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U.S. Soccer Wire: 2003 WWC Field Starting to Take Final Shape with Oceania & South American Qualifying


HEINRICHS NAMES ROSTER FOR APRIL 26 MATCH VS. NIGERIA AT RFK: U.S. Women’s National Team head coach April Heinrichs named the 24-woman roster that will train for four days before facing Nigeria on April 26 in an important Women’s World Cup warm-up match at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Kickoff is at Noon ET and the match will be televised live on ESPN. The game will be followed by a WUSA contest featuring the hometown Washington Freedom against the Atlanta Beat that will kick off at 2:30 p.m. ET. Heinrichs called in all 20 players that helped the USA win the prestigious Algarve Cup in Portugal last month, adding midfielder Jena Kluegel (Boston Breakers), forward Abby Wambach (Washington Freedom), defender Thori Bryan (San Jose CyberRays) and goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene (CyberRays). Heinrichs will choose a roster of 18 players to face perennial African champion Nigeria, which won the African Women’s Championship late last year to earn a berth to the 2003 Women’s World Cup. The Super Falcons have participated in all three Women’s World Cup tournaments and the 2000 Olympics, and in 1999, became the first African team to advance out of the first round in a women’s world championship event. Tickets for the doubleheader ranging in price levels from $20 to $40 are on sale now at all Washington-Baltimore area Ticketmaster outlets, at the RFK Stadium box office, and by phone at 202-432-7328 (D.C.), 410-481-7328 (Baltimore), 703-573-7328 (Northern Va.) or 1-800-551-7328.
Goalkeepers (3): LaKeysia Beene, Siri Mullinix, Briana Scurry;
Defenders (7): Thori Bryan, Brandi Chastain, Joy Fawcett, Christie Pearce, Cat Reddick, Danielle Slaton, Kate Sobrero;
Midfielders (8): Lorrie Fair, Julie Foudy, Angela Hucles, Jena Kluegel, Kristine Lilly, Tiffany Roberts, Lindsay Tarpley, Aly Wagner;
Forwards (6): Mia Hamm, Shannon MacMillan, Tiffeny Milbrett, Heather O’Reilly, Cindy Parlow, Abby Wambach.

AUSTRALIA BECOMES 11TH NATION TO QUALIFY FOR 2003 FIFA WOMEN'S WORLD CUP: Australia earned the Oceania Confederation's lone spot in the 2003 Women's World Cup with a 2-0 victory over New Zealand in the final match of the Oceania Qualifying tournament in Canberra, Australia yesterday. The Matildas became the 11th nation to qualify, with only two South American teams, two Asian teams and the winner of an Asia-CONCACAF playoff to be decided. Australia joins China, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Russia, France, USA, Canada, Nigeria, and Ghana in the world's premier event for women's soccer. Both the Aussies and the Kiwis cruised through their first three games in the five-team round-robin tournament, setting up the monumental win-or-wait-another-four-years match. The New Zealanders put up a tough fight, but a goal from New York Power midfielder Joanne Peters midway through the first half, and Danielle Small's long range drive three minutes into the second half, sealed the victory. It will be Australia's third consecutive Women’s World Cup appearance, having competed in both 1995 in Sweden and 1999 in the USA.

PERU, COLOMBIA, ARGENTINA ADVANCE TO FINAL CONMEBOL QUALIFYING GROUP: Peru, Colombia and Argentina each won its three-team South American pre-qualifying group last weekend and will join Brazil in the final four-team qualifying competition, which is to be held from April 23-27, in Lima, Peru. The top two finishers in the round-robin competition will earn South America's two berths to the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup. In Group A, played in Lima, the host country won both its matches, defeating Bolivia, 3-1, and Chile, 2-1 to claim first place. In Group B, played in Loja, Ecuador, Colombia needed just a draw against the hosts to advance on goal differential, and got it with a 1-1 result. In Group C, played in Salta, Argentina, the hosts had the least difficulty of all three groups, defeating Paraguay (3-0) and Uruguay (8-0) to win the group without allowing a goal. The final South American qualifying games open on April 23 as Brazil takes on Argentina and Peru faces Colombia. Brazil has advanced easily to all three Women's World Cups contested so far, and made it to the semifinals in 1999, where they lost to the United States. For the first time in a Women's World Cup, two teams from South America will make it through to the final competition, meaning either Peru, Colombia or Argentina will make its first Women's World Cup appearance along with heavy favorite Brazil.

- U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

TICKET COUNT HITS 36,000 FOR U.S.-MEXICO REMATCH ON MAY 8 IN HOUSTON: Tickets for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2002 World Cup rematch against Mexico on May 8 at Reliant Stadium in Houston are still selling at a blistering pace, with more than 36,000 tickets sold and all of the tickets in the $150, $75, and $60 range completely sold out since opening sales to the general public on March 15, making this one of the fastest selling games in U.S. Soccer history. Kickoff for the game, which is being staged in conjunction with Major League Soccer and Houston Texans Entertainment, is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN2 beginning at 10 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast live on Telemundo and the Radio Unica network, and fans can also follow live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Tickets for the biggest soccer game in Houston history, which is being presented by Budweiser, are still available in the $27-$50 range and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Texas (including Fiesta, Foley’s and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 713-629-3700 and on-line at ussoccer.com. Groups of 30 or more can order tickets by calling toll free at 877-635-2002. Tickets are also available at the Reliant Stadium ticket office.

U.S. OPENS GOLD CUP ON JULY 12 AGAINST EL SALVADOR: The U.S. Men’s National Team will take on El Salvador and either Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago when they begin play in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 12 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. The U.S. will learn their second Group C opponent when Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago travel to Martinique for a final Gold Cup playoff from April 23-27. The 2003 Gold Cup will run from July 12-27 and will also feature matches at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. This year’s event marks the first time Gold Cup matches will be played outside the U.S. since the tournament held matches at Estadio Azteca in 1993. Twelve teams will again take part, including two guest teams from South America: 2002 FIFA World Cup champion Brazil and 2001 Copa America champion Colombia. If the U.S. qualifies for the quarterfinals they are assured to play in Foxboro on July 19, while the two semifinal games will take place at the Orange Bowl in Miami and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on July 23. Estadio Azteca will host the third-place match on July 26 and the final on July 27.

2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup Groups
Group A (Mexico City): Mexico, Brazil, Interzone qualifier (Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago)
Group B (Miami): Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica
Group C (Foxboro, Mass.): USA, El Salvador, Interzone qualifier (Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago)
Group D (Foxboro, Mass.): Costa Rica, Canada, Cuba

- U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE ENGLAND ON MAY 17 IN ALABAMA, KOREA ON JUNE 14 IN UTAH: The U.S. Women's National Team will make its first trip to two different states in the next two months, as they’re set to face England on May 17 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. (live on ESPN at 12 p.m. CT), and then meet South Korea on June 14 at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah (live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. MT). Tickets for the May 17 match are priced at $16 to $50 and are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix, Coconuts and Wherehouse Music) or by phone at 800-277-1700. Tickets for the June 14 match range in price levels from $16 to $37 and are on sale now through Ticketmaster.com, by phone at 801-325-SEAT (7328), and at all Ticketmaster outlets (including Fred Meyer and Graywhale CD Exchange). Throughout their history, the U.S. women have played domestic matches in 26 states and Washington, D.C., but these will be the first matches in the states of Alabama and Utah.

- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

MEXICO DEFEATS JAMAICA 2-0 IN FIRST LEG OF U-17 PLAYOFF: Mexico's U-17 Men’s National Team downed Jamaica 2-0 yesterday on the road to get a leg up in their bid to become the third and final CONCACAF finalist at the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland this August. The two teams meet again in Mexico on April 26 at Estadio Azul in Mexico City. The winner of the Mexico-Jamaica playoff will join the United States and Costa Rica in the 16-team field in Finland.

U.S. UNDER-17s SHUTOUT JAMAICA IN THREE GAMES AT IMG ACADEMY: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team didn’t give up a single goal in a three-game series against Jamaica last week at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., posting a 3-0 record by a combined score of 12-0. The U.S. concluded the three-game sweep with a 3-0 victory Wednesday, coming on the heels of a 4-0 triumph on April 7 and a 5-0 win on April 5. Keepers Phil Marfuggi (two games) and Quentin Westberg anchored the U.S. defense, which allowed only four shots on goal during all three games. Midfielder Corey Ashe led all U.S. scorers, netting three goals in two games. In the April 7 match, the U.S. got on board after Freddy Adu converted a penalty kick in the 35th minute then exploded with three second-half goals. Midfielder Guillermo Gonzalez made it 2-0 on a free kick in the 60th minute, while Gaven and Ashe added strikes in the 71st and 74th minutes to put the game out of reach. In the third and final match, U-17 midfielder Michael Harrington knocked home the rebound of a Jacob Peterson shot in the 28th minute for a 1-0 halftime lead before second-half sub Rodrigo Hidalgo responded with a pair of goals in the 52nd and 80th minutes for a 3-0 win.

U-17s TIE 2-2 IN OPENING GAME OF DALLAS CUP, U-16s PLAY FIRST GAME TODAY: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team opened the Dallas Cup U-19 Super Group with a 2-2 tie with CD Guadalajara at Lake Highlands Stadium in Dallas, Texas. John DiRaimondo and Guillermo Gonzalez found the back of the net in front of about 7,000 fans that packed into the stadium for the tournament’s opening game. After withstanding a furious offensive attack by Guadalajara in the first 15 minutes of the game, which included numerous shots on goal – including one off the left post – the U.S. was able to get on the board first with a clinical finish by DiRaimondo. In the second half, Guadalajara took a 2-1 lead, but the U.S. was able to tie the game in the 77th minute after Freddy Adu was taken down in the penalty area. Gonzalez knocked home the penalty, allowing the U.S. to secure one point. The U.S. Under-17s next face CS Azzurri Blue (of Canada) on today at 4 p.m. CT, before concluding group play against Municipal Perez Zeledon (of Costa Rica) on Wednesday at 12 p.m. CT. The U.S. Under-16 Boys National Team will play its first game of the tournament tonight at 6 p.m. CT against the Dallas Texans, followed by matches against Palo Alto Gold Crew tomorrow (April 15) and Yahara United Premier on Wednesday (April 16).

U-21 WOMEN FALL 3-2 TO CYBERRAYS, FACE SPIRIT TOMORROW: The U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team opened their 10-day camp in Chula Vista, Calif., with a tough 3-2 loss to the San Jose CyberRays on Saturday. Teenage forward Heather O’Reilly gave the U-21s a 1-0 lead with an unassisted goal in the 20th minute, but Brazilian forward Pretinha equalized in the 35th minute. The U.S. took its second lead on a Marci Ward goal in the 56th minute, but the 2001 WUSA champs scored two goals in two minutes – Katia in the 77th and Barnes in the 78th – to make it 3-2. The U-21s will have a chance to rebound versus another WUSA opponent when they face the San Diego Spirit tomorrow.

– AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD –

2003 WWC DRAW POSTPONED; U-20 WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP SET FOR NOV.-DEC.: FIFA announced last week that the draw for the 2003 Women's World Cup, which was to be held on May 24 in Wuhan, China, has been postponed due to risks posed by the outbreak of S.A.R.S. (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome). No new date for the draw was announced. FIFA also announced that the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, originally scheduled for March 26 - April 16 in the United Arab Emirates but postponed due to events in the Middle East, has been rescheduled for Nov. 27 – Dec. 19 in the UAE. A total of 24 teams, including the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, will compete in the tournament. The U.S. was placed in Group F and will face Paraguay, Korea Republic and Germany in opening round play.

MEXICAN TEAMS DOMINATE FIRST LEG OF 2003 CHAMPIONS CUP QUARTERFINALS:
All three Mexican clubs were victorious last week (April 9) in the first legs of their respective 2003 CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinal series and now hold a distinct advantage for earning spots in the semifinals. CD Necaxa scored three second-half goals on the way to a 4-1 win over the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy. Juan Franco opened the scoring in the 27th minute before Galaxy midfielder Alex Pineda Chacon equalized in the 36th minute. Franco made it 2-1 in the 51st minute, followed by strikes from Luis Roberto Alves in the 81st minute and Miguel Larrosa in the 87th minute. The Columbus Crew suffered a similar fate, suffering through a one-sided 6-0 rout at the hands of CA Monarcas Morelia. After conceding goals from Roberto Palacios and Ismael Iñiguez late in the first half, the Crew self-destructed after halftime by allowing two goals from Adolfo Bautista within the first 10 minutes of the second stanza. A goal from Reinaldo Navia and a second from Iñiguez completed the lopsided scoreline. In the other series that kicked off last week, CD Toluca FC notched a late game winner for a valuable 2-1 away victory in their series with CSD Municipal. Paraguayan international José Saturnino Cardozo gave Toluca the lead in the 9th minute, but Municipal’s Mario Acevedo equalized four minutes before the break. It took an 85th minute goal from Miguel Almazan to give Toluca the victory. The second legs of all three series will be played on Wednesday (April 16), as will the first leg of the series between Club América of Mexico and Costa Rica's LD Alajuelense.

CONCACAF ANNOUNCES PARTICIPANTS FOR 2003 PAN AMERICAN GAMES: CONCACAF announced last week the countries that will take part in the soccer competitions of the 2003 Pan American Games, to be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic from August 2-16, 2003. Joining the host nation in the eight-team men's football competition will be Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, and four countries from South America (CONMEBOL) that have yet to be determined. The six teams in the women's competition will be Canada, Costa Rica, Haiti, Mexico and two countries from South America (CONMEBOL) that have yet to be determined.

KLEINAITIS NAMED FIFA INSTRUCTOR FOR 2003 FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP: Longtime U.S. Soccer Manager of Referee Development & Education Alfred Kleinaitis has been honored by FIFA with a selection as a FIFA Instructor at the upcoming Confederations Cup in France this June. Kleinaitis will work alongside Peter Mickelson of Denmark in collecting and analyzing referee data from the tournament games. That information will be presented on a daily basis to the working game officials throughout the event. Kleinaitis has previously been assigned by FIFA at Instructor Courses in Dominica (2001), Mexico (2000), England (1998) and Scotland (1997).

WAVE AND BLAST PLAY DECIDING GAME THREE FOR 2002-03 MISL CROWN ON FRIDAY: The third and deciding game of the Major Indoor Soccer League championship series will be played this Friday (April 18) night at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee after the Milwaukee Wave and Baltimore Blast split the first two games of the three-game series. On Saturday, a home crowd of 6,029 cheered Milwaukee to a 19-12 victory. In game two on Sunday, 7,436 fans were at 1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore to see the Blast rebound with a 15-12 triumph. The Wave are looking for their fourth MISL crown in six years, while the Blast are looking for their first indoor championship since 1984.

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMER: Take your pick from a trio of U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team standouts. In a three-game series versus CONCACAF foe Jamaica, the U.S. offense was clicking on all cylinders, as midfielder Corey Ashe provided three goals, forward Freddy Adu notched two goals and two assists and Eddie Gaven had a goal and three assists. While the offense poured in 12 goals, the defense allowed not a one (and an incredible four shots in three games), as the U-17s look sharp going into Finland 2003 in August.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Despite the fact that the 2003 MLS season has just gotten underway and teams around the league are far from their best form, anyone who has watched the league improve over its eight-year history had to be shocked to see two top MLS clubs – the L.A. Galaxy and Columbus Crew – lose by an aggregate score of 10-1 to a pair of top teams from Mexico in the first leg of the 2003 CONCACAF Champions Cup quarterfinals.

QUOTABLE:
"The whole game the crowd was loud, which was amazing. When we were coming out for the game, it's the loudest I've ever heard the stadium. Hopefully, they will keep coming out."
- Kansas City forward Chris Brown, who scored in overtime to give the Wizards a 3-2 win over D.C. United in front of a club record crowd of 22,403

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