IN FULL SWING: The last of the U.S. contingent arrived today as preparations began in earnest for this weekend's crucial match against Honduras. A typical D.C. summer day greeted Bruce Arena's side, with hazy, hot and humid conditions the order of the day. The players appeared to have sorted through the rigors of the weekend matches and travel, creating a spirited training session. Just five days remain before "Breakfast on East Capitol" commences Saturday at 10 a.m.
EXCELLENCE AT EAST CAPITOL STREET: The U.S. men's team enjoys a stellar history performing in Washington, D.C. With a passionate and soccer-savvy fan base, RFK Stadium has proved an awesome venue for both sport and spectacle. With an overall record of 7-2-3, the USA has not lost in the nation's capital since 1996. RFK has hosted three World Cup qualifying matches in which the United States has never been defeated. The men have posted three consecutive clean sheets at the East Capitol Street grounds, including a 1-0 win against Argentina on June 13, 1999. Last time out in D.C., a sold-out crowd of 51,996 fans witnessed a thrilling 1-0 victory against Guatemala, Brian McBride netting the game-winner in the crucial semifinal round qualifier.
HEADING FOR THE HALF CENTURY: U.S. forward Jovan Kirovski can reach the 50-cap plateau should he take the field against Honduras this weekend. In his seven-year career at the international level, Kirovski has potted seven goals, and was a member of the bronze medal winning side in the 1999 Confederations Cup. During his first stint with the senior national team, the then 18-year old Kirovski earned his fourth career cap and scored his second international goal against the Catrachos in the 1-1 draw December 11, 1994. He's one of three players on the current U.S. roster to start in that match; Jeff Agoos and Chris Henderson the others.
THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The U.S. has strung together a remarkable 19-match home unbeaten run in World Cup qualification, amassing a 14-0-5 record during that stretch. The last home loss came over 16 years ago, when the USA lost 1-0 to Costa Rica on May 31,1985 in Torrance, Calif. Equally impressive has been the defensive efforts of the side during the 2002 campaign. The United States has recorded clean sheets in seven of their last nine World Cup qualifying matches dating back to August 16, 2000, surrendering just two goals. Three different 'keepers have earned the shutouts, Kasey Keller collecting the most with four total.
HONDURAS AT FULL STRENGTH: The Honduran training camp reached full strength today as the Honduran's foreign-based contingent arrived in Tegucigalpa to fill out Head Coach Ramon Maradiaga's 20-man roster. Led by Carlos Pavon, the leading scorer in 2002 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with 15 goals, the Catrachos also welcomed Pavon's teammate at Udinese, defender Samuel Caballero, and Coventry City defender Ivan Guerrero. The team has been training in Tegucigalpa for nearly two weeks and will arrive in the Washington area Thursday.
DID YOU KNOW? Earnie Stewart has netted 104 goals in his 13-year professional career in Holland, the most ever for an American playing in a European top-flight league. Stewart spent three seasons with VVV Venlo before joining Willem II. The 32-year old midfielder has played with NAC Breda since the 1996/97 campaign. Stewart is the all-time leading scorer for the United States in World Cup qualifying play with seven goals, including the first in the USA's 2-1 victory against Honduras on Matchday 2 of final round qualifying.