Who's Minding the Net?
Among casual followers of soccer, Tony Meola is considered to be the American goalie, the man who will probably protect the U.S. net during the World Cup. Many observers in the soccer community, however, believe that Meola is not, by a long shot, the best man for the job. They favor either Kasey Keller or Juergen Sommer, neither of whom has spent much time with the U.S. national team. Keller and Sommer made history together last week when they became the first Americans to start at both ends in an English First Division game, Keller for Millwall, Sommer for Luton Town.
The subject of Keller, in particular, is a prickly one for U.S. coach Bora Milutinovic. Last summer, after Keller had concluded an outstanding season for Millwall, Milutinovic did not invite him to join the national team for the U.S. Cup, the Copa America or the CONCACAF Gold Cup, competitions that would have been excellent proving grounds. Keller has, in fact, started only one game for the national team since Milutinovic took over in 1991.
The outspoken Keller may have hurt his chances by clashing with U.S. Soccer Federation officials. Their biggest battle came two years ago, when Keller, then training with the U.S. team, insisted on wearing his own goalie gloves instead of gloves made by Adidas, with which the federation has a contract. Meola, too, has his own endorsement deal with another company, but he had cleared it with federation officials.
While Meola and his backup, Brad Friedel, have been getting lukewarm reviews for their play, both Keller and Sommer have been earning raves in England. Millwall's fans, some of the most rabid and critical in the world, named Keller MVP for the 1992-93 season. "It's ludicrous that a goalie who's good enough to play a hundred games in the English First Division has played only one for the U.S.," says Ridge Mahoney, a writer for Soccer America.
Milutinovic has to submit his 22-man Cup roster by June 3, and the feeling is he will choose three keepers. Meola and Friedel, both of whom have been training and playing full-time with the U.S. team, will likely be two of them. Some observers think that Sommer, who only recently emerged as a topflight international goalie, would be a better third goalie than Keller, who wouldn't take well to a backup role. It would be a shame, however, if Milutinovic fails to put the best man in the most critical position in the world's most important soccer competition.
The Boston Organizing Committee, a group of Beantown business leaders dedicated to bringing the 2008 Summer Olympics to their city, recently released a study that they say shows that Boston will be capable of hosting the Games in 14 years.
Yeah, right, a city with the worst stadium facilities in the country wants to host the world's most logistically challenging athletic competition.
"The vision of the Summer Olympics in Boston at the dawn of the 21st century shimmers in front of us," reads the study.