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Charles denies reports saying he has selected Olympic overage players.

By Robert Wagman
and Gary Davidson

(Tuesday, June 27, 2000) -- A slightly-irate United States menís Olympic coach Clive Charles denied tonight that he has selected the three "overage" players for the Summer Games to be played in Australia in September.

Clive Charles
Clive Charles
"I wish they had come and talked to me," Charles said of television reports that he had selected defensive midfielder Chris Armas, and defenders Jeff Agoos and Frankie Hejduk to join his under-23 team.

Menís Olympic teams are national under-23 sides with three players exempted from the age requirements.

"What youíve seen (on television) will not necessarily be what happens," Charles said. "All I would say is that I talked to those three players and they have told me (if picked), they would be available . . . But I have talked to other players and asked if they would be available."

Sources at the United States Soccer Federation and Major League Soccer told SoccerTimes that Armas, Agoos and Hejduk would be the Olympic team choices.

"I will make my selection in August," Charles said.

It has long been assumed that Armas, 27, of Major League Soccerís Chicago Fire would be one of the three older players to be added to the Olympic squad. In qualifying matches, there appeared a need for his ball-hawking skills and ability to link the defense with the attacking midfield. The Fire accordingly has prepared to lose Armas for most of the MLS playoff season.

Hejduk, 25, and Agoos, 32, would be more surprising selections.

With the injury to starting right back Steve Cherundolo, it becomes necessary to find a replacement. One possibility would be New England Revolution rookie Rusty Pierce, who is off to a fine inaugural season and is under-23 age-eligible. But Hejduk, who played last season for Bayer Leverkusen in the German Bundesliga, would add significantly to the offensive possibilities on the right flank.

Agoos, who like Hejduk is a stalwart with the U.S. full national team, is an experienced and versatile left-footed player who can play a variety of positions and add maturity to the team.

Many assumed Charles would add a central defender, possibility either Agoos' D.C. United teammate Eddie Pope or the Los Angeles Galaxy's Robin Fraser. But in Agoos, who plays left back for United, can play central defense, as he did successfully in the U.S. Cup, and adds a strong offensive element.

It was also anticipated Charles might use one overage selection to pick a goalkeeper such as national teamers Kasey Keller or Brad Friedel, or former U.S. starter Tony Meola, who recently broke his own MLS record for shutouts in a season.

Other European-based players who would obviously help the Olympic team, but are not available because of their club situations are midfielders Eddie Lewis and Claudio Reyna, and striker Joe-Max Moore.

Charles carried a roster of 18 for the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Hershey, Pa., the same number he can bring to Australia. With Cherundolo out, that means at least two others from qualifying will be cut.

Additionally, Colorado Rapidsí midfielder Joey DiGiamarino, who was recovering from an injury and left off the qualifying squad, could be added to the Olympic roster, which would mean another player would need to be dropped.

Senior correspondent Robert Wagman can be e-mailed at bobwagman@soccertimes.com. Managing editor Gary Davidson can be e-mailed at editor@soccertimes.com.

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