U.S. IMPROVES TO 7-2-1 IN 2002 WITH 1-0 WIN AGAINST BORDER RIVAL IN DENVER: An impressive second-half performance from the U.S. Men's National Team last week saw the U.S. take a well-earned 1-0 victory over arch-rival Mexico in front of 48,476 fans in the cool spring altitude of Denver's Invesco Field at Mile High. The victory, played in front of the largest crowd of the year for the U.S., improved the U.S. record to 7-2-1 through 10 games in 2002. The lone U.S. goal came in the 66th minute when forward Clint Mathis finished a ball into an empty net from six yards out after Mexican defender Manual Vidrio and goalkeeper Oscar Perez collided as they tried to corral a looping pass out of the midfield from U.S. defender Carlos Llamosa. For Mathis, the goal marked the seventh consecutive start in which he has scored at least one point for the U.S. "Carlos just dumped the ball in and I didn't think anything was going to come out of it," said Georgia-boy Clint Mathis. "But I went for it anyway and luckily those guys collided. The ball came to me and I definitely made it a little dramatic by hitting it off the crossbar, but a goal is a goal and we'll take 'em how they come." The USA has now won four straight home matches against Mexico, all by shutout, outscoring their southern neighbors 8-0 in those matches. Bruce Arena's squad is also 7-0-1 at home in 2002 and is in the midst of a 712-minute shutout streak on home soil (a streak that includes seven straight shutouts at home).
WHITE-HOT MATHIS REGISTERS POINT IN SEVENTH CONSECUTIVE START: With the lone goal against Mexico last week, Clint Mathis has now recorded a point in each of his last seven starts for the United States, dating back to March of 2001. The MetroStars forward has recorded seven goals and two assists during the streak. During the streak, he posted a pair of two-goal performance in March -- a 4-0 win over Honduras on March 2 and a 4-2 loss to Germany on March 27. Mathis' two two-goal performances mark the first time since Joe-Max Moore in 1993 that any U.S. player has tallied two multiple-goal games in a calendar year. In Mathis’ seven starts dating back to March 3, 2001, the U.S. has scored 12 goals, with Mathis scoring or assisting on nine of those. The U.S. has posted a 5-2 record in Mathis’ streak of starts, with the only two losses coming to Brazil and Germany. The scoring breakdown during Mathis’ streak:
Date: Opponent - Result; Mathis’ points
3/3/01: Brazil - 1-2 L; 1 goal
3/27/01: Honduras - 2-1 W; 1 goal
4/25/01: Costa Rica - 1-0 W; 1 assist
3/2/02: Honduras - 4-0 W; 2 goals
3/10/02: Ecuador - 1-0 W; 1 assist
3/27/02: Germany - 2-4 L; 2 goals
4/3/02: Mexico - 1-0 W; 1 goal
ARENA TO NAME APRIL 17 ROSTER THURSDAY ON ussoccer.com, FOLLOWED BY CHAT: U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena will name an 18-man roster for the April 17 friendly in Ireland live on the U.S. Soccer website (www.ussoccer.com) on Thursday (April 11) at 11:30 a.m. ET, then participate in an online chat starting at 5 p.m. ET. The U.S. MNT will be making its third of three trips overseas this year to take on a quality opponent from Europe when they travel to meet Ireland at Landsdowne Road in Dublin. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET and via tape delay that evening on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET.
UPDATE ON EUROPEAN-BASED MNT PLAYERS: Brad Friedel played another 90 minutes in goal, as Blackburn earned a 2-0 win over Southampton on April 1. In his 32 league starts, Freidel is 9-15-8 with a Goals Against Average of 1.34. Kasey Keller made his third consecutive league appearance for Tottenham, helping them to a 2-1 win over Leeds United on April 1 before falling 2-1 to Arsenal on Saturday. In his five league starts, Keller is 2-1-2 with a 1.00 GAA. A week after scoring two goals in Sunderland’s 2-0 win over Leicester City, Claudio Reyna and his side fell 2-0 to Leeds United on Saturday. John Thorrington played all 90 minutes in both Huddersfield’s 0-0 draw with Oldham Athletic on April 1 and a 3-0 loss to Brentford on Saturday. In Holland, John O’Brien was back in the Ajax lineup, starting and playing a full 90 minutes in their 4-3 win over FC Groningen on April 3. Midfielder Earnie Stewart and NAC Breda helped Ajax in their quest for the top spot in the Dutch Honor Division by posting a 0-0 draw with Feyenoord yesterday. In France, defender Greg Vanney and Bastia fell 2-1 to Bordeaux on Saturday, with the left back playing all 90 minutes. In Germany, Tony Sanneh played all 90 minutes in FC Nurnberg’s 1-0 loss to Hansa Rostock. Conor Casey and Steve Cherundolo both went 90 in Hannover’s 1-1 draw with FC Saarbrucken.
FC GOLD CUP TO BE MOVED TO SUMMER MONTHS BEGINNING IN 2003: The CONCACAF Gold Cup, CONCACAF’s championship and signature national team event, will be moved to the summer months beginning in 2003. The exact dates within the summer window in the FIFA standardized calendar are expected to be determined before the kick off of the 2002 World Cup. “This is part of a continuing review of all Confederation competitions, so as to get the widest possible participation by, and benefit for, all our members – in terms of the competitions themselves, the hosting of competitions and the marketing and television opportunities,” said CONCACAF President Jack Warner. The first two editions of the Gold Cup, in 1991 and 1993, were played during the summer months, before the final tournament was moved to the winter in 1996. CONCACAF Gold Cup 2002 was played from Jan. 18 – Feb. 2, with the USA defeating Costa Rica 2-0 in the final.
— U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
HEINRICHS TO NAME U.S. WNT SQUAD FOR APRIL 27 FRIENDLY IN SAN JOSE: U.S. Women's National Team head coach April Heinrichs will name the 18-player roster for the April 27 friendly versus Finland later this week on Wednesday (April 10). The match, which will be played at San Jose’s Spartan Stadium as part of a doubleheader with the 2001 WUSA champion San Jose CyberRays, will mark just the second home friendly for the USA so far in 2002. The CyberRays will host the Carolina Courage at 4:30 p.m. PT, while the U.S. will take on Finland at 7 p.m. PT live on ESPN2. Tickets for the first-ever U.S. Soccer / WUSA doubleheader are priced at $28 / $17 for Silver, $25 / $15 for Bronze and $14 / $10 for the Cyberzone and are available by calling TicketMaster at 408-998-8497 (San Jose), 415-421-8497 (San Francisco), or 510-625-8497 (Oakland). For group ticket discounts (groups of 20 or more), call 408-260-3900.
— U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
LEONE TO NAME U.S. UNDER-19 SQUAD TOMORROW FOR QUALIFYING PREPARATION: U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team head coach Tracey Leone will name an 18-player roster tomorrow that will participate in a five-day camp (April 10-14) that will serve as the final preparation before the Football Confederation Qualifying Tournament, which be held May 7-11, 2002, on the islands of Trinidad & Tobago, with the winners of the two groups earning berths at the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship to be held Aug. 17 through Sept. 1, 2002, in Canada. As part of the Ft. Lauderdale training camp, the U-19’s will meet Jamaica on Friday (April 12) and then meet Canada on Sunday (April 14). Leone has brought more than 50 players into training camps and matches over the last year and half as she boiled her tremendously talented pool down to the 18 players who will attempt to make history by qualifying for the first-ever world soccer championship for youth women.
U.S. U-19 WNT TO CHAMPION SKIN CANCER PREVENTION IN CHAMPIONSHIP YEAR: Following in the U.S. Women's National Team’s tradition of connecting with the fans and the community, the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team has formed a unique and unprecedented partnership with The Skin Cancer Foundation with the goal of raising awareness of a disease that affects over one million Americans every year. This year will be the most important and historic ever for the U.S U-19s as they chase history with continuing preparations for the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament in Trinidad & Tobago, and if all goes well in the Caribbean, the first-ever FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship to be held in Canada from Aug. 17 to Sept. 1, 2002. Through clinics, appearances at schools and interaction with the media, the U-19s will make it a team goal to inform the public that almost all skin cancers are preventable and curable when detected and treated early. The U-19s will spread sun safety tips through words and literature that stress The Skin Cancer Foundation's recommendations: to limit time in the sun, avoid the times of day when the rays are most harmful (from the hours of 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), wear hats and sunglasses, stay out of tanning salons and most of all, wear lots of sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15 or greater.
— AROUND THE SOCCER NATION —
WUSA TO KICK OFF YEAR TWO ON SATURDAY WITH ALL EIGHT TEAMS IN ACTION: Year Two of the successful Women’s United Soccer Association will kick off this Saturday, April 13 with all eight teams trying to get that first win of the 2002 season. The defending champion San Jose CyberRays will host the Boston Breakers in the opening weekend’s nationally televised match on PAX Television (4 p.m. ET). 2001 runner-up Atlanta Beat, arguably the league’s best team in 2001, is out to prove it again in Year Two. The Beat will host the Philadelphia Charge at Herdon Stadium at 7 p.m. ET. The San Diego Spirit and Carolina Courage, two teams that under-achieved in 2001, will look to start a run toward the playoffs when they meet at Torero Stadium at 3 p.m. PT. In the final match of the day, Tiffeny Milbrett’s New York Power travel to Washington, D.C. to take on rookie Abby Wambach and the Freedom at RFK Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.
WUSA’S FOUNDERS CUP II TO TAKE PLACE IN ATLANTA ON AUGUST 24: WUSA president and CEO Lynn Morgan announced last week that Herndon Stadium, the new home to the Atlanta Beat, will host Founder’s Cup II on Saturday, August 24 at 4:00 p.m. ET. The decision to bring the WUSA championship game to Atlanta edged bids from both San Jose and Washington, D.C. Founders Cup II will be broadcast live on PAX TV to more than 90 million households in the United States and several other countries worldwide. In recent years Atlanta has played host to numerous major sporting events, including the 2002 Final Four, the World Series (of Major League Baseball) on multiple occasions, Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000, and the 1996 Summer Olympics. Herndon Stadium, on the campus of Morris Brown College, was actually built specifically for the ’96 Olympic Games and served as home to the Olympic Field Hockey competition.
OFC GETS DIRECT ENTRY TO 2004 OLYMPICS: The Oceania Football Confederation has been granted direct entry to the Olympics in both the men and women's soccer tournaments. The Bureau of the Organising Committee of the Olympic Football Tournaments made this decision at a meeting in Zurich. The new ruling comes into effect at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
— A LOOK AHEAD —
A quick glance at U.S. National Team games taking place over the next two weeks:
Date: Match-up (Location)
April 12: U.S. Under-19 WNT vs. Jamaica (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
April 12: U.S. Under-17 MNT vs. Stetson Univ. (Stetson, Fla.)
April 14: U.S. Under-19 WNT vs. Canada (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)
April 14: U.S. Under-17 MNT vs. Clemson Univ. (Orlando, Fla.)
April 17: U.S. MNT vs. Ireland (Dublin, Ireland)
April 20: U.S. Under-17 MNT vs. Jacksonville Univ. (Orlando, Fla.)
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: Is there anything Clint Mathis can’t do for the U.S. Men’s National Team these days? Whether it be a opportunistic tap-in in like the game-winning goal over Mexico or a clinical finish against Germany, the MetroStars forward has picked up right where he left off last year before a knee injury cut his breakout year for the U.S. MNT short. Seven games, seven goals, two assits. ‘Nuff said.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Can Brandi & Co. rally for a second consecutive WUSA title, or will it be Tiffeny Milbrett and the offensive juggernaut of the New York Power to claim the championship? Will Mia be able to lead the Freedom out of the cellar, and can the trio of Shannon MacMillan, Joy Fawcett and Julie Foudy produce a playoff berth? All of these questions and will start to be answered this weekend as Year Two of the WUSA kicks off on both coasts.
SOCCER SHOCKER: With less than two months before the 2002 World Cup (May 31-June 30), Mexico defender and team captain Claudio Suarez had the ultimate misfortune of breaking his left leg in a practice at Invesco Field the night before the April 3 game in Denver, Colo. With a diagnosis of 6-8 weeks before full recovery, it could be a huge blow to the backline and overall success of the Tri-Colores in Korea/Japan.
“Without a doubt, I think this helps clean up some of the decisions I need to make. We’re getting closer. I think after the game on April 17 in Ireland, we’ll be able to make some firm decisions.”
- U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena, on how the team’s and individuals’ performances in the 1-0 win over Mexico will affect the choosing of the final 23-man U.S. World Cup roster