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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Women Win 2002 Women's Gold Cup, Earn 2003 Women's World Cup Berth


HAMM’S BRILLIANT GOLDEN GOAL CLINCHES TITLE: The U.S. Women's National Team won the 2002 CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup in dramatic fashion on Saturday with a 94th minute "golden goal" from Mia Hamm in overtime to defeat Canada 2-1 in the championship game on a wet, soggy field at the Rose Bowl.  It was Hamm's first goal of the tournament, but the 136th of her career.  Hamm's goal was a thing of brilliance as she chipped a ball over Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc while fighting off defender Breanna Boyd at the top of the penalty area.  The victory handed the U.S. their second Women’s Gold Cup crown, but it was the team’s dominating 7-0 victory over Costa Rica in the semifinals on Wednesday that clinched a spot for the two-time world champions in the 2003 Women’s World Cup.  Overall, the title was the fifth regional crown for the U.S. women, having won Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournaments in 1991 and 1994, both over Canada, a CONCACAF event in 1993 in New York, and the inaugural Women's Gold Cup in 2000.

U.S. U-20 MEN START QUALIFYING FOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP ON WEDNESDAY: After 10 days of training in Charleston, S.C., the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team will begin play in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship this Wednesday against Haiti at 7:30 p.m. ET.  The U.S. will also battle El Salvador on Friday and Canada on Sunday, with the top two teams in the four-team group competition qualifying for the World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates being played from March 25-April 16, 2003.  Nineteen year-old Bobby Convey, who has been playing professionally for D.C. United for three years, will lead the team, and he will receive offensive support from fellow MLS pros Ed Johnson and Santino Quaranta.  In all, this team will have more professional players – eight – on the qualifying roster than any previous U.S. Under-20 MNT. The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 15-7-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (60 to 27).  Tickets for the qualifying tournament are currently available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Cat’s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, online at ussoccer.com and at Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.).  Group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625.

U.S. MEN TEAM TAKE ON EL SALVADOR ON SUNDAY ON ESPN:  The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to international action on Sunday (Nov. 17) as the take on El Salvador at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., in a match being televised live on ESPN at 3 p.m. ET.  The United States has not faced an international opponent since the team’s historic quarterfinal finish at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in June.  Tickets for the match, which is being presented to fans by LEGO, range in price from $22 to $50 and are now available at all TicketMaster outlets (D.C. 202-432-7328; Baltimore 410-481-7328; Northern Virginia 703-573-7328; out of state 1-800-551-7328).  Complete ticket info is available at ussoccer.com.

– WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

MILBRETT NAMED WOMEN’S GOLD CUP MVP:  Despite starting just two of five games in the 2002 Women's Gold Cup, and playing just 135 minutes in three games overall, U.S. Soccer's two-time Chevrolet Women's Athlete of the Year Tiffeny Milbrett was named the Women's Gold Cup MVP for scoring seven overall goals, tying Canada's Charmaine Hooper and Christine Sinclair for the tournament lead.  Milbrett scored five goals in the first half of the USA's impressive 9-0 victory over Panama, and then scored a spectacular opening goal for the U.S. in the championship game against Canada. The 27th minute goal came on a beautifully driven, first-time volley with her left foot over Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc that soared into the roof of the net.  It was the 95th international goal of her career. "She's a world class finisher and she proved that again (in this game)," said Mia Hamm about Milbrett.

WOMEN’S GOLD CUP ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM FEATURES SIX FROM U.S.:  U.S. defenders Joy Fawcett and Brandi Chastain, midfielder Aly Wagner, and forwards Shannon MacMillan and Tiffeny Milbrett were all named to the Women's Gold Cup Best XI at the conclusion of the two-week tournament this weekend.  Cindy Parlow was named to the Honorable Mention All-Tournament Team.

SEVEN OF 16 TEAMS SET FOR 2003 FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP IN CHINA:  With the United States and Canada clinching berths in the 2003 Women's World Cup this week at the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, seven of 16 teams have booked passage for next year's tournament.  The fourth FIFA Women's World Cup will run from Sept. 24-Oct. 11, 2003, with 32 matches being played in the five host cities of Shanghai, Hongkou, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu. The FIFA Women's World Cup draw will take place in Wuhan on May 24, 2003, and the U.S. is guaranteed a seeded position in one of the four groups as the tournament's defending champion.  The breakdown of qualified teams appears below:

AFRICA (0 of 2):  The final African Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament will take place in Nigeria from Dec. 7-24, 2002.
ASIA (1 of 3.5):  China (host); dates/venues of qualifying tournament yet to be finalized.
CONCACAF (2 of 2.5):  Canada, United States; Mexico will play the third place finisher in Asia qualifying for a berth in China.
EUROPE (4 of 5):  Germany, Norway, Russia and Sweden; France and England meet Nov. 16 to decide final qualifier.
OCEANIA (0 of 1):  Approximately 10 teams will compete in the OFC Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Australia in April of 2003.
SOUTH AMERICA (0 of 2): 10 teams will compete for two spots in South American qualifying in Peru in January or February of 2003.

FRANCE ONE GAME AWAY FROM FIRST WOMEN'S WORLD CUP BERTH: France needs just a tie at home in Saint-Etienne on Saturday (Nov. 16) in the second leg of the playoff series with England to earn the last remaining European berth in the 2003 Women's World Cup.  France grabbed a precious first-leg victory in London on Oct. 17, 2002, winning 1-0 on a goal from Marinette Pichon, the MVP of the WUSA last season for the Philadelphia Charge.  Pinchon, a finisher of the highest class, pulled off a fine piece of skill in the 75th minute to score one of the most important goals in her country's history, beating England goalkeeper Pauline Cope from the edge of the box following a scooped pass from Elodie Woock.  England was handicapped by the absence of star striker Kelly Smith, also of the WUSA's Charge, who is recovering from knee surgery.  The Smith-less England team will have to come up with an historic victory on Saturday to overturn France's advantage.

– MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

U.S.-EL SALVADOR HISTORY: The United States holds an 8-1-4 lifetime advantage over El Salvador, and has never lost a meeting between the two countries on home soil.  This Sunday’s match will mark the first contest between the fellow CONCACAF nations in Washington, D.C., where the U.S. has amassed an 8-3-3 record.  RFK last hosted an international friendly on May 12 of this year, when the USA beat Uruguay 2-1.

EL SALVADOR ANNOUNCES 18-MAN ROSTER:  The Football Federation of El Salvador released the 18-man roster that will take on the United States in their Nov. 17 friendly at RFK Stadium.  El Salvador has not played a competitive match since the 2002 Gold Cup in January, and, like the U.S., will be looking to groom a new team in preparation for World Cup qualifying play in 2004.
Goalkeepers: Juan Gomez, Fidel Mondragon; 
Defenders: Ramiro Carballo, Julio Castro, Marvin Gonzlaez, Carlos Menjivar, Jr., Alfredo Pacheco, Mauricio Quintanilla, William Torres, Victor Manuel Velasquez; 
Midfielders:  Selvin Gonzalez, Gilberto Murgas, Roberto Vasquez; 
Forwards: Rudis Corrales, Francisco Fuentes, Josue Galdamez, Diego Mejia, Jose Mejia.

– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

U.S. UNDER-20 QUALIFIERS AVAILABLE ON PAY-PER-VIEW:  U.S. Soccer and Innovative Sports Marketing have partnered to make the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s three matches at the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament available on pay-per-view.  The three U.S. qualifying matches (against Haiti on Wednesday, El Salvador on Friday and Canada on Sunday) will be shown live and are available for $19.95 each through DirecTV and Time-Warner cable (in New York City).  For more information on the pay-per-view broadcasts, contact ISM at 201-610-0200 or ismsports.com.

U-20 NOTES VS. HAITI: Following is a closer look at the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s first opponent in World Youth Championship qualifying which kicks off on Wednesday.  The U.S. and Haiti have never met in a CONCACAF Under-20 Tournament.  The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team beat Haiti 3-2 on April 28, 2001, in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Six players from the U.S. Under-20 qualifying team played in that match – Jordan Harvey, Chris Lancos, Jordan Stone, David Johnson, Ed Johnson and Justin Mapp.  Jordan Harvey assisted on the opening goal, a Justin Mapp strike in the 11th minute. Ed Johnson put the U.S. up 2-0 just five minutes later, and then Ed Johnson scored the game-winner in the 52nd minute, after a beautiful set-up from Mapp. The full U.S. Men’s National Team has posted an all-time 5-6-3 record against Haiti, with the most recent match taking place at the 2000 Gold Cup.  The U.S. won that match 3-0.

U.S. U-17s WIN TWO MATCHES ON SUNDAY: The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team remained active this weekend with two split-squad games on Sunday (Nov. 10).  With an increase to 30 players in U.S. Soccer’s U-17 full-time residency program, these types of split squad games are becoming more common place for head coach John Elllinger’s team. In Sunday’s action, an older U-17 squad downed the Bradenton U-18 Flames, 4-2, with Corey Ashe, Jose Gomez, John DiRaimondo and Brandon Owens each scoring in rallying the team from a 2-0 deficit.  The younger U-17 team on the day defeated Florida ODP 1987 team 1-0 on a goal by Tomiwa Ogunsola, with an assist from Freddie Adu. Both matches took place at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.  The U-17s split up for four games three weekends ago and won all four matches by a combined 21-1.  Guillermo Gonzalez had two goals in each of the two games he played, and Jacob Peterson scored in each of the three games in which he appeared.  Gonzalez, the team's leading scorer, now has scored 21 goals in 2002.  On the year the team has outscored their opponents 113-62 in 50 overall matches.

U.S. SOCCER TO HOST GIRLS "PLAY-IN DAYS" IN MIAMI ON NOV. 23-24: In an effort to reach out and create more identification and development opportunities for youth female soccer players, U.S. Soccer will host its first "Play-In Days" in Miami this November.  Geared toward players who are playing outside of the traditional scouting networks, the "Play-In Days" will take place at Tropical Park in Miami on Nov. 23-24 beginning at 9 a.m. ET. The two-day training sessions will involve players from the Under-13 to the Under-15 age groups (players born from 1987 to 1989) playing in an informal setting and receiving help from some of the nation's top coaches.  The event will be led by a combination of U.S. Soccer National Staff coaches and local state and club coaches. The "Play-In Days" event, which will be replicated in other cities across the U.S. in the future, allows coaches to evaluate players from outside the traditional scouting network and at the same time expose these young players to a new level of play.

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

USL SWITCHES TO 3-1-0 POINT SYSTEM IN LEAGUE STANDINGS: United Soccer Leagues announced on Thursday that the 2003 season will see the organization change its point system for league games to the international standard of three points for a win and one point for a tie, eliminating the use of the bonus point. The bonus point was originally introduced in 1989 in the USL, with a point being awarded in the standings for each goal scored with a maximum of up to three in a game. After being eliminated in ‘96, the point was reintroduced in 1999 for scoring three or more goals in a game.  "A major factor in the decision was the idea of having all of the leagues in North America using the same system for the good of the game," said USL president Francisco Marcos.  Major League Soccer and the Women’s United Soccer Association already use the 3-1-0 system.

SEAN BOWERS NAMED PLAYER/COACH OF THE BALTIMORE BLAST:  The Baltimore Blast of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) have named defender Sean Bowers as player/coach for the remainder of the 2002-03 season. The 34-year-old Bowers replaces Kevin Healey at the helm, with Healey continuing in his role as the Blast's general manager.  Bowers, who is ranked third on the U.S. Futsal National Team all-time appearance list with 23, has been named "Defender of the Year" in the MISL (2001-02), the NPSL (1993-94 & 1994-95) and the CISL (1993), and played four years in MLS with the Kansas City Wizards.

U.S. SOCCER  SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMER: Continuing to earn rave reviews for his performances in England, Brad Friedel was again the talk of the Premier League after playing spectacularly in a 1-1 draw against Southhampton.  The Blackburn star allowed a single-goal on a penalty kick, allowing Rovers to stay in the match prior to a late tying goal to earn a point.  In 13 league games this year, Friedel has lost just three games and has a 1.00 goals against average.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  This week will see two interesting USA-El Salvador match-ups with the U.S. Men’s National Team taking on El Salvador at RFK Stadium on Sunday in the team’s first international match of the 2006 World Cup cycle, and the U.S. Under-20s hooking up with their counterparts from El Salvador on Friday in the second of three group matches to decide two of CONCACAF’s representatives in the 2003 World Youth Championship.  Despite those two matches, the key game of the week will likely be the U.S. Under-20s squaring off against Canada on Sunday afternoon (live at 2:30 p.m. ET on pay-per-view) in Charleston in the final game of the U-20 qualifying tournament.  The game will be the fourth major USA-Canada showdown in 2002, coming on the heels of U.S. victories in the semifinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the finals of the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship and the finals of the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup.

SOCCER SHOCKER: The U.S. Women’s National Team’s game-winning overtime goal in the championship match of the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup on Saturday evening was as beautiful as it was stunning and shocking. In intercepting a goal kick from Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, the U.S. took just two touches to traverse 45 yards and quickly destroy Canada’s upset hopes.  Aly Wagner started the 94th minute overtime winner with a deft header off the goal kick that dropped perfectly onto an on-rushing Mia Hamm.  While holding off Canadian defender Breanna Boyd and gauging the position of LeBlanc, Hamm scored her 136th international goal from 18-yards out with a perfectly weighted one-touch, half-volley chip over the stunned Canadian goalkeeper.

QUOTABLE:
“Friedel must have got changed in a telephone box today. I wouldn't be surprised if when he takes his shirt off there's a blue jersey with an 'S' on underneath it." 
-  Southampton coach Gordan Strachan following U.S. goalkeeper’s stunning performance in a 1-1 draw between Blackburn and Southhampton on Saturday.

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