- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2001

The United States national team has run out of time and run out of excuses. One more loss and the Americans likely will be sitting at home instead of playing at the 2002 World Cup in Asia.
Forget about all the variables with two games left. The U.S. team (4-3-1, 13 points) controls its own destiny and must beat Jamaica at Foxboro (Mass.) Stadium tomorrow to prove it deserves a place at soccer's biggest party.
The Americans got off to a blazing start in the final round of qualifying, going 4-0-1 before consecutive losses against Mexico, Honduras and Costa Rica. They have now slipped to fourth, behind Mexico, in the CONCACAF group, which sends three teams to the World Cup in Japan and South Korea. Costa Rica has already claimed one of those berths.
With games against Jamaica (2-4-2) and already eliminated Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S. team (13 points) has the easiest schedule over its rivals Mexico (13 points.) and Honduras (14), going into the final stretch.
On paper, the Americans have everything going for them:
Talented midfielders Claudio Reyna and John O'Brien are both back in the lineup. Team captain Reyna has the ability to possess the ball and act as a stabilizing figure in the midfield, while O'Brien is a talented and smart passer.
c America forward Ante Rasov is back on the roster, giving coach Bruce Arena another option on the front line.
c Speedy forward Landon Donovan a rising star in Major League Soccer seems to be peaking at the right moment. Can he now translate that success to the national team?
c The U.S. team will be backed by a large patriotic home crowd of 40,000-plus, unlike the pro-Honduran crowd at its last home game at RFK Stadium.
c The U.S. has a 6-0-3 record at Foxboro.
c Jamaica is still mathematically alive but needs a miracle to advance. An early U.S. goal could kill all incentive for the Reggae Boyz.
c The Jamaican team had an upheaval recently when a player rebellion led to a coaching change.
c Jamaica will be missing two key starters. Both defender Frank Sinclair and midfielder Darryl Powell were injured while playing in England.
The Americans could also do with a little help from Costa Rica, which takes on Mexico at home tomorrow. If Costa Rica defeats Mexico and the U.S. team wins, it would put the Americans in a very strong position going into the last game at Trinidad and Tobago next month.
But the World Cup-bound Costa Ricans must face Mexico without star forward Paulo Wanchope, who is injured.
MLS notes Major League Soccer has closed down for 10 days to cooperate with the U.S. national team, allowing Arena to call up 13 players from MLS for the Jamaica game.
The MLS playoffs semifinals begin Wednesday when top-seeded Miami plays host to San Jose (No. 5), and Chicago (No. 2) welcomes the Los Angeles Galaxy (No. 3). The championship game will be at Columbus, Ohio, on Oct. 21.
D.C. United midfielder Marco Etcheverry, had surgery to repair a ligament on his left big toe yesterday. Etcheverry is expected to be out of action three to four months.
World Cup notes Veteran striker Teddy Sheringham, 35, has been called into the England squad for today's World Cup qualifier against Greece as a replacement for the injured Michael Owen. Owen scored a hat trick in England's last game, a 5-1 victory at Germany.
England captain David Beckham will wear a Stars and Stripes armband in the game as a gesture of respect to those involved in the recent the terrorist attacks.
If England beats Greece it will automatically qualify for the World Cup, while Germany will be resigned to a two-game playoff against Ukraine or Belarus next month.
Other teams are on the verge of qualifying today. Italy can qualify with a win at home over Hungary. Belgium needs at least a tie at Croatia to advance, while Croatia needs a win. Denmark needs only a tie at home against Iceland to advance. The Czech Republic and Bulgaria are battling for at least a playoff spot. Russia can qualify with a win over visiting Switzerland. Portugal qualifies with a win at home over Estonia, while Ireland is sure of a playoff spot.
In Asia, China can reach its first World Cup with a win over Oman tomorrow.
Sad note Trinidad and Tobago national team player Mickey Trotman, along with his brother and two friends, was killed in a car accident this week in his hometown of Pinto.
Trotman, a 26-year-old striker with the A-League's Rochester Rhinos was back home preparing for Trinidad and Tobago's World Cup qualifier at Honduras tomorrow. He also played two seasons in Major League Soccer with the Dallas Burn and Miami Fusion.

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