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  • Saturday, June 10, 2000

    Captain Canuck becomes sniper

    Defender deVos gets more ink for his offence

    By JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

     He's quickly becoming the Ray Bourque of the soccer pitch.

     Veteran defender Jason deVos has potted just three goals for the team he captains, but two of them were the biggest scores in the history of Canadian soccer.

     First, deVos scored the winning goal in the much-celebrated Gold Cup final against Colombia. He followed that up with the only marker in the first leg of a two-game World Cup-qualifying series against Cuba in Havana last Sunday. And, since it was an away goal, it counts double in the grand aggregate series, which wraps up at the Winnipeg Soccer Complex tomorrow at 7 p.m.

     "It's something that's nice, especially for defenders," the Gold Cup all-star said after a training session at the WSC yesterday.

     "You don't usually get a lot of credit for defensive duties. It's something that never really grabs headlines. But any time you can score a goal, it's nice and it helps the team as well."

     Even Bourque gets more ink for offence than defence.

     "It's certainly not my primary job on the field," said the 6-foot-4, 205-pound London, Ont., native. "That's up to the strikers. My main job is to keep the other team from scoring.

     "But any time I can take advantage of my aerial ability and my size and strength in the box, it's going to help the team."

     But a defender scoring in soccer is usually rarer than a pitcher getting a hit in baseball.

     "It actually happens quite a bit with our team," said head coach Holger Osieck.

     By design?

     "By occasion," he replied.

     PRAISING HIS TEAMMATES

     But deVos, 26, plays an even more important role with the team, constantly directing and praising his teammates during practices and games.

     "He's one of our most experienced players on the pitch and he's got to direct his teammates," Osieck said. "That's what I ask of him and that's normal behaviour for him."

     And Osieck relates his wishes through deVos.

     "I've got to be the voice of the coach on the field," deVos said. "And more communication makes my job easier, especially being a defender."

     But he's a defender with a knack for scoring key goals.

     HEADERS: The Cubans are scheduled to train at the WSC this afternoon ... Although Carl Fletcher, Richard Hastings and Garret Kusch are on the hobble, Osieck expects them all to be ready for tomorrow ... An update on ticket sales was unavailable yesterday, but the $15 endzone seats that were being reserved for youth teams are now open to the public. Call Select-A-SEAT at 780-SEAT or the Manitoba Soccer Association at 925-5752.



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