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World Soccer Roundup 8/15/04
By Jeff Rusnak
Aug 15, 2004

(sun-sentinel.com) - Brazil visits Haiti for play, peace

Rarely has an international friendly upstaged a World Cup qualifier in the Caribbean, but then again, Brazil has never played Haiti in Port-au-Prince.

On Wednesday, just hours before Jamaica hosts the United States in a 2006 qualifier in Kingston, the bigger spectacle will be in Haiti, where the reigning world champions will double as diplomats and peacekeepers. In a gesture designed to reduce gun violence in Haiti, the Brazilians will play a friendly in which the price of admission to the 25,000-seat Silvio Cator Stadium will be a firearm.

The tariff may prove steep to some, but considering how much Haitians love Brazilian soccer, the historic opportunity to see Ronaldo, Ronaldinho et al may prove persuasive. Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and soccer federation president Ricardo Teixeira will be in attendance for a cause to which the Brazilians have warmed wholeheartedly.

"Ronaldo insists on being there, [coach Carlos Alberto] Parreira insists on going," Teixeira said. "All of us in Brazil have to do our bit to end the years of fighting."

The game was the brainchild of Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, who assumed the post after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a coup last February. Brazil has 1,200 soldiers in Haiti as part of a United Nations force.

The game nearly afforded South Floridians a chance to catch a glimpse of Brazil before Wednesday's match. The Brazilians had agreed to stay at the Hilton Soccer Complex in Sunrise and stage a practice for public viewing at Lockhart Stadium before choosing a less complicated itinerary.

"They were all set to practice at Lockhart but decided it would be easier to go straight to the Dominican Republic before flying to Port-au-Prince," said local promoter Eddie Rodger, who books the Hilton site.

Rodger said five levels of security will be employed to assure Brazil's safety in Haiti, with U.S. and Brazilian forces helping provide order. The team will fly helicopters to the stadium for the 2:30 p.m. match and depart the same way. Field turf has been placed over the playing surface, which might otherwise be unplayable.

-U.S. lineup uncertain and more world soccer news

Two months after easily disposing of Grenada, the United States enters a more serious phase of 2006 World Cup qualifying beginning with Wednesday's match at Jamaica. The United States is grouped with the Reggae Boyz, El Salvador and Panama and should advance into next year's final round of qualifying, probably with Jamaica.

Don't be surprised, however, if the launch toward 2006 sputters a bit in Kingston. As of Saturday, U.S. coach Bruce Arena still hadn't named his team, much less held a training session. His European-based players have just started league seasons in England and Germany, while his likely MLS call-ups played Saturday.

With as many as 15 regulars based in Europe, the United States may field a severely jet-lagged team that has had just two days to prepare. Arena could lean on his MLS veterans who, unlike his Euro contingent, are in mid-season form. ...

The embarrassment of riches at Real Madrid got more embarrassing with the $14 million transfer of England forward Michael Owen from Liverpool. Owen will compete for playing time with Ronaldo, Raul and Fernando Morientes, giving Los Galacticos more forwards than they could ever hope to use. Real Madrid nabbed Owen when it failed to pry Patrick Vieira from Arsenal. Of the two, it needed Vieira more. ...

Barcelona continued its offseason makeover with the $29 million purchase of African Player of the Year Samuel Eto'o from rights-holders Real Madrid and Real Mallorca. The Cameroon forward, 23, joins Portugal playmaker Deco, Swedish striker Henrik Larsson, French midfielder Ludovic Giuly and Brazilian defenders Juliano Belletti, Silvinho and Edmilson as part of Barca's summer haul. ...

England's big three open their Premiership seasons today, with defending champ Arsenal playing at Everton (without Wayne Rooney) and Chelsea hosting Manchester United at Stamford Bridge. Arsenal is three games shy of eclipsing Nottingham Forest's record 42-game unbeaten streak.

Chelsea's new manager, Jose Mourinho, got rid of six starters from last year's second-place team, adding Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba in a $43 million transfer from Olympique Marseille. Manchester United will be without nine roster players today, including injured forwards Ruud van Nistelrooy, Louis Saha and Ole Gunner Solskajer, who is out for the season with a knee injury.

-Broadcast highlights

Today: Bochum-Bayer Leverkusen, 11:30 a.m., FSW; Costa Rica-Iraq (Olympics), 1:25 p.m., Telemundo; Everton-Arsenal, 2 p.m., FSW; Santos-Parana, 7 p.m. (SDD), FSW; River Plate-Colon, 9 p.m. (SDD), FSW. Tuesday: USA-Australia (Olympics), 11 a.m., MSNBC. Wednesday: England-Ukraine, 2:30 p.m., FSW; Jamaica-USA, 7 p.m., ESPN2. Saturday: Manchester United-Norwich City, noon, FSW.

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