Carlos Alberto Parreira, Carlos Queiroz and Bora Milutinovic are at the top of the list to become the next coach of America's soccer team, U.S. Soccer Federation president Alan Rothenberg said Wednesday.

Rothenberg called Steve Sampson's resignation "appropriate" and said he's not interested in hiring an American. He had dinner in Paris on Wednesday night with Milutinovic, the U.S. coach from 1991-95 and the coach of Nigeria in this year's tournament."Bora, Queiroz and Parreira would be the three international coaches who obviously have the most knowledge of our players, our structure, the country. There's no question about that," Rothenberg said. "They're on the list automatically. After that, we start talking with people we know less about. I think the single most important thing is a record of success."

Rothenberg also said he will not impose any fines against players who spoke out against Sampson's decisions during the Americans' last-place finish in the 32-nation field. Last Friday, a day after the tournament-ending loss to Yugoslavia, Sampson and general manager Tom King had said fines against the veterans would be forthcoming.

"We have to look ahead and not behind," Rothenberg said.

Sampson, the first American-born coach to lead the United States in the World Cup, got the job in 1995 after Rothenberg fired Milutinovic and Parreira and Queiroz turned it down.

Rothenberg was unsure whether to keep Sampson on after World Cup qualifying, waiting until just before the draw to give him a contract extension through 1998.

"Of course I second-guess myself, but at the time we thought it was the right decision," Rothenberg said.

The decision to consider Milutinovic is somewhat surprising, given that Rothenberg made the decision to fire him three years ago.

"He has a unique personality," Rothenberg said. "It's obvious he's a special coach."

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Milutinovic, the only coach to take four nations to the World Cup's second round, led Mexico during the 1986 tournament and Costa Rica in 1990. After Rothenberg fired him in 1995, he became Mexico's coach for the second time but was fired after World Cup qualifying last fall.

Parreira led Brazil to the 1994 World Cup title, then turned down Rothenberg's offer to become coach of Fenerbahce in Turkey. He then succeeded Queiroz as coach of the New York-New Jersey Metro-Stars in Major League Soccer, quitting in December to become coach of Saudi Arabia, his fourth World Cup team. The Saudis fired him after an 0-2 start in the tournament.

Queiroz, a former coach of Portugal's national team, has spent most of 1998 as a technical advisor to the USSF and is writing a report on the state of soccer in the United States. He turned down the U.S. job to sign with Sporting Lisbon in 1995, then became coach of the Metro-Stars during the 1996 only to resign to go to Grampus Eight in Japan.

He agreed last month to take over as coach of the United Arab Emirates but also has said he is interested in the U.S. job.

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