NATIONAL MEDIA CALL TO FOCUS ON ARENA’S CONTRACT SITUATION: U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena and U.S. Soccer President Dr. S. Robert Contiguglia will be available to the media on a national conference call tomorrow (Dec. 17) at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the ongoing contract negotiations between the Federation and Arena. Arena’s contract expires at the end of 2002 and the two sides have been negotiating a new contract since the end of the U.S. Men’s National Team impressive showing at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. To access the media conference call, dial 1-800-930-1344 a few minutes before 1 p.m. ET and ask for the U.S. Soccer call. U.S. Soccer will be providing a quote sheet via e-mail following the call.
U.S. SOCCER NAMES FINALISTS FOR 2002 CHEVY ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARDS: Following on the heels of its first ever “Best of…” awards series, U.S. Soccer announced the seven suggested candidates for each of the four annual Chevy Athlete of the Year awards -- Young Female, Young Male, Female and Male – last week. As the oldest and most prestigious award of their kind, U.S. Soccer’s Chevy Athlete of the Year awards date back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, with the winners of the two major awards receiving vehicles from Chevrolet. For the third straight year, fan votes (along with a media vote) will decide the winner, with voting now available online at www.ussoccer.com through Jan. 8. All of the Chevy awards are based on competing and excelling at the highest level of soccer offered by U.S. Soccer and the professional level for the calendar year, exhibiting decorum on and off the field which reflects well on U.S. Soccer, and contributing toward soccer’s popularization, acceptance and credibility in the United States. To qualify for the youth award, a player must have appeared in at least one U.S. Youth National Team game during the calendar year (and cannot have previously won the award). Below are the finalist for each of the four awards:
Chevy MALE Athlete of the Year Candidates:
Landon Donovan – F – MNT / San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
Brad Friedel – GK – MNT / Blackburn Rovers (England)
Cobi Jones – M/F – MNT / Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)
Brian McBride – F – MNT / Columbus Crew (MLS)
Clint Mathis – F – MNT / MetroStars (MLS)
Claudio Reyna – M – MNT / Sunderland (England)
Tony Sanneh – D – MNT / FC Nurnberg (Germany)
Chevy FEMALE Athlete of the Year Candidates:
Mia Hamm – F – WNT / Washington Freedom (WUSA)
Shannon MacMillan – M/F – WNT / San Diego Spirit (WUSA)
Tiffeny Milbrett – F – WNT / New York Power (WUSA)
Cindy Parlow – F – WNT / Atlanta Beat (WUSA)
Briana Scurry – GK – WNT / Atlanta Beat (WUSA)
Danielle Slaton – D – WNT / Carolina Courage (WUSA)
Aly Wagner – M – WNT / Santa Clara (NCAA)
Chevy YOUNG MALE Athlete of the Year Candidates:
Corey Ashe – F – U-17 MNT
Edson Buddle – F – U-23 MNT / Columbus Crew (MLS)
Bobby Convey – M – U-23, U-20 MNT / D.C. United (MLS)
Alecko Eskandarian – F – U-23 MNT / Univ. of Virginia
Guillermo Gonzalez – F – U-17 MNT
Kelly Gray – D – U-23 MNT / Chicago Fire (MLS)
Ed Johnson – F – U-20 MNT / Dallas Burn (MLS)
Chevy YOUNG FEMALE Athlete of the Year Candidates:
Heather O’Reilly – M/F – WNT, Under-19 WNT
Jill Oakes – D – Under-19 WNT / UCLA
Nandi Pryce – D – Under-21 WNT / UCLA
Cat Reddick – D – WNT, Under-21 WNT / UNC
Hope Solo – GK – WNT, Under-21 WNT / Univ. of Wash.
Lindsay Tarpley – F – Under-19 WNT / UNC
Kelly Wilson – F – Under-19 WNT / Univ. of Texas
ONLINE VOTING FOR 2002 “BEST OF U.S. SOCCER” AWARDS CONTINUES THROUGH DEC. 31: For the first time in the Federation’s history, U.S. Soccer has created a series of 10 awards that will honor the standout performances of the calendar year in American soccer and make up the first annual U.S. Soccer “Best of…” Series. With the help of U.S. National Team coaches Bruce Arena and April Heinrichs, U.S. Soccer selected the finalists for each of these first-time awards and announced them across last week. Now it’s up to fans to make their voice heard with a vote in one or all of these unique, inaugural awards over the next month at www.ussoccer.com. Online voting for the awards will continue through Dec. 31.
2002 Best of U.S. Soccer Awards
Best Soccer Bar
Best Soccer Store
Best Soccer Stadium
Best Soccer Fans
Best U.S. Crowd
Best Place to Watch the World Cup from the U.S.
Best In-Game Promotion
Best U.S. Goal
Best U.S. Single-Game Performance (Player)
Best U.S. Single-Game Performance (Team)
“OUR WAY” DVD & VHS NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE AT ussoccerstore.com FOR HOLIDAYS: One of the most memorable sports stories of 2002 is now available on a special limited edition DVD just in time for the Holiday season, as U.S. Soccer has unveiled "Our Way: The Exclusive Behind-the-Scenes Story of the USA's 2002 World Cup Journey.” “Our Way” gives fans the chance to relive virtually every key moment along the team’s historic run to the quarterfinals, from the moment they stepped off the plane to intense security in Seoul, to the unforgettable bus ride back to the hotel in which they cranked the volume of the onboard karaoke machine and served up their own version of Sinatra’s classic tune. Fans can go inside the U.S. locker room, team meetings and training sessions to witness the unique blend of talent, character, and determination that symbolized the U.S. performance in Korea. As well as highlights from all five matches, special interviews and never-before-seen exclusive footage, fans also get hilarious Outtakes and a Memorable Moments Highlight Reel (including all U.S. goals) for a total of 70 minutes of action. Both the DVD and VHS versions are priced at $30 and are now available for shipment at www.ussoccerstore.com.
– U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
U.S. MEN TO FACE CANADA IN OPENING MATCH OF 2003 IN FT. LAUDERDALE: The U.S. Men’s National Team will open 2003 with an international match against Canada at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, Jan. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The match against Canada is a rematch of the team’s 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal clash on January 30 in Pasadena, Calif., which was won by the U.S. in penalty kicks after a well-played 0-0 draw. In their history, the U.S. and Canada have squared off against each other 25 times in a rivalry dating all the way back to 1925, with the U.S. holding a slight 9-8-8 advantage. However, the United States has not lost to Canada in nine consecutive games, compiling a 5-0-4 mark in a stretch dating back more than 17 years to a 2-0 loss in Vancouver on April 2, 1985. Tickets ranging in price levels from $17 to $40 are on sale now at all South Florida Ticketmaster outlets (including FYE, Spec’s Music and Ricky’s Records) or by phone (Ft. Lauderdale: 954-523-3309; Miami: 305-358-5885; West Palm Beach: 561-966-3309).
– U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
U.S. TO COMPETE IN FOUR NATIONS TOURNAMENT IN CHINA IN JANUARY: The U.S. Women's National Team will travel to China in January for a major international tournament featuring the top four teams in the world as each nation gears up for the 2003 Women’s World Cup. The USA, Norway, Germany and Women’s World Cup host China will clash in a series of three doubleheaders in three Chinese cities in the provinces in the southwest region of the country. The Four Nations Tournament will kick off on Jan. 23 at a venue to be determined in the Zhejiang Province, as China faces Germany and the USA takes on Norway. The teams will move to the Women’s World Cup venue Wuhan for the Jan. 26 matches that feature China vs. Norway and the USA vs. Germany. The blockbuster tournament will finish in Shanghai, site of the 2003 Women’s World Cup Final, with rematches of the 1995 Women’s World Cup Final as Germany takes on Norway and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final as the USA faces China on Jan. 29. The U.S. team will gain invaluable experience in what will be the team’s final visit to China before the Women’s World Cup, which will be held from Sept. 23-Oct. 11 in Shanghai, Hongkou, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu, facing three teams who not only have already qualified for the Women’s World Cup, but who are among the favorites to win the title. The USA will also get a preview of the venues, travel and atmosphere they should encounter at the 2003 Women’s World Cup.
2003 Four Nations Tournament – China
Jan. 23: vs. Norway (Zhejiang, China)
Jan. 26: vs. Germany (Wuhan, China)
Jan. 29: vs. China (Shanghai, China)
U.S. WNT TO OPEN ROAD TO 2003 WWC VS. JAPAN ON JAN. 12 IN SAN DIEGO: The U.S. Women's National Team will open its 2003 schedule with a match against Japan on January 12, 2003, at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The match, which will kick off at 1 p.m. PT, will represent the USA’s first game in its run to the 2003 Women’s World Cup in China. Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $45 are currently on sale at all Southern California TicketMaster outlets (including Robinson’s-May and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 619-220-8497 and online at www.ussoccer.com. Additionally, less than 100 VIP field-level seats at $150 each, where ticket holders get to keep their chair, will also go on sale at this time. It will be the first of approximately 12 matches the USA will play before the 2003 Women’s World Cup. While the U.S. women have trained extensively at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, located just north of the U.S.-Mexican border in Chula Vista, Calif., this will be the first full international for the USA in San Diego. Torero Stadium, which seats 7,035, is the home of the Spirit in the WUSA and has undergone two phases of renovations to become one of the top soccer venues on the West Coast. The U.S. team will be coming off two months of rest after dominating the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup in late October and early November, winning its fifth regional title and earning a berth to the 2003 Women’s World Cup with its 7-0 semifinal victory over Costa Rica. The U.S. women are 13-0-1 all-time versus Japan and have never lost a match in California, going 12-0-1 dating back to 1996.
– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –
MYERNICK NAMES UNDER-23 MNT ROSTER FOR TWO FRIENDLIES VS. CANADA IN FLORIDA: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Glenn Myernick announced a 25-man roster last week for the team’s upcoming pair of friendlies versus Canada in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The roster features a mixture of young MLS All-Stars like U.S. World Cup forward Landon Donovan and D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey, as well as top college players like 2002 M.A.C./Hermann Award winner and Virginia forward Alecko Eskandarian and St. John’s defender Chris Wingert. Also making the roster is a pair of players who competed in the NCAA Men’s College Cup yesterday in standout Stanford midfielder Roger Levesque and UCLA defender Scot Thompson, who captained the team to the title. The team arrived in Ft. Lauderdale yesterday and will train for three days before facing their northern neighbors on Thursday (Dec. 19) and again on Saturday (Dec. 21). This camp marks the third time that the Under-23s have gathered in 2002, having posted a 5-1-2 overall record behind Eskandarian’s team-leading five goals and two assists. Below is the complete roster for the two friendlies:
Goalkeepers (3): D.J. Countess (Dallas Burn), Josh Saunders (Cal-Berkeley), Doug Warren (Clemson);
Defenders (8): Nelson Akwari (MetroStars), Jose Burciaga (K.C. Wizards), Kelly Gray (Chicago Fire), Ricky Lewis (Clemson), Matt Oliver (Virginia), Scot Thompson (UCLA), Chris Wingert (St. John’s University), Alexander Yi (Royal Antwerp);
Midfielders (8): Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Brian Carroll (Wake Forest), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Brad Davis (MetroStars), Roger Levesque (Stanford), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Kyle Martino (Columbus Crew), Logan Pause (UNC);
Forwards (6): Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes), Alecko Eskandarian (Virginia), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), David Testo (UNC), Jason Thompson (East Illinois).
– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –
UCLA TOPS STANFORD 1-0, WINS FOURTH NCAA MEN’S SOCCER TITLE: Guided by first-year coach Tom Fitzgerald, UCLA claimed its first national championship since 1997 in dramatic fashion yesterday. Sophomore defender Aaron Lopez found the end of a Ryan Futagaki free kick and finished past Stanford goalkeeper Robby Fulton in the 88th minute to give the Bruins a 1-0 win over their Pac-10 rival in the final of the NCAA Men’s College Cup at Stephen J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas. The championship was UCLA's fourth and marked the first Div. I final between West Coast schools from the same conference. In the semifinals, the Cardinal got an assist and the game-winning goal from the head of U.S. Under-20 MNT defender Chad Marshall to defeat Creighton 2-1 in overtime. After Maryland knotted the score at 1-1 in the 80th minute, UCLA got a penalty kick goal from Adolfo Gregorio just a minute later to advance to the final.
ESKANDARIAN, WAGNER EARN FIRST UNIFIED M.A.C./HERMANN AWARDS: Junior forward Alecko Eskandarian of the University of Virginia and senior midfielder Aly Wagner of Santa Clara University were named the winners of the 2002 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy, presented to the top male and female players in NCAA Division I soccer. Wagner led the Lady Broncos to a second consecutive Women’s College Cup final while pulling double duty with the U.S. Women’s National Team, while Eskandarian led the nation in scoring with a whopping 25 goals in 20 games this year for the Cavaliers. The winners were decided by a vote of current National Soccer Coaches Association of America members at the NCAA Division I level. This year’s honorees have the distinction of being the first to receive the newly-unified award after this summer’s announcement of the unification of the M.A.C. Award and Hermann Trophy completed the merging of NCAA Division I soccer’s three top honors. Wagner and Eskandarian will be honored at a dinner Friday, Jan. 10, 2003, at the Missouri Athletic Club in St. Louis. U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena will be the featured speaker at the dinner.
USL ANNOUNCES EACH LEAGUE’S QUALIFYING FORMAT FOR 2003 U.S. OPEN CUP: The United Soccer Leagues (USL) announced last week the formats in which its three men’s leagues will determine its entrants into the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The A-League will play in a set of two-leg aggregate score series to determine its entrants, while the D3 Pro League and Premier Development League will play four qualification matches to determine who advances. The Milwaukee Rampage will receive an automatic berth into the tournament as the 2002 A-League Champions. The remaining 14 American A-League sides have been matched into seven pairings based heavily on geography, but also with consideration to competitive balance measured by 2002 records. The two teams in each of the pairings will meet in the regular season by May 26, 2003 in a pair of matches that will double as Open Cup qualifiers as well as league matches. Should the tournament format provide more than eight berths to the A-League, wild cards will be awarded in the order of: 2002 regular season champion Seattle, 2002 finalist Richmond and, finally, by the highest point percentage of non-qualified teams through league matches as of May 26, 2003. In the D3 Pro League, the 2002 Champion Long Island Rough Riders will receive an automatic berth into the tournament with the remaining berths to be filled by the teams with the best point total in four qualification matches. The PDL will use the same format for the seventh straight year, sending the best team from each group (the league’s conferences) based on four qualification games. Additional wild card berths, if available, will be awarded on a league-wide basis.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: When it was announced that Tom Fitzgerald was hired as the new head coach of the UCLA men’s soccer team, there were more than a few people that were a bit surprised at the decision, mostly due to the fact that he had been immersed in MLS as the coach of the Columbus Crew for the previous six years and had been out of the college mix since a nine-year stint at the University of Tampa that ended in 1995. But all that second-guessing was rendered moot when he led the Bruins to the national championship yesterday in just his first year back in the college game.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: With the 2002 men’s college season having come to a close, some of the nation’s top players headed to Ft. Lauderdale yesterday and will be trying to make a name for themselves as the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team gathers for just the third time this year in preparation for a pair of friendlies versus Canada this weekend (Dec. 19 and Dec. 21). Sure, the 2004 Olympics are almost two years away, but it’s never too early to start trying to earn that roster spot.
“I think it says a lot about soccer on the West Coast. We're going to have to close the airports to all the East Coast coaches who are going to be coming out and recruiting our players."
- UCLA head coach Tom Fitzgerald, after West Coast schools captured the Div. I men’s, Div. I women’s and Div II men’s soccer titles in 2002.