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U.S. Soccer Wire: Best of Voting Begins Nov. 10

VOTING FOR SECOND ANNUAL YEAR-END AWARDS BEGINS TODAY AT Online voting for the second annual “Best of U.S. Soccer” Series begins today at with the best and most creative organizations, ideas, players and teams being singled out in 11 categories honoring the Best of U.S. Soccer for the calendar year of 2003. With the help of U.S. National Team coaches Bruce Arena and April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer has selected the finalists for nine of the 11 awards from Best Soccer Story to Best U.S. Goal. Fans were responsible for nominating the finalists of two categories – Best Soccer Bar and Best Soccer Store. Between now and Dec. 9, fans who vote at can watch video of each of the 12 finalists for youth and full national team goal of the year and will also have a chance to win a variety of special prizes from Philips Electronics. As the voting for 2003 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards series concludes, U.S. Soccer will announce the seven suggested candidates for each of the four annual Chevy Athlete of the Year awards: Young Female, Young Male, Female and Male. As the oldest and most prestigious award of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Athlete of the Year awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, with the winners of the two major awards receiving vehicles from Chevrolet. For the fourth straight year, fan votes (along with a media vote) will decide the winners. Voting will begin at in December and run through early January.
Best of U.S. Soccer 2003 Awards
Best U.S. Soccer Story
Best Soccer Bar
Best Soccer Store
Best U.S. Crowd
Best Soccer Stadium
Best Soccer Fans
Best Soccer Promotion
Best Game Performance – Player
Best Game Performance – Team
Best U.S. Goal – Youth National Team
Best U.S. Goal – Full National Team
U-23s TO PLAY OLYMPIC QUALIFIER ON NOV. 19 AT MARYLAND SOCCERPLEX: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team begins its CONCACAF Qualifying in the second round with a home-and-home series that begins on Saturday (Nov. 15) versus the tiny Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis. The opening match which will kick off at 7 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) in Bassaterre, St. Kitts. For the return leg, the U.S. will host St. Kitts & Nevis on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the 3,200-seat Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:30 p.m. ET. The winner of the series will be determined by aggregate goals for both matches. A roster announcement is expected on Monday afternoon. Fans can follow the action of both games live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Tickets went on sale to the public last week at any Washington-Baltimore-area Ticketmaster outlet (including Hecht's stores), charge by phone [D.C. 202-432-SEAT (7328); Baltimore 410-481-7328; Northern Virginia 703-573-7328; or out-of-state 1-800-551-7328], or at Tickets are $15 for general admission and $25 for midfield general admission. In all, 25 teams will participating in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, with the USA, El Salvador, Honduras and Saint Lucia receiving byes into the second round. The seven teams who advance out of the second round will join host nation Mexico from February 2-12, 2004, to compete in two groups of four, with the top two teams in each group earning a spot in the single elimination semifinals. The two finalists will receive CONCACAF’s two automatic berths for Athens 2004.

U.S. TO BEGIN GERMANY 2006 QUALIFYING IN JUNE OF 2004: The U.S. will join 33 other teams from North America, Central America and the Caribbean in the two-year process to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany under a qualifying plan ratified by the CONCACAF Executive Committee on Nov. 4 in Miami. The proposed qualification plan will be submitted for final approval to the FIFA Executive Committee on Dec. 3 in Frankfurt, Germany. The U.S. will begin qualifying play with a second round home-and-away series against a Caribbean nation on consecutive weekends in June. Those matches will be the first of 18 or 20 potential games across a year-and-a-half that the U.S. will have to play to earn their fifth consecutive trip to the World Cup finals. The match-ups for the preliminary round and the second round will be determined at the qualifying draw on Dec. 5 in Frankfurt, Germany. Under this format, all qualifying matches will take place on FIFA international calendar dates. A full schedule of match dates and a full breakdown of the competition format is available at /articles/viewArticle.jsp_46131.html

CONCACAF WOMEN'S OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT BEGINS IN CARIBBEAN: The 2004 CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualification Final Round will played from February 25 through March 7, 2004 in Costa Rica. The final round of the tournament was originally slated to be played in Mexico. The USA has received a bye through the CONCACAF Olympic preliminaries and will play in Group B, and will be joined by the winners of preliminary qualifying Group 1 (Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname), Group 3 (Haiti and Dominican Republic) and Group 4 (Mexico, Honduras and Nicaragua). The top two teams from round robin play in Groups A and B will face off in the semifinals of the Final Round tournament, with the finalists receiving CONCACAF's two berths to the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The change in venue for the final round now gives Costa Rica a bye through the preliminaries and a spot in Group A alongside Canada. Mexico will now host a preliminary three-team competition with Honduras and Nicaragua from Dec. 10-14 (Costa Rica was originally scheduled to host that round-robin competition). The qualifying preliminaries include two other three-team competitions: Guatemala hosts Panama and Belize from Nov. 19-23, and the Cayman Islands host Jamaica and U.S. Virgin Islands from Dec. 3-7. One preliminary is already complete as Haiti topped the Dominican Republic 10-2 on aggregate in a two-game series, winning 7-0 on Oct. 31 and 3-2 on Nov. 2. Also, Trinidad & Tobago has a 2-0 lead after a Nov. 9 win against Suriname going into the second game of the series on Nov. 12.


U.S. U-17 SPLIT SQUAD TO COMPETE IN NIKE FRIENDLIES IN BRADENTON FROM DEC.5-9:  A record 44 teams will be playing in more than 80 games in four days at U.S. Soccer’s third-annual Nike Friendlies Nov. 5-9 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. In addition to elite club teams from 15 different states across the United States, this year’s competition also includes youth national teams representing Brazil and the USA’s 40-player Under-17 Residency Program. A full schedule of games will be available next week. U.S. Soccer’s Nike Friendlies is an annual youth soccer competition in which the best youth soccer clubs in United States are invited to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., to play high-level games against like competition in a competitive environment that stresses quality soccer and player development over wins and losses. Each team plays four 80-minute games across the four-day competition and no tournament standings are kept. In three years of existence, the Friendlies has become a highly anticipated event by clubs and college coaches because of the emphasis on quality soccer and the top-level competition. With 44 teams this year and 28 teams in last year’s event, the competition has more than doubled in size since 19 teams competed in the inaugural competition in 2001. With 40 players in U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency Program now, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will continue to be split into two teams: an older team made up primarily of players born in 1987 and a younger team made up primarily of players born in 1988. The U-17 ‘87s will compete in Under-18 age bracket at the Nike Friendlies, while the U-17 ‘88s will be placed in the Under-17 bracket.


FIRE, REVOLUTION, WIZARDS & EARTHQUAKES ONE STEP CLOSER TO MLS CUP 2003: The conference finals match-ups are in place after a full slate of matches this weekend in Major League Soccer. The nightcap of three Sunday (Nov. 9) games was a thriller, as the San Jose Earthquakes stunned the Los Angeles Galaxy with five unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0 in the match and 4-0 in the series. San Jose scored in the 21st, 37th, 50th and 90th minutes to force a golden goal tiebreaker, and then scored six minutes into the extra period. San Jose will host Kansas City, which won the lone Saturday game 2-0 after a Tuesday night draw in Denver to win the series 3-1. That game will be played on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. PT at Spartan Stadium. Goals by forward tandem Damani Ralph and Ante Razov kept the Chicago Fire’s hopes for a Double alive as the U.S. Open Cup champion topped D.C. United 2-0 at Soldier Field to win the series 4-0. The Fire will face New England, 3-1 winners over the MetroStars on aggregate, on Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:30 p.m. ET at Soldier Field. The Conference Champions will then meet on Sunday, Nov. 23 at 12:30 p.m. PT for MLS Cup 2003 at The Home Depot Center.

CANADA TO HOST U-19 CONCACAF QUALIFYING IN 2004: The path for the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team to the 2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship will go through Canada, site of its FIFA Under-19 World Championship on Sept. 1, 2002, when the USA downed the hosts 1-0 in the title game on a “golden goal” from Lindsay Tarpley.  This time, the USA will be attempting to qualify for a world championship during the CONCACAF U-19 Women’s Qualifying Tournament that will be held in Ottawa and Montreal, Canada, from May 28-June 6, 2004. The second FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship will be held in Thailand from November 10-27, 2004. Canada held a spectacular first FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship, an event that captured the fancy of the country as the young Maple Leafs advanced to the title game, where 47,784 watched a dramatic victory by the USA at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. The qualifying tournament will bring together the eight best U-19 women's teams from across the North, Central America and Caribbean region to participate in the event that the Canada Soccer Association plans to host at both Ottawa’s Frank Clair Stadium and Montreal’s McGill University Stadium, pending the CONCACAF Venue Inspection later this month.  As of now, 22 National Associations have confirmed their participation in the CONCACAF U-19 qualifying rounds, with the preliminary zonal competitions scheduled to be played from January 15 through March 31, 2004. As in 2002, the USA will likely get a bye through to the final competition.

FORMER U.S. SOCCER PRESIDENT EUGENE RINGSDORF REMEMBERED: Former U.S. Soccer President J. Eugene Ringsdorf passed away early on Friday, October 31, at the age of 91. A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Ringsdorf served as president from 1961 to 1963 and was responsible for developing countless programs in Maryland and Washington, D.C., as well as other areas around the U.St. Ringsdorf was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y. in 1979 and was perhaps best remembered for introducing legislation within the U.S. Soccer Federation (then known as the U.S. Soccer Football Association) that advanced the cause of soccer in American high schools. Born on April 5, 1912, Ringsdorf was exactly one-year-old when the original U.S. Soccer organization was chartered on April 5, 1913, as the U.S. Football Association.


PEAK PERFORMER: San Jose Earthquakes head coach Frank Yallop pushed all the right buttons with his substitutions on Sunday right after his side went down 2-0 in the match and 4-0 in the series by the 16th minute. Forward Rodrigo Faria came on in the 75th minute, and would score the eventual golden goal. Defender Chris Roner was sent on in the 89th minute, and scored the game-tying goal in the 90th minute. Midfielder Ian Russell came on in the 77th minute, and, in addition to his fresh legs, he played the ball to Donovan that was then sent to Faria for the winner.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The U-23 Men’s National Team can move one step closer to qualifying for Athens 2004 as they travel to face St. Kitts & Nevis on Saturday (Nov. 15), live at 6 p.m. ET on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Down 2-0 to the Galaxy after the first leg, the San Jose Earthquakes then went down 2-0 in the first half of the second leg before coming back to win the series 5-4 on aggregate with the golden goal tiebreaker coming in the 96th minute.

QUOTABLE: "The crowd was louder than it has been at any time; louder even than those at the World Cup last year.  I've never been part of a game that exciting. I would have like to have bought a ticket for this game and watched it from the stands."
-- Landon Donovan, on the Spartan Stadium crowd for Sunday’s second leg of L.A. playoff series.