U.S. Men Preparing in South Florida for Weekend Visit to Azteca
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%NEARLY A WASH: Yesterday?s training session was delayed for over an hour as thunderstorms rolled through the Ft. Lauderdale area. Twice the side took the field to begin the session and were forced off as lightning bolts flashed in the summer sky. Eventually, 20 players ran through a light 45-minute workout, the only absences goalkeeper Kasey Keller and forward Jovan Kirovski. Kirovksi joined the team this morning after spending the weekend completing his nuptials. Keller is expected to join the camp late Tuesday.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. MNT STREAKING THROUGH QUALIFYING: With last week's victory over Trinidad & Tobago, the U.S. Men's National Team extended their unbeaten streak in World Cup qualifying matches to nine games, one short of the team record (set across qualifying for the 1990 and 1998 World Cups) . In addition to their current nine-game streak, the U.S. is also in the midst of a streak in which they have lost just once in their last 18 World Cup qualifiers.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%CLEAN SHEETS: Kasey Keller has two streaks of five consecutive shutouts in World Cup qualifying. One other player has also recorded a streak of five straight shutouts. Tony Meola had four straight shutouts at the conclusion of 1989 qualifying play, and a fifth against Barbados last November. Altogether, Meola has never allowed a goal in five career World Cup qualifying appearances, and Keller has allowed just nine goals in 16 overall qualifiers (a sparkling 0.56 goals against average and an amazing 11 shutouts).
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%NO HOLDS BARRED: The Mexican camp is stirring up a storm this week, calling on players and fans alike to give a maximum effort for this weekend's "revancha" (revenge). New coach Javier Aguirre has guaranteed that every player on the roster will give 110% for the fans or will be shown the door, appealing to the "12th man" to fill the grounds at Azteca. Veteran call up Juan Garcia Aspe has issued a challenge to his teammates, stating the most important thing is to beat the U.S. however they can, "pulling, hitting, anyway possible, as long as we win. Anything we can do to obtain that victory."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%TO CLINCH OR NOT TO CLINCH: With the U.S. Men's National Team jumping into first place during the first half of final round World Cup qualifying with a perfect 4-0-1 record and a three-point lead over second-place Costa Rica, talk has invariably turned to what it will take for a team to clinch one of CONCACAF's three berths in the 2002 World Cup. With half the games still remaining, a scenario still remains where Honduras and Jamaica could each finish with 20 points and Costa Rica could finish with 19 points. Of course, another scenario could have four teams finish with 14 points and two more with 13. Moral of the story? There are too many scenarios to compute them all. One thing we know for sure is that the U.S. cannot clinch a berth this weekend in Mexico City, however a couple of scenarios do exist where the team could clinch a spot in the 2002 World Cup on Sept. 1 when they walk off the RFK Stadium turf in Washington, D.C. Those scenarios, though, require two U.S. victories and a Jamaica loss or tie in Trinidad this Sunday.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%TOMORROW: A one-on-one interview with midfielder Earnie Stewart. The Holland-based midfielder recently became the USA's all-time scorer leader in World Cup qualifying play, netting his seventh career goal in the United States' 2-0 victory against Trinidad and Tobago.