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  • Monday, May 8, 2000

    Canadian teen makes mark

    By NEIL DAVIDSON -- Canadian Press
     A Canadian teenager has found his way into the club record book at Tranmere Rovers in England.
     
     Iain Hume of Brampton, Ont., who does not turn 17 until Oct. 30, is the youngest player to see first-team action in the First Division team's 116-year history.
     
     The previous record was 16 years 355 days, set by Dixie Dean in 1924.
     
     Hume made his debut on April 15, coming on in the 76th minute in a 3-1 loss to Swindon.
     
     Manager John Aldridge sent him on again as a substitute with three minutes remaining before 32,842 in a 2-0 loss April 22 at Manchester City, a team that will play in the Premier League next season.
     
     The five-foot-seven striker made his third first-team appearance on Sunday, coming on in the 74th minute in a 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.
     
     "The boy shows good talent and, towards the end of the season, the boss has blooded a few boys," Tranmere youth development officer Warwick Rimmer said Monday.
     
     "Obviously there's not been an awful lot of stake at the games so it's been a good opportunity to give them the experience he needs."
     
     Hume, discovered by one of Rimmer's scouts while his Canadian team was on tour in England, is in his first year with the team -- a signing that was helped by the fact that he has a British passport through family bloodlines. He has spent most of the season with Rovers' reserve and under-19 teams.
     
     Like most English clubs, Tranmere identifies players at a young age.
     
     Through its school of excellence, it has boys as young as seven and eight in its system.
     
     While slight of stature, Hume relies on his touch and pace. He can play up front or on the wing.
     
     "He's doing extremely well and he's certainly representing your country very well," said Rimmer. "It's a long road, but he has every chance."
     
     Hume is well-known to Canadian soccer officials, with national under-20 coach Paul James expected to use him on his squad.
     
     ------
     
     Goalie woes: Canada is hurting in goal as its first World Cup qualifier approaches.
     
     While first-stringer Craig Forrest underwent a hernia operation Monday, No. 2 Pat Onstad is only now returning to action after knee surgery.
     
     "Pat is doing extremely well," David Rankine, the trainer at Scotland's Dundee United, said Monday. "We're delighted with his progress."
     
     On Friday, Onstad kicked the ball out of hand for the first time since the surgery on his patella tendon March 29. On Monday, he was kicking off the ground.
     
     Today, he is slated to rejoin the team for full training.
     
     Dundee United has only two Premier League games left but Onstad can play with the club's under-21 side, which has four matches left, while undergoing rehabilitation of his injury.
     
     Onstad, with nine shutouts in 23 international appearances, is a more than capable backup to Forrest. But he has played virtually no games of consequence this season, because of delays in obtaining his British work permit, concerns about his conditioning, the fine play of Dundee United No. 1 Alan Combe and finally his surgery.
     
     Canada has exhibition games May 27 in Toronto against Trinidad and Tobago and May 30 against Honduras.
     
     Then there's the key home-and-away World Cup playoff against either Barbados and Cuba with the first leg away on June 4 and the return match either June 11 or 18 in Winnipeg.
     
     Barbados and Cuba played to a 1-1 tie Sunday in Havana, with the return match scheduled for May 21 in St. Michael. With an away goal under their belt, the lower-ranked Barbadians will have the edge in the return match.
     
     That may be bad news for Canada, which plays the loser of the series to see who advances to the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying.
     
     The Barbados-Cuba winner advances directly to the next round.
     
     Cuba is ranked No. 75 in the world by FIFA while Barbados is No. 110.
     
     Canada is 2-1-2 against Cuba, including a 0-0 tie in Gold Cup qualifying last October and two wins in France 98 qualifying.
     
     Canada, currently ranked No. 63 by FIFA, has never played against Barbados.
     
     Forrest will be out five to six weeks and will miss the June games. Other goalkeeping options include Olympic team 'keepers Mike Franks and Lars Hirschfeld.
     
     "I know I've got called up but I've no idea if I'm playing or not," Franks said Monday from Eindhoven in the Netherlands.
     
     Jim Larkin of the Toronto Lynx is also in the picture, but he is coming off the indoor season with the Edmonton Drillers and has seen little action outdoors.
     
     In other CONCACAF news, El Salvador booked its ticket to the 12-team semifinal round on the strength of a 1-1 tie with Guatemala on Sunday that sealed first place in Group A of the Central American Zone.
     
     Guatemala, in second spot, will have to meet the loser of St. Vincent and Grenadines-Antigua and Barbuda in a playoff to advance to the semifinals.
     
     Antigua and Barbuda defeated visiting St. Vincent and Grenadines 2-1 on Sunday in the first leg of their series.
     
     In Group B, Honduras has the edge after a 3-1 win over Panama left it in first place with nine points. The Panamanians, who have six points, must beat Nicaragua by five goals or more on May 21 to win the group and advance directly to the semifinal round.
     
     The group runner-up will play the loser of Haiti-Trinidad and Tobago to see who moves on. Trinidad and Tobago defeated visiting Haiti 3-1 on Sunday.
     
     Seeded Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and the U.S. have been given byes to the semifinal round, from which send six teams will emerge to battle for the three CONCACAF berths at the 2002 World Cup.
     
     ------
     
     A-League: The Toronto Lynx's 2-1 road win over the Rochester Raging Rhinos on Saturday night came before a crowd of 13,284, the ninth-largest soccer crowd in the history of Frontier Field.
     
     New striker Juan Arango of Colombia scored his first goal for the Lynx.
     
     Toronto's Theo Zagar, making the most of a chance to start with Jim Larkin still making the adjustment from indoor to outdoor soccer, enjoyed a fine game in goal.
     
     "Jim knew coming in this year that the job would probably be open," said coach and GM Peter Pinizzotto.
     
     "Theo got his chance to play. And right now, as long as he's winning, as long as he's playing well, he's going to be there. Jim's got to have some patience and wait for his turn."
     
     Pinizzotto is also pleased with newly-acquired Argentine defender Mauricio Vincello. But he isn't too happy that his team, coming off the big win over Rochester, doesn't play again until its home opener May 21 against Montreal.
     
     ------
     
     NPSL Notes: The Milwaukee Wave won the NPSL championship, defeating the Cleveland Crunch 19-6 Friday to win the best-of-five final 3-2. Crunch forward Hector Marinaro Jr. finished as the playoffs' leading scorer with 22 goals and 54 points in nine games. Milwaukee's Mike Richardson (11 goals, 32 points) was named playoff MVP.
     
     ------
     
     On the Net: Info on where to buy Canada's new national jerseys can be found on the Canadian Soccer Association Web site (www.canadasoccer.com). The price is $110 ... Montreal midfielder Mauro Biello has his own Web site (www.BielloSoccer.com).



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