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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. MNT Preps for Final Hexagonal Round of World Cup Qualifying


U.S. MNT CONTINUES PREPARATION FOR OPENING GAME OF FINAL ROUND HEXAGONAL: Monday morning marks the beginning of the second week of U.S. Men's National Team training camp in Carson, as Bruce Arena's men return from a Sunday sabbatical for a double session. The team will continue training in California through Feb. 5, then head to Miami before making the jump to Port of Spain. The U.S. opens play in the final round hexagonal of 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying Feb. 9 against Trinidad.  Kickoff at the Queen's Park Oval is set for 2:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. local), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2.  Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Of the 28 players in camp, only Chicago Fire defender Tony Sanneh has suffered minor effects from the intense week, a minor hip strain sidelining the 'Big Cat' for last Saturday's session. The U.S. were fortunate to find an opponent to aid in their training efforts, as Swedish first division side Hammarby are conducting pre-season workouts at The Home Depot Center. The teams met in a closed-door session last Thursday, a Jimmy Conrad goal after four minutes the lone strike in the encounter.  Bruce Arena gave 22 players 45 minutes each that afternoon in what he described as "a perfect opportunity to get our players some match fitness."
U.S. MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (4) – Jon Busch (Columbus Crew), Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids), Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy), Nick Rimando (D.C. United); DEFENDERS (8) – Chris Albright (Los Angeles Galaxy), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Nick Garcia (Kansas City Wizards), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), Eddie Pope (MetroStars), Tony Sanneh (Columbus Crew); MIDFIELDERS (9) – Clint Dempsey (New England Revolution), Diego Gutierrez (Kansas City Wizards), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Clint Mathis (Real Salt Lake), Brian Mullan (San Jose Earthquakes), Ben Olsen (D.C. United), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution), Clyde Simms (Richmond Kickers); FORWARDS (7) – Brian Ching (San Jose Earthquakes), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (FC Dallas), Mike Magee (MetroStars), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution), Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution), Josh Wolff (Kansas City Wizards)


-- FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR U.S. MNT QUALIFYING HOME OPENER IN ALABAMA: Tickets are on sale for the United States Men’s National Team’s first home game of the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Tickets ranging in price from $18 to $55 will be available online at ussoccer.com, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix and Coconuts), and by phone at 1-800-277-1700.  Groups of 15 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745, ext. 119. Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and tape delayed on Telemundo at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The team’s only other visit came nearly two years earlier, when the U.S. MNT drew 1-1 with Tunisia in front of 21,637 fans in the team’s first-ever match in Alabama. Birmingham also served as a venue for soccer at the 1996 Olympic Games, where the Bruce Arena-led U.S. Olympic team played two matches at Legion Field, falling to Argentina and topping Tunisia. The U.S. holds a 7-4-3 lifetime record against Guatemala, including a perfect 6-0-0 mark on U.S. soil. The last time the teams met was during semifinal round qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The teams split points in a 1-1 draw in Mazatenango, Guatemala on July 16, 2000, then Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in the USA’s hard fought 1-0 win on Sept. 3, 2000 at RFK Stadium.

U.S. OPENS WORLD CUP QUALIFYING WITH TWO AWAY MATCHES: The United States will open its bid to qualify for its fifth consecutive World Cup finals in Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9. The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 9-Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.  The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.  Drawn as Team 6 in the final round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to Germany as their first two games will take place on the road.  The U.S. gets consecutive home dates for Matches 3 & 4 and 6 & 7 and will then face two away matches before concluding final round play in the United States.  Venues for the five home matches for the U.S. will be announced as they become finalized.
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Final Round
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Feb. 9        Panama vs. Guatemala 
Feb. 9        Costa Rica vs. Mexico 
Feb. 9        Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 26 Costa Rica vs. Panama
March 26 Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago
March 27 Mexico vs. USA

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 30     Panama vs. Mexico   
March 30    USA vs. Guatemala   
March 30     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Costa Rica

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 4/5      Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama   
June 4/5      Guatemala vs. Mexico   
June 4      USA vs. Costa Rica

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 8        Panama vs. USA   
June 8         Costa Rica vs. Guatemala   
June 8         Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Aug. 17       Guatemala vs. Panama   
Aug. 17       Mexico vs. Costa Rica   
Aug. 17       USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 3/4     Panama vs. Costa Rica  
Sept. 3/4     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 3     USA vs. Mexico

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 7       Mexico vs. Panama 
Sept. 7       Guatemala vs. USA  
Sept. 7       Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 8/9       Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 8/9       Mexico vs. Guatemala 
Oct. 8/9       Costa Rica vs. USA

Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 12        USA vs. Panama
Oct. 12        Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 12        Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
 
Playoff (*home team will be determined by lottery at the conclusion of the final round)
Date Match-up
*Nov. 12/13 AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4 
*Nov. 16 AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4

-- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U-17 MNTs COMES AWAY WITH WIN, DRAW IN TWO GAMES IN COCOA: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Teams came away with a draw and a victory in two games during the Super Y League Olympic Development Program National Camp this weekend at the Cocoa Expo Center in Cocoa, Fla. The younger U-17 squad (Team B) fell behind to the SYL ODP team twice during their match on Saturday (Jan. 29), but Josimer Altidore and Eric Avila were able to knock home equalizers to grab a 2-2 draw. After falling behind in the 15th minute, Greg Eckhardt fed Altidore for his goal four minutes later. Right before half SYL ODP made it 2-1, but in the 62nd minute Altidore provided Avila with a pass that the midfielder finished past the ‘keeper. Later that day, the older U-17 squad (Team A) defeated the SYL All-Stars 5-1 behind a hat trick from Quavas Kirk. The new Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder broke open the scoring in the 40th minute when he finished a penalty kick awarded to the U.S., before putting home two more strikes in the 54th and 60th minute. Three minutes later, Jeremy Hall buried his shot into the net before Eddie Ababio finished off the U.S. scoring with a goal in the 79th minute. With the game all but over, the All-Stars pulled one back in the 81st minute. The U.S. will train this week at IMG Academy before playing games on Friday and Sunday. The older squad (Team A) will face the Columbus Crew on Friday and the younger squad (Team B) will take on the University of South Carolina on Sunday.
U-17 MNT (Team A) Results/Schedule
Date       Opponent          Result    U.S. Goal Scorers
Jan. 29  SYL ODP U-16    2-2 T     Altidore, Avila
Feb. 4    Columbus Crew

U-17 MNT (Team B) Results/Schedule
Date       Opponent          Result    U.S. Goal Scorers
Jan. 29   SYL All-Stars     5-1 W     Kirk (3), Hall, Ababio
Feb. 6     University of South Carolina

U-17 MNT TO PARTICIPATE IN TOM FITZGERALD MEMORIAL SOCCER FESTIVAL: The U-17 Men’s National Team A will play the U-17 Men’s National Team B at 4 p.m. at the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Soccer Festival in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Feb. 13. The Festival kicks off at 11 a.m. with a youth soccer and goalkeeper clinic, which will include U-17 head coach John Hackworth and assistant coach Keith Fulk. Cost for the clinic is $50, which includes a ticket to the U-17 MNT game and a game between Real Salt Lake and the Columbus Crew at 6 p.m. There will also be a coaching symposium run by Hackworth and instructional staff coach, Jay Miller. All proceeds from the Festival will help fund the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship named after the UT soccer coach and former Crew head coach who died in December from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. The cost of admission for adults 18 and older is $12, $7 for kids 12-17, and $5 for children under 12.  Tickets can be purchased by calling 813-253-6240 ext. 3100.  Donations to the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund can be mailed to: Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Scholarship Fund, University of Tampa, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Box I, Tampa, FL 33606.

CANADA AND HONDURAS QUALIFY FOR U-20 FIFA WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: Canada and Honduras will join the USA and Panama as the four CONCACAF representatives for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship after qualifying this weekend during the U-20 CONCACAF Final Round Group B tournament in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Canada solidified their spot for a third straight time, defeating Mexico 2-1, Honduras 1-0 and Jamaica 1-0 to finish atop the group with nine points. After defeating Jamaica 4-2 in their opening match and then falling to Canada, Honduras came through with a 2-0 victory over Mexico on the final day to book their place at the world championship for the first time since 1999. The U.S. and Panama advanced from Group A earlier this month at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif, with the U.S. going undefeated and winning the group outright for the first time in its history. The 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship will take place in six venues in Holland from June 10-July 2. A total of 24 teams will compete for three weeks, playing a total of 52 matches in Doetinchem, Emmen, Enschede, Kerkrade, Tilburg and Utrecht. The draw for the world championship will take place on Sunday, March 6 in Utrecht. Along with the host, the other qualified countries are Korea Republic, China PR, Japan and Syria from Asia; Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland, Italy and Germany from Europe; Nigeria, Egypt, Benin and Morocco from Africa; and Australia from Oceania. The four representatives from South America will be determined this week as they continue the final round of their qualifying tournament.

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

U.S. SOCCER GREAT JOE-MAX MOORE RETIRES: Former U.S. international and New England Revolution forward Joe-Max Moore announced his retirement from professional soccer after three World Cups and six seasons in the MLS. Moore also played for Everton FC of the English Premier League, FC Saarbruecken and FC Nürenberg in Germany and Emelec in Ecuador during his stellar career. He appeared in 100 international games for the U.S., including matches in the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups. It was Moore who converted the penalty kick in the Oct. 7, 2001 victory against Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium that earned the U.S. a spot at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan. The only two players with more goals than Moore (24) for the U.S. National Team are Eric Wynalda, with 34, and Brian McBride, with 26. Moore also participated in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. His decision to retire came after undergoing reconstructive surgery on the medial collateral ligament (MCL) in his right knee on Jan. 21.

NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCES 2005 BALLOT: The National Hall of Fame announced the 53 candidates eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame in 2005. The ballot includes 19 players eligible for the first time, including several players who starred for the U.S. National Team and were founding players for Major League Soccer, such as Marcelo Balboa, Mike Burns, John Harkes, Tab Ramos and Peter Vermes. Also on the ballot for the first time are U.S. U-17 MNT assistant coach Raul Diaz Arce, and MLS international stars Peter Nowak and Carlos Valderrama. In order to be eligible for induction into the Hall of Fame, players must have been retired for at least three years but no more than 10. A player must also have appeared in at least 10 international appearances for the U.S. or played at least five seasons in a U.S. first-division professional league and have won the league championship or the U.S. Open Cup, or been a league All-Star at least once.

TICKET SALES FOR FIFA WORLD CUP GERMANY 2006 BEGIN FEB. 1: The first phase of ticket sales for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany begins February 1 when 812,000 tickets are released for general sale. According to the latest seating plans, the cumulative overall capacity for the tournament's 64 matches at the twelve stadiums in Germany will be 3.37 million. However, this figure will be reduced to about 2.93 million to allow for visiting state dignitaries, VIPs, media, security personnel and seats with restricted views. This first stage in the sales process will end on March 31. Tickets purchased during this time will be allocated by a lottery, not on a first-come, first-served basis. The lottery will be conducted on April 15, 2005, under notarial supervision and in accordance with German technical inspection authority (TÜV) standards. All successful ticket orders will be ratified by written booking confirmation, specifying the category and number of tickets allocated. Notification of precise seat numbers will follow at a later date. MasterCard is the only credit card accepted for the first four phases of ticket purchases. Other selling phases will take place from Dec. 1, 2005 to Jan. 15, 2006, Feb. 1, 2006 to April 15, 2006 and May 1, 2006 to July 9, 2006.

GOODBYE FOX SPORTS WORLD, HELLO FOX SOCCER CHANNEL: Fox Sports World will be relaunched as Fox Soccer Channel at midnight on February 7. Fox Soccer Channel will draw more than 80 percent of its first-run programming hours from world-class soccer competitions, including the Barclays English Premier League, the English FA Cup, the UEFA Cup, the Toyota Intercontinental Cup, World Cup qualifying matches for the United States and England national teams and numerous European and Latin American national leagues. Domestic action on the network will feature America's top professional league, Major League Soccer, as well as matches from the United Soccer Leagues. FOX Sports will provide viewers an exclusive first look at the channel during the Super Bowl XXXIX Pre-Game Show, set for Sunday, February 6 at 2:00 p.m. ET. Following the Super Bowl, at midnight on Monday, February 7, Fox Soccer Channel will officially unveil all-new on-air broadcast graphics and music.


*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley opened up the scoring against for PSV Eindhoven against RKC Waalwijk on Sunday (Jan. 30), netting the first of the team’s goals as PSV went on to win 4-1. The victory puts the PSV Eindhoven back at the top of the Dutch tables with 48 points, two more than second place AZ Alkmaar.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: The two English giants, Arsenal and Manchester United, clash once more on Tuesday (Feb. 1) at Highbury. It has been five seasons since Manchester United beat Arsenal at home, but the Red Devils have won three of the last four encounters with the Gunners. The heated rivalry has become more intense as the two teams try to catch Premiership leader Chelsea, who is 10 points ahead of Arsenal and 11 points ahead of Manchester United. The match will be shown live on Fox Sports World at 3 p.m. ET.

SOCCER SHOCKER: The Mexico Under-20 National Team failed to qualify for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland this past weekend, falling in two games out of three in Group B of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Mexico began the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Canada, followed by a 1-0 victory over Jamaica and a 2-0 loss to host Honduras, which sealed their fateThe Mexican team has only qualified for three of the last five tournaments since the format was changed in 1996 to allow four CONCACAF teams to qualify instead of two.

QUOTABLE: "The national team is above everything else. It’s playing at a high level. It’s getting treated like a king. It’s getting coached by, in my mind, the best coach we’ve ever had. So it’s a treat. It’s a lot of honor, and you should feel privileged.”
     --U.S. National Team midfielder Ben Olsen on having the opportunity to represent the United States as part of the Men’s National Team.

- ussoccer.com -


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