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BRAZILIANS `EXPECT' TO BEAT AMERICANS.

Byline: Daily News

PASADENA - It's an exhibition game, meaning it doesn't count in the standings. But it also figures to be an exhibition of what could be the world's best soccer team.

Though missing a half dozen of its players, the Brazilian men's national soccer team returns to the Rose Bowl, site of its 1994 World Cup championship victory, this afternoon (1 p.m.) to meet the United States.

World rankings list Brazil, France and Spain as the world's top teams and the Brazilians figure to enter next year's World Cup as the team to beat.

``We expect to win because we are the best,'' said Leao, coaching only his second match for Brazil since being hired. ``I am implementing a winning mentality for my players and that's how we hope and expect to go on the field. Regardless of whether it's the U.S. or any other national team, there is always an ethical respect for our opponent.''

The Brazilians practiced Thursday at the Coliseum and Friday at the Rose Bowl, going through a spirited two-hour session in Pasadena.

Later, Romario, the most valuable player of the 1994 World Cup, said the Brazilians would not play the game as a ``friendly'' but would come out with the right frame of mind.

``This is a team that has advanced a lot and obviously the result with Mexico proves that,'' said Romario of the United States, which scored a 2-0 win over Mexico Wednesday in the first game of their 10-game World Cup qualifying series.

``Nineteen ninety four was the most important moment of my life,'' said Romario. ``Raising the trophy brings back great memories. When the ball starts rolling, all the memories will come back.''

The teams have played nine games in their history, with five of them being decided by one goal. Brazil leads the series 8-1.

``The American team has developed enormously and has become a headache for Brazil,'' said Romario. ``We've developed a respect for the U.S.''

The Brazilian team will be without several outstanding players, including Rivaldo, who will be playing for Barcelona against Real Madrid today in a Spanish League game.

However, its roster will include Cafu, Silvinho, Ronaldinho and goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni, who spent almost 20 minutes signing autographs and posing for pictures with youngsters following Friday's practice.

``The team is about 70 to 80 percent of our regular work force,'' said Leao.

The Americans will be without European-based players Joe-Max Moore, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, Earnie Stewart, Ante Razov and Tony Sanneh, but Landon Donovan, a Redlands native who plays in Germany, will start, along with Josh Wolf and Clint Mathis, who scored the team's goals against Mexico.

U.S. vs. BRAZIL

Today, 1 p.m. at the Rose Bowl

TV: Ch. 7
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Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 3, 2001
Words:461
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