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Soccer Wire: U.S. MNT Heads to Camp, Prepares for World Cup Qualifying Hexagonal


ARENA CALLS 28 PLAYERS INTO CAMP TO PREPARE FOR FINAL ROUND OF QUALIFYING: U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena has called 28 players into camp to train for the upcoming FIFA World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9 in Port of Spain, Trinidad.  Kickoff at the Queen’s Park Oval is set for 2:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. local), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The team will train at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and will depart for Trinidad on Feb. 7 after relocating to South Florida. Several European-based players are expected to join the squad in Florida either Feb. 6 or 7 after competing in their league matches that weekend. The experience in the squad starts in the back, led by MetroStars captain Eddie Pope, the top capwinner in the team with 66 international appearances.  He is joined by fellow 2002 World Cup backliners and Columbus Crew teammates Frankie Hejduk and Tony Sanneh.  Combined, the trio made 14 starts in Korea/Japan, including Sanneh’s standout performance against Germany in the 1-0 quarterfinal loss. FC Dallas striker Ed Johnson is coming off a remarkable first year with the full team, netting five goals in three games, including a hat trick in the 6-0 win against Panama on Oct. 13.  Real Salt Lake striker Clint Mathis returns to the fold for the first time since returning to the United States, joined by fellow Georgia native and Wizards forward Josh Wolff, whose eight appearances for the senior team in 2004 marked the second most in his international career.  D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian joins the squad after a stellar league campaign, highlighted by a two-goal performance in United’s 3-2 MLS Cup championship victory against Kansas City that earned him MVP honors. Arena has called four goalkeepers into camp, led by MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Joe Cannon.  The Rapids netminder led the league in saves (150) and save percentage (.80), earning a nomination as a finalist for the league MVP award.  Jon Busch, Kevin Hartman and Nick Rimando round out the goalkeeping corps. Kansas City, New England and Columbus each contribute four players to the camp, including first-timer and MLS Rookie of the Year finalist Chad Marshall.  Also making his debut appearance for the senior team is Chicago Fire midfielder Justin Mapp, Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad, MetroStars forward Mike Magee and midfielder Clyde Simms from the Richmond Kickers of the United Soccer Leagues are also in their first camp with the team.
U.S. MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4) – Jon Busch (Columbus Crew), Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids), Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nick Rimando (D.C. United); DEFENDERS (8) – Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Nick Garcia (Kansas City Wizards), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Eddie Pope (MetroStars), Tony Sanneh (Columbus Crew); MIDFIELDERS (9) – Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Diego Gutierrez (Kansas City Wizards), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Clint Mathis (Real Salt Lake), Brian Mullan (San Jose Earthquakes), Ben Olsen (D.C. United), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution), Clyde Simms (Richmond Kickers); FORWARDS (7) – Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (FC Dallas), Mike Magee (MetroStars), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution), Josh Wolff (Kansas City Wizards)


-- FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR U.S. MNT QUALIFYING HOME OPENER IN ALABAMA: Tickets are now on sale for the United States Men’s National Team’s first home game of the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Tickets ranging in price from $18 to $55 will be available online at ussoccer.com, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix and Coconuts), and by phone at 1-800-277-1700.  Groups of 15 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745, ext. 119. Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and tape delayed on Telemundo at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The team’s only other visit came nearly two years earlier, when the U.S. MNT drew 1-1 with Tunisia in front of 21,637 fans in the team’s first-ever match in Alabama. Birmingham also served as a venue for soccer at the 1996 Olympic Games, where the Bruce Arena-led U.S. Olympic team played two matches at Legion Field, falling to Argentina and topping Tunisia. The U.S. holds a 7-4-3 lifetime record against Guatemala, including a perfect 6-0-0 mark on U.S. soil. The last time the teams met was during semifinal round qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The teams split points in a 1-1 draw in Mazatenango, Guatemala on July 16, 2000, then Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in the USA’s hard fought 1-0 win on Sept. 3, 2000 at RFK Stadium.

U.S. OPENS WORLD CUP QUALIFYING ON FEB. 9 IN TRINIDAD & TOBAGO: The United States will open its bid to qualify for its fifth consecutive World Cup finals in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9. The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 9-Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.  The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.  Drawn as Team 6 in the final round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to Germany as their first two games will take place on the road.  The U.S. gets its consecutive home dates for Matches 3 & 4 and 6 & 7, and will then face two away matches before concluding final round play in the United States.  Venues for the five home matches for the U.S. will be announced as they become finalized.
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Final Round
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Feb. 9        Panama vs. Guatemala 
Feb. 9        Costa Rica vs. Mexico 
Feb. 9        Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA  
Date              Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 26/27 Costa Rica vs. Panama
March 26/27 Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago
March 27      Mexico vs. USA 
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 30     Panama vs. Mexico   
March 30    USA vs. Guatemala   
March 30     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Costa Rica
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 4/5      Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama   
June 4/5      Guatemala vs. Mexico   
June 4         USA vs. Costa Rica   
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 8        Panama vs. USA   
June 8         Costa Rica vs. Guatemala   
June 8         Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Aug. 17       Guatemala vs. Panama   
Aug. 17       Mexico vs. Costa Rica   
Aug. 17       USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 3/4     Panama vs. Costa Rica  
Sept. 3/4     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 3        USA vs. Mexico  
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 7       Mexico vs. Panama 
Sept. 7        Guatemala vs. USA  
Sept. 7         Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 8/9       Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 8/9       Mexico vs. Guatemala 
Oct. 8/9       Costa Rica vs. USA 
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 12        USA vs. Panama   
Oct. 12        Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 12        Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
 
Playoff (*home team will be determined by lottery at the conclusion of the final round)
Date                Match-up
*Nov. 12/13    AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4 
*Nov. 16          AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4


-- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U-14 BNT RETURN FROM MEXICO AFTER WEEK-LONG TRAINING CAMP: The U.S. Under-14 Boys' National Team returned home this Sunday (Jan. 23) after a week-long training camp in Guadalajara, Mexico. During the camp, head coach Manfred Schellscheidt split the 34 players into two teams, and each squad played three matches against Mexican club youth teams. On Jan. 18, the U-14 Team A got a goal from Gregory Garza, but fell to Chivas 2-1, while Team B drew with Delfines 3-3 with goals from Adedoja Akinsanya, Andrew Lubahn and Ryan Finley. Two days later, Team A battled Cruz Azul to a wild 4-4 draw as Jesus Mireless led the way with a hat trick and Bryan Dominguez provided the other strike. In the other match of the day, Chivas came out on top against the U-14s once again as Team B fell 1-0. During the final day of games on Jan. 22, Team A got goals from Mireles and Garza, but couldn't fend off the attack-minded Tecos as they fell 5-2, while Team B cruised to a 4-0 victory over Cruz Azul as Uwem Etuk, Adedoja Akinsanya, Scott Caldwell and Luis Herrera all found the back of the net.
U-14 BNT Schedule
Date          Opponent    Result     U.S. Goal Scorers 
Jan. 18      Chivas          1-2 L      Garza
Jan. 18      Delfines        3-3 T      Akinsanya, Lubahn
Jan. 20      Cruz Azul     4-4 T      Mireles (3), Dominguez
Jan. 20      Chivas          0-1 L      n/a
Jan. 22      Cruz Azul     4-0 W     Etuk, Akinsanya, Caldwell, Herrera
Jan. 22      Tecos          2-5 L       Mireles, Garza


– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

FIRST TICKET-SELLING PHASE FOR FIFA WORLD CUP GERMANY 2006 BEGINS FEB. 1: The first phase of ticket sales for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany begins February 1 when 812,000 tickets are released for general sale. According to the latest seating plans, the cumulative overall capacity for the tournament's 64 matches at the twelve stadiums in Germany will be 3.37 million. However, this figure will be reduced to about 2.93 million to allow for visiting state dignitaries, VIPs, media, security personnel and seats with restricted views. This first stage in the sales process will end on March 31. Tickets purchased during this time will be allocated by a lottery, not on a first-come, first-served basis. The lottery will be conducted on April 15, 2005, under notarial supervision and in accordance with German technical inspection authority (TÜV) standards. All successful ticket orders will be ratified by written booking confirmation, specifying the category and number of tickets allocated. Notification of precise seat numbers will follow at a later date. MasterCard is the only credit card accepted for the first four phases of ticket purchases. Other selling phases will take place from Dec. 1, 2005 to Jan. 15, 2006, Feb. 1, 2006 to April 15, 2006 and May 1, 2006 to July 9, 2006.

NIKE AND U.S. CLUB SOCCER FORM STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP: U.S. Club Soccer announced last week that it has reached an agreement with Nike to become the Official Apparel and Equipment Supplier for all U.S. Club Soccer programs. A member of the U.S. Soccer Federation with more than 900 clubs in 44 states, U.S. Club Soccer includes programs such as The National Cup, id2 and The Champions League Cup. In addition to supplying US Club Soccer's programs with all necessary equipment needs, Nike will provide US Club Soccer with the resources to insure their continued rapid growth. Nike, regarded as the world's leader in apparel and footwear, has been a longtime supporter of soccer in the United States. Since 1995, Nike has been a major partner and licensee of U.S. Soccer, outfitting both the men and women's national team programs.

GOODBYE FOX SPORTS WORLD, HELLO FOX SOCCER CHANNEL: Fox Sports World will be relaunched as Fox Soccer Channel at midnight on February 7, announced David Sternberg, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Fox Soccer Channel. Fox Soccer Channel will draw more than 80 percent of its first-run programming hours from world-class soccer competitions, including the Barclays English Premier League, the English FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, the Toyota Intercontinental Cup, World Cup qualifying matches for the United States and England national teams and numerous European and Latin American national leagues. Domestic action on the network will feature America's top professional league, Major League Soccer, as well as matches from the United Soccer Leagues. FOX Sports will provide viewers an exclusive first look at the channel during the Super Bowl XXXIX Pre-Game Show, set for Sunday, February 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Following the Super Bowl, at midnight on Monday, February 7, Fox Soccer Channel will officially unveil all-new on-air broadcast graphics and music. The first week will be highlighted by a live telecast of the international friendly between England and Holland on Wednesday, February 9, at 2:45 p.m. ET.


*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller started off on the right foot with his new club, Borussia Moenchengladbach of the German Bundesliga. He posted a clean sheet in his 1-0 Bundesliga debut against Arminia Bielefeld on Saturday (Jan. 22), after being transferred recently from Tottenham of the English Premier League.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: Manchester United and Chelsea face off once again in the second leg of the Carling Cup semifinal on Wednesday (Jan. 26) at 3 p.m. ET at Old Trafford. In the first leg of the semifinal, the teams ended in a scoreless draw at Stamford Bridge on January 12.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Defending two-time Mexican League Champions UNAM Pumas are in 16th place out of the 18 teams in the Mexican league after the first two games of the season. Pumas, coached by former Mexico international Hugo Sanchez, kicked off their season with a 1-0 loss to Tecos in Guadalajara, and continued in the second week with another 1-0, this time at home against Atlante.

QUOTABLE: "It's always disappointing (not starting), but I just got here so it's going to be something that I have to earn."
     Landon Donovan after his Bundesliga debut in Bayer Leverkusen’s 3-0 win over Hannover 96 on Sunday (Jan. 23).

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