REYNA, O'BRIEN RETURN TO 23-MAN ROSTER FOR MUST-WIN QUALIFIER AT FOXBORO: U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena named a 23-man squad that will train for the team's upcoming qualifier against Jamaica on Sunday (Oct. 7) at Foxboro Stadium. Matchday 9 of final round qualifying will kickoff at 2 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ABC, as well as the Futbol de Primera radio network. "We have said from the beginning that qualification was going to be a long process, and we feel confident going into this match knowing our destiny is in our own hands," said Arena. Midfielder Claudio Reyna returns to captain the side after missing the last three qualifiers to suspension and injury. Also returning from injury is Ajax-based midfielder John O'Brien, out of the U.S. lineup since July. Arena has called on 13 players from MLS squads, 10 of whom are currently involved in the MLS playoff race. The United States holds a 4-3-1 record in final round qualifying play, their 13 points equal with Mexico in third position in the Hexagonal. Jamaica currently sits in fifth place, posting a 2-4-2 record. The USA has never lost to the Reggae Boyz, holding an unblemished 5-0-5 all-time record in the series. The teams battled to a scoreless draw in the first leg of the series June 16 at the National Stadium in Kingston. On 13 points, the United States controls its own qualifying destiny. Costa Rica has already secured one of the three places reserved for CONCACAF by collecting 19 points. With second-place Honduras (14 pts.) and Mexico (13 pts.) facing a head-to-head meeting on the final matchday, the USA can clinch a berth in the World Cup finals by earning all six points in its final two matches. The complete 23-man roster follows:
Goalkeepers (3): Brad Friedel, Kasey Keller, Zach Thornton;
Defenders (7): Jeff Agoos, Carlos Bocanegra, Steve Cherundolo, Robin Fraser, Eddie Pope, David Regis, Greg Vanney;
Midfielders (8): Chris Armas, Cobi Jones, Manny Lagos, John O'Brien, Preki Radosavljevic, Claudio Reyna, Tony Sanneh, Richie Williams;
Forwards (5): Landon Donovan, Jovan Kirovski, Joe-Max Moore, Ante Razov, Earnie Stewart.
EARNIE STEWART IN ESPN.COM CHAT ON THURSDAY: On Thursday, U.S. Men's National Team midfielder, Earnie Stewart, hits ESPN.com's online chat room to talk about Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Jamaica. Stewart is one of just four national team players who have been in the first team for all of the USA’s final round qualifying matches. Stewart is the all-time leading scorer for the United States in World Cup qualifying play. He currently has 72 appearances with the national team with 15 goals. Stewart will hit chat on Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. You can link directly to the chat room at http://dynamic.espn.go.com/espn/chat/chatESPN?event_id=547.
WINNING PHILIPS CHANT TO BE ANNOUNCED, MAKE STADIUM DEBUT THIS WEEK: U.S. Soccer and Philips are expected to announce this week the winners of the special Philips Chant Contest, which challenged soccer fans to submit online an original song/words to be cheered at all U.S. National Team matches. After the three-month contest ended on Aug. 15, more than 1,000 submissions were narrowed down to 10. From those 10, U.S. Soccer and Philips will announce the Grand Prize winner this week, in order for U.S. Soccer fans to get to know that chant before the crucial U.S. Men's National Team match versus Jamaica on Oct. 7 at Foxboro Stadium. The Grand Prize winner will receive a state-of-the-art Philips home entertainment system, while two runners-up will receive Philips DVD players.
MONTHLY "CENTER CIRCLE" E-NEWSLETTER TO MAKE DEBUT THIS WEEK: This week, U.S. Soccer Communications will unveil the first edition of its brand new e-zine "Center Circle," a monthly newsletter designed to give soccer fans a look behind-the-scenes and behind closed doors in order to better know the players and personalities that make up the U.S. Men's, Women's and Youth National Teams. "Center Circle" will feature a variety of first-hand player viewpoints and unique interview variations, from a movie review by a pair of U-17 midfielders to a word association with Jeff Agoos. This edgy, fun new fan-friendly online publication will be sent to U.S. Soccer's massive fan and media e-mail lists, as well as appearing online.
U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE
U.S. PUTS 6-0-3 UNBEATEN STREAK ON LINE IN LAST MATCH EVER AT FOXBORO: This Sunday's match versus Jamaica marks the final international soccer event at Foxboro Stadium before the opening of the new CMGI Field. The USA has enjoyed unprecedented success at Foxboro, boasting an unbeaten 6-0-3 lifetime record at the venue, including three World Cup qualifying victories. The U.S. last took the field at Foxboro June 20, Ante Razov netting the fastest goal in U.S. World Cup qualifying history en route to a 2-0 victory against Trinidad and Tobago.
MNT UNDEFEATED VS. REGGAE BOYZ WITH 5-0-5 ALL-TIME RECORD: The USA has also never lost to the Reggae Boyz, holding an unblemished 5-0-5 all-time record in the series. The U.S. men have held the Jamaicans scoreless in six of those meetings, the most shutouts the team has recorded against any country except Mexico. Two players on the current roster started in the USA's last victory against Jamaica in 1994: defender Jeff Agoos and forward Jovan Kirovski. The 18-year-old Kirovski notched his first international goal in the 3-0 defeat of the Reggae Boyz, former U.S. and Chicago Fire midfielder Frank Klopas netting the other two.
REFEREES FROM EL SALVADOR TO OFFICIATE OCT. 7 MATCH: A referee crew from El Salvador will be officiating the crucial Oct. 7 match between the U.S. and Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium. The head referee will be Rodolfo Sibrian, who also officiated "La Guerra Fria en Columbus" (The Cold War in Columbus) between the USA and Mexico on Feb. 28. The two Assistant Referees for the Oct. 7 clash will be Vladimir Fernandez and Raul Cardona, while the fourth official is Jose Rivera.
UPDATE ON EUROPEAN-BASED MNT PLAYERS: U.S. MNT captain Claudio Reyna made his much-anticipated return to the field yesterday, going 67 minutes in Rangers 2-0 loss to Celtic. Reyna saw his first minutes in a competitive match since August 22, and will arrive in the U.S. camp later today. Blackburn Rovers continued their winless run on the road in the English Premier League, Brad Friedel and company falling 2-0 away to Aston Villa. Kasey Keller appeared on the reserves bench as Tottenham Hotspur suffered a calamitous breakdown against Manchester United, squandering a 3-0 half time lead to eventually fall 5-3 to the visitors. Joe-Max Moore entered as an 82nd minute substitute as Everton walloped West Ham 5-0, pushing the Goodison Park outfit into the top half of the Premiership table. Jovan Kirovski continues to hold a place in the first choice for Crystal Palace, playing 69 minutes in the Eagle's 4-1 against Sheffield Wednesday. Palace are unbeaten at home this season posting a tidy 4-0-1 record.
In Germany, Tony Sanneh started his second match at right back as FC Nurnberg was held to a scoreless draw against Hamburg. Steve Cherundolo and Hannover 96 play this evening away to LR Ahlen, meaning the young defender will join the U.S. camp tomorrow. In the Dutch Eredivisie, John O'Brien turned his first 90-minute performance this season, with Ajax easily handling Groningen 4-1 at the Amsterdam Arena. NAC Breda fell 4-2 to De Graafschap, but Earnie Stewart scored his third league goal of the season in the losing effort. And in France, David Regis entered from the substitute's bench in the 77th minute as FC Metz drew 0-0 away to last-place Nantes in French First Division play.
"SOCCERVACATIONS.COM" OFFERS UNIQUE USA-TRINIDAD & TOBAGO PACKAGE: Fans of the U.S. Men's National Team have a chance to see the team finish the final round of World Cup qualifying when the U.S. takes on regional rival Trinidad & Tobago in Port of Spain on Nov. 11. In addition to being on hand for the game, fans can also experience the vacation of a lifetime and enjoy the game day passion at Hasely Crawford National Stadium for as low as $1215 per person. This package includes round-trip air from most major gateways in the USA, two-night hotel accommodations, premiere match tickets, ground transfers, a "Welcome to Trinidad & Tobago" cocktail party, daily buffet breakfast, the service of a SoccerVacations representative and much more. For more information on this package or any other U.S. Soccer event, call toll free at 1-877-667-5338 or log on to www.SoccerVacations.com
U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE
DONOVAN HEADLINES EFFORTS OF YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM STARS IN MLS PLAYOFFS: The pressure of the play-offs doesn't seem to be effecting the performance of Landon Donovan, who led the Earthquakes to a quick, decisive series sweep of the Columbus Crew with three goals and an assist in two matches. Donovan, tied atop the playoff scoring charts with seven points, had the assist on the game-winner and then tallied the ‘Quakes third and final goal in a 3-0 series-ending win in San Jose on Wed., Sept. 26. Edson Buddle came off of the Crew's bench in each of the two losses, totaling 31 minutes of postseason play in his first year in the MLS.
FRANCE WINS UNDER-17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 3-0 WIN OVER NIGERIA: The "Group of Death" at the Under-17 World Championship turned out to be the "Group of Champions", as France and Nigeria met in the championship match yesterday at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain. France rolled to a convincing 3-0 win over the Super Eaglets to claim France's first title at the Under-17 level. French striker Florent Sinama Pongolle once again paced the attack, scoring a goal and setting up another on his way to a trifecta of tournament honors. Pongolle's game winner in the 34th minute was his ninth goal of the tournament, giving him Golden Boot honors as the top-scorer at the championship, as well as setting a new mark for most goals in an Under-17 Championship (formerly eight goals by West Germany's Marcel Witeczek in 1985.) Pongolle also took home the Golden Boot as the tournament's outstanding player. France's Anthony Le Tallec, the Silver Boot winner as the tournament's second-MVP, set up Pongolle's score and later tallied one of his own. Burkina Faso topped Argentina 2-0 in the third place match on Sunday. In Group B play, the U.S. drew the unenviable task of facing Japan, Nigeria and France. After opening with a 0-1 loss to Japan, the United States fell 3-5 to France (the USA's three goals representing the most goals the stingy French defense gave away the entire tournament) and finished with a 0-2 loss to Nigeria.
AROUND THE U.S. SOCCER NATION
PRO TEAMS IN NEW YORK, D.C. JOIN TOGETHER FOR "UNITY GAMES" BENEFIT SERIES: The four Division I professional soccer teams in the New York/New Jersey and Washington D.C. areas, the MetroStars and D.C. United of MLS along with the New York Power and Washington Freedom of the WUSA, will join together to raise funds for those affected by the Sept. 11 tragedy by hosting the "Unity Games," to be held on Oct. 28 at Giants Stadium in New Jersey and on Nov. 3 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Tickets for both double-headers will be $20, with all proceeds going to the relief and recovery effort from the tragedies in New York City and Washington, D.C. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets in the New York/New Jersey and Washington, D.C. areas. Tickets will also be available in New York by calling the MetroStars ticket office at 1-888-4-METROTIX, the New York Power ticket office at 1-866-POWRTIX, or by visiting www.metrostars.com or www.nypower.com.
DEFENDING CHAMPS FALL AS MLS PLAYOFFS DOWN TO FOUR: The defending champion Kansas City Wizards were knocked out of the MLS Playoffs this weekend, losing a decisive Game 3, 2-1, off goals by two players that helped them win the MLS Cup just a year ago. Both Chris Henderson and Preki struck for the Fusion, who had been shut out 3-0 in Game 2 in Kansas City. The Fusion will now face the San Jose Earthquakes, who dispatched the Columbus Crew with a pair of 3-0 wins, including last Saturday at Crew Stadium. On the other side of the bracket, the Chicago Fire got the better of the Dallas Burn, earning a 2-0 home win on Saturday after drawing in Game 2. In the most exciting conclusion to a 2001 playoff series, the L.A. Galaxy pulled out a 3-2 win over the MetroStars at the Rose Bowl and then got a golden goal from Mauricio Cienfuegos in the eighth minute of a decisive mini-game to advance.
RAMPAGE DOWN REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS RICHMOND IN A-LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: Digital Takawira's goal and assist were not enough as the eighth-seeded Milwaukee Rampage and the top-seeded Richmond Kickers battled to an entertaining 2-2 draw in the first game of their quarterfinal series last week. But in the second leg, the Rampage took the regular season champion Kickers to a series overtime tiebreaker with a 1-1 tie in Richmond. Three minutes into overtime, the Rampage stunned the home side with the series winner to advance to the semi-finals. The higher-seeded Hershey Wildcats, Vancouver Whitecaps and Rochester Raging Rhinos all advanced to the A-League semi-finals with victories in the second legs of their respective series.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMANCE: In a single stroke of brilliance, Chris Henderson and Johnny Torres combined for one of the better goals you will see in MLS this year, sending the Miami Fusion past an inspired Kansas City Wizards squad in a dynamic Game 3 showdown on Saturday night at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale. With his back to the goal and crowding the left touch line, Torres one-timed a pass down the wing with a flick over his head into a space in the penalty area where an on-rushing Chris Henderson beautifully and skillfully cracked a shot on the half-volley over Wizard goalkeeper Tony Meola and under the crossbar into the side-netting of the goal.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: 6-0-3 at Foxboro. 5-0-5 all-time vs. Jamaica. Two big unbeaten streaks coming into the final international soccer match at Foxboro Stadium. The first of two big games the U.S. Men's National Team must win to get to their record fourth consecutive World Cup. It all starts Sunday live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Mexican head coach Javier Aguirre recalled Luis Roberto Alves "Zague" ahead of Mexico's crucial qualifier in Costa Rica on Oct. 7. "Zague" starred with Club America in the 1980's and early 1990's, but has not played with the Mexican National Team since Nov. 9, 1997, before Manuel Lapuente replaced Bora Milutinovic as head coach. "Zague", at 34 years old, is one of 21 players Aguirre called in for Mexico's camp that started on Thursday.
QUOTABLE: "This week is about action, not words."
--U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, on the upcoming must-win match against Jamaica