The match marks a homecoming of sorts for U.S. National Team head coach Bruce Arena, who currently resides in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Fairfax, Virginia. Arena, who guided D.C. United to two MLS Cup titles, one U.S. Open Cup crown, a CONCACAF Champions Cup title and the prestigious Interamerican Cup, will be coaching the full national team in his hometown for the first time.
Argentina is expected to bring nearly its full complement of international superstars - including Gabriel Batistuta, Diego Simeone, Ariel Ortega and Javier Zanetti - as the squad prepares for the 1999 Copa America, June 29 - July 18 in Paraguay. Led by head coach Marcelo Bielsa, the Argentine team recently played Holland to a 1-1 draw in a spectacular match on March 31 in Amsterdam.
The June 13 date will not be the first time an Arena-led U.S. team will have faced a tough Argentine opponent. During the Centennial Olympic Games in 1996, Arena's U.S. squad faced a veteran Argentine squad in Birmingham, Alabama. After going ahead 1-0 on a first-minute goal from Claudio Reyna, the U.S. succumbed to the eventual silver-medalists, losing 1-3 in front of a spectacular crowd of 83,183 at Legion Field. Many of the current Argentine players were part of that Olympic team.
The match also marks the third South American opponent the U.S. will have faced thus far in 1999, after having tied Bolivia (0-0) and defeating Chile (2-1) earlier in the year. Argentina are currently ranked 7th in the recent FIFA World Rankings (April). By comparison, the U.S. were ranked 24th in the world by FIFA.
The last time the senior U.S. National Team played Argentina was during the 1995 Copa America, when the Americans shocked the Argentine squad 3-0. It is regarded as one of the great U.S. victories of all time, and propelled the U.S. into the tournament's quarterfinals. Argentina, however, holds a large advantage over the U.S. in the all-time series, having compiled a 5-1-1 record against the Americans.
The U.S. will be using the match to prepare for the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico. The American team will face Group B opponents New Zealand (July 24), Brazil (July 28) and Germany (July 30), all in Guadalajara at the Jalisco Stadium. The top two teams from this group will advance to the tournament semifinals.
For information on purchasing tickets to the USA-Argentina match, please call the D.C. United ticket office at 703-478-6600.