CHICAGO (Monday, December 22, 2003) – The United States Men’s National Team will travel to face fifth-ranked Holland on Feb. 18, 2004 at the vaunted Amsterdam ArenA in Amsterdam. Kickoff for the match is set for 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
“We are excited about the challenge of competing against one of the finest teams in the world,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, whose 44-22-16 lifetime record is best amongst U.S. MNT coaches. “To play a team of Holland’s caliber can only be valuable as we prepare for the beginning of 2006 World Cup qualifying.”
The U.S. and Holland have met just twice in their history, both on U.S. soil, with the United States dropping a pair of 2-0 losses. The teams last met in Foxboro, Mass., on May 19, 2002, in the USA’s third and final match of the Nike “Road to Korea” series. The U.S. departed for their historic quarterfinal run in the 2002 World Cup three days later.
With the Feb. 18 match falling on a FIFA-scheduled international fixture date, this will be the fifth time the MNT has traveled to Europe during Arena’s five-year tenure, with the U.S. still in search of their first victory.
Two-time runners-up in the World Cup (1974 and 1978), “The Oranje” have one of the finest footballing traditions in Europe. Winners of the 1988 European Championship, the Netherlands have produced some of the best players in history, including legendary midfielder Johan Cruyff. Now led by former Glasgow Rangers manager Dick Advocaat, the Dutch boast an array of world class talent like strikers Ruud Van Nistlerooy (Manchester United) and Patrick Kluivert (FC Barcelona). Holland has reached the finals of the 2004 European Championship, drawn into Group D along with Germany, the Czech Republic and Latvia.
After posting a 10-4-2 record in 2003, which included a third place finish at the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the United States will embark this year on the road to qualification for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
The U.S. begins CONCACAF qualifying June 13, 2004, against the winner of the home-and-away series between Grenada and Guyana, with their first match scheduled to be played in the United States. With the semifinal round slated to begin Aug. 18, the U.S. will play a series of friendlies in preparation throughout the year.
The U.S. will open the calendar year with a friendly against Denmark that will mark their first ever match at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The afternoon match will be broadcast live on ESPN at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT (click here for ticket information for the U.S.-Denmark match).