WAMBACH, KLUEGEL NOTCH FIRST INTERNATIONAL GOALS IN SAN JOSE: In just her second match for the full U.S. Women's National Team and her first start, forward Abby Wambach scored her first career goal and picked up her first assist to lead the USA past Finland, 3-0, at Spartan Stadium in front of a boisterous doubleheader crowd of 11,990. Defenders Joy Fawcett and Jena Kluegel also scored in the match for the U.S., who improved their record in 2002 to 5-2-2. In addition to her goal and assist, Wambach, a rookie standout for the Washington Freedom in the WUSA, collected eight shots in the game (including two that hit the post) and earned Chevy Woman of the Match honors for her efforts as the U.S. out-shot Finland 33-3 in the game. U.S. goalkeeper LeKeysia Beene made history, becoming the first woman to play for her club and country on the same day as she went 90 minutes for the Bay Area CyberRays in a 2-1 loss to the Carolina Courage in the first game of the doubleheader and 76 minutes for the USA against Finland. Beene made one save in the match, before giving way to 20-year-old Hope Solo, who helped preserve the shutout for the USA. The U.S. women will now return to their WUSA clubs and colleges and will not regroup again to play for their country again until July. CONCACAF qualifying for the 2003 Women's World Cup will take place at the end of October and in early November at venues that will be announced soon.
ARENA NAMES FINAL 23-PLAYER ROSTER, ALTERNATES FOR U.S. WORLD CUP TEAM: After three-and-a-half years and 57 games at the helm of the U.S. Men's National Team, head coach Bruce Arena selected the 23 players who will represent the U.S. at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan. The long-awaited announcement was made last week (April 22) on ESPN's SportsCenter, just 37 days before the world's largest sporting event kicks off in Korea/Japan on May 31. "After an exhaustive process and many successes and challenges over the last four years, we have selected the 23 players who we believe will give us the best chance of success at the 2002 FIFA World Cup," said Arena, who has guided the U.S. to an impressive 7-3-1 record in 11 games in 2002. Arena's selections are highlighted by the inclusion of seven players who will be representing the U.S. in their third overall World Cup, including U.S. captain Claudio Reyna, all-time U.S. World Cup qualifying goal scoring leader Earnie Stewart, all-time U.S. appearance leader Cobi Jones, second all-time leading scorer Joe-Max Moore and all three goalkeeper selections – Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller and Tony Meola.
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Friedel (Blackburn Rovers – England), Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur -- England), Tony Meola (Kansas City Wizards);
Defenders (8): Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes), Gregg Berhalter (Crystal Palace – England), Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen -- Germany), Carlos Llamosa (New England Revolution), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Pope (D.C. United), David Regis (F.C. Metz – France), Tony Sanneh (F.C. Nurnberg – Germany);
Midfielders (8): Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy), Eddie Lewis (Fulham – England), John O’Brien (Ajax – Holland), Claudio Reyna (Sunderland – England), Earnie Stewart (NAC Breda – Holland);
Forwards (4): Clint Mathis (MetroStars), Brian McBride (Columbus Crew), Joe-Max Moore (Everton – England), Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire).
WORLD CUP TEAM HEADS TO NORTH CAROLINA CAMP BEFORE “NIKE ROAD TO KOREA”: The U.S. World Cup Team will officially take shape when the players and coaches arrive in Cary, N.C., tomorrow (April 30) to begin a 10-day camp from May 1-10 prior to the three-game “Nike Road to Korea” series up the East Coast on May 12, 16 and 19. [Note to media: All training sessions in North Carolina are CLOSED to fans and media. Players will be made available to the media through daily sessions that will be determined each morning.]
KELLER BLANKS LIVERPOOL; STEWART, CASEY SCORE IN BIG WEEK IN EUROPE: In his sixth consecutive league appearance for Tottenham, Kasey Keller had a strong performance in shutting out Liverpool for a 1-0 win. Keller is now undefeated in his last three starts, with a 2-1-3 record in six league starts across the last month. Brad Friedel is undefeated in his last five starts (4-1-0) after Blackburn posted two huge results – a 2-2 draw with Newcastle United and a 2-1 win over Everton – to save relegation with just two weeks left in the English Premier League season. Facing a similar relegation battle, Sunderland tied Charlton Athletic 2-2, but Claudio Reyna did not appear in the match while serving a suspension for a red card he received two weeks ago. With the draw, Sunderland will stay in the Premier League next season and host Derby in its final match of the EPL season. In Holland, John O’Brien and his Ajax teammates made it five wins in a row, defeating FC Den Bosch 2-0 to stay atop the Dutch Honor Division with just one week left in the season. Ajax needs just a point at NEC on Saturday to claim their 28th Eredivisie title. Earnie Stewart scored his tenth goal of the season to help lift NAC Breda to a 3-1 win over Fortuna. In France, defender Greg Vanney started and played a full 90 minutes, but F.C. Bastia fell 3-0 to Troyes. In Germany, Tony Sanneh played all 90 minutes in F.C. Nurnberg’s surprising 1-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen. F.C. Nurnberg, which officially avoided relegation with the win, will finish its Bundesliga season this weekend against F.C. St. Pauli and defender Cory Gibbs, who started in his club’s 3-2 loss to Werder Bremen. In other action, forward Conor Casey scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season in a pair of games for Hannover 96 last week. Hannover 96 lost to Arminia Bielefeld 3-2 before rebounding to defeat MSV Diusburg 4-1. Teammate Steve Cherundolo played a full 90 minutes versus Arminia, but only played a half against MSV.
— U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
RIVERA REPLACES BINGHAM ON U-19 WNT QUALIFYING ROSTER: Goalkeeper Megan Rivera, a freshman at Auburn, has replaced injured Kim Bingham on head coach Tracey Leone's U.S. Under-19 roster that will attempt to qualify for the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women's World Cup during the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament being held May 7-11 in Trinidad & Tobago. An injured foot will keep Bingham off the roster for qualifying, but she will be in consideration for a spot on team that travels to Canada for the FIFA World Championshop should the young U.S. women qualify next week. Rivera joins Ashlyn Harris, a high school sophomore, as the two goalkeepers on the U-19 roster. The U-19s have never lost an international match in their two-year history, compiling an 8-0-1 mark, and in those matches have outscored the opposition 44-2. Kelly Wilson has scored a team-leading 11 goals, while Lindsay Tarpley has pounded in nine scores.
Goalkeepers (2): Ashlyn Harris (Satellite Beach, Fla.), Megan Rivera (Auburn University);
Defenders (4): Jessica Ballweg (Santa Clara), Rachel Buehler (Del Mar, Calif.), Kendall Fletcher (Cary, N.C.), Jessica Trainor (Univ. of Virginia);
Midfielders (7): Lori Chalupny (St. Louis, Mo.), Allison Graham (Fayeteville, Ga.), Sarah Huffman (Flower Mound, Texas), Manya Makoski (Trumbull, Conn.), Jill Oakes (West Hills, Calif.), Leslie Osborne (Menomonee Falls, Wisc.), Anne Schefter (Yakima, Wash.);
Forwards (5): Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas), Megan Kakadelas (USC), Heather O’Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Kelly Wilson (University of Texas).
U.S. UNDER-20s CONTINUE UNDEFEATED RUN, END CAMP WITH THREE WINS: Thomas Rongen’s U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team wrapped up its third training camp of 2002 with a 4-1 win against the U.S. Under-18 MNT yesterday. The win capped a week-long training camp that also included a 2-1 win against the University of San Francisco and a 1-0 win against the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Under-20s have extended their record this year to 8-0-2. Brett Wiesner (Univ. of Washington) came off the bench to score both goals in the win against the University of San Francisco on April 23. The next day, midfielder Mike Magee scored on an 89th minute free kick to give the Under-20s the win against the Galaxy. The U-20s closed out the camp with the win against the Under-18s on Sunday. Magee scored the opener in that match, his seventh goal in the seven games he has played in this year. Mike Enfield (UCLA), Knox Cameron (Univ. of Michigan) and Brian Plotkin (Sockers FC) also scored for the Under-20s in the win. Rongen used the camp to look at a variety of players who had not previously seen time in the Under-20 camp.
U.S. UNDER-18s OPEN CAMP vs. U-20s, PLAY TWO MORE GAMES THIS WEEK: The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team opened an eight-day training camp at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., yesterday with a 4-1 loss to the U.S. Under-20 squad. Chad Barrett (Beaverton, Ore.) scored the lone goal for the Under-18s. The U-18s will wrap up their training camp with matches against the San Diego Sockers on Wednesday (May 1) and then against the University of California at Berkeley on Friday (May 3). The Under-18s are 2-4-1 in 2002, with two losses coming against MLS teams.
— AROUND THE SOCCER NATION —
MILWAUKEE, PHILADELPHIA BATTLE FOR MISL TITLE ON FRIDAY: The Milwaukee Wave will host the Philadelphia Kixx in game three of the best-of-three 2001-02 Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Final Series on Friday (May 3) at the Bradley Center at 7 p.m. CT. This is a winner take all match-up, as the MISL regular season champion Wave took the first game in Milwaukee last Friday, 11-4, but then the Kixx evened the series at 1-1 on Saturday by the same score. The Wave, lead by current U.S. Futsal National Team head coach Keith Tozer, are looking for their third consecutive indoor championship and fourth in the last five seasons.
FUTSAL TEAM HEADS FOR 2002 GENK CUP IN BELIGUM: The U.S. Futsal National Team will depart for Genk, Belgium, on Sunday (May 5) to compete in the 2002 Genk Cup from May 8-11. This is the first U.S. trip to Belgium in nearly 10 years after dropping a 4-2 decision to the host in an international friendly on September 26, 1992 in Antwerp. The U.S. has been placed in Group G alongside host club Zvk Ford Genk and Oquido Affligem Futsal Club, both of Belgium. The U.S. roster, under head coach Keith Tozer, has nine players with international experience under their belts. Leading the way for the Americans is defender Sean Bowers (Baltimore Blast-MISL), who is ranked third all-time in appearances for the USA with 21. Forward and Blast teammate Lee Tschantret leads the attack with six goals in 10 international appearances, while midfielder Bernie Lilavois (Buena Park, Calif.) has four tallies in seven matches.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMERS: U.S. forward and WUSA rookie Abby Wambach is making quite an impression in this young women’s soccer season. In addition to being a potent part of the Washington Freedom attack so far in Year Two after a stellar career at the University of Florida, the imposing 5-10 striker was perhaps the U.S. Women’s National Team’s most dangerous presence in Saturday’s 3-0 win over Finland. In just her second career cap with the full team, the Rochester, N.Y., native, who replaced injured Atlanta Beat star Cindy Parlow on the initial roster, made the most of the opportunity with a goal, and assist and eight shots, all in 74 minutes of action.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Bayer Leverkusen hosts Manchester United tomorrow (April 30) in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal (live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET). Leverkusen came back from a goal down twice last week to secure a 2-2 draw in ManU, giving the Germans a decided advantage heading into Tuesday's match. In the other semifinal second leg, Real Madrid faces Barcelona on Wednesday (May 1) in Madrid. Real is expected to advance to the final after winning 2-0 in Barcelona last week.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Bayer Leverkusen lost their second consecutive league match this weekend (falling 1-0 to Nunberg one week after losing 2-1 to Werder Bremen), and now look like they will lose the Bundesliga title that was nearly a lock just two weeks ago. While Leverkusen has lost two straight matches, Borussia Dortmund has won two straight to climb to the top of the Bundesliga table. With just one game left, Dortmund sits on 67 points, while Leverkusen sit on 66 points. Leverkusen have never won a Bundesliga title, but have finished runner-up three times in the last five seasons.
“If everyone aspires to win a World Cup, we have a long way to go. But we have come a long way. If you compare this team to the 1990 team, there’s no comparison. If you compare this team to ‘94 and ‘98, I feel this is a much better team top to bottom. It’s possible that one day we’ll be in a position to win a World Cup.”
--U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena, on how far the U.S. has come and how far we have to go as a soccer nation.