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 World Cup ' 98

 Steve Sampson resigns as U.S. Coach.
 United States section


Rothenberg, Milutinovic Keep U.S. Job Out of Talks

By Amy Shipley and Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, July 2, 1998; Page C5

PARIS, July 1 — U.S. Soccer Federation President Alan Rothenberg dined with Bora Milutinovic, Nigeria's World Cup coach and the former coach of the U.S. team, tonight in Paris, but both said there was no discussion about the U.S. national team coaching vacancy.

Rothenberg said Monday that Milutinovic was on the short list of candidates to replace Steve Sampson, who resigned as coach that day.

"I have not talked to him about the job," Rothenberg said tonight. "I know what Bora brings to the table. . . . I honestly have not, on purpose. He's a close friend."

Said Milutinovic, reached on his cellular phone: "Nobody offered me a job. I like the USA country — a lot of people there. I have friends. But now, I can't say. I talk to people. This is normal."

Rothenberg said he and Milutinovic have talked several times in recent weeks, but not about coaching the U.S. team. No potential coaches have yet been contacted, Rothenberg said, but one or two interviews might be arranged by the end of next week.

"Right now, it's just a process of asking anybody we respect for suggestions, and then we will start to call people," he said.

Rothenberg also said he would not discuss the opening with Milutinovic of Yugoslavia unless a decision were made to offer it to him.

On Monday, Rothenberg said Milutinovic possessed all of the qualities sought in a new coach: familiarity with the United States, vast international experience and success. In this tournament, Milutinovic's Nigerian team lost to Denmark in the round of 16. After the elimination, Milutinovic hinted that he would break his ties with Nigerian soccer.

Milutinovic coached the United States to a round-of-16 finish in the 1994 World Cup and owns a house in Laguna Hills, Calif. Rothenberg said Monday he preferred to hire an international coach rather than an American-born one. He said Carlos Alberto Parreira, recently fired as Saudi Arabia's coach, also was a candidate.

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post

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