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U.S. soccer team greeted by soldiers, guns and a few fans

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The U.S. soccer team arrived at the World Cup today and found an airport filled with machine-gun toting soldiers, pistol-armed police and a bomb-sniffing dog.

There were as many guns as soccer players at Satolas Airport when the Americans arrived shortly before noon.Officials allowed French people to greet the team inside the terminal, but three dozen Americans who came to the airport were forced to wait outside behind barriers.

About two dozen French children in red warmup suits with the name of a World Cup sponsor were brought inside for the official greeting while the somewhat peeved American fans tried to catch the team's attention as players walked to the bus.

Because of a strike by Air France pilots, it took a specially chartered flight to get the U.S. team to the airport near its hotel in Saint-Jean-D'Ardieres.

Secuurity was very much in evidence. The team's bus was surrounded by motorcycles police a half-dozen police cars and vans.

Four years ago, when the World Cup was in the United States for the first time, no weapons were visible when the U.S. team traveled. Instead, the U.S. organizers hired plain-clothed security.

To beat the top teams, such as Germany and Yugoslavia, who along with Iran are in the American's first-round group, the United States will have to improve on its scoring. The team has 14 goals in 12 games this year, posting a 6-3-3 record primarily on the strength of its defense and goalkeeping from Kasey Keller, who has four consecutive shutouts.

"I'd be much more concerned if we weren't creating opportunities," Sampson said. "I think the goals will come."

Injuries to key personnel have affected the team's transition to a new offense that features six midfielders and only one forward. But Sampson said Thursday that midfielders Reyna, Frankie Hejduk and Brian Maisonneuve have all healed after missing last weekend's warmup match against Scotland.

The only remaining injury question is forward Eric Wynalda, the leading career goal scorer for the U.S. team, who is battling back from knee surgery, but should be healthy for the opener against Germany.

There is concern that the 11 players who likely will start on June 15 will be playing together for the first time.

The most important player for the United States is Reyna, who quarterbacks the team's attack. When Reyna sat out exhibition games against Macedonia and Scotland with an injured right groin, the U.S. team finished with scoreless ties.

When he played against Kuwait, the Unites States won 2-0. And in April, Reyna had a goal and two assists in a 3-0 victory at Austria.

After the opening match against Germany in Paris on June 15, the United States will play Iran (June 21 in Lyon) and close out the opening round against Yugoslavia (June 25 in Nantes). While the competition is considerably tougher than in 1994, when the United States advanced to the second round, the team remains optimistic.

On Thursday, South Korea tied China 1-1. South Korean star Hwang Sun-hong injured his knee after colliding with the Chinese goalie in the 20th minute. He was being treated at a hospital. In another 1-1 tie, Chile's Marcelo Salas scored on a header in the 90th minute against Morocco.