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South Americans To Face D.C. United

December 4, 1998

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) _ For South American club champion Vasco da Gama, Saturday’s decisive InterAmerican Cup match against D.C. United is a chance to salvage a 23-day tour that has taken the team from Rio de Janeiro to Washington, D.C. to Tokyo and finally to Fort Lauderdale.

``We are a little tired,″ said the team’s technical director Antonio Lopes of his 1997 Brasileiro champions. ``But on Saturday, we’ll be OK.″

Vasco da Gama beat CONCACAF Cup holders D.C. United 1-0 on Nov. 14. D.C. United must win by two goals or more on Saturday to claim the InterAmerican title which is determined by aggregate score over two games. A one-goal D.C. win would force a 30-minute `golden goal’ overtime. Failing that, the teams would go to a shootout.

United’s impressive performance in Game 1 showed how far Major League Soccer’s most successful team has progressed since debuting in 1996. D.C. United created more scoring chances in the opener, but lost on an inspired long-range goal by fancied newcomer Felipe.

``We would never lay claims that MLS is better than the South American leagues,″ said coach Bruce Arena. ``But we can say we’re competitive with them.″

Besides determining the club champion of the Western Hemisphere, Saturday’s game also closes out Arena’s tenure as D.C. United coach before he takes the U.S. National Team job.

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