Bush congratulates American soccer team

Friday, August 2nd 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ President George W. Bush congratulated the U.S. men's World Cup soccer team on Friday for the most successful effort by an American squad in 72 years.

Bush met with team members and their coaches in the Oval Office with only photographers present.

``We are very honored to have represented the president and the entire country in the World Cup,'' player Cobi Jones told reporters later.

``We certainly demonstrated in this World Cup that we are competitive with any soccer team in the world,'' said head coach Bruce Arena. ``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 emblazoned with his presidential number, ''43.''

The American team defied predictions of hapless defeat as it advanced to the quarterfinals in the June tournament in South Korea and Japan.

After overpowering Mexico, the Americans' heady run through the tournament ended in a 1-0 defeat by Germany.

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.