CHICAGO (March 17, 2004) — U.S. Soccer has finalized plans for a pair of powerhouse international matches against regional rivals Mexico in Dallas on April 28 and 2002 World Cup finalists Poland in Chicago on July 11. The pair of marquee matches brings the USA's archrivals back to the U.S. for their second meeting since the 2002 World Cup and sees the U.S. MNT return to Chicago's Soldier Field for the first time since 1993. The announcement nearly completes the U.S. Men’s 2004 schedule, with one date prior to World Cup qualifying yet to be finalized.
The U.S. Men’s National Team first faces 2002 World Cup foe Mexico on Wednesday, April 28 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Kickoff for the game is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast live coast-to-coast on Telemundo at 7:30 p.m. CT.
The USA-Poland match will be played on Sunday, July 11 at the newly renovated Soldier Field in Chicago, the U.S. Men's first appearance in the Windy City in more than 11 years. Kickoff for the match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2, is set for 6 p.m. CT. Fans can follow both matches live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
The U.S. and Mexico will play for the 49th time, with the two border rivals having distinguished themselves as the class of the region in the past decade. The U.S. has qualified for four straight World Cups, while Mexico has advanced to three straight World Cups. The United States has dominated the series of late, winning five of the last seven meetings, with all of the victories coming by shutout. Mexico leads the lifetime series with a record of 28-10-10, dating all the way back to 1934.
In their last meeting, the U.S. and Mexico played to a spirited 0-0 draw in 2003 in front of 69,582 fans at a sold-out Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
“No matter what the occasion, it’s always a fierce battle when we play Mexico,” said U.S. MNT manager Bruce Arena. “Coming on the cusp of the beginning of World Cup qualifying, this match is a great opportunity for our players to gain experience against one of the finest teams in the region.”
The competition between the two nations reached its pinnacle in the summer of 2002 when the teams met for the first time as World Cup opponents in the Round of 16 on June 17 in Jeonju, Korea. Picture-perfect goals by Brian McBride in the 8th minute and Landon Donovan in the 65th minute, as well as a strong tactical game from the U.S., produced a landmark 2-0 victory and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 72 years.
Making their first appearance in Dallas since 1995, the United States holds an unblemished 4-0-2 lifetime record at the Cotton Bowl. The team has lost only twice in 12 games in the state of Texas, posting a career tally of 5-2-5.
Ticket information for the game, which is being presented by Budweiser, will be announced next week. With the match against Poland, the U.S. is making its first appearance in the Windy City since June 13, 1993, a 4-3 loss to Germany. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-2-1 record in Chicago, including a 1-0 loss to the Poles in 1973.
“We are looking forward to our return to Chicago, one of the great soccer cities in America,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “With the large Polish-American population in the area, we expect another fantastic atmosphere as we are hopefully preparing for the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying.”
In their history, the U.S. has played Poland more times than any other European opponent (12 times dating all the way back to 1924). Poland leads the all-time series with a 7-4-1 record, including a 3-1 victory in the final Group D match in the 2002 World Cup. The USA took the spoils in the last meeting on U.S. soil, a 3-1 victory on May 9, 1990 in Hershey, Pa.
The U.S. and Poland will be meeting for the second time in 2004, with the Eastern European nation hosting the debut event on March 31 in the city of Plock. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
Ticket information for the July 11 match, which is part of a unique doubleheader that also features the Chicago Fire hosting the New England Revolution at 8:30 p.m., will be announced at a later date.
The rare Soldier Field match presents an opportunity for Chicago Fire stars like midfielders Chris Armas and DaMarcus Beasley to play for the U.S. in front of their hometown fans. Chicago area soccer fans were honored by U.S. Soccer in 2003 as the Best Soccer Fans in the country in ussoccer.com's annual Best of Series voting. The match could also be a homecoming for former Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra, who has earned a starting role in England with Fulham and has appeared in all three games for the U.S. in 2004.
The U.S. begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a two-game, home-and-away series against Grenada on June 13 in the United States (venue TBD) and June 20 in Grenada. Should the U.S. advance through their preliminary qualifying round, the six-game, four-team semifinal round competition will begin on the road on August 18.
2004 U.S. MNT Schedule