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2000 Nike U.S. Cup Rosters Nearly Complete as Countdown to June 3 Kickoff Begins

CHICAGO (Tuesday, May 23, 2000) - Roster selection is nearly complete for the 2000 Nike U.S. Cup, which will be played at five venues over nine days from June 3 to 11, and the field is taking shape as the strongest in several years. The United States, South Africa and Ireland have announced their squads for the tournament, and Mexico is expected to do the same later this week when the Mexican League playoff and Copa Libertadores pictures come into view.

United States head coach Bruce Arena named his strongest squad since taking over as national team boss in October 1998, selecting a full complement of European-based players and Major League Soccer stars. Eleven of the 22 players chosen by Arena currently play for club teams in Europe, including captain Claudio Reyna (Rangers, Scotland), goalkeepers Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano, Spain) and Brad Friedel (Liverpool, England), midfielders Eddie Lewis (Fulham, England) and John O'Brien (Ajax, Holland), and defenders Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany) and Gregg Berhalter (Cambuur, Holland).

Two of the 11 MLS players named to the team, D.C. United defender Jeff Agoos and Los Angeles Galaxy forward Cobi Jones, could reach historic milestones during the tournament. Agoos needs only one appearance to become the fifth player to represent the United States 100 times in international competition, while Jones will become the all-time leader in games played if he were to play in all three tournament games.

One of the strongest teams in Africa, and a third place finisher in the recent African Nations Cup, South Africa will be making their American debut in the Nike U.S. Cup. Shaun Bartlett, South Africa's prolific striker, leads a team that includes Manchester United midfielder Quinton Fortune, Olympique Marseille defender Pierre Issa, and Aaron Mokoena, the youngest player to ever play for South Africa.

The Republic of Ireland brings to America a squad comprised entirely of players who play professionally in the top divisions in England. Led by the Premier League strike force of Niall Quinn (Sunderland) and Robbie Keane (Coventry City), Ireland looks to top its best U.S. Cup performance, a second place finish in 1996.

Mexico is expected to announce its roster in the coming days after the Copa Libertadores elimination series makes more players available to the coaching staff. Top Mexican clubs Atlas and America will play second-leg quarterfinal matches in Brazil and Bolivia, respectively, on Thursday night. Among the players already available for selection include all-time leading scorer Luis Hernandez, who was recently transferred to Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy from Tigres of the Mexican League, Rafeal Marquez, the Monaco defender who was voted to France Football's Best XI this year, goalkeeper Jorge Campos, and midfielder Ramon Ramirez, both from Tigres.