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U.S. Men's National Team Gets Set For Venezuela on Saturday

From U.S. MNT Press Officer Michael Kammarman in Seattle - March 28, 2003

ONE DAY TO GO: The U.S. will hold its final training session of the week exactly 24 hours prior to hosting Venezuela in the first international soccer match at Seattle Seahawks Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PT on Saturday, and will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match online at's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $70 are still on sale at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, at the Seahawks Stadium ticket office, by phone (Seattle 206-628-0888; Tacoma 253-627-8497), and on-line at Groups of 20 or more can order through U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.

O'BRIEN TO CHAT LIVE AT 2 P.M. ET TODAY ON ESPN.COM: U.S. midfielder John O'Brien will take questions from fans during a live online chat on at 2 p.m. ET today. O'Brien, who sent shockwaves throughout the world when he scored just four minutes into the USA's opening match of the World Cup against heavily favored Portugal, will make his first appearance for the USA since Korea. The Ajax-based midfielder is set to make history as the first U.S. player to play in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League when Ajax face AC Milan on April 8.

FITNESS REPORT: The U.S. enters Saturday’s match virtually injury free, with Columbus Crew midfielder Kyle Martino the only possible exception. Martino suffered a minor groin strain in the team’s first training session Monday in Portland, but returned to action Thursday and is likely to be available for selection.

CHECKING IN: The U.S. and Venezuela arrived into Seattle nearly simultaneously last night, obviously taking different routes. After training on the Nike campus in Beaverton, Oregon, the U.S. Men took a three hour bus ride to downtown Seattle. Venezuela left Caracas early Thursday, and was forced to make a stop in Miami before flying cross-country. Also, San Jose forward Landon Donovan joined the team in Seattle last night, arriving after his team's 2-1 victory against CSD Municipal in the CONCACAF Champions Cup.

TRUE TURF: Fans of Seahawks Stadium will notice a different look for the venue’s first international soccer match, as a blanket of newly laid sod now covers the artificial surface. The California-based firm West Coast Turf installed the grass field last Wednesday, at a total cost of $100,000. The turf will remain in the stadium for a week after the match, at which point the sod will be donated to a local school.

TEN YEAR REUNION: This will be the second-ever meeting between the U.S. and Venezuela and the first since their dramatic meeting at the 1993 Copa America in Ecuador. After Ecuador and Uruguay secured their spot in the quarterfinals of South America’s championship tournament, the U.S. and Venezuela met in the final group match on June 22 in Quito, Ecuador. Needing to win with a strong goal differential to advance to the quarterfinals, the crowd of 55,000 at the Atahualpa Stadium saw the USA jump out to a 3-0 lead. Venezuela, needing only a draw to move on, battled back, scoring three unanswered goals in the final 25 minutes to earn a 3-3 draw and send the North Americans packing.

NEXT UP, NUMBER 600?: When Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia entered the match in the 77th minute against Canada on Jan. 18, he became the 599th player to make at least one appearance for the United States Men’s National Team since their inaugural match, a 3-2 win against Sweden on August 20, 1916. The U.S. has played 419 matches in the 87 years since, compiling a 146-179-94 lifetime record. Edson Buddle is the only player on the current U.S. roster without a cap.

VENEZUELA ON A ROLL: Venezuela has gone 436 minutes without surrendering a goal, dating back to a 2-0 loss to Morocco on March 3, 2002. Unbeaten and unscored upon in their last four matches, they have defeated two teams – Ecuador and Uruguay – that competed in the 2002 World Cup.

ANOTHER HOMECOMING: While everyone is aware of Kasey Keller's roots in Washington, another player from the U.S. side makes his return to the Pacific Northwest. U.S. defender Steve Cherundolo spent his shortened college career at the University of Portland. The West Coast Conference Freshman of the Year in 1997, Cherundolo left Portland after his sophomore season to pursue a professional career in Germany.

DID YOU KNOW?: Since taking the reigns of the U.S. MNT in 1998, Bruce Arena has compiled a record of 6-5-2 against teams from South America, including victories against Argentina, Uruguay and Ecuador, while three of the losses have come against Brazil and Argentina. Overall, Arena is 36-19-14 in 69 games as head coach of the United States.