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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. WNT Look to Qualify for Olympics


U.S. WOMEN MUST WIN MARCH 3 MATCH TO QUALIFY FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE GAMES: The U.S. Women's National Team put in a professional performance against Mexico in its final Group B match of the CONCACAF Final Round Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament, taking care of business yesterday in a 2-0 win on the hard ground of Estadio Nacional.  With the victory, the USA won the group with a full nine points on a 3-0-0 record and now awaits the result of the Canada-Costa Rica Group A match today to find out who it will play in the semifinal on Wednesday (March 3), with the winner of which earns a berth to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece. In one of the more important USA-Mexico women's matches in history, Mexico had the misfortune of giving up an own goal just 10 minutes into the game. The U.S. added an insurance goal in the 26th minute when Lilly chipped a short cross to the far post, where Abby Wambach beat her defender and managed to slip a header into the net from a sharp angle.  It was Wambach's 17th international goal in 28 matches. The U.S. Women rolled in their first two matches, defeating Trinidad & Tobago 7-0 on Feb. 25 before dispatching Haiti 8-0 on Feb. 27. In the opener, midfielder Shannon Boxx recorded the first hat trick of her international career, Mia Hamm added two goals and two assists, Kristine Lilly picked up a goal and an assist, and Wambach scored once and had two assists. In its second match, Cindy Parlow scored three times for the USA while substitutes Shannon MacMillan and Lindsay Tarpley did their work in the second half, with MacMillan scoring once and gathering two assists, while Tarpley added one goal and one assist. Fans can follow all the U.S. matches on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
WNT Results – CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Date         Opponent                  Result         U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 25    Trinidad & Tobago    7-0 W        Boxx (3), Lilly, Hamm, Wambach
Feb. 27    Haiti                          8-0 W        Wagner, Parlow (3), (Own Goal), MacMillan, Tarpley, Wambach
Feb. 29    Mexico                      2-0 W        (Own Goal), Wambach
WNT Schedule – CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Date         Opponent                 Venue                                               Kickoff (local/CT)
March 3   Group A2                 Estadio Nacional; San Jose                2:30 p.m.
March 5   Third Place / Final     Eladio Rosabal Cordero; Heredia       6 p.m. / 8 p.m.

ARENA NAMES 18-PLAYER ROSTER FOR MATCH VS. HAITI ON MARCH 13 IN MIAMI: U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena has selected 18 players to face fellow CONCACAF World Cup qualifying participant Haiti on Saturday, March 13 at The Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla.  Kickoff for the match is set for 8 p.m. ET, and the match will be shown live on HDNet.  The match will also be available to DirecTV viewers via pay-per-view, and fans can follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The 18-player roster has a distinctly MLS flavor, with 17 of the participants playing in the USA’s top domestic league.  Only Fulham FC defender Carlos Bocanegra will represent the MNT’s foreign-based contingent.  The team will arrive in Miami on Sunday (March 7) with training scheduled to begin the following day. The Sunshine State is well represented, with several players registering time in Florida on their soccer résumés.  New England midfielder Steve Ralston earned 1997 MLS Rookie of the Year honors as a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny, after attending Florida International University. Rapids defender Ritchie Kotschau spent two seasons with the Mutiny, one of only seven players in the league to appear in all 32 regular season matches in 2000.  Further south, U.S. World Cup defender Pablo Mastroeni was part of the 2001 MLS regular season champion Miami Fusion.  Mastroeni played 11 times for the U.S. in 2003, now with 25 international caps to his credit. A pair of players – Cory Gibbs (Dallas Burn) and Jovan Kirovski – could make their first domestic appearance for the MNT since joining the MLS ranks.
MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy), Jonny Walker (MetroStars); DEFENDERS (5): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham), Dan Califf (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cory Gibbs (Dallas Burn), Ritchie Kotschau (Colorado Rapids), Eddie Pope (MetroStars); MIDFIELDERS (7): Chris Armas (Chicago Fire), DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids), Richard Mulrooney (San Jose Earthquakes), Pat Noonan (New England Revolution), Steve Ralston (New England Revolution); FORWARDS (4): Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes), Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy), Ante Razov (Chicago Fire), John Wolyniec (MetroStars).

GRENADA TOPS GUYANA TO GRAB EDGE IN HOME-AND-HOME SERIES: Grenada was one of three tiny CONCACAF teams to post victories in their respective opening-legs for the 2006 World Cup Qualifying First Round Caribbean Zone over the weekend. Grenada earned an impressive 5-0 victory over visiting Guyana at the National Stadium in St. George’s on Feb. 28. Nigel Bishop scored in the 34th minute and Kennedy Phillip added another just five minutes later to give the host a 2-0 lead, while Anthony Augustine, Nixon Modeste and Dennis Rennie all scored in the second half for the final result. The teams will meet again two weeks later on March 14 in Blairmont, Guyana, with the winner of the opening-round series facing the U.S. MNT on June 13 in Group 1 as the U.S. begin their quest to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup with a home match. The location and time of the match is still to be determined. The U.S. will play the away leg of their preliminary round series the following weekend, June 19 or 20.

U.S. TO TRAVEL TO POLAND FOR MATCH IN PLOCK ON MARCH 31: The U.S. Men’s National Team will travel to Poland for a 2002 World Cup rematch in Plock, a city in central Poland about 60 miles northwest of Warsaw (8:30 p.m. local / 1:30 p.m. ET – live on ESPN2). As part of their preparation for CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying this summer, the U.S. will also play games on April 28 and May 26 at sites and against opponents still to be finalized. Following their two-game World Cup qualifying series on June 13 and June 20 against Grenada or Guyana, U.S. Soccer has also scheduled a return domestic match for the U.S. Men against Poland on July 11 at a site yet to be determined. The U.S. holds a 4-7-1 record against the European nation, with the last match a 3-1 loss in the opening round of the 2002 World Cup in Daejeon, South Korea. In their last match in Poland, the U.S. came away with a 3-2 win in Warsaw on Oct. 10, 1990.

– U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

U.S. WOMEN HEAD TO PORTUGAL NEXT WEEK FOR 2004 ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women's National Team will have a short turnaround for the 11th Algarve Cup as the team will depart for Europe four days after returning from the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica.  U.S. head coach April Heinrichs will name a 20-player roster after Olympic qualifying is completed and those players will leave for the southern coast of Portugal on March 10. The USA has been placed in Group A and will face France on March 14, Denmark on March 16 and 2003 Women’s World Cup runner-up Sweden on March 18.  The placement matches will be contested on March 20.  Group B features Norway, Finland, Canada and China.  Group C, which consists of four European lower tier teams, features host Portugal, Wales, Greece and Northern Ireland.  The competition will run from March 14-20 with four match days, featuring six matches each day.  Venues and match times have not yet been confirmed, but all the games will be played at small venues spread out across the Algarve region. This marks the ninth trip to the Algarve Cup for the U.S. women, who won the world’s most prestigious invitational women’s tournament last year, defeating China 2-0 in the title game. The USA has an 18-8-5 all-time record in the Algarve Cup, which is perhaps the world’s most competitive women’s international event outside of the Women's World Cup, the Olympics and the European Championship. None of the matches will be televised in the United States, but fans can follow the USA’s grueling schedule of four games in seven days online at ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

U.S. WOMEN TO OPEN DOMESTIC SCHEDULE VS. BRAZIL IN BIRMINGHAM ON APRIL 24: The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team will play its first domestic match of 2004 against Brazil on Saturday, April 24, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.  The game kicks off at 12 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as U.S. fans will get their first look at the core of players who will participate in the 2004 Olympics, should the USA qualify in Costa Rica this week. Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $18 to $50 are on sale starting now at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix, Coconuts and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 1-800-277-1700, and online at www.ussoccer.com.  Groups of 20 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745. The match at the historic stadium will be the second trip in as many years to Birmingham, home of U.S. defender Cat Reddick.  The USA trounced England 6-0 in May 2003 as Reddick played 90 minutes in her first appearance for the national team in the city where she was a high-school All-American at Briarwood Christian School and two-time Alabama Girl’s Soccer Player of the Year.

– U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –

U-20 MNT FINISH SECOND CAMP OF 2004, GO 0-2-1 AGAINST MLS CLUBS: The U.S. Under-20s fell 1-0 to the Columbus Crew last Thursday (Feb. 26) to cap off a week-long training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. During the second camp of the year for the U-20s, Thomas Rongen’s team played two other matches, falling to the Colorado Rapids 6-1 (Feb. 24) and tying the Crew 2-2 in an earlier match (Feb. 22). After Columbus took the lead on a goal by Jeff Cunningham, the U.S. had its chances to tie, but couldn't find the back of the net. George Weah, Jr., who scored the tying goal against the Crew in their first match of the week, almost scored his second goal with the U-20s a few minutes after coming on for Jamie Watson. Chad Barrett served in a perfect cross to Weah who had gotten free from his marker, but he shot was off target. In the first match with the Crew on Feb. 22, the Under-20s took the lead in the third minute after Barrett received a through ball from Christian Jimenez, got behind the Columbus defense and slotted home his shot past a diving Matt Haefner. Columbus bounced back to take the lead with two goals in four minutes, getting one right before the half from Ross Paule in the 44th minute and the other two minutes into the second half from Jamal Sutton. The U.S. forced the draw in the 74th minute when Watson’s cross found Weah, Jr, who beat Haefner, who was out of position after attempting to clear the service. Two days later, the U-20s struggled against a superior Colorado Rapids squad that played extremely well and scored four goals in the first half en route to a 6-1 victory. Former U-17 MNT forward Jordan Cila paced the Rapids with two goals, while David Castellanos, Chris Henderson, John Spencer and Zach Kingsley each added one.  The lone goal for the U.S. came from midfielder Mariano Arrua in the 63rd minute after the Rapids had taken a 5-0 lead. The goal started as Danny Szetela dribbled down the right wing and found Watson near the six-yard box, who hit a one-timer on goal that ‘keeper Scott Vallow got a piece of. Vallow’s save deflected off the post and landed to the feet of Arrua, who easily knocked the ball into the net.
U-20 MNT Results
Date             Opponent                     Result          U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 22        Columbus Crew            2-2 T          Barrett, Weah, Jr.
Feb. 24        Colorado Rapids           1-6 L          Arrua
Feb. 26        Columbus Crew            0-1 L          ---

U-17 ’87 MNT PICKS UP WINS AGAINST CLEMSON, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON:  The U.S. Under-17 ’87 Men’s National Team defeated the University of Clemson 5-0 and the College of Charleston 1-0 this past Saturday (Feb. 28) at Frederica Academy in St. Simon’s, Ga. The U-17s first match against the College of Charleston was a defensive battle as only six shots were taken between both teams. While the U.S. only had two shots on goal, one of those two provided the game winner as midfielder Danny Szetela’s 25-yard bending free kick in the 15th minute found the upper corner of the left post and gave the Under-17s their first of two victories on the day. Forward Freddy Adu, fresh off his first training camp with D.C. United, led the way against Clemson, scoring a hat trick just 22 minutes into the match. Adu knocked home his first goal of the game in the seventh minute after collecting a cross from midfielder Christian Jimenez on the right endline, dribbling diagonally towards the middle of the box and then bending the ball to the far left post past former U-17 MNT starting goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi. The U-17s second goal came in the 16th minute from an Adu penalty after defender Nathan Sturgis, who will be attending Clemson next year, dribbled through four defenders before getting taken down in the box. Adu’s final goal was six minutes later when defender Tim Ward sent a long ball from the U.S. penalty area, releasing Adu for a breakaway starting at midfield and finishing with him cooly pushing it past Marfuggi. Adu also registered an assist as his corner kick in the 53rd minute was knocked in by Alandus Brooks’ half volley at the far post. Brett King finished off the Tigers, scoring an unassisted goal in the 71st minute. The U-17 '87s have one match this week as they will face the University of Tampa on Wednesday (March 3) at IMG Academy.
U-17 ‘87 MNT Results
Date             Opponent                       Result          U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 28        College of Charleston     1-0 W          Szetela
Feb. 28        Clemson University         5-0 W         Adu (3), Brooks, King
U-17 ‘87 MNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
March 3       Univ. of Tampa       

FOUR YNTs WILL TRAVEL TO BRADENTON, FLA., FOR WEEK-LONG TRAINING CAMPS: Four of U.S. Soccer’s Youth National Teams will arrive in Bradenton, Fla., on Saturday (March 6) to kick off a week-long training camp at the IMG Academy. The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team, Under-15 Boys National Team, Under-17 Women’s National Team and Under-16 Girls National Team will all train for the week and play matches against college teams, national teams and each other. The U-18 MNT will play three matches during their camp, as Bob Jenkins squad will face Notre Dame (March 9), Virginia (March 10) and the U-17 MNT (March 11). The U-15 BNT will play the U-17 MNT twice (March 9 and 11) and the Boca Juniors, a local club team, on March 13. The U-17 WNT and U-16 GNT will face each other on March 11 between games against the German and Canadian U-17 National Teams (March 9 and 12). Following are schedules for all four teams:
U-18 MNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
March 9       Notre Dame University
March 10     University of Virginia
March 11     U-17 MNT
U-15 BNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
March 9       U-17 MNT
March 11     U-17 MNT
March 13     Boca Juniors
U-17 WNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
March 9       Canada U-17
March 11     U-17 WNT
March 12     Germany U-17
U-16 GNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
March 9       Germany U-17
March 11     U-17 WNT
March 12     Canada U-17

U-19 WNT AND NEW U-15 GIRLS TO HOLD CAMPS AT NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER: The U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team and the newly created U.S. Under-15 Girls Developmental National Team will conduct week-long training camps at U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., this week. U-19 WNT head coach Mark Krikorian, who recently took over for current full Women’s National team assistant coach Tracy Leone, will continue to develop the core of the team that will enter CONCACAF Qualifying in May for the 2004 U-19 Women's Youth Championship, to be held November 10-27 in Thailand. The U-19s will likely play a couple matches against college teams or local clubs, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet. This will be the first camp for the newly created Under-15 Girls, a team that was created to identify pre-high school standouts and prepare players for the Under-19 and Under-21 Women’s National Teams.

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

HARRIS WINS 2003 GATORADE NATIONAL HIGH SCHOOL PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD: U.S. Women's Youth National Team star Ashlyn Harris has been named the 2003 Gatorade National High School Girls Soccer Player of the Year. Harris, of Satellite High School in Satellite Beach, Fla., was the youngest player and the starting goalkeeper for the USA at the 2002 U-19 FIFA World Championship in Canada, and at the age of 16, earned a 109-minute shutout in front of almost 50,000 fans in Edmonton in the USA's 1-0 win in the championship.  Now a senior, Harris is once again the No. 1 choice for the U.S. U-19s, who will enter qualifying in May for the 2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship, and was also the starter for the U.S. U-21s at the Nordic Cup last summer. The award, which recognizes athletic achievement as well as the academic performance and overall character of its recipient, distinguishes Harris as the nation's best high school girl's soccer player. The Gatorade National Advisory Board, a group of sportswriters and sport-specific experts from around the country, selected Harris from the more than 300,000 high school girl's soccer players nationwide.

MISL USA DEFEATS MISL INT’L IN 2004 ALL-STAR GAME IN ST. LOUIS: The Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) held its annual All-Star Game this weekend at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., with the MISL USA defeating MISL International by the lopsided margin of 10-1. Giuliano Celenza of the Baltimore Blast took MVP honors for a pair of goals in less than a minute to help give the MISL USA a 4-1 lead in the third quarter. In other All-Star Weekend action, the MISL Legends defeated the St. Louis Steamers Legends 9-4, with former Milwaukee Wave star and current Saint Louis University head coach Dan Donigan earning MVP honors with a pair of goals.

U.S. FUTSAL TEAM TO FACE HONDURAS IN CONCACAF QUALIFYING: The U.S. Futsal National Team learned that it will face Honduras in a home-and-away series in the Preliminary Round of CONCACAF Qualifying as the 2004 Futsal Qualifying draw results for the North and UNCAF zones were released last week. The exact dates and locations for the two matches are not yet determined, but CONCACAF requires the matches be played prior to May 31. In the other two match-ups between Northern Zone and UNCAF representatives in the Preliminary Round, Canada will face Panama, and Mexico will square off against El Salvador. In each of the three series, the team with the most goals scored in their two matches will join the host Ticos, Cuba and three more qualifiers yet to be determined from the Caribbean Zone for the eight-team CONCACAF Final Qualifying Tournament to be played in Costa Rica in July. The eight final teams will battle for the top two spots for qualification to the 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship, to be held in Chinese Taipei from Nov. 22-Dec. 12. The U.S. will be looking to get back to the World Championship after not reaching the final tournament four years ago, when they finished in third place at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in 2000. Under the direction of head coach Keith Tozer, the U.S. won the 2003 Futsal Goal Cup held at the Anaheim Convention Center in December with CONCACAF rivals Mexico, Canada and Guatemala in attendance. Tozer, the winningest coach in U.S. indoor history with over 500 victories, has a mix of athletes from Major League Soccer (MLS), United Soccer League’s A-League and the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) to choose from for qualifying.

*** U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: Midfielder Shannon Boxx got the U.S. Women off on the right foot for Olympic Qualifying in Costa Rica, continuing her surprising scoring rate with the first hat trick of her career in a 7-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago. With those three goals, she’s now scored eight goals in 15 matches from her defensive midfield position dating back to her debut on Sept. 1, 2003.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Well, the easy part of the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament is over. Now it’s down to one single-elimination match with a trip to Athens on the line. The U.S. Women will meet either Canada or Costa Rica on Wednesday (March 3) in a semi-final that could produce some tense moments as the opposing team tries to use the bunker defense and physical play to put the shackles on an attack that has produced 17 goals in three games. Fans can follow the match live at 2:30 p.m. CT on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Despite the U.S. Women’s team having scored 17 goals, they don’t have a player in the top three of the tournament’s leading goal scorers. Mexican forwards Patricia Perez and Maribel Dominguez lead the way with five goals, with Aysha Jamani of Canada with four. With three goals, Boxx is tied with U.S. forwards Cindy Parlow and Abby Wambach and three others for fourth place.

QUOTABLE: “Both teams are pretty dynamic. Canada is a top-four team in the world right now, but whatever opponent we face, we're going to be ready.’”
           --U.S. WNT forward Abby Wambach, of possible semi-final opponents Canada and Costa Rica


 


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