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STAR SPANGLED BUMMER: IS THIS TURNING POINT FOR U.S. SOCCER?

          The U.S. World Cup loss to Iran Sunday not only ended
     the team's chance to advance to the second round, but also
     the chance "to grab the interest of average sports fans and
     to give any kind of boost to attendance in the second half
     of the Major League Soccer season," according to Jere
     Longman of the N.Y. TIMES.  Longman: "This was a game that
     was penciled in as a win.  Instead, the Americans lost one
     of the most significant matches in the history of U.S. 
     soccer. ... The [USSF]'s stated hope of winning a World Cup
     by 2010 seems hopelessly premature" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/23).
          END OF THE WORLD? The U.S. media continues to examine
     the U.S. World Cup performance. In K.C., Chris Cowles writes
     that the "blame for the U.S. team's failure should be shared
     by everybody from the [USSF] hierarchy down to the leaders
     of [MLS] who, like the federation, truly believe they are
     producing the caliber of players the United States needs to
     play at this level" (K.C. STAR, 6/23).  Also in K.C., Bob
     Luder asks, "Now, the question is, what becomes of the
     growth of the 2 1/2-year-old MLS?" (K.C. STAR, 6/23).  In
     Hartford, Jerry Trecker writes the loss "will surely mean
     soccer will find it harder to get mainstream media attention
     in the United States, a high price for U.S. Soccer having
     made significant errors" (HARTFORD COURANT, 6/23).  In
     Baltimore, Lowell Sunderland: "As humiliating as Sunday's
     loss was, one of the things it means is going back to the
     drawing board, something Americans historically have been
     good at.  And U.S. soccer architects have lots to work with"
     (Baltimore SUN, 6/23).  In DC, William Gildea: "The American
     way is to accomplish immediately -- build it, sell it, build
     more of it, sell more of it.  But soccer can be developed
     only over decades or chunks of centuries" (WASHINGTON POST,
     6/23).  In Raleigh, Caulton Tudor: "Where soccer goes from
     here in the United States will be one of the interesting
     sports developments over the next several years" (Raleigh
     NEWS & OBSERVER, 6/23).  But in Boston, John Powers writes
     that U.S. Soccer "knew" that it "would be a coup to even
     survive their" World Cup pairing group (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/23).
          RATINGS DOWN: All World Cup TV ratings are "down
     sharply" from '94.  The two U.S. matches broadcast on ABC in
     '94 earned an 5.8/18 and a 7.8/20, compared with 4.3/12 and
     4.8/12 this year (DAILY VARIETY, 6/23).  Pilson
     Communications President Neal Pilson: "Soccer has a secure
     niche.  It's just not the niche soccer would like to be in. 
     The public has voted with their TV clickers; soccer has to
     work harder to make people familiar with its stars."  Grey
     Advertising's Jon Mandel: "I didn't know soccer even had a
     future on American TV.  And the Cup games without the U.S.
     don't draw anything" (USA TODAY, 6/23). In L.A., Mike Penner
     notes USSF President Alan Rothenberg's claim that U.S.
     Soccer is "moving forward."  Penner: "What we have here,
     soccer fans of America, or at least those of you who haven't
     sworn off the sport for the more personally rewarding
     experience of supporting U.S. rugby, is a failure to
     communicate" (L.A. TIMES, 6/23).  In Baltimore, Milton Kent:
     "After his jingoistic prediction [of a U.S. win] ... have we
     finally heard the last of ABC's Brent Musburger as a serious
     player in sports broadcasting?" (Baltimore SUN, 6/23).
          WORLD CUP NOTE: ABC's Gillian Findlay reported on
     Iranians' reactions to their World Cup win over the U.S.:
     "There was no gloating, no 'Down with America.'  In fact,
     the only sour note came in a message from the country's
     supreme spiritual leader, who called the Americans arrogant
     opponents. ... It was, however, somewhat of a struggle to
     get our report past the censors" (ABC, 6/22).  CBS's David
     Letterman, to his audience: "Ladies and gentlemen, please
     settle down.  You sound like an Iranian sports bar."  More
     Letterman: "I watched the game, and it's kind of
     aggravating, ain't it?  And I'll tell you the worst part. 
     It was embarrassing how Iran used the big soccer match to
     promote their new fall TV shows" ("Late Show," CBS, 6/22). 

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