After one year as an abbreviated four-game tournament, the Nike U.S. Cup will not only be staged again this year in its usual four-team, six-game format, it will also return to its original June schedule. The past two U.S. Cup tournaments were played in warm weather sights early in the year, but this year's tournament will be staged from June 3-11. The final venues and exact tournament schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
"With today's hectic worldwide soccer schedule, putting together a major tournament with these caliber of teams, this far in advance, is extremely difficult," said U.S. Soccer's Secretary General Hank Steinbrecher. "With the participation of Major League Soccer, we were able to isolate the dates in early June to get the Nike U.S. Cup back into the summer and give us the opportunity to make the U.S. Cup 2000 line-up of teams one of our best ever."
After winning the inaugural event in 1992 and capturing the 1995 tournament against a tough field of Colombia, Mexico and Nigeria, the U.S. will be looking to reclaim the U.S. Cup crown, which has been won by Mexico in each of the last three tournaments. In 1999, the Tri-Colores took the crown with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the USA in San Diego on March 13. That loss was the first for Bruce Arena as head coach of the U.S. and concluded the abbreviated four-game tournament.
In six past tournaments, the U.S. has compiled an all-time record of 7-7-3 in 17 games against Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, England, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Portugal.
For Ireland, the trip to the United States marks the country's third U.S. Cup appearance, having previously finished third in the 1992 event and second in 1996. Ireland has compiled a 2-3-1 mark in the six previous U.S. Cup games, including an 0-2 mark against the U.S. Back on May 30, 1992, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., the U.S. downed Ireland 3-1 in the first-ever U.S. Cup match.
South Africa will not only be making their Nike U.S. Cup debut, but will also be taking on the USA for the first time in the history of the two countries.
"This is a great field," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "Ireland had some success in Euro qualifying and is always a tough opponent and our first match-up against South Africa will be a good test against one of Africa's strongest teams. And we are always up for games against Mexico. Having games scheduled in advance like this helps us tremendously in mapping out our preparation for the entire year, and will help the overall promotion of the tournament."