- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

Noble: The U.S. men's soccer team, for an incredible World Cup victory that rocked the world.
U.S. soccer hasn't been this much fun since Brandi Chastain ripped a left-footed penalty kick to win the Women's World Cup in 1999.
This time, it was the men showing off their stuff in a totally unexpected 3-2 victory over heavily favored Portugal. On paper, the U.S. team didn't have a chance. Portugal was the fifth-ranked team in the world, had scored more goals than any other European team in World Cup qualifying matches and had Player-of-the-Year Luis Figo as a starter. Meanwhile, the U.S. team had three starters, including the captain and the team's most dependable scorer, sidelined with injuries. Even worse, in the 72-year history of the World Cup, U.S. teams had managed only two victories (1950 and 1994) and in the last tournament, the U.S. team had scored only one goal en route to finishing last.
As if anxious to make up for lost time, midfielder John O'Brien knocked in a deflected corner kick a mere four minutes into the game. Twenty-five minutes later, an innocent-looking pass by forward Landon Donovan bounced off a Portuguese defender and into the net past off-balance goalkeeper Vitor Baia. Punctuating perhaps the most amazing half of U.S. men's World Cup history, Tony Sanneh sent a perfect cross to Brian McBride, who headed it into the net.
Portugal managed to score before the half ended, and had the U.S. team on the ropes through the entire second half. Yet the U.S. team held on to win perhaps the biggest game in its history with a mixture of grit, hustle and sheer cussedness.
The U.S. team will probably need at least a tie against South Korea on Monday to ensure its advance. Those sufficiently juiced on U.S. soccer won't mind staying up for the game's 2:25 a.m. start.
Knave:
Former All-star Ken Caminiti and the rest of baseball's steroid abusers.
It really doesn't matter if it's 85 percent or 50 percent or 25 percent. The bottom line is that there are far, far too many juiced major leaguers. In an interview with Sports Illustrated, Mr. Caminiti admitted to using steroids throughout his 1996 National League MVP season, and said that half of the league's players were doing so as well. While he later backed off from his estimate, another retired All-star, Jose Canseco, estimated that 85 percent of major leaguers are steroid users.
It's easy to understand the temptation. After all, the potential payoffs in muscle mass and money are huge. But steroid abuse must be targetted. Currently, the major teams neither ban nor test for steroids, and minor leaguers who test positive aren't penalized.
It's time for a change.



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