Olympic soccer has local flavor Columbia's Peay makes U.S. men's team

June 20, 1996|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,SUN STAFF

A product of Columbia's youth program and a veteran who's already passing on her expertise at the U.S. Naval Academy made a monumental soccer cut yesterday, and three others with links to the area find themselves tantalizingly close to entrance to the Olympic village.

Clint Peay, a defender who played his prep ball at Oakland Mills High, was one of the 18 men named to the U.S. Olympic team, which will be an underdog when the Games commence next month. Carin Gabarra, the Navy coach, will be among the 16 players looking to add luster to the lofty reputation of the American women.

Hamisi Amani-Dove, who while at Wilde Lake High was a rival of Peay's, is one of the four men's alternates. The women's alternates include defender Thori Staples, a graduate of Joppatowne High and some Columbia clubs, and midfielder Amanda Cromwell, the new coach at UMBC.

Men's coach Bruce Arena, who built a collegiate dynasty at Virginia, leaned heavily on his background, as one-third of the men's team played for him as Cavaliers. Peay and forward A. J. Wood, another Olympian, won four straight NCAA titles with Arena from 1991 to 1994.

"Let's be honest," Arena said. "Under-23s [the age limit for men's Olympic soccer] are collegiate soccer players moving forward. The reason Virginia won so many championships over the years is that they've had better players. Their university affiliation had no bearing on their being selected."

Arena left Virginia after last season to coach D.C. United in the first year of Major League Soccer. One of his defenders there is Peay.

"As we ended April, we weren't certain what Clint's [Olympic] status was going to be," Arena said. "The experience he's gained in MLS has really been helpful. It's been a big plus for him getting into form."

Amani-Dove, who collected 42 goals and 24 assists for Rutgers over the last four seasons, contended for a spot on the team after returning to the United States in May from a tryout with a First Division club in the Netherlands.

"To Amani's credit, he came into training camp late, as an underdog, and still played extremely well," Arena said. "He was a surprise from Day 1. He's a great attacker, and he's ready to play in case someone goes down with an injury."

The United States will play Portugal on July 24 in one of the nine Olympic soccer games being held July 20-25 at RFK Stadium. Argentina and Tunisia are the other teams in their pool, and advancement may hinge on that game at RFK. The men play exhibitions against South Africa Saturday and Monday in Richmond, and against Mexico on June 26.

Gabarra, 31, has been the women's coach at Navy since August 1993. A forward who began this year as the third-leading goal-scorer in U.S. women's history, she was recognized as the outstanding player at the first women's world championships in China in 1991.

The United States' third-place team at the second women's world championships last year included Staples, an N.C. State grad. Her Olympic aspirations were hindered by two factors: there is no age limit for women, and the 16-player limit, a demand of the parties who agreed to add the sport to the Olympics.

"Versatility with a 16-player roster is critical," women's coach Tony DiCicco said. "Thori is a World Cup veteran, and what it came down to was making a very, very difficult decision."

Cromwell, a former midfield star at Virginia, was named the women's coach at UMBC last winter, shortly before a knee injury left her career in doubt.

"She has rewritten the book on torn ACLs [anterior cruciate ligaments]," DiCicco said. "Amanda suffered a torn ACL Feb. 13 against Denmark. It's incredible how quickly she's come back."

Former Loyola College goalie Zach Thornton had been in the pool of Olympic prospects, but his chances gradually diminished. Arena used one of his three overage exemptions on a goalie, Kasey Keller. The other overage players are defender Alexi Lalas and midfielder Claudio Reyna, who were on the World Cup team in 1994.

Men's roster

Imad Baba, Humble, Texas; Frankie Hejduk, Cardiff, Calif.; Miles Joseph, Clifton Park, N.Y.; Jovan Kirovski, Escondido, Calif.; Kasey Keller, Lacey, Wash.; Alexi Lalas, Detroit; Brian Maisonneuve, Warren, Mich.; Matt McKeon, St. Louis; Clint Peay, Columbia; Brandon Pollard, Richmond, Va.; Eddie Pope, High Point, N.C.; Claudio Reyna, Springfield, N.J.; Damian Silvera; Huntington, N.Y.; Rob Smith, Wilmington, Del.; Chris Snitko, Anaheim, Calif.; Nelson Vargas, Miami, Billy Walsh, Chatham, N.J.; A.J. Wood, Rockville.

Alternates: Hamisi Amani-Dove, Columbia; Jeff Cassar, Livonia, Mich.; Mike Fisher, Doylestown, Pa.; Joe-Max Moore, Irvine, Calif.

Women's roster

Michelle Akers, Oviedo, Fla., Brandi Chastain, San Jose, Calif.; Joy Fawcett, Huntington Beach, Fla.; Julie Foudy, Mission Viejo, Calif.; Carin Gabarra, Annapolis; Mia Hamm, Chapel Hill, N.C.; Mary Harvey, Los Altos Hills, Calif.; Kristine Lilly, Wilton, Conn.; Shannon MacMillan Escondido, Calif.; Tiffeny Milbrett, Portland, Ore.; Carla Overbeck, Dallas; Cindy Parlow, Memphis, Tenn.; Tiffany Roberts, San Ramon, Calif.; Briana Scurry, Dayton, Minn.; Tisha Venturini, Modesto, Calif; Staci Wilson, Herndon, Va.

Alternates: Complete list will be announced at a later date.

Pub Date: 6/20/96

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