americans won the World Cup in 1999 on home soil.

In the men's game, the defending champion is guaranteed an automatic berth to the World Cup.

World roundup Former Howard University goalie Shaka Hislop appears certain to leave English Premier League club West Ham United now that his first-team berth has been threatened by the arrival of David James from Aston Villa… .

Brazilian star Ronaldo is set to make his long-awaited comeback for Inter Milan in a preseason friendly against Watford on July 31 in Lecce, Italy. The two-time FIFA player of the year resumed training with his club last week. Ronaldo's last comeback from a knee injury lasted just six minutes, when he re-injured it in April last year… . With its 2-0 win over Peru last week in the Copa America, Brazil ended an unusual four-game losing streak and a six-game span without a win… . English First Division club Crystal Palace reportedly is talking with Walt Disney World in a deal to become the company's official soccer team. American defender Greg Berhalter plays for Palace.

Rocket Roy Former D.C. United striker Roy Lassiter, who had been sidelined by injury this season, came off the bench to score two goals in the Kansas City Wizards' victory over the Dallas Burn last week. Lassiter is the league's all-time leading goal scorer with 85, three ahead of Colorado's Raul Diaz Arce.

Quote of the week "[The New York Power] have the best player in the world right now… . Tiffeny is scoring goals from so many different angles. She is frightening to watch." Mia Hamm on Tiffeny Milbrett, the Women's United Soccer Association's leading goal scorer.

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