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U.S. Squares Off with Honduras in Gold Cup Semifinal Matchup Thursday


U.S. MNT vs. Honduras - Pre-Game Notes
Somerset, New Jersey
July 20, 2005

INTO THE SEMIS: The U.S. Men's National Team will complete its final training session this afternoon at Giants Stadium in advance of their semifinal showdown with Honduras, just over 24 hours from kickoff. Game time at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.,  is set for 6 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on Telefutura, which has added English closed-captioning for all USA Gold Cup matches for U.S. fans who don’t speak Spanish. As always, fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

INJURIES/CARDS: Ben Olsen will miss Thursday's game after being sent off in the 3-1 quarterfinal win against Jamaica. Greg Vanney was the only U.S. player to pick up a yellow card in that match, meaning a caution vs. Honduras would make him unavailable for the final. Both Conor Casey (torn ACL) and Steve Cherundolo (sprained MCL) have left camp. Eddie Pope and Brad Davis have resumed full training after suffering sprained left ankles, while Tony Sanneh continues to progress from the same injury to his right ankle. For the Hondurans, only Asthou Enriquez was cautioned in their 3-2 win against Costa Rica, and they have reported no injuries.

THE JOY OF SIX: Just one day ahead of the team's semifinal showdown with Honduras in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the U.S. Men's National Team received some good news on Wednesday with their highest ever position in the FIFA World Rankings. Coming on the heels of a six-week stretch in which the U.S. has won two World Cup qualifiers in convincing fashion and moved undefeated through their continental championship, the team is now positioned sixth in the world. The U.S moved up four spots in the latest ranking, behind a top five list that includes Brazil, Argentina, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Mexico, in that order. Published once a month since 1993, the FIFA World Rankings have become a water-cooler topic for fans from around the world. The USA's previous highest ranking was a one-month stint at No. 7 back in July of 2004. The U.S. has also held the No. 8 ranking, once each in 2002 and 2004.

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO
U.S. vs. HONDURAS PREVIEW:
Go inside U.S. MNT camp as the team makes final preparations for their Gold Cup Semifinal matchup vs. Honduras on July 21 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. The practice conditions have been sweltering this week, but the players know Thursday's game will be even hotter. Check out Bruce Arena's take on Honduras as well as a rap session with midfielder Clint Dempsey.

BACK ON THE JOB: John O'Brien is relishing his rejuvenated role with the U.S. national team.  Having made his first appearance for the USA in more than two years in the 4-1 win against Cuba to open the Gold Cup, he has steadily increased his minutes and comfort level. O'Brien spoke with reporters about the process of returning to fitness, the joy of returning to playing, and how he envisions his role with the MNT.  It's back on the JOB for this edition of All_Access Video.

ONALFO BREAKS DOWN HONDURAS: U.S. assistant coach Curt Onalfo has been scouting Honduras throughout the tournament, a team which has shown surprising promise after failing to reach the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.  The Catrachos have advanced to the semifinals with an undefeated 3-0-1 record, dispatching Costa Rica 3-2 in the quarterfinals. Under new coach Chelato Ucles, the Hondurans have found a new organization and discipline, yet remain a team willing to attack with numbers. Find out the strengths of the Honduran side and the keys to the matchup as Onalfo breaks down Honduras in this exclusive podcast on ussoccer.com.

STREAKING: The U.S. has not-so-quietly emerged as one of the superpowers of the region, and in the process has developed a reputation as a team that's hard to beat.  The defense has been particularly effective, an effort that requires all 11 players. While the opinion remains subjective, the facts are a bit more obvious.  At the risk of jinxing the streaks, did you know that the U.S. MNT has not ...

  • suffered a shutout loss in 25 overall matches (2/18/2004 @ Holland, 0-1 L)
  • suffered a shutout loss at home in 28 matches (2/8/2003 vs. Argentina, 0-1 L)
  • lost by more than one goal in 46 matches (6/14/2002 vs. Poland, 1-3 L)
  • lost at home by more than one goal in 31 matches (5/19/2002 vs. Holland, 0-2 L)
  • lost at home vs. a CONCACAF opponent in 28 matches (9/1/2001 vs. Honduras, 2-3 L)

QUICK HITS:

  • DaMarcus Beasley and Landon Donovan are tied for the tournament lead in scoring with three goals, along with Carlos Ruiz (GUA), Luis Tejada (PAN) and Wilmer Velasquez (HON)
  • Beasley is also the tournament leader in assists, notching four in four games
  • With an appearance against Honduras, Beasley would reach 50 caps for the senior team, becoming the third youngest player behind Landon Donovan and Chris Henderson to hit the half-century mark
  • The U.S. has met Honduras twice in Gold Cup history, the meetings coming in the first two tournaments in 1991 and 1993.  The teams met in the championship match of the inaugural event, needing penalties to decide the result after a 0-0 draw in regulation.  The USA prevailed 4-3 in penalties to capture the first of their two Gold Cup titles
  • The U.S. has a 9-4-3 record in the knockout rounds of the Gold Cup, having reached the semifinals in six of seven tournaments
  • The U.S. has now collected 21 shutouts in 34 lifetime matches in Gold Cup action
  • Kasey Keller increased his record to 14-3-2 in Gold Cup play, picking up his 12th career shutout in the tournament against Costa Rica
  • With 19 appearances, Keller is one game away from tying Cobi Jones for the top spot in all-time Gold Cup appearances.  To hear to Keller talk about his Gold Cup success, listen to this exclusive podcast at ussoccer.com
  • Landon Donovan and Steve Ralston are tied for the most appearances for the U.S. team this year, each having earned minutes in 10 of 12 matches
  • Donovan leads the team in scoring with 17 points (six goals, five assists) in 2005
  • Four players were on the field for the USA's last meeting against Honduras, a 1-0 win in the USA's second-ever match in Albuquerque on March 19, 2005.  The players: Dempsey, Mastroeni (capt.), Noonan, and Ralston
  • The match was a historic milestone for U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, who became the first coach in U.S. Men’s National Team history to reach the 100-game plateau, improving his all-time record to 55-23-22 that day. Mastroeni presented Arena with a game ball after the match
  • Under Arena, the U.S. is an amazing 35-3-4 against CONCACAF opponents
  • The U.S. roster boasts eight players selected to play in the 2005 MLS All-Star Game, including six starters: Conrad, Dempsey, Donovan, Hejduk, Noonan, Pope, Reis, Vanney
  • Four club teammates could lineup against each other tomorrow night, the U.S. tandem of Chris Armas and Tony Sanneh and the Hondurans Samuel Caballero and Ivan Guerrero all plying their trade with the Chicago Fire

ALL ABOUT HONDURAS:

THE SQUAD: Eliminated from World Cup qualifying, the Hondurans have beld Cup, advancing to the semifinal stage without a loss. Honduras manager Chelato Ucles has brought order to the side, imposing a more disciplined philosophy while taking advantage of the veteran attacking abilities. After opening with a 1-1 draw against Trinidad, the Catrachos bagged consecutive victories against Colombia and Panama to finish the winners of Group A.  Heading north to Boston, the Hondurans jumped out to a 3-0 lead just a half hour into their quarterfinal contest against Costa Rica and then held on for a 3-2 win.

HISTORY: The U.S. is 6-2-3 all-time against Honduras in a series that dates back to a 1-0 win for the U.S. in World Cup qualifying play in 1965.  The U.S. is coming of three straight shutout wins in friendly matches vs. Honduras, winning by a combined score of 9-0 [to a view a highlight reel of U.S. goals against Honduras in this decade].  The teams met earlier this year in Albuquerque, N.M., Eddie Johnson grabbing the lone goal just before the halftime whistle to hand the U.S. a 1-0 victory.

TOP PLAYERS: Once again, the Hondurans top players start at the top.  They have a complimentary combination with Wilmer Velasquez serving as a 'target' forward while Milton 'Tyson' Nunez likes to make diagonal runs to get behind defenses.  Velasquez has been particularly efficient in the tournament, tied for the lead in scoring with three goals.  They have two good attacking midfielders in Daniel Turcios and Ivan Guerrero, each with good vision and adept passing skills.  They have a seasoned backline in Samuel Caballero, Junior Izaguirre and Maynor Figueroa, who have loads of games under their belt as a unit, and they are backstopped by a consistent goalkeeper in Victor Coello.

LAST TIME V. HONDURAS:

March 19, 2005 - University Stadium; Albuquerque, N.M. - Friendly
USA               1       Eddie Johnson  45'
Honduras        0    

USA: 1-Joe Cannon (22-Kevin Hartman, 46); 12-Chad Marshall, 19-Nat Borchers, 5-Chris Albright; 25-Pablo Mastroeni (Capt.; 6-Kerry Zavagnin, 85), 8-Clint Dempsey, 14-Steve Ralston, 11-Clint Mathis (10-Kyle Martino, 63), 13-Pat Noonan (15-Bobby Convey, 63); 9-Ed Johnson, 21-Brian Ching.

HON: 22-Junior Morales; 17-Erick Vallecillo, 6-Sergio Mendoza, 3-Maynor Figueroa, 5-Milton Reyes (15-Mauricio Sabillon, 46); 9-Walter Lopez (12-Elkin Gonzalez, 74), 18-Elmer Marin, 21-Carlos Moran (2-Mario Gomez, 56), 20-Ivan Guerrero (Capt.); 8-Denilson Costa (10-Wilmer Velasquez, 69), 11-Milton Nunez.

GOLD CUP FOR DUMMIES: The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the regional championship of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. With 12 teams participating in the finals, the winner will represent CONCACAF in the next FIFA Confederations Cup.  The tournament consists of two phases - the group phase and the knockout phase.  In the group phase, three groups of four teams played round-robin style, with the top two teams in each group advancing, plus the two best third-place teams.  In the knockout phase, beginning with the quarterfinals, matches are single elimination.  Each team is permitted up to 23 players on the roster, with 18 players dressing for each game.  In the knockout phase, if a match is tied after 90 minutes, the teams will play 30 minutes of extra time, no matter how many goals are scored.  If the match is still tied, the winner will be determined by penalty kicks.

For all the updated news, scores, and standings on the Gold Cup, visit the Gold Cup competition page on ussoccer.com.


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