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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Women's National Team's Road to Women's World Cup Title Defense to Begin in San Diego

U.S. WNT TO FACE JAPAN ON JAN. 12 AT TORERO STADIUM ON ROAD TO 2003 WWC: The U.S. Women's National Team will open its 2003 schedule with a match against Japan on January 12, 2003, at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The match, which will kick off at 1 p.m. PT, will represent the USA’s first game in its run to the 2003 Women’s World Cup in China. Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $45 went on sale starting today at 10:00 a.m. PT at all Southern California TicketMaster outlets (including Robinson’s-May and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 619-220-8497 and online at  Additionally, less than 100 VIP field-level seats at $150 each, where ticket holders get to keep their chair, will also go on sale at this time.  It will be the first of approximately 12 matches the USA will play before the 2003 Women’s World Cup. While the U.S. women have trained extensively at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, located just north of the U.S.-Mexican border in Chula Vista, Calif., this will be the first full international for the USA in San Diego.  Torero Stadium, which seats 7,035, is the home of the Spirit in the WUSA and has undergone two phases of renovations to become one of the top soccer venues on the West Coast.  The match against Japan is just the first part of a trip that will take the U.S. women to China for a major tournament at the end of January. The U.S. team will be coming off two months of rest after dominating the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup in late October and early November, winning its fifth regional title and earning a berth to the 2003 Women’s World Cup with its 7-0 semifinal victory over Costa Rica. The U.S. women are 13-0-1 all-time versus Japan and have never lost a match in California, going 12-0-1 dating back to 1996.

U.S. WOMEN TO COMPETE IN PRESITIGIOUS ALGARVE CUP IN PORTUGAL IN MARCH 2003: The U.S. Women's National Team will travel to Portugal in March 2003 to compete in the prestigious Algarve Cup for the eighth time.  The USA has been placed in Group A with Canada, Sweden and France, all of whom have qualified for the 2003 Women's World Cup in China. The Algarve Cup, already the world's most competitive women's international event outside of the Women's World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championships, will take on an added significance this March as it will be the last major international tournament before the Women's World Cup.  Group B will feature China, Norway, Denmark and Finland.  After round-robin group play, the winners of Groups A and B will meet for the championship.  The USA has won the tournament just once, that coming in 2000 when the Americans defeated Norway, 1-0, in the championship game on a Brandi Chastain penalty kick. While the final game schedule has not been set, the USA will play group matches on March 14, 16 and 18 and a placement game on March 20. This will be the 10th staging of the event and just the second year that the Algarve Cup, which was previously an eight-team tournament, will feature 12 teams.  Group C, which does not have a chance to play for the title, features Wales, Greece, Portugal and a team to be determined.  A detailed schedule with dates, venues and times will be announced closer to the tournament.

2003 Algarve Cup
Group A: United States, Canada, France, Sweden
Group B: China, Norway, Denmark, Finland
Group C: Wales, Greece, Portugal, TBD

HAMM NAMED FINALIST FOR 2002 FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD PLAYER OF YEAR: U.S. Women's National Team forward Mia Hamm has been named a finalist for the 2002 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award. Hamm came back from knee surgery early in the year to lead the Washington Freedom to the WUSA championship game, scoring eight goals with six assists in just 11 matches (only one of which she started).  Hamm's return to the national team was similarly striking, as she scored against Norway in a 4-0 victory on July 21 and went on to record seven goals and five assists in nine matches for the USA this year and upped her world record international goal total to 136. Hamm won the award in 2001, the first year that the honor was bestowed on a female player. Hamm is joined as one of three finalists this year by German Birgit Prinz, who led the Carolina Courage to the WUSA title, and Chinese international Sun Wen.  The finalists for the FIFA Men’s World Player of the Year award are Brazilian World Cup hero Ronaldo, German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and French midfielder Zinedine Zidane. The winners will be announced on Dec. 17.


MYERNICK NAMES ROSTER FOR TWO-WEEK PROJECT-40 TOUR OF GERMANY & HOLLAND: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Glenn “Mooch” Myernick announced a 23-player roster last week for the annual Nike Project-40 fall foreign tour, which started this weekend and will continue through Dec. 6, consisting of six matches against reserve teams from some of the top clubs in Germany and Holland. Just under half (11) of the players are currently part of the Project-40 program, with 12 guest players from around the league filling out the roster.  The roster features 2002 MLS Rookie of the Year finalist and U.S. Under-23 captain Kelly Gray (Chicago Fire), as well as four players – forwards Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes) and Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn) and midfielders Justin Mapp (D.C. United) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn) – who played major roles in the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team’s successful qualification for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship earlier this month in Charleston, S.C. The Pro-40s will face the reserve teams from a pair of German Bundesliga clubs this week – vs. Monchengladbach tomorrow (Nov. 26) and Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday (Nov. 27) – before they travel to Holland for an exhibition against reserves from PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Honor Division on Thursday (Nov. 28). The Pro-40 squad will have a four-day break from matches to train in Dusseldorf before relocating to Holland for a second string of three consecutive games against reserve teams next week.
Goalkeepers (2): Jon Conway (San Jose Earthquakes), Taly Goode (Kansas City Wizards);
Defenders (6): Nelson Akwari (MetroStars), Chris Brunt (Kansas City Wizards), Kelly Gray (Chicago Fire), Chris Leitch (Columbus Crew), Bryan Namoff (D.C. United), Eddie Robinson (San Jose Earthquakes);
Midfielders (9): Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Matt Behncke (Dallas Burn), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Nick Downing (New England Revolution), Mark Lisi (D.C. United), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Miguel Saavedra (unsigned), Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn), Seth Trembly (Colorado Rapids);
Forwards (6): Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Isaias Bardales (L.A. Galaxy), Ali Curtis (D.C. United), Gavin Glinton (L.A. Galaxy), Luchi Gonzalez (Columbus Crew), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn).

UNDER-20s AWAIT WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW IN JANUARY: After clinching a spot in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship with wins in their first two matches at the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament in Charleston, S.C. earlier this month, the U.S. Under-20s await the World Youth Championship Draw in Abu Dhabi on January 29, 2003.  With the U.S. and Canada having advanced to the world championship, 15 of the 24 teams have secured a spot in next spring's World Youth Championship that will run from March 25-April 16 in the United Arab Emirates.  CONMEBOL (South America), CAF (Africa) and OFC (Oceania) will hold their qualifiers in December and January to finalize the world championship field.

LEONE BEGINS NEW U-19 WNT CYCLE WITH EYE ON DEFENDING WORLD TITLE IN 2004: U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team head coach Tracey Leone will spend this week (Nov. 25-30) in Boca Raton, Fla., evaluating the Under-14, Under-15, Under-16 and Under-17 regional teams at the annual Thanksgiving ODP Inter-Regional tournament.  The competition will also include the Scotland U-17 Women’s National Team and the new U.S. U-17 Women’s National team, which is coached by former U-19 assistant David Smith.  Leone will use this competition to choose the initial pool of players who will form the next group to compete for the FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship. Leone led the USA to the first-ever world championship for youth women this fall, as the U.S. U-19s made history, defeating Canada, 1-0, on Sept. 1, 2002, in Edmonton on a “golden goal” from team captain Lindsay Tarpley in front of almost 50,000 fans at Commonwealth Stadium.  Leone will now start with a new group of players who will embark on another two-year journey that will feature a similar preparation schedule, including a CONCACAF qualifying tournament sometime in 2004.  The site for the next U-19 FIFA World Championship has not been determined, but Belarus, Thailand and India have expressed interest in hosting.

NEWLY-CREATED UNDER-17 WNT TO PLAY FIRST MATCHES IN BOCA RATON THIS WEEK:  U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team coach David Smith brought 18 players to Boca Raton, Fla., this weekend for the first ever camp and competition for this newly created women’s youth national team.  The U-17s will play three matches in conjunction with an annual ODP Inter-Regional event, including the team’s first-ever full international (against Scotland’s U-17s on Nov. 30), as well as matches against the Region IV U-18 team and the Region III U-18 team.  The U.S. team, consisting of players born in 1986 and 1987, come from nine states, including six players from California and three each from Ohio and New York.  Smith was the assistant coach for Tracey Leone for the entire run up to and through the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship, which the USA won in dramatic fashion over host Canada, 1-0, on a "golden goal" from Lindsay Tarpley.  Smith will have Maren Rojas, the assistant coach at Syracuse University, as his assistant/goalkeeper coach.  "The goal of this team is to move players to the U-19 level to allow them to compete for a world championship,” said Smith. “It's exciting to be a youth national team player in the United States right now. Our goal is to keep winning world championships and this group of players will help achieve that." 

UNDER-17 MNT HEAD TO COCOA, PREPARE FOR NIKE FRIENDLIES: The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team will enjoy a busy Thanksgiving week in Cocoa, Fla., playing four games, including a match against Finland on Friday (Nov. 29). The U.S. squad, made up of players born after January 1, 1986, will also face two 1985 Regional Teams, playing the Region II squad on Saturday (Nov. 30) and Region I squad on Sunday (Dec. 1).  The U.S. wraps up play in Cocoa with a match on Dec. 2 against a 1986 All-Star team.  The U.S. traveled to Finland earlier in the summer, where they recorded a loss and two draws against Finland's Under-17s.  After the weekend matches, the U.S. and Finland will then travel to Bradenton to take part in the U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies the following weekend (Dec. 6-9).  After a successful Friendlies event in 2001, the number of teams in the 2002 invitational swelled from 19 teams in two age groups last year to 28 teams in three age groups this year.

UNDER-15 BOYS TO PARTICIPATE IN ODP EVENT IN COCOA, FLA.: The U.S. Under-15 Boys National Team travels to Cocoa, Fla., this week to participate in an ODP Regional Event from Nov. 28-Dec. 3.  The Under-15 Boys National Team, made up of players born after Jan. 1, 1988, will face the four regional select teams across four consecutive days, beginning with a match on Saturday (Nov. 30) versus Region II. The creation of an Under-15 Boys team replaces the original U-16 Boys National Team, with Ken Lolla remaining the team’s head coach. 
Roster: Jose Angulo (Pasco Thunder), Chris Cano (Silver Lake Spirits), Joseph Castaldo (Atlanta Fire), Michael Dalpra (Raiders / Bronxville High), Richard Edgar (Northern Lighting / Chopticon), Mark Halma (Urbandale / Valley Southwoods), Brant Hovington (Potomac / Eleanor Roosevelt), Quavas Kirk (Magic / West Aurora High), Bret Merchant (Ajax / Johanson High), Daniel Ortega (Surf / East Lake High), Roe Garrett (Braddock Road Cardinals), Bryant Rueckner (Slammers FC / RanchoCucamonga), Ofori Sarkodia (Ambassadors / Dayton Carroll), Ryan Soroka (FC Delco / Neshaminy), Kevin Sweetland (Wolves / William H. Hall High), Jonathon Villanueva (Texans / Bishop Dunne), Blake Wagner (Blackwatch Saints / Wharton High), Kenny Walker (Cleveland Whitecaps), Taylor Waspi (Magic / Lake Zurich High), Drew Yates (Baltimore Bays / Archbishop Curley).


MLS ANNOUNCES COMPETITION CHANGES FOR 2003 SEASON: The MLS Competition Committee unveiled details of the league’s 2003 MLS Calendar, which includes significant changes to the regular-season and playoff formats in order to bring MLS in line with the rest of the world's top leagues. MLS Deputy Commissioner Ivan Gazidis, who collaborated with Don Garber to abandon the shootout tiebreaker and the scoreboard clock shortly after the Commissioner's arrival in 1999, outlined the format under which the League's 10 teams will compete next season, including the following:
- 30-game regular season adds two games to regular-season slate and maximizes weekend dates
- 2003 campaign kicks off on Saturday, April 5 live on ABC Sports, with the defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy facing the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open cup Champion Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium; MLS Soccer Saturday's "appointment viewing" at 4:00 p.m. ET continues
- Eighth regular season concludes on the weekend of Sunday, October 26, with the 2003 MLS Cup Playoffs commencing on the weekend of November 1
- Eight teams advance to postseason (top four teams from each Conference)
- Conference Semifinal series conducted under a home-and-home, aggregate goal format; one-game Conference Championships determine MLS Cup Finalists
- If a Conference Semifinal series or a Conference Final is tied, then a 30-minute golden-goal overtime and penalty kicks, if necessary, are employed to determine which team advances to MLS Cup 2003
- 2003 Pepsi MLS All-Star Game on July 26 or August 2 at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles
- MLS Cup 2003 on Sunday, November 23, also at the Home Depot Center

DARTFISH TO PROVIDE VIDEO ANALYSIS SOFTWARE FOR U.S. SOCCER:  Dartfish, a worldwide company developing the latest in sports training software to visualize and analyze technical performance, will provide U.S. Soccer with cutting-edge video analysis for their training programs as its “Video Analysis Software Provider”. Dartfish will work closely with U.S. Soccer to implement a top-notch video training program using DartTrainer to educate soccer coaches, athletes, and members. DartTrainer products integrate video to its maximum potential in sports training. During training for immediate visual feedback and enhanced trainer-athlete communication and after training analysis as DartTrainer tools compare and highlight performances, techniques, trajectories, and positions. DartTrainer’s built-in Video Management System is particularly useful in team sports such as soccer to easily capture and classify multiple clips during games for post game analysis. The Video Management System is also a powerful tool when it comes to classifying video footage for pre-game scouting and strategy preparation.


PEAK PERFORMER: Can anyone stop Christine Sinclair? The Canadian Women’s National Team forward notched a hat trick and added an assist in #9-ranked Portland University’s 4-0 rout of Richmond in the Sweet 16 of the 2002 NCAA Women’s College Cup this weekend. Two months ago, she led the first ever FIFA Women’s Youth World Championship with a whopping 10 goals in six games. On the men’s side, Ryan Kneipper scored five goals to lead defending champion North Carolina over Winthrop 6-0 in the first round of the 2002 NCAA Men’s College Cup this weekend.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: In the Great Eight of the Women’s College Cup, the match of the weekend is #2 North Carolina hosting #4 Texas A&M on Saturday. While UNC has cruised into the third round, A&M has needed penalty kicks to get by their last two opponents, including a 3-1 PK defeat of #3 UCLA last weekend.

SOCCER SHOCKER: English Premier League club Everton recorded its sixth consecutive victory this weekend, lifting them to the fourth place spot in the table at 9-4-2. With 29 points in their first 15 matches, the club has amassed its best early season total since 1985. The winning streak includes five straight 1-0 shutouts and has seen Everton improve their home record at Goodison Park to 5-0-2.