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Confederation, U.S. Soccer Name Hershey, Pa. Site of Men's Final Qualifying Tournament for 2000 Olympics

HERSHEY, Pa. (Friday, December 17, 1999) - In a press conference today, the Confederation Of North, Central America and Caribbean Association of Football and the United States Soccer Federation named Hershey, Pa. as the host city and site of the 2000 Men's Final Olympic Qualifying Tournament. The qualifying tournament, which will place two finalists in the round of 16 at the 2000 Olympics, will be played with five different doubleheaders from April 21-30 at the 16,000-seat Hersheypark Stadium.

"We are very happy with the choice of Hershey, an area noted for its hospitality and enthusiasm for soccer," said Confederation Secretary General Chuck Blazer. "We know that all the teams will be warmly welcomed and, in return, will provide some outstanding games."

Tickets for the tournament are available at the Hersheypark Arena Box Office or by calling 717-534-3911 and range from $10-$22 for opening round matches and $14-$28 for the semifinals and final. Hersheypark Stadium is part of Hershey Entertainment and Resorts, which also operates the chocolate-themed Hershey Lodge and Hershey Park. Hersheypark Stadium also is home to the Hershey Wildcats of the A-League, a 28-team Division II professional soccer league.

In the last year, Hersheypark Stadium has hosted many high profile events, including the U.S. Women's National Team's stop on their pre-Women's World Cup "Road to Pasadena" (April 22, 1999) and the 1998 A-League All-Star Game (July 2, 1998).

"On behalf of the Hershey Wildcats, Hershey Entertainment and Resorts and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association, we are proud and grateful to have this great honor bestowed upon us," said Todd Smith, the general manager and president of the Hershey Wildcats. "We think that this is going to be an outstanding event for the soccer fans of the state of Pennsylvania and the region and we're hoping we can provide a good home field advantage for the U.S. on their way to Sydney."

The Under-23 National Team that will represent the U.S. in Olympic Qualifying is full of young professionals, including Middletown, Pa. native Ben Olsen (D.C. United--MLS), Philadelphia native Chris Albright (D.C. United--MLS), midfielder John O'Brien (Ajax Amsterdam--Holland), forward Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire--MLS) and defender Chad McCarty (Tampa Bay Mutiny--MLS). The year 2000 will mark the first time the U.S. has entered the competition with a roster made predominantly of pro- fessional players, previously having to rely on college players and recent graduates to field a team.

The Confederation was founded in 1961 and serves as the organizing body for 38 national associations, including the United States, and spans from Canada in the north to Surinam in the south. The Confederation organizes competition for a number of international tournaments and events, including the Champions' Cup (for the top professional club teams within the confederation's reach), qualifying tournaments for all FIFA competitions, the Gold Cup (which will be played this coming year in Miami, San Diego and Los Angeles in February 2000) and the Women's Gold Cup.

The Confederation's Under-23 Men's Final Olympic Qualifying competition is currently entering its second stage of qualifying, with 12 teams making up three groups. The United States, as part of Group A, receives a bye into the final round of qualification as the host federation. Therefore, Group A will play with three teams, while Groups B and C will have four each. Each group will complete round- robin play in March and early April, with the top team in each group and the runners-up from Groups B and C advancing to the final round of qualification to be held April 21-30, 2000.

Semi-final Round--Qualifying
Date Group Teams
March 8-12 A (United States--bye), Panama, Bermuda, Cuba
March 22-26 B Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras
April 5-9 C Canada, Guatemala, Netherlands Antilles, Trinidad & Tobago
Final Round--Qualifying
Group #1 USA, Group C first place, Group B second place
Group #2 Group A first place, Group B first place, Group C second place
Date Match Venue Time (ET)
April 21 TBD vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 5:30 p.m.
April 21 United States vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 8:00 p.m.
April 23 TBD vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 1:00 p.m.
April 23 TBD vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 3:30 p.m.
April 25 TBD vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 5:30 p.m.
April 25 United States vs. TBD Hersheypark Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Final Round--Semi-finals
Date Match Venue Time (ET)
April 28 Group #1 1st vs. Group #2 2nd Hersheypark Stadium 5:30 p.m.
April 28 Group #2 1st vs. Group #1 2nd Hersheypark Stadium 8:00 p.m.
Final Round--Third Place/Championship
Date Match Venue Time (ET)
April 30 Third-place (Semifinal losers) Hersheypark Stadium 1:00 p.m.
April 30 Championship (Semifinal winners) Hersheypark Stadium 3:30 p.m.