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U.S. Soccer Wire - December 18, 2006


U.S. MNT TO FACE LONG-TIME RIVAL MEXICO ON FEB. 7 IN ARIZONA;
“BEST OF U.S. SOCCER,” “ATHLETE OF THE YEAR” VOTING ENDS WEDNESDAY
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BRADLEY TO ANNOUNCE JANUARY TRAINING CAMP ROSTER TOMORROW ON USSOCCER.COM: U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley will announce the roster for the USA's first training camp in 2007 exclusively on ussoccer.com Tuesday (Dec. 19) at 12 p.m. ET. The team will begin training Jan. 4 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in preparation for the match against Denmark on Jan. 20 (tickets). The U.S. team will be assembling for the first time since Bradley took the reigns of the national team.

U.S. MNT TAKES ON MEXICO IN FEBRUARY: The U.S. Men’s National Team will renew their long rivalry against regional rival Mexico on Feb. 7, 2007, at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. The match will be played on the first international fixture date of 2007 and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Univision beginning at 7 p.m. MT. Fans can also follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Advance ticket prices for the game start at $28 and will go on sale on Tuesday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. MT at ussoccer.com, all Glendale area Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s, Fry’s Marketplace and FYE), the University of Phoenix Stadium ticket office (Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.) and by phone at 480-784-4444. Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. Day-of-game ticket prices will be higher than advance ticket purchases. The U.S. has dominated the series of late, collecting a 6-0-1 home record against Mexico since 2000. During that span, the USA has netted 11 goals, while the Mexicans have failed to score a single goal on American soil in this decade. In the team’s last meeting, the U.S. used a 2-0 victory on Sept. 3, 2005, in Columbus, Ohio to become the first team in CONCACAF to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

VOTING ENDS WEDNESDAY FOR 2006 U.S. SOCCER ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AWARDS: Voting closes Wednesday, Dec. 20, for the high profile U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year Awards. Finalists for the four annual awards – Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female – were announced last week. The U.S. Soccer Male and Female Athletes of the Year Awards are the oldest and most prestigious awards of their kind, dating back to 1984 for the men and 1985 for the women, while the Young Male and Young Female awards were added in 1998. The finalists for each award were nominated on the basis of: a) competing and excelling at the highest level (both at the national team and professional level) during the calendar year; b) exhibiting decorum on and off the field that reflects well on U.S. Soccer; and c) contributing toward the growth, development, credibility and popularization of soccer in the USA. Online votes for the annual award will be tallied and equivalent to 50 percent of the total votes. As in years past, the other 50 percent will be represented by 100 votes compiled from members of the national media and U.S. Soccer representatives (from national team coaches to the National Board of Directors). VOTE NOW!

U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Abby Wambach, Forward
Kristine Lilly, Forward
Cat Whitehill, Defender
Hope Solo, Goalkeeper
Leslie Osborne, Midfielder

U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Clint Dempsey, Midfielder
Bobby Convey, Midfielder
Brian McBride, Forward
Kasey Keller, Goalkeeper
Oguchi Onyewu, Defender

U.S. Soccer Young Female Athlete of the Year Candidates
Danesha Adams, Forward
Val Henderson, Goalkeeper
Stephanie Lopez, Defender
Amanda Poach, Midfielder
Amy Rodriguez, Forward

U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year Candidates
Josmer Altidore, Forward
Quavas Kirk, Midfielder
Johann Smith, Forward
Nathan Sturgis, Defender
Preston Zimmerman, Forward

Launch the voting interface | Detailed list of nominees

VOTING ENDS WEDNESDAY FOR THE “BEST OF U.S. SOCCER” AWARDS: U.S. Soccer has announced the finalists for the 2006 “Best of U.S. Soccer” Awards and fans can vote for their favorites until Wednesday, Dec. 20 at ussoccer.com. The fifth annual series, presented by Soccer America, the No. 1 soccer magazine in the United States, allows fans the opportunity to make their selections for the best in soccer in the United States. Fans can vote once a day from now until Wednesday through a sharp multimedia voter interface on ussoccer.com. The 2006 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards will be decided entirely by online fan votes with the winners being announced the week of Dec. 18. As with last year, fans across the country were called on to nominate finalists for the Best Bar, Best Store and Best all_access video awards and the most popular choices became finalists. Fans also sent in their own photographs for the newest category, Best Fan Photo from the World Cup, and the top 10 nominees were chosen. This year, the “Best of” Awards include two Best Goal categories. The annual Best Goal, presented by Sierra Mist, returns, while a special addition for 2006 is the Best Kristine Lilly Goal. The U.S. Women’s National Team captain simply scored too many sensational goals, necessitating the creation of a whole new category just for her. VOTE NOW!

2006 “Best of U.S. Soccer” Awards
Categories
Best Bar
Best Store
Best Goal presented by Sierra Mist
Best Kristine Lilly Goal
Best Performance (Player)
Best Performance (Team)
Best all_access video
Best Action Photo
Best U.S. Fan Photo from the World Cup
Best Look/Style
Best Atmosphere

Launch the voting interface | Complete list of nominees

U.S. SOCCER MOURNS PIONEER LAMAR HUNT: American sports icon Lamar Hunt passed away on Wednesday (Dec. 13) after an on-going battle with cancer. Hunt was known throughout the U.S. soccer world as a pioneer of the sport, which he championed for more than 40 years. Hunt became an investor in the North American Soccer League's Dallas Tornados in 1967 and owned the team for 14 years. In 1994, he served as the Dallas Host Committee Chairman for the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Hunt then became a founding investor in Major League Soccer before the league's inaugural season in 1996 as the original investor-operator of the Columbus Crew and the Kansas City Wizards. In 1999, Hunt established a milestone when he built the country's first stadium specifically for an MLS team, Columbus Crew Stadium. Hunt purchased the Dallas Burn, now FC Dallas, in 2003 and opened another soccer-specific stadium in 2005, Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Hunt recently sold the Wizards to OnGoal, LLC. Also in 1999, Hunt was honored for his dedication to the growth of soccer in the U.S. when the U.S. Open Cup--the oldest cup competition in U.S. soccer--was renamed the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. He had previously been honored in 1982 when he was inducted into the U.S. National Soccer Hall of Fame as a builder. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorial donations be made to the Dallas Museum of Art and the Heart of a Champion Foundation.

U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM TO OPEN 2007 DOMESTIC SCHEDULE IN BOSTON: The U.S. Women’s National Team will play its first domestic match of 2007 during the run up to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup on Saturday, April 14, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The U.S. team will play the first match of a doubleheader that also features the home opener of the New England Revolution of Major League Soccer against expansion club Toronto FC. The opponent, kickoff time and TV network for the U.S. women’s game are all TBA, but the Americans do know they will be playing their first match in the Boston area since the historic 1-0 win against Norway on October 1, 2003, during the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals. Abby Wambach scored the USA’s loan goal on a header in front of more than 20,000 fans.

U.S. MNT TO KICK OFF 2007 AGAINST DENMARK: The U.S. Men’s National Team will play its first match of 2007 against Denmark on Saturday, Jan. 20, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., at 1:50 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and tape delayed at 9 p.m. PT (12 a.m. ET) on Galavision. Fans can also follow the game live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Tickets starting at $18 are now on sale at ussoccer.com, all Southern California Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s, Wherehouse Music and Ritmo Latino), The Home Depot Center ticket office (open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), and by phone at 213-480-3232. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. The U.S. and Denmark have met four times in their history, with the United States still in search of their first victory after posting a 0-1-3 record. The teams’ last meeting on Jan. 18, 2004, marked the first-ever visit by the U.S. MNT to The Home Depot Center. Despite out-shooting Denmark 16-4, the U.S. only collected a 1-1 draw after a pair of penalties on either side of halftime delivered each side their only goal of the match. The USA-Denmark clash will serve as the launching point for what promises to be a challenging schedule in 2007, as the USA seeks to defend its Gold Cup title when they join 11 other teams in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, which will take place from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States. The following week, the U.S. will compete in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26-July 15 in nine cities in Venezuela.

– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –

U-20 MNT FLORIDA CAMP KICKS OFF: The United States Under-20 Men’s National Team kicked off a 12-day training camp at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., on Tuesday, Dec. 12. All 26 players that head coach Thomas Rongen called into camp have gathered for the last time before Rongen names his final 20-player roster for the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament, which will take place from Jan. 17-21 in Panama City, Panama. The U.S. is in Group A of the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament with Guatemala, Haiti and the host Panama (draw recap). The top two teams in the group will qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, which will take place from June 30-July 22 across six cities – Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Burnaby and Victoria. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for their sixth straight FIFA World Cup (formerly FIFA World Youth Championship).
U.S. Under 20 Men’s National Team Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brian Perk (UCLA), Steve Sandbo (SMU), Chris Seitz (University of Maryland)
DEFENDERS (11): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Matt Besler (Notre Dame), Kyle Davies (Ballistic United), Amaechi Igwe (Santa Clara University), Quavas Kirk (L.A. Galaxy), Ofori Sarkodi (Indiana University), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Blake Wagner (FC Dallas), Anthony Wallace (University of South Florida), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Bryan Arguez (West Kendal Optimists), Alejandro Bedoya (Fairleigh Dickinson University), Jeremy Hall (University of Maryland), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew), Jonathan Villanueva (University of Virginia)
FORWARDS (5): Andre Akpan (Harvard), Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Mike Grella (Duke), Rodrigo Hildalgo (University of South Florida), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

U-17 WOMEN FALL TO ARGENTINA WNT IN SECOND MATCH OF TOUR: The U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team fell to the senior Argentina Women's National Team, 2-1, on Dec. 15 in Buenos Aires at the AFA National Training Center. The loss to the full team came on the heels of a 4-1 victory over the Argentina U-20s two days earlier. The young U.S. team scored early as midfielder Merritt Mathias tallied in just the 11th minute, but the USA couldn't hold the lead and Argentina's Ludmila Manicler equalized in the 20th minute. The hosts got a dramatic late winner in the 85th minute, scoring through Mercedes Pereia to seal the win. The USA's final match, against an Argentinean club team, was canceled due to rain.

U.S. U-17 WNT Results
Date      Opponent             Result    U.S. Goal Scorer(s)
Dec. 13 ARG U-20 WNT     4-1 W   Melissa Henderson, Danielle Foxhoven, Casey Short, Amanda DaCosta
Dec. 15 ARG WNT               1-2 L    Merritt Mathias

– AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD –

MEXICO TO OPEN WOMEN’S WORLD CUP PLAYOFF IN JAPAN: Japan will host the first leg of its two-game play-off against Mexico for the last remaining place at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup in China. The draw, held last Friday in Japan, was made by Worawi Makudi, Chairman of the Committee for Women's Football and the FIFA Women's World Cup. Japan, which finished third in the Asian qualifiers, will host Mexico, which placed third in the CONCACAF Women's Gold Cup, on March 10, 2007, with the return game scheduled for a week later on March 17 in Mexico. The away goals rule will apply in the event the teams finish tied on goal difference after the two legs, with extra-time and finally penalties if necessary. These same two teams faced-off four years ago for a spot in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup with Japan playing the first leg in Mexico and earning a draw in front of a massive crowd at Azteca Stadium. Japan won the second leg at home to earn its WWC berth.

2007 MLS CUP TO BE HELD AT RFK STADIUM: The 2007 Major League Soccer Cup will be held at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., for the third time in the league's 12-year history. The league championship match will kick off at 12 p.m. ET on Nov. 18, live on ABC. In the previous MLS Cup matches held at RFK Stadium, a sold-out crowd saw D.C. United win its second straight MLS Cup title in a 2-1 win against the Colorado Rapids, and more than 39,000 witnessed the Kansas City Wizards win, 1-0, against the Chicago Fire in 2000. Tickets will range in price from $30 to $100, with discounts available for groups and D.C. United season ticket holders. More information will be available at dcunited.com.

MLS CUP SITES
2007 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.): Sunday November 18 (live on ABC at 12:00 p.m. ET)
2006 – Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2005 – Pizza Hut Park (Frisco, Texas)
2004 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2003 – The Home Depot Center (Carson, Calif.)
2002 – Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
2001 – Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio)
2000 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1999 – Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)
1998 – Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)
1997 – RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.)
1996 – Foxboro Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.)

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. MNT and West Ham defender Jonathan Spector welcomed his new boss at West Ham with a performance that helped the Hammers earn a 1-0 win against his former team, Manchester United, at Old Trafford on Sunday (Dec. 17). Spector started and played the full 90 minutes for West Ham under the watchful eye of Alan Cubishley, who was named manager earlier in the week.

MARQUEE MATCHUPS: The English are well known for some of their traditions, such as tea time. But soccer aficionados are also grateful for Boxing Day, and more importantly: Boxing Day football. The day after Christmas will be like Christmas all over again with nine English Premier League matches taking place. A 10th match, Charlton vs. Fulham, was postponed until Wednesday, Dec. 27. Viewers should check local listings to figure out what time they need to flip on their TV or head to their favorite soccer bar to take in all the action.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Rarely is the Soccer Shocker about NOT winning, but in this case, U.S. captain Kristine Lilly not winning the 2006 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year is certainly shocking. The U.S. captain scored 13 goals, the second highest total of her brilliant 19-year career, and eight of her 13 scores were game-winning or game-tying strikes. She earned her historic 300th cap last January, helped the USA to three tournament titles and into the championship game of another, garnered three tournament MVP awards (Four Nations Tournament in China, Peace Queen Cup in South Korea and the CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup) and led the USA to an undefeated season for the second year in a row. The 2006 winner Marta of Brazil, an extraordinary dribbling and scoring talent who enjoyed a fine club season with Umea in Sweden, did not play for Brazil this year

QUOTABLE: “There quite simply has never been a more influential person in sports in the United States, and when it comes to soccer he was the pioneer, the innovator and the patriarch all rolled into one. And that statement was as true in 1966 as it is in 2006.”
-- U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati on the late Lamar Hunt.

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