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Football: Arena wields axe to chop the old guard

BRUCE ARENA fulfilled his promise to immediately rebuild the US national team with young Major League Soccer players yesterday, selecting nine debutants in his squad for the friendly against Australia on 6 November.

All 22 of the squad play in Major League Soccer, only three are over 30 and only five were members of the party for this summer's World Cup: the forwards Brian McBride of Columbus Crew and Joe-Max Moore of New England Revolution, the midfielder Cobi Jones of Los Angeles Galaxy, and the defenders Jeff Agoos and Eddie Pope from Arena's club, Washington DC United.

Two others were considered, but the Columbus midfielder Brian Maisonneuve is recovering from an injury and the New England defender Mike Burns is getting married on the weekend of the Australia match.

Arena, who was named on Tuesday as the US coach in succession to Steve Sampson, has included among the newcomers the MLS "Rookie of the Year", Ben Olden from DC United, along with the Los Angeles midfielder Clint Mathis, the Chicago Fire forward Josh Wolff, and the defenders Mike Petke of New York/New Jersey MetroStars, Leo Cullen of Miami Fusion and C J Brown of Chicago. Also called up are the goalkeepers Kevin Hartman of Los Angeles and David Kramer of San Jose Clash.

No members of the "old guard" which created the core of the United States team in the last three World Cups were included in the squad. Eric Wynalda, Tab Ramos, Marcelo Balboa, Alexi Lalas and John Harkes - the team's former captain who was surprisingly dismissed by Sampson a month before the World Cup - have all been discarded.

The States also announced that they will play Germany in a friendly on 6 February in Jacksonville, Florida. The game will be part of a two-game tour by the Germans during the Bundesliga winter break. They will face Colombia three days later in Miami's Orange Bowl.

UNITED STATES SQUAD (Friendly v Australia, 6 Nov, San Jose, Calif): Goalkeepers: Hartman (Los Angeles), Kramer (San Jose), Thornton (Chicago). Defenders: Agoos (Washington DC), Brown (Chicago), Cullen (Miami), Fraser (Los Angeles), Petke (New York/New Jersey), Pope (Washington DC). Midfielders: Chung (Kansas City), Jones (Los Angeles), Lewis (San Jose), Mathis (Los Angeles), Olsen (Washington DC), Ralston (Tampa Bay), Williams (Washington DC). Forwards: Bravo (Colorado), Lassiter (Washington DC), McBride (Columbus), Moore (New England), Razov (Chicago), Wolff (Chicago).