U.S. MNT Faces Turkey on Thursday in First Match of Confederations Cup
24 HOURS AWAY:After a nearly three week training camp across two continents, the U.S. will finally test get to test its mettle tomorrow when they open their 2003 Confederations Cup campaign against Turkey. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. local time, and the match will be broadcast via same-day delay on Galavision beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, starting at 1 p.m. ET time.
ON TOP IN EURO ’04: Turkey sits in first place in Group 7 of UEFA Euro 2004 qualifying, amassing 15 points with a 5-1-0 record. England, which beat Turkey 2-0 in its first match at home, is two points behind (13) with a game in hand. In their latest game on June 11, Turkey twice overcame one-goal deficits to topple F.Y.R Macedonia 3-2 in Istanbul. In six matches, Turkey has scored a whopping 14 goals, while only allowing four against. Turkey’s next qualifying match will be against Liechtenstein on Sept. 6, in advance of its much-anticipated rematch against England on Nov. 10 in Istanbul.
Date Opponent Result Venue U.S. Goal Scorers
Jan. 19 Canada 4-0 W Lockhart Stadium Bocanegra, Mathis, Klein, Ralston
Feb. 8 Argentina 0-1 L The Orange Bowl
Feb. 12 Jamaica 2-1 W National Stadium Bocanegra, Klein
March 29 Venezuela 2-0 W Seattle Seahawks Stadium Kirovski, Donovan
May 8 Mexico 0-0 T Reliant Stadium
May 26 Wales 2-0 W Spartan Stadiums Donovan, Lewis
June 8 New Zealand 2-1 W University or Richmond Klein, Kirovski
CAPTAIN FRANKIE: U.S. Men’s National Team defender Frankie Hejduk will have the honor of wearing the captain’s armband for the first time in his career when he leads the team onto the field in St. Etienne. A veteran of two World Cups (’98, ’02), Hejduk has been a solid defender for the MNT the past five years, employing speed and a tireless work-rate to help cement the U.S. backline. Since Hedjuk’s debut appearance for the national team on Aug. 30, 1996 against El Salvador, he has amassed 46 career caps and five goals, including four appearances as a starter in the 2002 World Cup.
23 AVAILABLE: The Confederations Cup rules of competition allow all 23 players to be available for selection during each of the USA’s three games in Group B play. If history is any indication, a large number of players will most likely see playing time in at least one game. During group play in the ’99 Confederations Cup in Mexico, all 20 players on the roster started at least one of the team’s first three games, including both goalkeepers. Arena made wholesale changes to the roster for the USA’s 2-0 win against Germany in their final match in the group, selecting nine new players.
BEEN THERE, DONE THAT: Five players on the roster were a part of the team that placed third in the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico. Along with fellow 2002 World Cup veteran Hejduk and Birmingham City forward Jovan Kirovski, Gregg Berhalter, Eddie Lewis and Earnie Stewart were all part of the side that defeated Saudi Arabia in the third-place match after beating New Zealand and Germany in the group phase. Kirovski scored the game-winning goal in the USA’s 2-1 win against New Zealand in the opening match, before the U.S. team fell to eventual champions Mexico 1-0 in the semifinal.
FIRST TIMERS: Eight players on the roster for the Confederations Cup are participating in their first FIFA sanctioned tournament with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Joe Cannon, Dan Califf, Bobby Convey, Cory Gibbs, Marcus Hahnemann, Tim Howard, Kyle Martino and Taylor Twellman were all called in by Arena and will be available for the team’s first three games in Group B play.
CONFEDERATIONS CUP FACTBOX:
How qualified - 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup champions
No. of appearances - 2 (1992, 1999)
Confederations Cup record: 4-3-0 (11 GF, 8 GA)
Best finish - 3rd place (1992, 1999)
How qualified - FIFA invitation, third-place finish in 2002 World Cup
No. of appearances - 0
Confederations Cup record: 0-0-0
Best finish - n/a
- Midfielder Chris Klein is the leading goal scorer for the U.S. MNT so far in 2003 with three goals, the first three goals of his MNT career. He is tied for the most points with Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra, both of whom have two goals and two assists.
- The referee for tomorrow’s match is Jorge Larrionda. He has run the center in one previous match involving the United States, having refereed the USA's 1-0 win against Costa Rica in final round World Cup qualifying on April 25, 2001 in Kansas City.
- The U.S. and Turkey have met just one other time, with the teams battling to a 1-1 tie in Istanbul on Sept. 4, 1991.
- Turkey has made one change to their original 23-man roster. Real Sociedad midfielder Tayfun Korkut is unavailable due to injury, and will be replaced by 19-year old Balci Serkan. National associations are permitted to replace a listed player in the event of serious injury up to 24 hours before the team’s first match
CONFEDERATIONS CUP FACT: No European team has ever beaten a team from North and Central America in the Confederations Cup. In 1995, Mexico tied Denmark 1-1 and went on to win on penalties, and in 1999 the USA beat Germany 2-0 (with goals by Ben Olsen and Joe-Max Moore).
NOT OUR FAVORITE COLOR: Much like the Korea match in the World Cup last summer, the U.S. will likely be surrounded by a sea of red at the Stade Geoffroy Guiland tomorrow night - mostly in support of its opponents. Turkey is one of the principal sources of immigration for France, with an estimated 300,000 nationals based in Turkish communities among the Paris and Rhone-Alpes regions. While the match will not be played in Paris, the trip to St. Etienne is definitely close enough for Turkey fans to travel to the stadium in time for kick-off.
SAY WHAT?: For the first time in an official FIFA competition referees will be testing earpieces as a means of communicating with one another during the games. The head referee can talk to his assistants whenever he wants, while the assistants have to press a button to speak with him. All 27 of the referees and assistants assigned to the Confederations Cup have been training together here in France since last Sunday and the results have been optimistic.
TODAY’S QUOTES: Following are quotes from the USA’s final press conference in advance of their opening match against Turkey tomorrow night:
How important is this Confederations Cup to the U.S.?
Arena: "I think there are a lot of advantages for our team to play in the Confederations Cup. First, it gives our less experienced players the chance to play against some outstanding teams and players. Secondly, it gives our team the opportunity to prepare for the Gold Cup in July, which is our Confederation tournament. Thirdly, it gives us the opportunity to evaluate our pool of players for World Cup qualifying, which will begin in January of 2004. There are a lot of positives that can come out of it. Having said that, we all know the timing of the Confederations Cup is perhaps a little bit awkward and difficult for all the participants here, but overall I think it is a positive experience for our team."
This is the first chance for Tim Howard to test himself on a big stage. Is he ready?
Arena: "I think he his. He’s an outstanding goalkeeper. He’s still only 24-years-old with a big future ahead of him and I think we need to give him the time to mature as an international goalkeeper, but ultimately he will arrive. He’ll make a good showing for himself in this tournament.
Is it difficult being away from your club when you are with the national team at the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup?
Donovan: It’s hard to be away from your team, but that’s part of being a professional and if Bruce calls on you then you need to come in and play. It’s difficult after a World Cup to come in here and play during your MLS season because you know your team misses you, but its part of it and you have to look at bigger things like qualifying for the World Cup which starts in 2004. There’s no better opportunity than these two tournaments to show yourself. It’s a good opportunity for a lot of players.
What are the challenges Turkey will provide?
Donovan: "Turkey surprised some people in the World Cup and are a good team. I remember when I played at Leverkusen and there were a lot of Turkish players in the Bundesliga and they’re very good players. They are a great team. They come together, are proud and like to play for their country."
How will you try and handle the Turkish forwards?
Berhalter: They are good players and will have I think they are going to have opportunities. We just have to stay concentrated and limit what they try to do. I think if we play as a group and stay organized, we’ll be able to do that.
Compare your state of mind from the World Cup a year ago to now at the Confederations Cup?
Donovan: You can’t really compare playing in a World Cup to anything, except maybe playing in the Olympics. But, it’s a tournament with a lot of the best teams in the world and if you can’t get motivated for that then you shouldn’t be playing. I’m certainly ready.
Berhalter: It is different because of the coverage and the World Cup is the biggest event there is. But, it’s a similar situation where we have three games to put yourself in position to advance and I think that’s the way we’re looking at it. We have to do what it takes to get four points or more to advance to the next round. So, in that situation it’s similar.