24-PLAYER TEAM ARRIVES IN D.C. TODAY; GAME WILL BE LIVE ON ESPN AT NOON ET: A group of 24 top players from the U.S. Women's National Team will arrive in the Washington, D.C., area this afternoon and train for four days before facing Nigeria on Saturday (April 26) in an important Women's World Cup warm-up match at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Kickoff is at Noon ET and the match will be televised live on ESPN. The game will be followed by a WUSA contest featuring the hometown Washington Freedom against the Atlanta Beat that will kick off at 2:30 p.m. ET. Heinrichs called in all 20 players that helped the USA win the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal last month, adding midfielder Jena Kluegel (Boston Breakers), forward Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom), defender Thori Bryan (San Jose CyberRays) and goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene (CyberRays). Heinrichs will choose a roster of 18 players to face perennial African champion Nigeria, which won the African Women's Championship late last year to earn a berth to the 2003 Women's World Cup. The Super Falcons have participated in all three Women's World Cup tournaments and the 2000 Olympics, and in 1999, became the first African team to advance out of the first round in a women's world championship event. Tickets for the doubleheader ranging in price levels from $20 to $40 are on sale now at all Washington-Baltimore area Ticketmaster outlets, at the RFK Stadium box office, and by phone at 1-800-551-7328.
U.S. WNT Training Camp Roster
Goalkeepers (3): LaKeysia Beene, Siri Mullinix, Briana Scurry;
Defenders (7): Thori Bryan, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Christie Pearce, Cat Reddick, Danielle Slaton, Kate Sobrero;
Midfielders (8): Lorrie Fair, Julie Foudy, Angela Hucles, Jena Kluegel, Kristine Lilly, Tiffany Roberts, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner;
Forwards (6): Mia Hamm, Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Heather O'Reilly, Cindy Parlow, Abby Wambach.
CONMEBOL'S TWO WOMEN'S WORLD CUP SPOTS TO BE DECIDED THIS WEEK: One week after winning their respective three-team CONMEBOL pre-qualifying tournament, Peru, Colombia and Argentina will join Brazil this week in the final four-team qualifying competition, which begins Wednesday (April 23) in Lima, Peru. The final South American qualifying opens with Brazil taking on Argentina and Peru facing Colombia. The next two doubleheaders will take place on Friday (April 25) and Sunday (April 27), with the top two finishers in the round-robin group competition earning South America's two berths to the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. Brazil has advanced easily to all three Women's World Cups contested so far, and made it to the semifinals in 1999, where they lost to the United States. For the first time in a Women's World Cup, two teams from South America will make it through to the final event, meaning either Peru, Colombia or Argentina will make its first appearance along with heavy favorite Brazil.
DEADLINE FOR CREDENTIAL APPLICATIONS FOR 2004 OLYMPICS ONLY A MONTH AWAY: All journalists and photographers interested in covering the 2004 Men's and/or Women's Olympic Soccer Tournaments have just one month left to apply for credentials online by visiting: http://www.usocpressbox.org/ and searching under Media Registration. The U.S.O.C. deadline for all media credentials applications for the 2004 Olympics is May 20, 2003. FIFA itself will not issue any accreditation for these events, which are part of the 2004 Summer Olympic Games to be held in Athens and various other venues under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The Olympic Men's and Women's Football Tournaments will be contested in August 2004 in five venues: Athens, Heraklio, Patra, Thessaloniki and Volos.
-- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --
U-21 WOMEN FALL 3-1 TO SPIRIT, FINISH 10-DAY CAMP: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team opened their 10-day camp in Chula Vista, Calif., last week having suffered two hard-fought losses to WUSA teams. After falling 3-2 to the San Jose CyberRays on April 12 despite goals from teenage forward Heather O'Reilly and Marcie Ward, the U-21s were outclassed by a rejuvenated San Diego Spirit squad and fell 3-1. After giving up a 12th minute goal to Scottish international Julie Fleeting, Ward equalized for the U.S. in the 14th minute off an assist from Lindsey Huie, but the San Diego Spirit stormed back and took the lead in the 23rd minute on a goal from Zhang before Fleeting added an insurance goal in the 56th minute to cement the result. The U.S U-21s will next gather for a foreign tour of Brazil during a 10-day stretch in late May.
U-17 MNT TAKES SECOND PLACE IN U-19 SUPER GROUP AT DALLAS CUP: The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team took second place in the U-19 Super Group at the Dallas Cup last week, marking their best finish ever in the annual international tournament. The U.S. went undefeated in group play, tying CD Guadalajara 2-2 in their first match, followed by a 6-0 win over Azzurri Blue (of Canada) and a 1-0 blanking of Municipal Perez Zeledon (of Costa Rica) to win Bracket A and advance to the semifinals. The U.S. played their best game of the tournament in the semifinal, beating Newcastle United FC (of England) 1-0, despite playing with only 10 men for the entire second half. In yesterday's final, the U.S. fell to Tigres (of Mexico) 2-1 at Lake Highlands Stadium. L.A. Galaxy forward Guillermo Gonzalez (Paramount, Calif.) led the team with four goals, while 13-year-old forward Freddy Adu (Potomac, Md.) provided the team's only offense in the semifinal and final and finished with two goals, along with teammates Jose Gomez (Inglewood, Calif.) and Michael Harrington (Greenville, N.C.).
U-16 MNT GOES UNDEFEATED IN U-17 GROUP PLAY AT DALLAS CUP: The U.S. Under-16 Men's National Team went undefeated in U-17 group play last week at the Dallas Cup, but failed to advance to the quarterfinals due to a lower goal differential. The U.S. tied the Dallas Texans 3-3 in their first game before beating Palo Alto Gold Crew and Yahara United in their next two matches, by a combined score of 7-2. With the 2-0-1 record, the U.S. finished tied atop Bracket G with seven points, but the Texans advanced out of the group with a better goal differential (+6) than the U.S. (+5). Midfielders Michael Bradley (Palatine, Ill.) and Christian Jimenez (San Dimas, Calif.) led the team with three goals apiece, combining for all the goals in the team's first two matches, while midfielders Steven Curfman (Raleigh, N.C.) and Tomiwa Ogunsola (Woodbridge, Va.) both scored a pair in the 4-1 win in the team's final match of the tournament.
-- AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD --
MEXICAN TEAMS FINISH OFF MLS, ADVANCE TO 2003 CHAMPIONS CUP SEMIFINALS: All four Mexican clubs continued their dominance in the 2003 CONCACAF Champions Cup last week, grabbing the first three semifinal spots and jumping out to a big lead in the series that will determine the fourth semifinal entrant. Mexican Primera Division champion CD Toluca FC was the first to earn their berth in the semifinals, thanks to another 2-1 win over CSD Municipal (GUA) in Mexico, taking their series 4-2 on aggregate. Toluca will meet the winner of the quarterfinal series between Mexican side Club América and three-time defending Costa Rica champion LD Alajuelense in the semifinals. América jumped out to an early lead in that series, taking the first leg 4-0 at home last Wednesday. The two teams will travel to Costa Rica for the second leg on Wednesday (April 23). Toluca will host the first leg of that semifinal pairing on April 30, with the return leg scheduled for May 14 in Mexico City, assuming America maintains their advantage in the aggregate. The other semifinal series will be a battle between 2002 Champions Cup runners-up CA Monarcas Morelia and CD Necaxa. CA Monarcas Morelia dropped the second leg of their series 2-0 at the Columbus Crew, but their 6-0 rout in the first leg was more than enough to give them the 6-2 aggregate victory. Necaxa also defeated an MLS club in their quarterfinals, downing the 2002 MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy in both legs, including a 2-1 victory to wrap up the series last week. Necaxa will host the first leg on April 30, while Monarcas will return to the favor on May 7 or 14.
INTERZONE PLAYOFF FOR 2003 CONCACAF GOLD CUP SET FOR THIS WEEK: The Interzone Playoff, to decide the final two berths for the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup will be held this week (April 23-27) on the island of Martinique. The three-team playoff series features Honduras, the fourth-place finisher in Central Zone qualifying, Trinidad & Tobago and the host country, second-place finishers in the two Caribbean Zone qualifying tournaments held last weekend. The tournament will begin on Wednesday (April 23) when Martinique meets T&T. T&T takes on Honduras on Friday (April 25), followed by the final match on Sunday (April 27) between Honduras and Martinique on Sunday, who have never met in international play. Trinidad & Tobago is chasing its sixth overall and fifth consecutive appearance in the Gold Cup finals. Martinique has played in two finals, including the 2002 event, while Honduras had played in every Gold Cup finals before missing out in 2002, losing the final of the inaugural event in 1991 to the USA on penalty kicks. The top two teams in the round-robin will advance to this summer's Gold Cup finals, rounding out the field of 12 countries. Already qualified are defending champion USA, Canada and Mexico from the North Zone; Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador from the Central Zone; Jamaica and Cuba from the Caribbean; and invited teams Brazil and Colombia.
BLAST DETHRONES WAVE WITH 13-12 UPSET WIN TO TAKE 2002-03 MISL CHAMPIONSHIP: The Baltimore Blast stunned the Milwaukee Wave 13-12 in front of 12,598 fans at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee on Friday evening to win the best-of-three Major Indoor Soccer League championship series two-games-to-one. The victory marked the first championship for the Blast since 1983-84. Denison Cabral was named MVP of the series after scoring two goals in the decisive fourth quarter as the Blast overcame a 12-4 deficit in the game's final 18 minutes.
DELEVSKI AND TOZER EARN MISL YEAR-END HONORS: Kansas City Comets forward Dino Delevski and Milwaukee Wave head coach Keith Tozer were named MVP and Coach of the Year, respectively, for the second straight year in the Major Indoor Soccer League. Delevski's honor puts him in the company of Hector Marinaro and Victor Nogueira as recent and active multiple year recipients of the MISL MVP. Tozer, in his 11th season as the head coach of the Wave, is a five-time recipient of the Coach of the Year award, having also claimed the honor during the 1995-96, 1997-98, 1999-00, 2001-02 seasons.
A-LEAGUE, PDL KICK OFF 2003 SEASONS AS ALL THREE USL MEN'S LEAGUES IN ACTION: Two weeks after the U.S. Pro Select League (formerly the D3 Pro League) began its 2003 season, the other two United Soccer Leagues men's campaigns got under way last weekend. The Virginia Beach Mariners won the opening game of the A-League season, 3-2, on Friday against the visiting Cincinnati Riverhawks on a goal two minutes into stoppage time. In other opening weekend action, Charleston downed Richmond 2-0 on Saturday, while Cincinnati rebounded with a 1-0 win over the Charlotte Eagles in their second game in as many nights. In the Premier Development League's season opener, the Fresno Fuego came away with a 4-1 win at home over the Nevada Wonders in a battle of expansion clubs.
GABBERT NAMED REGION II WOMEN'S NATIONAL STAFF COACH: U.S. Women's National Team head coach and Technical Director April Heinrichs named Stephanie Gabbert as the Region II Women's National Staff Coach last week. With the appointment of Gabbert, U.S. Soccer now has a full compliment of four National Staff Coaches on the women's side. Gabbert joins Jeff Pill (Region I), Dave Simeone (Region III) and Gregg Ryan (Region IV) as Women's National Staff Coaches, each working directly with Heinrichs. Ryan was originally hired to be the National Staff Coach for Region II, but with the departure of former Region IV staff coach Jay Entlich to coach the Carolina Courage in the WUSA, Ryan was moved to Region IV and Gabbert, a former head coach for the Olympic Development Teams regional teams in Region II, was hired for this position. Gabbert was the head coach at Iowa State in 2001 and 2002 after three years at Iowa.
SOCCER VACATIONS ANNOUNCES TRIP TO FRANCE FOR 2003 CONFEDERATIONS CUP: Soccer Vacations, the Official Travel Package Provider of U.S. Soccer, has announced a unique trip package for fans to follow the U.S. Men's National Team at the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in France, where they will open against 2002 World Cup quarterfinalist Turkey on June 19 in St. Etienne, followed by group matches against defending world champs Brazil and current African champs Cameroon in Lyon on June 21 and 23, respectively. For more info, contact Soccer Vacations at
www.soccervacations.com on the web or toll free at 877-667-5338.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. Women's National Team forward Shannon MacMillan turned in a superb effort at both ends of the field on Saturday to give the Spirit and rookie head coach their first win of the 2003 season. Mac scored what would stand up as the game-winning goal off a perfect assist from Aly Wagner in the 16th minute and then served a corner kick that Julie Fleeting headed home in the 28th minute for the eventual 2-0 margin of victory. MacMillan helped preserve the shutout late in the match, sliding across the goal line to head an Emily Janss chip back out of danger in the 74th minute.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: While the U.S. Women's National Team has played plenty of matches against CONCACAF foes like Canada and Mexico and world powers like China, Norway and Germany across the last few years, they haven't matched up against a Women's World Cup wild card team like Nigeria since a 3-0 U.S. win at the 2000 Olympics. Saturday's match at RFK Stadium, which will be shown live on ESPN2 at 12 p.m. ET, will give the U.S. a rare chance to test itself against the dangerous quickness and raw athletic ability that are the trademark of the top African and South American nations.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Although 35-year-old A-League veteran and MLS first-year goalkeeper Pat Onstad had played well up that point, he committed perhaps the worst goalkeeping gaffe in the league's history in the 74th minute of a 1-1 tie with the Kansas City Wizards. The play started when Preki sent a swerving corner kick into the box. Onstad came off his line in an attempt to punch the ball out of the box and out of danger, but instead sent it high in the air. Without a serious physical challenge from a Wizards player on the rebound of his punch, he bobbled the ball and accidentally sent it into an empty goal. Ouch.
"It sounds stupid, but when we started the season we knew if we play the way we're capable of, we don't see us losing. We know that won't happen because it's a long season, but that's the type of attitude you want a team to have."
- Columbus defender Mike Clark, after the Crew's 2-1 road win over New England on Saturday helped them remain undefeated at 2-0-1 this season.