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Complete archive of Robert Wagman's It Seems to Me.

It Seems To Me . . .

Random thoughts on this and that.

By Robert Wagman

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Wednesday, April 7, 1999) -- The United States 1-0 victory over England in the under-20 men’s world championships is a significant result, in no small measure, because the U.S. team in Nigeria is predominately composed of college players while England brought a team comprised entirely of professionals.

In the past, at the youth levels in international play, the U.S. has fielded teams comprised mostly of amateurs while their European and South American opponents have fielded squads of young professionals. I remember in the 1996 Olympics, the U.S. played Germany with the U.S. side almost entirely composed of college players while the Germans were all Bundesliga professionals.

That will change with the advent of Major League Soccer’s Project 40, and young Americans signing with the development programs of European clubs. But in the meantime, the U.S. can be very proud of the result in Nigeria.

The U.S. squad has five professionals including goalkeeper Tim Howard who may well end up the MetroStars starter by season’s end. Likewise, forward Jamar Beasley could well end up a starter on New England, a squad with little offensive depth.

By contrast the British squad had players from the reserve sides of Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, and regulars from a number of British first division squads. It should be noted that Britain did not call up any Premier League starters. There are seven players playing regularly in the Premiership who are young enough to be playing in Nigeria.

You have probably seen the news that Claudio Reyna has transferred from the Bundesliga to the Glasgow Rangers for a multi-million dollar transfer fee.

Something very curious. Rangers has a very professional official web site, one that is updated daily. Go to the site and you will see a story quoting Manager Dick Advocaat denying stories in today’s Scottish press saying Rangers are after forwards Hakan Sukur and Emile Heskey, several stories about Dutch striker Michael Mols who will join the club next season, a number of stories about Rangers surprising 3-1 loss to St. Johnstone on the weekend, and a long story about a new sponsorship deal with Honda.

But there is not a single word on the site about the Reyna acquisition. Most curious.

Good news about Frankie Hejduk. He has finally broken into the lineup for Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. He made his Bundesliga debut April 2, playing the entire 90 minutes in Leverkusen’s critical away match at Kaiserslautern.

Leverkusen won the road game 1-0 to move into a tie with Kaiserslautern for second place in the Bundesliga. The victory helps Leverkusen in its effort to qualify for Champions League play next season.

On the MLS front, things can not get much worse for the Miami Fusion. Attendance has gone from bad to worse to worse still in the team’s first three home matches. Fusion Chief executive officer Betty D'Anjolell has paid the price. D'Anjolell, who was MLS executive of the year in the League’s first season when she was at D.C. United, was let go after only about 7,500 showed up for the Fusion’s match against the Chicago Fire.

D'Anjolell was brought in last year to replace former CEO Leo Stillitano. More recently, Fusion owner-operator Ken Horowitz brought in consultant Ken Chartier, a former adidas executive who now operates CC&C Management of Myrtle Beach, S.C. He will now run the team along with managing director Doug Hamilton.

Meanwhile on the field, Fusion coach Ivo Wortmann had to discipline two of his starters, Diego Serna and Roberto Gaucho, after both were late arriving for the match. Wortmann kept the two on the bench until the 27th minute. This was the second week in a row Serna was late arriving at the stadium. Serna said he could not find a place to park. This was two hours before a match in a half-empty stadium.

Speaking of bad to worse, we hear they are keeping sharp instruments away from Kansas City coach Ron Newman. Last weekend’s 1-0 loss to New England means the Wizards have not scored a goal in seven months. They have not found net in 550 minutes, an MLS record. The last MLS goal scored by Kansas City was in a 5-1 win over San Jose last September. Since that time they have gone five full matches without getting on the scoreboard.

After the New England match Newman sat looking dazed and told reporters "We've got this bloody monkey on our backs. We can't find the answer."

Truthfully, if Newman’s charges don’t find the answer very soon, the answer might well be to find a new coach. In terms of victories, 753 matches over 29 years of coaching at all levels, Newman is America’s winningest coach. But over the last two seasons, the Wizards have lost 11 of their last 13 matches.

What you hear coming out of Kansas City is that Newman has lost his edge and has lost the respect of his players. This is a shame as Newman is about as well liked as anyone in U.S. soccer.

The Columbus Crew’s Andy Williams would like very much to meet Andy Williams, and soon. Or then again, maybe he wouldn't.

Williams was on his way to join the Crew in Tampa after a national team match in Jamaica when he was detained by U.S. Customs in Miami for more than four hours. Seems there is an arrest warrant out on a Jamaican named Andrew Williams, born, incredibly, on the same day as the Crew’s Andy Williams. It took a fingerprint check before authorities were convinced they had a case of mistaken identity.

Williams says this is the second time this has happened to him. The first was when he tried to enter the U.S. with a Jamaican youth team when he was 18. Crew officials say they will work with Customs to make sure this does not happen again.

Robert Wagman wrote a nationally syndicated political column for Scripps-Howard for many years. At the same time he has covered soccer in North America for British and South African newspapers since the days of the North American Soccer League. His "Football In America" column now appears regularly in British newspapers. He can be e-mailed at

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