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5 April 2002 (Teamtalk) -- Kansas City's veteran keeper Tony Meola has challenged U.S. coach Bruce Arena to select him as the third choice keeper for the World Cup finals.

Meola made his return to the national team in the 1-0 win over Mexico in Denver on Wednesday night, which earned him his 98th cap.

The 33-year-old goalie is currently in a three-way fight for a ticket to Asia this summer, as he tries to beat Tim Howard of New York and Chicago's Zach Thornton for the final spot. Ironically, all three keepers started their MLS careers with the MetroStars.

"It's no secret that I will be on the bench if I go to the World Cup and I accept that as part of being a team and accepting your role," said Meola. "Bruce Arena has said that on a number of occasions.

"I think this team can be very successful. We can compete with teams that in the past we couldn't. I want to be part of that as one of the top three goalkeepers for this country."

The first two slots of the U.S. keeper position have already been filled, with Blackburn's Brad Friedel fighting it out with Spurs' Kasey Keller for the starting role. Meola, however, has no problem with backing the duo up, should he go.

"I wouldn't be embarrassed or ashamed by playing backup to either one of those keepers," he added. "In fact it's quite the opposite. I'm sure there would be a lot of guys that want to be in that spot."

Meola also dispelled any suggestion that he was hoping to be selected as an international swansong to his long service with the national team, claiming he will still fight it out for caps in Arena's team, after the World Cup finals.

"My plan after the World Cup is to still compete for a goalkeeping spot on the national team. For some reason we're considered old," he noted.

"I don't consider this the end for me, but if the coach tells me it's time, well then it's time. I don't plan on this being the end after the World Cup."
 

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A classy statement from Tony. A lot of peole fault him, but he's been a good keeper for a long time. He turned down a major league baseball contract to play soccer. He also tried his hand as a placekicker in helmetball.

However, I think Arena should bring Thornton along to Asia. I think he's the best of the 3 young guys and we need to build for the future.
 

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Kerry said:
He also tried his hand as a placekicker in helmetball.
How did he do as a placekicker? I was impressed with his leg strength against Mexico. He was launching the ball 90 yards with what seemed like little effort. Maybe he'd do better as a punter.
 

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I played against Thorton when he was at Loyola, he is a very good keeper. But, I wouldn't put him on the NT. I know he will be a #3 keer but if God Forbid something happened to Keller and Friedle I'd be a bit scared to have him in goal because of this reason...he is not good at handling the ball with his feet. I noticed this when we played against him and it became even more apparent when I saw him play a few games with the NT. He is very unsure of himself when he has to play the ball at his feet when a defender passes it back to him.
 

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One thing that I like about Meola's statement....he would accept his role as the #3 keeper....something you kind of wish our bench players from World Cup 98 had done. There was nothing worse for team morale as having Lalas and Ramos complaining from the bench, to other players, and then to the media about lack of playing time and questioning Sampson about his strategy.

What Meola said is great and that is what we need on this team.
 
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First of all not to say taht lalas and ramos should have publically critisized sampson , but they should have been on the field and well we ended up finishing last. Back to Meola , it is classy what he said , but i think Howard deserves to be the number 3 keeper. I saw him live at Birminham , he and Thorton both warmed up together , and it is very true that thorton is not very good with his feet. Howard is both extremely athletic and plays of instinct , something that howard does not do. Howard is a mix of keller and friedel in my opinion Keller is not that athletic but plays off pure instinct and friedel is very athletic but lacks the instinct. Ithink it should be howard he is the future in net for the US .
 

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Meola as contented number 3 keeper on the bench in an "in case of emergency, break glass" case is OK by me. Jure's first person observation of Thornton's shortcomings with the ball at his feet is confirmation for me of what I have seen on the tube from him. Big, athletic, brave, not a soccer player. You gotta be a soccer player man. He is like the safety that your high school soccer coach stole from the football team to play keeper.

Kerry, I go with Howard if not Meola. I think Meola would be cooler in an emergency situation, but that you would weigh that against the value to bringing a young guy along for seasoning.

And Meola couldn't kick the snow off a rope in helmetball.
 

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Freddie...

There was one problem though which I forgot to mention...Loyola beat us 6-0....:D

That being said, I think he is a very good keeper because he is very athletic. But, his lack of skills with the feet can be completely exposed on the international level and I'd be worried to have him as the #3. The chances are that Keller and friedel both getting hurt in the same tournament are slim, but you never know so you want a guy at that #3 that can't hurt you. Howard will be good but not now, who knows, maybe even the next WC he could be our #1 but he is a young guy...Meola has the experience at that level so he can't hurt.

If you are to bring a young guy on the squad, you'd want it just for the experience knowing that he won't play a sec...you bring a guy like Beasley there so he can learn by observing.
 

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Freddie said:
And Meola couldn't kick the snow off a rope in helmetball.
Huh? Snow off a rope?

That a new expression for me, Freddie. I assume it's negative but I'm hoping you can explain it for me.
 

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Well Jure it was in another era, but we share the collegiate experience of being beaten big by those d!ckhead Greyhounds!

Hern, imagine you are a little kid again, and you are out playing in 6 inches of fresh snow. Running through a backyard, you see a clothesline sagging from the weight of the snow that has collected on it, down to your knee height. You give it a whack with your foot and the snow flies. How easy it was, upsetting that delicate balance. Now imagine being such a puss that you couldn't even kick the snow off that rope. :)
 

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My God Freddie! Where in the archives did you find this tin-plate to dust off? I think I played in the same era - big bushy hair, gangly bodies, ignorant goffy expression on faces! Thank goodness the Chapman University Panthers destroyed all evidence of my playing days.

My guesses: #18 or #13.

Sorry.

Oldplayer
 

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Ok Freddie my guess....I will pick my college number and go with:

#16....but then you could be #14 as well.

Anyway, what was that like 1978???
 

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Tintype is from 1978. My white linen Saturday Night Fever three piece suit was in my locker! Will reveal my identity tomorrow morning.
 

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I'll go with #2 or #17.

#15 looks like he's a ringer from a middle school squad.
 

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I wouldnt pick his :ass: as the number 10 goalkeeper !!! :mad: Never mind #3 !!!!!

He's done, history ....There are tons of better #3 Goalkeepers than him!!! :smileani:
 

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Watch your back, Freddie, I hear Rudolph is pissed! :D
 
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