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WORLD CUP NOTEBOOK: U.S. HIDES FROM ATTENTION IT CRAVED.

Byline: Daily News Wire Services

For 47 of 48 months, the U.S. soccer team craves attention.

During the World Cup, the one month in which American mass media gives some attention to soccer, the U.S. team cuts down access.

Only three American practices in France were open before Monday's game against Germany. On some days, only one or two players are made available for their thoughts on the World Cup opener.

By making their base in the countryside, more than 25 miles from Lyon, the U.S. team is assured of isolation most of the time as it prepares for the tournament.

The downside of being in Beaujolais is players are a little stir-crazy, similar to 1990, when they were at the Italian Olympic training facility in Tirrenia, Italy, which resembled a military base.

``I'm very sensitive to what they went through in 1990,'' coach Steve Sampson said Monday. ``I've heard horror stories. That was taken into account when we made the decision to stay here.''

Sampson had said the three hotels the U.S. team is using all have different feels. On Saturday, the team moves to the Westin off the Champs Elysees. Before the game against Yugoslavia in Nantes, the Americans will stay at a beach resort in Pornic.

He did not want players staying in the middle of Paris or Lyon for too long, although the Americans might take an afternoon trip to Lyon on Thursday.

``I don't want them on their feet shopping all afternoon in a big city,'' Sampson said.

At night, the players watch videos - ``Jerry Maguire'' and out-takes from ``The Jerry Springer Show'' among them - and play cards.

``These guys could play cards 'til 3:30 in the morning if there's money on the line,'' Sampson said. ``They'll keep playing until they get their money back.''

Unlike England's team, drinking is not a problem. Players are allowed to order a beer at team meals before games, but Sampson said all players declined the last time. Some players, however, did taste the wine from the vineyards at Chateau de Pizay.

Who's there? In some countries, the national team coach is a national punching bag. Not in the United States.

``Clearly in America, coaches are treated differently than in the rest of the world,'' Sampson said. ``Bobby Knight, as eccentric as he is, when he walks down the campus of Indiana University is still respected by these people - even if his team loses in the first round of the playoffs. In Brazil, they're calling for (Mario) Zagallo's head. In Mexico, they called for Bora's head and they got it. And now they want him back.''

Rocker apologizes: Rock star Rod Stewart publicly apologized for taking part in a late-night drinking session with Paul Gascoigne, an incident which might have contributed to the player's axing from England's World Cup squad.

Stewart and Gascoigne were photographed leaving a trendy London nightclub May 14 on one of Gascoigne's nights out before he was dropped by England coach Glenn Hoddle.

Stewart, an ardent Scotland fan, issued the apology through the Sun newspaper.

``Had I known the outcome, I would have said, `No drinking for you tonight, Paul.' But try telling Paul Gascoigne he can't have a drink.''

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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jun 9, 1998
Words:545
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