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Arena makes surprising choice, adding Ramos to qualifying roster.

Tab Ramos
Midfielder Tab Ramos, once a star of the U.S. national team, has been named to the World Cup qualifying roster after a two-year absence from international play.
(Wednesday, July 5, 2000) -- Midfielder Tab Ramos returns to the United States menís national team for the first time since the 1998 World Cup in France, named among 18 players selected by United States menís coach Bruce Arena for the upcoming CONCACAF World Cup qualifying matches in Guatemala and Costa Rica.

"Tab has shown that he can definitely add something to the national team," Arena said. "His recent form with his club team has been outstanding, and he has experience playing World Cup qualifiers on the road. So he's a natural fit for the team."

The U.S. plays Guatemala at Estadio Carlos Salazar in Mazatenango on Sunday, July 16, and meets Costa Rica on Sunday, July 23, at Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose.

"These are the games we've been looking at since I took the job of head coach," Arena said. "Everything we've done as a team in the last 18 months has revolved around preparing ourselves for World Cup qualifying, and I expect a very tough test from our first two games on the road."

Ramos, 33, has endured a series of serious injuries since joining Major League Soccerís MetroStars in 1996. He was a star for the U.S. 1994 World Cup team, but played only 77 minutes in two matches -- starting one -- in the 1998 Cup. He only recently returned to the MetroStars where he has played effectively for the rapidly-improving team.

"I like to thank my teammates and medical staff for helping me get back," said Ramos who has seven goals and 14 assists in 78 international appearances, but is not listed in the 2000 U.S. Soccer media guide. "I am very happy to be back at this level of soccer after two years. Getting back to the national team for these two difficult World Cup qualifiers is exciting."

While Ramos most likely will provide depth on the bench, starting striker Joe-Max Moore was not picked, apparently not appear ready to return to action following his season-ending injury in England. In addition, several players were not called in because of European club commitments.

Moore hurt his knee in the final weeks of the English Premier League season in May and it was hoped he would be ready to go by now.

Also absent from the 18 are forward\midfielder Jovan Kirovski and defender John O'Brien. Arena has reportedly decided to leave them with their European clubs who have already started practice for next season. O'Brien plays for Amsterdam Ajax in the Netherlands and Kirovski recently signed with Portuguese first division champion Sporting Lisbon. July will be a crucial month for both as they attempt to make their respective squads.

Also missing from the list is D.C. United defender Carlos Llamosa who played well in the Nike U.S. Cup, but is just coming off a strained knee injury.

Midfielder Ben Olsen, who has missed the past four D.C. United MLS matches with an ankle sprain, was chosen and is expected to play Saturday against the Dallas Burn.

Ten roster members play in MLS, led by three from D.C. United and two each from the Los Angeles Galaxy and Dallas.

The roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Friedel, 29 years-old (hometown: Bay Village, Ohio; club team: Liverpool, England; 65 international appearances), Kasey Keller, 30 (Lacey, Wash.; Rayo Vallecano, Spain; 42).

Defenders: Jeff Agoos, 32 (Dallas; D.C. United, Major League Soccer; 101), Robin Fraser, 33 (Denver; Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS; 26), Eddie Pope, 26 (High Point, N.C.; D.C. United, MLS; 32), David Regis, 31 (Valenciennes, France; F.C. Metz, France; 11).

Midfielders: Chris Armas, 27 (Brentwood, N.Y., 17), Chad Deering, 29 (Plano, Tex., 16), Frankie Hejduk, 25 (Cardiff, Calif.; Bayer Leverkusen, Germany, 27), Cobi Jones, 30 (Westlake Village, Calif.; Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS; 129); Eddie Lewis, 26 (Cerritos, Calif.; Fulham, England; 22), Ben Olsen, 23 (Middletown, Pa.; D.C. United, MLS; 17), Tab Ramos, 33 (Kearny, N.J.; MetroStars, MLS, 78), Claudio Reyna, 26 (Springfield, N.J.; Glasgow Rangers, Scotland; 74), Tony Sanneh, 29 (St. Paul, Minn.; Hertha Berlin, Germany; 10).

Forwards: Jason Kreis, 27 (Omaha, Neb, Dallas Burn, MLS; 13), Ante Razov, 26 (Whittier, Calif.; Chicago Fire, MLS, 9), Earnie Stewart, 31 (Point Arena, Calif.; NAC Breda, Netherlands, 59).

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