"RFK Stadium is one of our country's best soccer venues," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "We have had tremendous success there in the past and, obviously, this will be an important match as we try to qualify for the World Cup."
The unique 10 a.m. ET (7 a.m. PT) kickoff on ESPN2 was necessary for two important reasons: to provide the team with the maximum amount of rest time for a critical match in Costa Rica just five days later on Wednesday, Sept. 5, and to ensure a nationally televised broadcast on the ABC/ESPN network family. While U.S. Soccer had an opportunity to play the match on Sunday afternoon live on ABC, after discussing the needs of the team with coach Arena, the Federation opted to forego that time slot and give the U.S. players an extra day of recovery and preparation between the games.
"The fans in D.C. have shown throughout the years that they are among the strongest supporters of U.S. Soccer," said U.S. Soccer Secretary General Dan Flynn. "It is that support, in addition to our belief that, although the 10:00 am kick-off time is unique, the fans in the D.C. area will respond and support the team due to the magnitude of this game."
The Sept. 1 showdown will be part of soccer doubleheader, with Major League Soccer's D.C. United hosting the Tampa Bay Mutiny at 12:30 p.m. ET following the USA-Honduras clash.
The U.S. has a 7-2-3 all-time record at RFK Stadium since 1990, including a crucial 1-0 win against Guatemala in the semifinal round of last year's qualifying on Sept. 3, 2000. Brian McBride scored in the 72nd minute to give the U.S. an important three points in front of a pro-American crowd of 51,996 at the match.
On the road to the 1998 World Cup, the U.S. played two qualifiers at RFK Stadium, including a 1-1 final round qualifying draw with Jamaica on October 3, 1997 that was watched by a spirited, near- capacity crowd of 51,528.
"On behalf of D.C. United and the great soccer fans in Washington, D.C., we're very pleased that U.S. Soccer has agreed to place the United States World Cup qualifying match versus Honduras at RFK Stadium," said D.C. United President and General Manager Kevin Payne. "We believe this market has proven to be absolutely the best market in the country in support of the United States men's national team, and we expect that tradition to continue against Honduras."
Honduras sailed through the semifinal round of qualifying in 2000, winning five of their six matches to easily finish atop Group D. The Hondurans were the highest scoring team in CONCACAF semifinal round qualifying, outscoring their opponents by a whopping 25-to-5 margin.
The Central American squad is led by the dynamic attacking duo of Carlos Pavon and David Suazo. Pavon, the 2000 Central American Player of the Year, led all CONCACAF players with seven goals in the semifinal round of qualifying. Suazo only played in two matches for Honduras in the previous round, but still contributed two goals and is expected to be recalled from Italy for more matches in this final round of qualifying. Suazo is a familiar face to the USA, as it was the Cagliari striker who scored both goals as Honduras topped the U.S. 2-1 in the 2000 CONCACAF Olympic qualifying final in Hershey.
The USA has only played Honduras three times on U.S. soil in their history, earning a win and two draws. The U.S. beat the Central Americans 1-0 in group play at the 1993 Gold Cup in Dallas on July 17, 1993, and won the 1991 Gold Cup in penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw in the tournament final at the Los Angeles Coliseum back on July 7, 1991. The two teams drew 1-1 in Fullerton, Calif., on December 11, 1994.
The U.S. opens the final round of qualifying this Wednesday (Feb. 28) against Mexico at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio, in a match that will be shown live on ESPN2 and Telemundo at 7:30 p.m. ET. The USA's final round World Cup qualifying schedule will see the Americans alternate home and away matches before finishing in Trinidad & Tobago on the weekend of Nov. 11-12. The top three finishers from the six-team group, which also includes Jamaica and Costa Rica, will advance to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. In addition to the live ESPN2 and Telemundo broadcasts, the U.S. home qualifiers will also air live on the Futbol de Primera radio network.
As U.S. Soccer has successfully done in the past, tickets will be made available to the U.S. Soccer family and D.C. United season ticket holders via an advance ticket sale, before they go on sale to the general public.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%RFK STADIUM CROWD WINS www.us-soccer.com FANS OF THE YEAR POLL: In U.S. Soccer's first-ever "Fans of the Year" balloting conducted in conjunction with the on-line voting for U.S. Soccer's 2000 Chevrolet Athletes of the Year, the raucous RFK Stadium crowd for the USA-Guatemala semifinal round World Cup qualifier on Sept. 3, 2000 outdistanced the opposition with 34 percent of the vote.
As with the USA-Honduras qualifier schedule for Saturday, Sept. 1 of this year, last year's match was also played on Labor Day weekend. The final vote tallies for the 2000 U.S. Soccer Fans of the Year balloting are listed below. U.S. Soccer's 2001 Chevrolet Athletes of the Year will be awarded tomorrow at a 2 p.m. ET press conference at the Hyatt Capitol Square in Columbus.
- September 3: World Cup Qualifier - U.S. Men vs. Guatemala
Attendance: 51,996 - RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. - 34%
- September 1: Nike Road to Glory - U.S. Women vs. Brazil
Attendance: 26,853 - Spartan Stadium, San Jose, Calif. - 27%
- October 11: World Cup Qualifier - U.S. Men vs. Costa Rica
Attendance: 24,430 - Columbus Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio - 18%
- June 11: Nike U.S. Cup - U.S. Men vs. Mexico
Attendance: 45,008 - Giants Stadium, E. Rutherford, N.J. - 8%
- October 21: Open Cup Final - Chicago Fire vs. Miami Fusion
Attendance: 19,146 - Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill. - 6%
- August 13: Nike Road to Glory - U.S. Women vs. Russia
Attendance: 21,278 - Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Annapolis, Md. - 5%
- March 12: Friendly - U.S. Men vs. Tunisia
Attendance: 21,637 - Legion Field, Birmingham, Ala. - 2%