CHICAGO (Tuesday, November 13, 2001) - The United States Men’s National Team has been drawn against Korea Republic and Cuba in the first round of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup, it was announced today by Chuck Blazer, Secretary General of the Confederation. The U.S. will open Group B play against South Korea on Saturday, January 19, 2002 at 3 p.m. PT at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. The USA meets Cuba on Monday, January 21 at the same venue, the match also slated for a 3 p.m. PT kickoff. The sixth Gold Cup is being staged from Jan. 18 through Feb. 2 as a 12-team tournament in California and at the Orange Bowl in Miami.
"The CONCACAF Gold Cup is significant for both its regional prestige and our ability to face quality opposition,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “The tournament will provide an excellent challenge as we begin to prepare in earnest for the World Cup.”
The United States will meet South Korea twice in a six-week span, the South Koreans first playing host in a friendly on December 9 in Seogwipo, Jeju Province. The U.S. has never defeated South Korea, holding a 0-2-1 lifetime record in three previous meetings. The teams last met in a prelude to World Cup USA ’94, drawing 1-1 in Fullerton, Calif., in March of that year. South Korea will be making its fifth straight appearance in the World Cup Finals, having qualified for every tournament since 1986 and receiving a berth in next year’s tournament as a host country.
The match-up against Cuba will be a rematch of a 1998 Gold Cup first round meeting between the two teams in Oakland, which the U.S. won 3-0 in their first match-up since 1948. In four all-time appearances against the tiny island nation, the U.S. is 2-1-1.
With the U.S., Korea and Cuba matched up in Group B, the remaining Los Angeles-based groups consist of Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador in Group A. In Miami, Group C holds Costa Rica, Trinidad & Tobago, and Martinique, while Group D is made up of Canada, Ecuador and Haiti.
The tournament quarterfinals will be staged at the Rose Bowl on January 27, while the Miami quarterfinalists will square off at the Orange Bowl on January 26. The tournament semifinals and finals are slated for Pasadena on Jan. 30 and Feb. 2.
The U.S. won the inaugural Gold Cup tournament in 1991 after an inspired semifinal upset of Mexico, but the red, white and blue has not taken home the top prize since, watching Mexico win three straight titles in 1993, 1996 and 1998, before Canada upset the field in taking home the 2000 crown.
Prior to the January tournament, the U.S. MNT will gather in San Diego on Nov. 26 for a week-long training camp in advance of the team's trip to South Korea for a match against the World Cup co-hosts in Seogwipo on Dec. 9 (delayed broadcast on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN).