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Saturday, 22 June, 2002, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
US stars earn their stripes
USA fotball fans can fly the Stars and Stripes with pride now
American fans can be proud of their team
BBC Sport Online's Stuart Roach

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American fans headed for home this weekend with heads held high after their star-spangled side had exceeded all expectations.

The USA team had a disastrous tournament at France 98, failing to register a single goal or a single point from their three group games.

But the loyal fans who followed their team to Korea finally had something to smile about.

Bruce Arena's team reached the quarter finals on the back of wins over Portugal and Mexico and a draw with the co-hosts South Korea.

They then gave Germany a real scare in Ulsan before slipping to a 1-0 defeat - a real sign of the side's huge progress in recent years.

"We have had a phenomenal tournament." said Scott, a US fan from Washington DC who headed for Korea last week believing his side would already be travelling in the opposite direction.

"I didn't anticipate seeing the US play at all," he admitted.

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I think we are here to stay and this tournament is just the beginning
Close Quote
USA fans Scott

"I came out for the round of 16 hoping to see some good football and the fact that I was able to see two US matches is far beyond anything we could have scripted."

But the script is now very much written for the USA national team, with young stars such as the dazzling Landon Donovan set to be in their prime by Germany 2006.

"We have a very young programme with some very promising stars, not only the ones we saw play over the last two weeks but players coming up behind them," said Scott.

He added: "I think for the first time the US programme has true momentum - far beyond a four-year fluke showing.

US fan Scott sees a rosy football future for his country
Scott sees a rosy football future for his country

"I think we are here to stay and this tournament is just the beginning."

American sports mentality will now demand a repeat performance in four years time, though hopefully based on something a little more long term.

"That hurdle of reaching the quarter finals again is there.

"Americans as a whole come to expect winners and will expect a performance equal, if not better, than we had in 2002.

"But I think we are building a programme for the future and if it's not 2006 it's going to be 2010 or perhaps 2014 when we show the world we're not a one-trick pony."

And, by then, soccer could finally be a serious spectator sport in the USA, where the big four of baseball, basketball, ice hockey and American Football currently rule.

"Soccer is probably the most popular sport for age seven to 15 in the USA," said Scott.

"That shows that Americans play soccer.

"Now I think they are going to start to follow it."


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GROUP D
  P GD PTS
SOUTH KOREA 3 +3 7
USA 3 -1 4
PORTUGAL 3 +2 3
POLAND 3 -4 3

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