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From the home office in Eagle-Vail …

Daily file photoChris Freud
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We’ll start this week’s offering with Bruce Arena.

The U.S. Soccer Federation declined to renew his contract Friday, essentially firing him. This is disappointing. Arena’s done more as a coach for American men’s soccer than anyone else, turning our national team from a laughingstock to a respectable, if not potent team, at times.

There was far too much hype gong into this year’s World Cup. The Americans were good, but not fifth as they were ranked. They were also in a brutal group with the eventual champion, Italy. That tie against the Azzurri is looking better these days, by the way.

Yes, the U.S. did not perform as well as it should have or was expected, but the reason the bar was so high is that Arena put it there. By building a team that got to the quarterfinals in 2002, he has started the process of national interest in soccer, which will be his American legacy.

At the same time, there is something to be said for the shelf life of a coach at the elite level. Eventually players will stop listening, and by renewing Arena’s contact, the U.S. would be stretching his tenure into the dangerous 12-year range.

So thank you, Bruce. Here’s to a job well done. We wish you nothing but success with future teams and countries. We now extend the white courtesy phone to former German coach Juergen Klinsmann.

” Barbaro’s feeling better. Gosh, I’m happy. It’s just a horse, people. Yes, it was sad to see a horse break a leg in the Preakness. But this animal is getting better health care than just about any human on the planet ” primarily so its owners can make a boat-load of money on stud fees. Perspective, people.

” As a loyal National League fan, I’m still hacked that the senior circuit lost the All-Star Game earlier this week. The good news is that no Giants pitcher was involved in the loss. (San Francisco ineptitude on the mound in an All-Star Game deserves its own column.) But in all fairness, the American League champion deserves to host the World Series given its complete domination in interleague play. That right shouldn’t have been decided by the All-Star Game.

” Got to love the home-run hitting contest, don’t you? We’re meant to frown on the Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, who all allegedly juiced and hit the snot out of the ball. Yet at the same time, we’re meant to marvel at all the guys who hit the snot out of the ball at a home-run hitting contest. Huh? Baseball is addicted to the long ball. Homers saved baseball in the late 90s, however they were derived, and they still rule the game in 2006.

” OK, the Vail Daily took it on the chin in softball Thursday, courtesy of Tony’s Kids. What happened on the field wasn’t very pretty, but what was nice was to see Tony Aiello out and about at Ford Park, taking in the action. Aiello’s recovering from a bad auto accident and is on the mend, and it’s just great seeing Tony be a part of the softball scene again.

” Michelle Wie, you’re a fantastic golfer, but you need to win on the LPGA Tour before you play at the PGA level. Anika Sorenstam, who’s won everything under the sun on the LPGA, has the credentials to play with the big boys. That having been said, I give Wie about five years before she qualifies for the U.S. Open.

” Since we’re on golf, I’d just like to say that 18 is one of the perfect numbers of sports ” just like 90 feet between the bases. By legend, a round is 18 holes because there are 18 shots in a pint of whiskey. (Who’s to argue with a guy who’s had 18 shots?) It just works nicely.

” Golf returns to its home next week with the British Open or simply The Open. Says here ” Tiger’s back.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

Vail, Colorado


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