Minor Leaguers to the World Cup?
Team USA double A?
Players on U.S. Olympic soccer team, age 22 and under, bristle at suggestions they're not seasoned enough, or good enough, to be seriously considered for the 1994 World Cup squad.
The party line, as echoed by Lothar Osiander, U.S. Olympic soccer coach: "I think 1994 is a little early for them, but '98 is definitely a possibility."
Counterpoint, as provided by Mike Lapper, a U.S. Olympian defender:
"I think our team is just as good, if not better, than the national team. I would love to have the chance to play them and see what the result would be."
Lapper's confidence was buoyed by the United States' strong showing in Friday's 2-1 opening-round loss to gold-medal favorite Italy. He said he would like to see World Cup tryouts given to the entire Olympic team, but concedes that, "Realistically, about eight of us here will get a look. They might take four or so."
Lapper and teammates will have about a week to prove their point--back home, and in the leery eyes of the European futbol elitists.
"It's my perception," Lapper said, "that the Europeans don't respect us at all. They will accept that we will now give them a physical battle when we play, but don't respect our skills and our ballhandling abilities. That's going to take a lot of time. But the Olympics are going to be one step further."
This is the first of a daily roundup of Olympic-related items from reporters in Barcelona from the Los Angeles Times, Newsday, Baltimore Sun and Hartford Courant, all Times-Mirror newspapers.