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Touting a future U.S. World Cup, it's Bill Clinton's excellent adventure

U.S. Midfielder Landon Donovan became the hero for Team USA, when he scored a dramatic last minute goal to lift the Americans 1-0 past Algeria and onto the second round of the 2010 World Cup.

As a parent, he said, he was pleased when his young daughter, Chelsea, joined a soccer league in Little Rock, thinking it was a great idea that boys and girls played on the same team.

And now, at 63, he's eager to tell anyone within earshot why the World Cup and the United States would benefit from the tournament's return to the country.

"One of the great things about having this in America is, we already have a network of stadiums we can host it in," Clinton said. "And almost no matter where we site the matches, virtually any team that comes can have its own hometown cheering squad."

He was one such fan Wednesday.

Though hardly an expert, Clinton said he was struck by how much the U.S. team had progressed during the first round. He detected better footwork and a heightened sense of confidence as they fought on, refusing to fold.

Afterward he went to the U.S. team locker room to congratulate the players. He stayed for more than an hour after they asked him to join them for a beer.

"Nobody was high-fiving the equivalent of a grand-slam home run," Clinton said. "Nobody was singling out anybody. It was really interesting. All they talked about is how they played as a team -- how it was the team that didn't give up. I was really impressed with that."

Clinton's visit to the 2010 World Cup dovetails with the work of the foundation, which is involved in initiatives to treat HIV/AIDS and malaria in southern Africa and create sustainable economic development on the continent.

New York, Los Angles and Washington are among as many as 18 U.S. cities that would host World Cup matches under the committee's bid proposal.

According to insiders, FIFA officials are leaning toward awarding the 2018 World Cup to a European country, given that by that point it will have been 12 years since the tournament was held on the continent. Germany hosted the 2006 World Cup; Brazil has been chosen as host in 2014. That means the United States' best bet is 2022, although the current bid is a pitch to host either year.

The decision on hosts for both 2018 and 2022 is expected on Dec. 2.

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