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Bush Congratulates U.S. Soccer Team

August 2, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Bush congratulated the U.S. World Cup team on Friday for the most successful effort by the Americans at the tournament in 72 years.

Bush, who had called the team in South Korea on the morning of its 2-0 upset of Mexico in June, met with players and coaches in the Oval Office.

``We are very honored to have represented the president and the entire country in the World Cup,″ midfielder Cobi Jones said later.

``We certainly demonstrated in this World Cup that we are competitive with any soccer team in the world,″ head coach Bruce Arena said. ``We are all excited about trying to do it again. Having once tasted a little success, we want to get back at it.″

The athletes presented Bush with a team jersey with his presidential number, ``43.″

The American team, last in the 32-nation field at the 1998 tournament in France, advanced to the quarterfinals, where it lost to Germany 1-0.

Qualifying for the next World Cup begins in 2004 and the United States hopes to be in the 32-nation field two years later in Germany.

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