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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. WNT to Begin Olympic Qualifying


U.S. WOMEN FACE T&T, HAITI & MEXICO TO EARN TICKET TO ATHENS 2004: After 10 days in Costa Rica, the U.S. Women’s National Team will begin their quest to earn a berth in the 2004 Athens Olympics at the first-ever qualifying tournament for women, which begins on Wednesday (Feb. 25). The USA will head Group B in the Final Round, facing Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 25 at Estadio Nacional in San José (3 p.m. CT). The USA will then face Haiti on Friday (Feb. 27) at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia (8 p.m. CT) before finishing first round play against Mexico on Sunday (Feb. 29) at Estadio Nacional (3 p.m. CT). Canada heads Group A, which features Jamaica, Panama and host Costa Rica. Each country will play the other teams in its group once, with the top two finishers in each group “crossing over” for the semifinals, as first place in Group A will play second in Group B and vice-versa. The winners of the semifinal matches will earn berths to Greece. The semifinals will be played on March 3 at Estadio Nacional, while the Final and Third-Place matches will take place on March 5 at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero. Fans can follow all the U.S. matches on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The qualifying tournament will not only mark the first-ever trip for the U.S. women to Costa Rica, but also, in the 20th year of the program, the first-ever trip to a Spanish-speaking country.
WNT Schedule – CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
Date            Opponent                    Venue;City                                        Kickoff (local/CT)
Feb. 25       Trinidad & Tobago      Estadio Nacional; San Jose                3 p.m.
Feb. 27       Haiti                            Eladio Rosabal Cordero; Heredia       8 p.m.
Feb. 29       Mexico                        Estadio Nacional; San Jose                3 p.m.
Single Elimination
Date            Opponent                     Venue                                              Kickoff (local/CT)
March 3*    Semifinal (B1 or B2)     Estadio Nacional; San Jose               1 p.m. / 3 p.m.
March 5*    Third Place / Final         Eladio Rosabal Cordero; Heredia     6 p.m. / 8 p.m.
WNT Roster – CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Tournament
GOALKEEPERS (2): Briana Scurry, Siri Mullinix; DEFENDERS (6): Joy Fawcett, Kate Markgraf (*nee Sobrero), Heather Mitts, Amy LePeilbet, Christie Rampone (*nee Pearce), Cat Reddick; MIDFIELDERS (7): Shannon Boxx, Julie Foudy, Angela Hucles, Kristine Lilly, Leslie Osborne, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner; FORWARDS (5): Mia Hamm, Shannon MacMillan, Heather O’Reilly, Cindy Parlow, Abby Wambach.

ROBBEN GOAL ROBS U.S. OF DRAW IN AMSTERDAM: A goal by 20-year-old forward Arjen Robben in the 57th minute gave Holland a 1-0 victory over the United States on Feb. 18 in an international friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA. The U.S. debuted its new Nike game jersey that will be used through the entire qualifying process for the 2006 World Cup. The U.S. battled back with three of their best chances after the 75th minute, with Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar making the big save each time in front of the 29,700 faithful in attendance. In the first half, the U.S played bend-but-don’t-break defense and went to the locker room with a 0-0 draw. After the Robben goal, U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller kept the U.S. in the match with a pair of saves on shots by Wilfred Bouma and Roy Makaay in the 67th and 68th minutes. The U.S. attack responded to the insertion of attackers DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Mathis and Josh Wolff and had several chances to equalize in the last 15 minutes of the match, but could not muster a goal. “This is the first time that this group has been together since the World Cup, and to play this well I was very pleased,” said U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena. “But let’s be fair, I think the better team won the game.”

GUYANA AND GRENADA TO BEGIN HOME-AND-HOME SERIES ON SATURDAY: The U.S. Men’s National Team will soon find out its first opponent in its quest to qualify for the 2006 World Cup as Grenada and Guyana will begin their CONCACAF qualifying home-and-home series on Saturday (Feb. 28) in St. George’s, Grenada. 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 FACE HAITI IN MIAMI IN MARCH, POLAND HOME AND AWAY: The U.S. Men’s National Team will face fellow CONCACAF World Cup qualifying participant Haiti in an international friendly on Saturday, March 13 at The Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. Kickoff for the match is set for 8 p.m. ET, and fans can follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The USA-Haiti clash will be followed by a game on March 31 when the U.S. travels 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). the match against Haiti is one of four games the U.S. will play before it begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at home on June 13. 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. has met Haiti 14 times in their history, and despite holding an overall record of 5-6-3, the teams have played only twice since 1983. The sides’ last meeting also took place at The Orange Bowl, with the U.S. collecting a 3-0 victory in front of 49,000 fans on Feb. 12, 2000, in the opening match of the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The USA has played nine times at Miami's Orange Bowl, compiling a 2-5-2 lifetime record, which includes a 1-0 loss to Argentina in February of last year. Haiti is one of the USA’s potential opponents in the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, with the teams having been drawn into the same bracket.

– U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

U.S. U-21 WOMEN HOLD TRAINING CAMP AT HDC, DEFEAT SoCal BLUES 2-1: U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team head coach Chris Petrucelli held his second training camp of 2004 last week at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The team finished the camp with a 2-1 win over local club team the SoCal Blues, with midfielders Joanna Lohman and Carly Lloyd providing the scoring in the win. The U-21s are working toward the 2004 Nordic Cup, the top competition in the world for U-21 women, to be held this summer in Iceland. Petrucelli is also preparing the U-21s for their first trip abroad of 2004, a tour of China in March where the team will face several top Chinese club teams.  The camp roster included five players from the USA's 2002 Under-19 World Championship team in Keeley Dowling, Sarah Huffman, Jill Oakes, Manya Makoski and Kelly Wilson.
U-21 WNT Results
Date             Opponent                 Result        U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 22        SoCal Blues              2-1 W       Lohman, Lloyd

U-20 MNT TIE CREW 2-2; PLAY TWO MORE MATCHES IN WEEK-LONG CAMP: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team played the Columbus Crew to a 2-2 draw yesterday at the IMG Academy in the first of three matches they will play against MLS squads during their week-long training camp in Bradenton, Fla. Chad Barrett put the Under-20s up 1-0 in the third minute of the game as he was able to collect a loose ball in midfield, beat the last Columbus defender for a breakaway on goal and slot his shot past the ‘keeper. 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 as George Weah, Jr., still six months away from turning seventeen, collected a Jamie Watson through ball and easily beat Columbus Crew goalkeeper Matt Haefner and the rest of the Columbus defense by putting his shot past a defender covering on the line. The Under-20s will face the Colorado Rapids tomorrow (Feb. 24) at 10 a.m. ET and then finish the camp with a rematch against the Crew on Thursday (Feb. 26) at 9 a.m. ET.
U-20 MNT Results
Date             Opponent                 Result        U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 22        Columbus Crew        2-2 T         Barrett, Weah, Jr.
U-20 MNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
Feb. 24        Colorado Rapids
Feb. 26        Columbus Crew

U-19 WOMEN TIE FULL MEXICAN NATIONAL TEAM 1-1 IN TABASCO: After falling to the full Mexican National Team 2-1 in Mexico City last Wednesday (Feb. 18), the U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team rebounded to tie Mexico 1-1 on Feb. 20 in Tabasco. In the first game, the U.S. held a 1-0 advantage for the majority of the match after Kerri Hanks finished a pass from Sheree Gray in the seventh minute, but Mexico scored two goals in the last 10 minutes (80th and 88th) to steal the victory. In the rematch, the U-19s got on the board first again as defender Jen Buczkowski scored in the 21st minute, but Mexico converted a penalty kick in the 65th minute to earn a 1-1 draw. The matches were the first two full internationals of 2004 for the U-19s, who are preparing for CONCACAF Qualifying in May for the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship that will be held in November in Thailand.
U-19 WNT Results
Date             Opponent                Result        U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 18        Mexico                    1-2 L        Hanks
Feb. 20        Mexico                    1-1 T        Buczkowski

U-17 MNT SPLIT MATCHES WITH FLORIDA ODPs; TRAVEL TO ST. SIMON’S, GA., FRIDAY: The U.S. Under-17 ‘88 Men's National Team split two matches with Florida Olympic Development Teams yesterday, beating the ’87 Florida ODP 2-1, but then falling in the next match to the ’86 Florida ODP 3-1. In their first match, Jonathan Villanueva got the U.S. on the board first in the 39th minute when he finished off a service from Carlos Borja, but Florida was able to find the equalizer 10 minutes after halftime to make it 1-1. In the 71st minute, midfielder Kyle Nakazawa fed forward Cesar Nunez, who was able to knock home the game winner. In the second match, the ’86 Florida ODP took a 2-0 lead early in the second half before Blake Wagner cut the deficit in half with a goal in the 65th minute off a pass from midfielder Dax McCarty, who was one of three normal ’87 MNT starters to start in the match, along with ‘keeper Stephen Sandbo and defender Julian Valentin. The U.S. pushed for the draw, but knocked in an own goal 11 minutes from time, eliminating their chance to complete the comeback. The U.S. Under-17 '87 MNT will travel to St. Simon’s Academy in St. Simon’s, Ga. on Friday (Feb. 27) for matches against Clemson University and the College of Charleston.
U-17 ‘88 MNT Results
Date             Opponent                 Result       U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 22        Florida ODP ’87      2-1 W       Villanueva, Nunez
Feb. 22        Florida ODP ’86      1-3 L        Wagner
U-17 '87 MNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
Feb. 28        Clemson University
Feb. 29        College of Charleston

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

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.

2004 MISL ALL-STAR GAME THIS WEEKEND IN ST. LOUIS: The 2004 MISL All-Star Game is set for Sunday (Feb. 29) at the Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo., home of the St. Louis Steamers. Kickoff for the match will be at 1:05 p.m. CT. The 2004 All-Star Game will feature the MISL USA team, comprised of U.S. citizens, versus the MISL International squad, made up of foreign citizens. Players from the U.S., Canada, Brazil, Ghana, Croatia, Mexico, Trinidad, Bermuda, Macedonia, Yugoslavia, Ireland, Serbia, and Chile have all been elected to the League’s showcase event. The Baltimore Blast will send the most players to St. Louis with seven, while the Milwaukee Wave will send six players and the Philadelphia KiXX will have five representatives. Four teams (Baltimore, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia) will have players on both the MISL USA and MISL International teams. The starting lineups will be introduced on Thursday (Feb. 26) at the MISL All-Star Welcome Reception, to be held at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, Mo., from 5:30-8 p.m. CT.

“KEEP THE WUSA DREAM ALIVE” MULTI-YEAR TICKET INITIATIVE UNVEILED: The Women’s United Soccer Association recently announced the “Keep the WUSA Dream Alive” ticket fund initiative, a campaign to gauge support as it prepares to return to full operations for the 2005 season. The women’s professional soccer league, which is hosting the exhibition “WUSA Soccer Festivals” in June, has been attempting to bring the league back after announcing its suspension of operations on Sept. 15, 2003. The “Keep the WUSA Dream Alive” ticket campaign is another step forward in the return of women’s professional soccer. League officials will announce later this month the venues for the WUSA Soccer Festivals that will take place in June. Ticket information for the WUSA Festivals will be made available as soon as the sites and dates are determined.

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

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. MNT forward Clint Mathis continues to tear up the German Bundesliga for Hannover 96, scoring his third goal in just four games with his new club. Mathis hit a beautiful volley from outside the box to cut Rostock's lead to 2-1 in the first half, but they went on to fall 3-1 as Mathis played his first full match for Hannover, who sit in 12 place out of 18 teams.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Although the U.S. is the obvious favorite in the CONCACAF Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, they still have to get by three opening round opponents – T&T on Wednesday (Feb. 25), Haiti on Friday (Feb. 27) and Mexico on Sunday (Feb. 29) – to put themselves in a favorable position for the single elimination semi-finals, where either Canada or Costa Rica likely await on March 3. Fans can follow all three matches live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: U.S. MNT goalkeeper Brad Friedel did what every goalie dreams of doing this weekend, scoring in the 89th minute after coming forward late in the match on a Rovers corner kick with the team trailing 2-1. On the corner, Friedel scored from close range after Charlton failed to clear the initial corner. Unfortunately for Rovers, second-half substitute Claus Jensen scored just a few minutes later in injury time to steal Friedel's glory and to give Charlton the win.

QUOTABLE: “You know what, I'm going to have to deal with [physical play], and I just say, `Bring it on.’”
 --U.S. U-20 MNT forward Freddy Adu, after being on the receiving end of several hard tackles in his debut with D.C. United, a 1-0 exhibition loss to Kansas City in Bradenton last week

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