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U.S. Men to Face Ecuador in Birmingham on March 10

CHICAGO (Friday, January 18, 2002) - The United States Men’s National Team will continue their World Cup preparations with an international friendly against fellow 2002 World Cup qualifiers Ecuador on March 10 at Legion Field Stadium in Birmingham, Ala., in a match that will be shown live on ABC at 4 pm ET.  The match will come just eight days after the U.S. faces Honduras in Seattle at Safeco Field.

Ecuador is coming off an impressive run through South American qualifying that included nine wins and four draws in 18 matches.  The surprise team of the ten-team qualifying tournament, Ecuador finished second, ahead of traditional South American powers Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Colombia.

"We are excited about returning to Birmingham, which has been a great venue for the U.S. over the years," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "Playing another World Cup-bound team like Ecuador is an important step in our preparations for Korea/Japan this summer.  We have now scheduled a quality slate of opponents over the next four months that will test our abilities and help us evaluate players as we move towards finalizing our World Cup roster."

Amazingly, the U.S. has never beat Ecuador in eight all-time match-ups.  Ecuador holds a 4-0-4 record against the U.S., including a 0-0 draw on June 7, 2001, at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in the teams’ most recent match.  In that game the two teams combined for 25 shots in a back-and-forth affair.

The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 12, 2000, 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.

"Alabama is proud to host the Men's National Team once again," said Gene Hallman, Executive Director of the Alabama Sports Foundation. "Birmingham is a patriotic city and we look forward to hosting the team as they prepare for the World Cup."

Tickets go on sale Saturday morning at 10 a.m. CT at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the southeast.  Ticket prices are $50 (VIP midfield), $25 (sideline) and $15 (endline).  Tickets can be purchased by calling   Ticketmaster at 800-277-1700, or fans can call 205-967-4745 for information on group sales.

The U.S. will kick off their World Cup year tomorrow against World Cup 2002 opponent Korea Republic at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.  The U.S. has one Gold Cup title in its history, taking top honors in 1991.