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U.S. Soccer Wire: McBride Leads U.S. into Gold Cup Semifinals; U.S. Women Finish Four Nations Tournament with Win


MCBRIDE'S HAT TRICK LIFTS U.S. INTO GOLD CUP SEMIFINALS:  The U.S. Men's National Team turned in a dominating performance on Sunday, outgunning El Salvador 4-0 to advance to the semifinals of the Gold Cup, where they will face Canada on Wednesday, January 30 at 8:30 p.m. PT at the Rose Bowl.  Brian McBride provided the offensive fireworks for the U.S., scoring three goals in the first 21 minutes to lead the U.S. into the semis.  Ante Razov added a goal in the second half, his first of 2002.  The U.S. has now advanced to the semifinals in five of six Gold Cup tournaments, more than any other nation.  McBride's hat trick is the sixth in U.S. Men's National Team history, and the first since Joe-Max Moore scored four goals in a 7-0 win over El Salvador on Dec. 5, 1993.  Amazingly, McBride also saw three goals disallowed due to offside calls.  A pair of U.S. players made their return to the U.S. squad in the second half.  Brian Maisonneuve entered in the 61st minute, making his first appearance for the U.S. since the 1998 World Cup.  Two minutes later, Clint Mathis stepped on the field for the first time in over seven months, returning from a torn ACL in his right knee suffered on June 5, 2001.

U.S. DEFEAT CHINA TO CLOSE OUT FOUR NATIONS TOURNAMENT: The U.S. Women's National Team scored two goals in the first nine minutes to defeat China, 2-0, in final match of the Four Nations Women's Tournament at Tianhe Stadium on Sunday.  The game was played under a steady drizzle as Shannon MacMillan and Tiffeny Milbrett scored for the USA, which had been shutout in the USA's first two Four Nations matches.  With the win, the USA ended the tournament with four points, the same as Germany.  The two teams both had the same goal difference at plus-one, but Germany scored more goals and thus finished in second place, with the USA third and China last.  Norway won the tournament with six points despite being topped by Germany, 3-1, on Sunday. U.S. goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene was named the tournament's top goalkeeper.

MLS UNVEILS 2002 LEAGUE SCHEDULE:  The 2002 MLS season will kick off on March 23 and will feature 85 percent of the League's matches on weekends of holidays.  Over the course of the 26-week season, the League's 10 teams will play 28 league games for the second consecutive season, with four games (two home, two away) against each opponent within its Conference.  The remaining 12 games of the schedule will have each team playing at home and away against clubs outside its Conference, and hosting two home games against one club from the opposite Conference. This outside opponent was decided based on points-per-game rankings from the 2001 regular season, matching strongest vs. strongest.  All games during the first nine weeks of the 2002 season will be played on Saturdays, with weekly marquee games being televised as part of the League's Soccer Saturday programming. The opening day of play will be highlighted by the Chicago Fire traveling to Crew Stadium in Columbus for a match to be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. ET.

- CONCACAF GOLD CUP UPDATE -

LOOKING AHEAD TO THE U.S. - CANADA SEMIFINAL:  The U.S. is 9-8-7 in 24 all-time matches against Canada, but surprisingly the two teams have not met since back-to-back 3-0 victories for the U.S. in 1998 World Cup qualifying (on Nov. 9, 1997 in Vancouver and March 16, 1997 in Palo Alto, Calif.) ... The U.S. has not lost to Canada in eight straight matches, dating all the way back to a 2-0 defeat on April 2, 1985, in Vancouver.  During that 17-year span, the U.S. has gone 4-0-4 against their northern neighbors ...  Perhaps more impressively, in that eight-game span, the U.S. has shutout Canada six times, outscoring them 13-3 ... The U.S. has advanced to the semifinals in five of six Gold Cup tournaments, more than any other nation (including Mexico, who have failed to qualify for two consecutive Gold Cup semifinals after winning three straight tournaments) ...  Overall, the U.S. is 3-1 in their four Gold Cup semifinal appearances, which includes their historic 1-0 victory over Brazil back in 1998.

- U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

U.S. MEN TO FACE ECUADOR IN BIRMINGHAM ON MARCH 10: The United States Men's National Team will continue their World Cup preparations with an international friendly against fellow 2002 World Cup qualifiers Ecuador on March 10 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., in a match that will be shown live on ABC at 3 p.m. CT.  Ecuador is coming off an impressive run through CONMEBOL qualifying that included nine wins and four draws in 18 matches.  The surprise team of qualifying, Ecuador finished second, ahead of traditional South American powers Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia.  The U.S. has never beat Ecuador in eight matches. Tickets can be ordered by calling TicketMaster at 800-277-1700.

TICKETS GOING FAST FOR U.S. - HONDURAS REMATCH IN SEATTLE:   More than 15,000 tickets have already been sold to the U.S. - Honduras friendly on March 2 at SAFECO Field in Seattle.  The game will kick off at 1 p.m. PT and will be televised live on ESPN.  VIP Midfield seats ($55) sold out shortly after going on sale.  Tickets can be ordered by calling TicketMaster at 206-628-0888.

ARENA TWO VICTORIES SHY OF BREAKING SAMPSON'S WINS RECORD:  The 4-0 win over El Salvador on Sunday was Bruce Arena's 25th international victory with the U.S. MNT.  The win puts Arena just two wins shy of passing Steve Sampson's (1995-1998) mark of 26 wins with the USA, the most from an American-born head coach.  Both trail all-time U.S. MNT leader Bora Milutinovic (1991-1995), who guided the U.S. to 30 wins.

RAZOV TALLIES 500TH GOAL IN U.S. MNT HISTORY:  Forward Ante Razov's goal in the 4-0 victory over El Salvador was the 500th score in U.S. Men's National Team history.  Going into the 2002 Gold Cup, the USA had notched 493 goals since 1916.  After tallies by forward Landon Donovan, midfielder DaMarcus Beasley and four by Brian McBride, Razov's goal allowed the U.S. to reach the 500-goal plateau.

- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

U.S. UNDER-16 BOYS WRAP UP MEXICO MATCHES WITH TWO WINS ON FINAL DAY:  The U.S. Under-16 Boys National Team traveled to Mexico last week to play six matches against some of Mexico's top youth sides.  The U.S. team was split into two squads, with each team playing three matches.  After losing two games on Jan. 22, the U.S. sides rebounded two days later to post a win and a draw against Tecos and Atlas.  Kevin Werbner scored twice for the U.S. "B" team in a 2-2 draw with Atlas, and Daniel Szetela converted a penalty kick to give the U.S. "A" team a 2-1 win over Tecos.  Both U.S. sides got wins on their final day of competition, including the U.S. "B" team cruising to a 6-1 win against Rio Grande.  Travis Young scored twice in the romp for the U.S.

U-19 WOMEN CONTINUE PREPARATIONS FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING: U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team head coach Tracey Leone started a busy year for her squad with a training camp that began on Saturday at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif.  The camp runs through February 2 and will include three matches.  The  U.S. Under-19s are preparing for CONCACAF Qualifying in Trinidad & Tobago from May 5-12.  The USA will compete in Group B, which will include Haiti, the winners of Group 2 in Caribbean Zone qualifying and the winner of the qualifying tournament in the Central Zone.

U.S. UNDER-18 MEN PREPARE TO KICK OFF 2002:   U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team Head Coach George Gelnovatch will welcome his newest crop of U.S. Under-18s when the team opens their first training camp on Sunday, Feb. 3., at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Three players who will take part in the first training camp - Hunter Freeman, Josh Villalobos and Greg Dalby - were capped at the Under-17 level, and Freeman and Villalobos were a part of U.S. Soccer's Under-17 Residency Program.  The team's first training camp includes three matches, as the U.S. team will face Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire and Metrostars, before ending camp with a match against the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team.  Last year, the U.S. Under-18s shocked the Chicago Fire with a 1-0 win on Feb. 8 in Bradenton, Fla.  Players in the current pool of Under-18s (born since 1985) will be eligible for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.
Goalkeepers:  Andrew Kartunen (Irvine Strikers / San Juan Capistrano, Calif.), Jason Landers (F.C. Delco '84 / Lower Gwynedd);
Defenders: Taylor Canel (West Valley Samba / Sherman Oaks, Calif.), Greg Dalby (San Diego Surf / Poway, Calif.), Hunter Freeman (Dallas Texans / Allen, Texas), David Henning (Milwaukee Rampage / Brookfield, Wisc.), Gabriel Ortega (Downtown United / Ozone Park. N.Y.), Kareem Smith (Hyde Park, Mass.), Michael Zaher (Premier '86 / Las Vegas, Nev.);
Midfielders:  Sergio Flores (Chacarita Juniors - Argentina), Jeff Chambers (FC Delco Black / Christiana Black), Ian Etherington (La Jolla Nomads / Temecula, Calif.), Willaim Hall (East Meadow Hawks / Shirley, N.Y.), Muner Hassen (Team America / Alexandria , Va.), Patrick Ianni (Lodi, Calif.), Josh Villalobos (Charlotte SC / Fayetteville, N.C.);
Forwards:  Arturo Alvarez (Bear Creek United / Houston, Texas), Chad Barrett (West Side Metro Rangers / Beaverton, Ore.), Adam Christman (Richmond Strikers / Glen Allen, Va.), Nathan Norman (Vardar III / Rochester, Mich.), Georgios Spanos (East Meadow Hawks / West Islip, N.Y.), Ramon Nunez (Dallas Texans / Dallas, Texas).

-  AROUND THE SOCCER NATION -

INTERNATIONAL SPORTS MEDICINE CONFERENCE IN BEVERLY HILLS: The leaders from the world of soccer and medicine will come together this March at the first ever International Football and Sports Medicine Conference being staged at the Beverly Hills Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif., from March 22-24, 2002.  With the world's foremost experts addressing long-term health and safety issues for athletes worldwide at every level of soccer competition, the conference promises to be an educational experience.  The conference is open to practicing professionals in the field of Sports Medicine, as well as to coaches and players at every level of the sport.  For more information, or to sign up for the conference's mailing list, send an email to football2002@aossm.org.

SUN WEN TO RETURN FOR 2002 WUSA SEASON, GERMAN STAR GOES TO COURAGE:  The Atlanta Beat bolstered their squad last week, when they filled their final international roster spot with Chinese midfielder/defender Liping Wang, and then learned that Sun Wen will return for the 2002 WUSA season.  The two were longtime teammates on the Chinese National Team.  And in one of the biggest moves of the WUSA offseason, the Carolina Courage acquired Birgit Prinz, Germany's Player of the Year in 2001.  One of the game's most lethal strikers, Prinz has scored 38 goals in 88 appearances for her country.  Prinz, 24, ranks fourth all-time in career goals and sixth all-time in appearances for Germany.  She was the fourth leading vote-getter in the 2001 FIFA World Player of the Year voting.

WUSA SIGNS TELEVISION  AGREEMENT WITH WTSN IN CANADA: The Canadian television network WTSN will show 28 WUSA games during the 2002 season. WTSN expects to air 25 live games, including playoff and championship matches.  As a lead-in to the 2002 season, WTSN will air replays of the two 2001 Semifinal Playoff Games and the inaugural WUSA Founder's Cup. The one-year TV agreement includes an option for a second season in 2003.   During the league's inaugural season in 2001, WUSA games were aired internationally on China Central Television and in New Zealand on TelstraSaturn.

MLS ADDS FOUR-TIME REFEREE OF THE YEAR PAUL TAMBERINO AS CONSULTANT: Major League Soccer Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis announced last week that veteran American soccer referee Paul Tamberino has been appointed as a consultant to the League and will occupy a place on the MLS Disciplinary Committee.  Also, Gazidis announced that longtime MLS Vice President of Game Operations, Joe Machnik, has been promoted to Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner for On-Field Competition.  Tamberino, a four-time MLS Referee of the Year, retired from officiating following the 2001 U.S. Open Cup.  He officiated 78 regular season matches during the course of his six seasons with the league.  Machnik came to MLS as the League's Vice President of Game Operations in October 1996, and    this weekend he was inducted into the Connecticut Soccer Hall of Fame.

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

SOCCER SHOCKER:  Korea Republic has reached the semifinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but have yet to win a game.  In five overall Gold Cup matches (from 2000-2002), Korea Republic have lost one and tied four.  In Sunday's 2002 quarterfinals, Korea battled three-time Gold Cup Champion Mexico to a scoreless draw after regulation and two sudden-death overtime periods.  The Asians topped the Tri-Colores 4-2 in the penalty kick shootout to become first nation in Gold Cup's history (since 1991) to advance to the semis without a victory.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  The U.S. Men's National Team will face the defending CONCACAF Gold Cup Champions Canada in the semifinals on Wednesday, January 30, in Pasadena, Calif.  A win gives the USA a spot in the Gold Cup Finals for the first time since 1998.

PEAK PERFORMER:  Forward Brian McBride provided the majority of the U.S. offense at the Gold Cup, scoring four of the USA's seven goals.  After scoring the game-winner against Cuba last Monday, McBride scored three times to lead the Americans past El Salvador 4-0 in the quarterfinals of the 2002 Gold Cup on Sunday.  McBride's hat trick is the sixth in U.S. Men's National Team history and the first since 1993.

QUOTABLE:
"It doesn't matter what the critics say about scoring goals, the bottom line is you win a game and nothing matters after that.  Maybe we didn't do it as pretty in the first two games, but we came out here and got the result and that's all that matters."
- Clint Mathis, on the question of the USA's ability to score goals in pressure situations.
 


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