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"Amateur' U.S. soccer team sets sight on another upset

Members of the United States soccer team _ "college boys and second-rate professionals," according to the virulent English media _ could be unabashedly giddy.

They're not.

After beating perennial power England 2-0 on Wednesday in U.S. Cup '93 play, the United States faces a sterner challenge, defending World Cup champion Germany at 1 p.m. today in Chicago. The game will be televised uninterrupted by ABC.

"We have a bit of confidence we have the ability to compete at this level," defender Desmond Armstrong said. "We've gotten over some barriers, beating England and playing well against Brazil (2-0 loss last Sunday). We just have to try to stay as optimistic as we can even though we're going up against the world champions."

"Of course we're pumped up," forward Eric Wynalda said. "But there's also a calmness that allows us to not look back and say, "God, wasn't that great.' It was just one game."

The key, the players say, is to take it one minute at a time, one half at a time, one game at a time. If they can keep that attitude, they believe the results will come.

Even the stunning ones, such as Wednesday's win against England, which hadn't lost to the United States since the 1950 World Cup _ regarded as the biggest upset in the sport's history.

"We could have blown it out of proportion, but I don't think we have," Armstrong said. "The people who have blown it out of proportion are the people around the world. They made it into an incredible feat. The world perception is that we can't do anything. But we did beat them soundly."

Wynalda, who has been playing professionally in Germany, said he took exception to being called a "second-rate professional" and "amateur," but recognizes that as a ploy to inspire the English team.

"It's a mistake if they think that; they'll find themselves in the losing bracket time and time again," he said. "Our team, when we're all together, has talent. This (game) gives us a great chance to see exactly what kind of team we are."

Note: Tickets to next summer's World Cup games can be ordered by calling (800) 769-1994, beginning at 11 a.m. Fans can use MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover, certified or cashier's checks, or money orders to pay for the tickets. Fewer than 8,000 tickets are available for the five-game series in Orlando.