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Columbus Crew Stadium to Host USA-El Salvador CONCACAF Under-17 Playoff on May 22

CHICAGO (Tuesday, March 16, 1999) - In what will be U.S. Soccer's first-ever promoted U-17 National Team match, the U.S. U-17s will face El Salvador on May 22 at the Columbus Crew Stadium, the first soccer-specific stadium built in MLS history. The match will be the second leg of the USA's home-and- home series with the Central American nation to determine the final CONCACAF berth in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand.

The USA-El Salvador match will kickoff at 4:00 p.m. and be the first of an MLS doubleheader, which will see the Crew take on Eastern Conference rival Tampa Bay Mutiny at 7:30 p.m.

"This is an exciting time in U.S. Soccer history," said Hank Steinbrecher, U.S. Soccer's Secretary General. "The opening of the new Columbus Stadium is a testament to the determination and vision of the Columbus Crew organization and their soccer fans. We are proud to be debuting there in such an important match for our Under-17 National Team, and I'm sure it will be the first of many U.S. Soccer games at the first soccer-specific stadium in America. This is a great day for soccer fans across the U.S."

The U.S. Under-17s were forced into the playoff after finishing second in CONCACAF's Group A qualifying tournament in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The Americans tied host Jamaica, 0-0, in the final match, when a win would have put the team through to the World Championship.

Prior to the May 22 match at Columbus Crew Stadium, the first leg of the USA-El Salvador series will be played at the Cuscatlan Stadium in San Salvador on May 9. The winner of the playoff series will be determined by total goals scored during the two matches. If the teams are even on total goals scored after the match in Columbus, they will immediately play two, 15-minute sudden-death overtime periods. If after these 30 minutes the score remains tied, penalty kicks will determine the winner.

The match between the U.S. and El Salvador will be only the second game played in Crew Stadium, following the inaugural match on Saturday, May 15, when the Crew host New England at 7:30 p.m. The 22,500-seat stadium is currently under construction on the grounds of the Ohio Expo Center and is the first major league stadium built specifically for soccer in the United States.

"We are pleased to be able to showcase one of the country's finest soccer venues for this important match," said Crew President and General Manager Jamie Roots. "Crew Stadium will provide our Under-17 National Team with a true American home field advantage, and give our fans an opportunity to show their support for U.S. Soccer."

The United States are led by forward sensation Landon Donovan, who recently signed a professional contract with German club Bayer Leverkusen. Donovan, 17, led all scorers during CONCACAF qualifying with four goals, including both goals in a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica and two more in a 3-0 win over Honduras.

For more information on purchasing tickets to this extraordinary doubleheader, please contact the Crew ticket office, 614-221-CREW.