Dynamo's move here would mean quality entry 20-10 team in 2nd round of A-League's playoffs


September 12, 1997|By Lowell E. Sunderland | Lowell E. Sunderland,SUN STAFF

So OK, because it seems the A-League is in Baltimore's future, here's a start on fathoming where the Carolina Dynamo stands in America's second division:

The team is alive and chasing the A-League championship to be decided the same day, Sept. 28, that the deal delivering the team to Columbia/UMBC is expected to be consummated.

The Dynamo was in a second-round playoff game last night in Charleston, S.C., and faces the Battery again in High Point on Sunday. The Dynamo (20-10) beat Charleston (13-17) twice by 4-1 in the regular season.

The winner of those two games, determined by total goals, will advance to the Eastern Conference title round against the winner of the Long Island Rough Riders (18-12)-Montreal Impact (23-7) series, also in progress.

In the Western Conference, the winner in the Milwaukee-New Orleans (both 16-14) and Seattle (20-10)-Vancouver (18-12) playoffs will be the other A-League championship finalist Sept. 28.

Memory lane

Marginalia from Sunday's 1-0, U.S. national team win over Costa Rica that pushed the team closer to its third straight

World Cup final-round appearance:

See Jamaica: Portland, Ore., put on a heck of a show for U.S.-Costa Rica. To sustain the claim of RFK Stadium being the nation's best soccer venue, Middle Atlantic fans need to get RFK, an easy dash from the B-W Parkway's south end, ready and hopping for the next U.S. World Cup qualifier. That's against Jamaica at 7: 30 p.m., Oct. 3.

Oh, Jamaica is no Costa Rica, but an American win that night will all but clinch a trip to next summer's World Cup finals in France.

Seats are available through TicketMaster, 410-481-SEAT. 10,000-plus have been sold.

Defense: Speed remains a long-term concern, but Sunday's performance by D.C. United's Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope, the Columbus Crew's Thomas Dooley and the Colorado Rapids' Marcelo Balboa was the tightest and most complementary by American defenders in ages.

Rarely resorting to the cheap, blind-side junk that so often passes as tough defense, Agoos is as skilled and resourceful a defender as Major League Soccer has. A flaw has been getting caught upfield at times, but against quick Costa Rica, he was in control the whole match. His attacking touches are noticeably improving, as well.

About Pope you can't say it better than U.S. coach Steve Sampson did when touting the Ecuador game in Baltimore (minus Pope because of United's overloaded schedule): "Eddie Pope is so good he can play for any team, anytime, anywhere in the world."

Dooley surely rates high among the fittest 36-year-olds in any sport, and Balboa, America's most capped player, played his best national-team game since 1994. Balboa's cool relay of Preki's killer cross to Tab Ramos' foot for the winning cannon shot was poetic.

Pressure that defense: Can't any U.S. player penetrate all the way to the offensive endline and then fight toward the goal to cut the ball back? The worst that usually happens is a corner kick. Except for Preki's late, energetic work Sunday, American crossing into the box off the flow of play, to be polite, needs work.

Pub Date: 9/12/97

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