D.C. United set to defend Open Cup championship Teams from Philadelphia, Hershey also competing

June 20, 1997|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

Play is starting this week in America's oldest soccer tournament, the 84th annual U.S. Open Cup, which, in theory, any team, professional or amateur, can win.

Baltimore isn't represented, because no amateur club or the third-division Baltimore Bays qualified. The Bays were 1-3 in D3 Pro League qualifiers.

But pros in this part of country, who have done well in recent years in the 32-team tournament, are very much alive again. D3's Philadelphia Freedom won a first-round berth, and in second-round play that begins early next month, the second-division A-League's Hershey Wildcats and Richmond Kickers -- both D.C. United affiliates -- enter, too. The Kickers, then a third-division squad, won the 1995 Open.

Plus, D.C. United itself is defending the Open crown it won last fall after also winning the Major League Soccer Cup. United topped the A-League's Rochester Rhinos, 3-0, for the title.

Because of their first-division status, United and seven other MLS entrants have byes until the third round, the week of July 23-31. The tournament's $100,000 title will be decided Sept. 1 or 7, depending on whether the opponents turn out to be all-MLS or some other combination.

ZTC

The rest of the stories

You probably saw that Brian West (Centennial, Virginia) scored the winning goal for the U.S. Under-20 national team against China on Tuesday in the opening of FIFA World Youth Championship play in Malaysia.

But there was more: West had no sooner arrived for the 16-team tournament than he was hospitalized two days with intestinal problems. Released 48 hours before the game and still weak, he entered play as an 83rd-minute substitute and scored in injury time.

"I was spent," he said after playing just seven or so minutes in the 1-0 game, which because of the humidity and 87-degree heat no doubt felt like a midsummer match back home.

Even more: In March, the U.S. U-20s took another 1-0 win from the Chinese in Chula Vista, Calif. The scorer? West.

The U.S. victory before about 6,000 was big because it really mattered this time. China's squad trained for three years in Brazil aiming for this tournament and still is one of the favorites, as is Ghana, the U.S. team's third qualifying-round opponent on Sunday. The Yanks lost, 2-1, to Ireland last night; West was a 75th-minute sub.

The 22 MLS All-Star Game starters, picked by league coaches and their assistants and named Wednesday, include 14 foreign-born players, one of them a naturalized U.S. citizen, and eight Americans. Figure that coaches Bruce Arena of D.C. United and Ron Newman of Kansas City will add more American substitutes for the July 9 game at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

The East's six D.C. United starters -- forwards Raul Diaz Arce and Jaime Moreno, midfielders Marco Etcheverry and John Harkes, and defenders Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope -- will be joined by New England goalkeeper Walter Zenga and defender Alexi Lalas, New York/New Jersey midfielder Roberto Donadoni, Tampa Bay midfielder Carlos Valderrama and Columbus midfielder Robert Warzycha.

For the West, Dallas has four starters, goalie Mark Dodd, defender Diego Sonora, midfielder Alain Sutter and forward Damian. Three Kansas City Wizards made it: defender Richard Gough, midfielder Preki and forward Vitalis "Digital" Takawira. Others: Colorado defender Marcelo Balboa and midfielder Chris Henderson, Los Angeles midfielder Mauricio Cienfuegos and San Jose forward Eric Wynalda.

Pub Date: 6/20/97

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