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Men's National Team Notes: U.S. vs. Tunisia

CHICAGO (Thursday, March 9, 2000) -

Tunisia Scouting Report: Led by Italian Head Coach Francesco Scoglio, Tunisia's National Team makes its first-ever appearance in the United States against the United States on Sunday at Legion Field. Tunisia is coming off a very successful African Nations Cup 2000, where the team went 3-2-2 and finished in fourth-place. Tunisia's offense was led by 19-year-old forward Ali Zitouni, who scored a pair of goals, and Zoubeir Baya, Adel Sellimi, Rahdi Jaidi and Khaled Badra, who each had one tally. Tunisia finished 1999 with an impressive 7-2-1 international record that included seven shutouts. Central to the team is midfielder Hassen Gabsi, a 26-year-old playmaker, and Freiburg striker Sellimi, who stands among the leading goalscorers in the German Bundeliga this season.

Strong Run For Tunisia in African Nations Cup: Tunisia, who finished second in African Nations Cup 1996 (won by South Africa), reached the semifinals of the 2000 edition held recently in Ghana and Nigeria. After dropping the Group 4 opener to co-host Nigeria, 4-2, on January 23, Tunisia rebounded with a scoreless draw against Morocco on Jan. 29, and a 1-0 victory over Congo on February 3 to advance to the quarterfinal. Tunisia continued its winning streak, knocking off the 1998 African Nations Cup Champions Egypt with a 1-0 shutout in the quarterfinal on Feb. 7. Tunisia's luck would run out on Feb. 10, as Cameroon would hand North Africans a 3- 0 defeat in the semifinals. South Africa defeated Tunisia on penalty kicks in the third-place match after both squads played to a 2-2 regulation tie after on Feb. 12.

Flashback to the Olympics: Sunday's match is the first-ever meeting between these two countries at the full international level, but the teams should not be strangers to one another, or to soccer fans in Birmingham. The Olympic Teams from Tunisia and the United States met during the 1996 Atlanta Games at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. on July 22, 1996. The Americans shutout the African squad, 2-0, on goals by Jovan Kirovski (38th minute) and Brian Maisonneuve (90th). While Tunisia could play as many as 8 players in Sunday's match who saw action in 1996, the only connection between the current USA team and the '96 Olympic team is Bruce Arena, who coached both teams.

Line-ups for USA Olympic Team v. Tunisia Olympic Team at Legion Field on 7/22/96:
USA - Kasey Keller; Eddie Pope, Clint Peay, Alexi Lalas, Frankie Hejduk; Imad Baba, Claudio Reyna, Damian Silvera, Brian Maisonneuve, Miles Joseph, Jovan Kirovski (A.J. Wood 89th).
TUN - Choki El Ouer; Lotfi Baccouche (Marouane Bokri 57th), Khaled Badra, Ferid Chouchane, Zoubeir Beya, Hassan Gabsi, Kaies Ghodbane (Maher Kenzari 63rd), Adel Sellimi, Sabri Jaballah, Radhi Jaidi, Tarek Ben Chrouda.

Tunisia in the World Cup: Tunisia finished last in Group G in France 1998, has made only two World Cup Finals appearances. The Africans dropped back-to-back shutout matches to England (2-0) and Colombia (1-0), before battling Romania (Group Winner) to a 1-1 tie in 1998. Tunisia's first-ever appearance was in Argentina in 1978, where the team won its first match of Group B with a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Mexico before losing a heartbreaker to Poland 1-0 in its second match of the first round. Tunisia just missed making the quarterfinals in '78 after playing the 1974 World Cup Champions West Germany to a 0-0 draw.

Lifetime Series vs. African Opponents: The U.S. have dropped four of its six international games against countries from the African continent. The Americans have not defeated an African Nation since a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Nigeria in Boston, Mass. during the U.S. Cup on June 11, 1995.

Lifetime Series: Tunisia and the United States have never met at the full international level.

Beasley, Albright Earn Roster Spots for Tunisia Match: A pair of players making their first appearance in National Team camp this year, DaMarcus Beasley and Chris Albright, hope to demonstrate against Tunisia why they are being heralded as the next wave of American talent. Albright, a 21-year-old forward from Philadelphia, earned his National Team invite after leading D.C. United in scoring at the recent MLS Spring Training Tournament. 17-year-old Beasley collected the Silver Ball at the recent FIFA Under-17 World Championships, where the Chicago Fire midfielder turned heads with a spectacular 30-yard goal against Mexico. For Beasley, the call by Bruce Arena was his first invite to a full National Team training camp. Albright became only the fifth player since 1985 to score in his USA debut when he knocked home the game-tying goal against Jamaica on September 8, 1999, his only appearance with the team to date.

Beasley Could Become the Third-Youngest Player in U.S. Men's National Team History: If he appears in Sunday's USA.'s match vs. Tunisia, 17-year-old midfielder DaMarcus Beasley would be the third youngest player to receive a cap for the full Men's National Team. Beasley, who is just over two months away from his 18th birthday, was called into his first ever full camp last week after helping the U.S. Under-23's to a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan-Am Games and leading the U.S. Under-17s to a fourth place finish at the 1999 U- 17 World Youth Championship in New Zealand, where he was awarded the Silver Ball as the tourney's second most valuable player. Beasley also finished third in scoring at MLS Spring Training 2000 for the Chicago Fire.

Mike Slivinski: 16 years, 318 days (vs. Jamaica, Sept. 14, 1991)
Mark Jonas: 16 years, 332 days (vs. Jamaica, Sept. 14, 1991)
DaMarcus Beasley: 17 years, 292 days (??? vs. Tunisia, March 12, 2000)

Arena Hopes for Triumphant Return to Legion Field: Bruce Arena led the 1996 U.S. Olympic team, comprised mostly of under-23 players, to a 2-0 victory over Tunisia on July 22 at Legion Field during the summer Atlanta Olympic Games. The '96 U.S. Olympic team also played Argentina at Legion Field but fell to the South American powerhouse 3-1 in front of 83,183 soccer fans. Among the players on the '96 Olympic team were goalkeeper Kasey Keller (Rayo Vallecano - Spanish First Division), midfielders Claudio Reyna (Glasgow Rangers - Scottish Premiership) and Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen - German Bundesliga), and forward Jovan Kirovski (Borussia Dortmund - German Bundesliga).

Llamosa Replaces Injured Pope on Defense: D.C. United defender Eddie Pope, who was on the initial roster for the Tunisia game, has been replaced by his teammate, Carlos Llamosa. Pope suffered a sprained left knee while training D.C. United in the Cayman Islands, and should be back in action in 2-3 weeks.

Keller Sidelined in Rayo Defeat: U.S.A. and Rayo Vallecano goalkeeper Kasey Keller will be out for three or four weeks with a dislocated collarbone, his Spanish League club said on Tuesday. Keller, a two-time winner of the Chevrolet Athlete of the Year award and the only American playing professionally in Spain, was injured in last Sunday's 1-0 loss to Alaves.

Young Squad Gets Chance to Shine Against Tunisia: 13 of the 18 players selected by Bruce Arena for the Tunisia match have fifteen or fewer appearances for the U.S. National Team. Cobi Jones, with 124 caps, and Tony Meola, with 91, are the only two players on the squad with 40 or more games to their credit. DaMarcus Beasley (0 caps), John O'Brien (1), Chris Albright (1), and Tom Presthus (1) have the fewest appearances for the U.S.A. The average number of caps on the current roster is 21.

McBride Climbs Goal-Scoring Ladder: Brian McBride's 20th-minute goal against Colombia in the Gold Cup was the tenth of his international career, making him only the tenth player in U.S. National Team history to record 10 or more goals. McBride, with 38 caps, has the second fewest number of appearances of any of the top 10 goal scorers, trailing only Willy Roy, who scored 10 goals in 20 games from 1965-73.

Red-Hot Jones Continues Streak: U.S. midfielder Cobi Jones became the first U.S. player since Willy Roy in 1972 to score a goal in three consecutive games when he notched the game-winner against Peru in the 2000 Gold Cup. Jones, who had gone 39 games across three years since his last goal before the three-game streak, has two game-winning goals in five games this year. Including his assist in the USA's first match of the year, and his assist on Brian McBride's goal against Colombia, Jones has points in all five games for the U.S. in 2000.

Eddie Lewis Cracks Top Ten in Record Time: Eddie Lewis picked up his second assist of the year against Peru during the gold Cup, bringing his career total to seven for the U.S. in just 19 career games. That total places Lewis among the top 10 all-time leaders in assists for the U.S. Only one player among the current U.S. top 10 assist leaders has earned fewer than 70 international caps (Roy Wegerle, with 7 assists in 41 career games).

Last Time Out for USA: A goal and an assist from forward Brian McBride were not enough to carry the U.S. Men's National Team past Colombia, as the Americans lost in a penalty kick shootout (2-1) in the CONCACAF Gold Cup 2000 Quarterfinal on February 19 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. After being down twice in the match, Colombia battled back to send the game to extra time, where the score remained locked at 2-2 after two sudden death overtime periods and a total of 120 minutes. Despite two stops by U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel on four attempts, the Americans fell in the penalty kick shootout after converting only one of their own chances in five attempts.

USA Lineup: 1-Brad Friedel; 12-Jeff Agoos, 4-Robin Fraser, 23-Eddie Pope; 7-Eddie Lewis, 14-Chris Armas, 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 13-Cobi Jones (19-Ben Olsen, 77), 9-Jovan Kirovski (21-Richie Williams, 27); 11-Eric Wynalda, 20-Brian McBride (5-C.J. Brown, 81).

USA 2000 Leaders by Category
Minutes PlayedGoalsAssistsPoints
Chris Armas - 480Cobi Jones - 3Cobi Jones - 2Cobi Jones - 8
Eddie Lewis - 470Chris Armas - 2Eddie Lewis - 2Chris Armas - 4
Brad Friedel - 390Four Players with 1Eric Wynalda - 2Eddie Lewis - 4
Claudio Rreyna - 390----Eric Wynalda - 4

Arena Records Tenth Victory with National Team: The U.S. win over Peru in the Gold Cup provided head coach Bruce Arena his tenth full international victory since taking the helm after the 1998 World Cup, making him only the fourth U.S. coach to reach double-digits in wins. Of the three previous coaches to win ten or more (Bob Gansler 14-16-6; Bora Milutinovic 30-34-31; Steve Sampson 26-22-14), Arena did the trick in the fewest games, and has the highest winning percentage (.667).

Regis Makes First 2000 Training Camp Appearance: French-based defender David Regis has joined the National Team as it prepares for the Tunisia match in Birmingham, marking his first appearance in a USA camp this year. Regis, who currently plays for FC Metz in France's top division, has earned seven caps for the United States, and played 90 minutes in his last appearance, a 2-1 loss to Morocco in Marrakech last November. Regis was one of only three players (along with Claudio Reyna and Cobi Jones) to play 90 minutes for the U.S.A. in each of the team's three World Cup '98 matches.

MLS Well-Represented in Birmingham: Major League Soccer stars make up the bulk of the roster for the Tunisia match, with 16 of 18 players coming from clubs in America's top division. Three-time champs D.C. United contributed five players (Chris Albright, Carlos Llamosa, Ben Olsen, Tom Presthus, and Richie Williams), more than any other team. The Los Angeles Galaxy (Robin Fraser, Cobi Jones and Greg Vanney) and the Chicago Fire (DaMarcus Beasley, Chris Armas ans C.J. Brown) each sent three players to Birmingham. Only two players, John O'Brien (Ajax Amsterdam, Holland) and David Regis (FC Metz, France) currently play their professional soccer outside the United States.

USA, Ireland, Mexico and South Africa to Battle for 7th U.S. Cup: Staged annually by the Federation as U.S. Soccer's premier men's event, Nike U.S. Cup 2000, featuring the National Teams of Ireland, Mexico, South Africa and the USA, will kick off on Saturday, June 3, with the U.S. Men's National Team taking on South Africa at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. live on ABC at 4 p.m.ET. The four-team, six-match tournament will also see matches played at Soldier Field in Chicago, Foxboro Stadium in New England and the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, before concluding with a classic doubleheader on Sunday, June 11 at Giants Stadium outside New York City, featuring the U.S. battling arch-rival Mexico live on ABC at 1 p.m. ET and Ireland taking on South Africa at 3:30 p.m. ET. In six past tournaments, the U.S. has a 7-7-3 all-time record in 17 games against Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Denmark, England, Germany, Guatemala, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru and Portugal.

U.S. Men to Battle Russia in First Trip to Moscow on April 26 Live on Pay-per-View: The U.S. Men's National Team will travel to Moscow for the first time in their history to take on Russia on April 26 in an international match that will be available nationwide in the United States on pay-per-view. The game will air in the U.S. live at 11 a.m. ET on April 26 (7 p.m. local kickoff in Moscow) and is available on most cable operator pay-per-view systems, including "iN Demand" and "TVN Cable", for $19.95. The match will also be re-broadcast in prime-time at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT. In addition to blanket coverage on cable operator pay-per-view networks, the match will also be broadcast live on the DISH Network. For more information on the broadcast, contact Doug Jacobs at 201-610-0200. The U.S. and Russia have technically met on three previous occasions, but never in Moscow. The U.S. is 0-1-2 all-time against Russia, but has also played two matches against the Commonwealth of Independent States (going 1-1-0 in 1992) and four against the Soviet Union (going 0-3-1 dating back to 1979).

Foreign-Based Player Update:

FRANKIE HEJDUK - Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
Last Game: March 4 at Kaiserslautern - Win, 3-1 DNP
Next Game: March 11 v. Wolfsburg
Notes: Leverkusen remain in 2nd spot with 47 points, just two points behind Bayern Munich. Hejduk has not appeared since being named "Man of the Match" against Maribor in Champions League play on 11/2/99.

TONY SANNEH - Hertha Berlin (Germany)
Last Game: March 4 v. Unterhaching - Win, 2-1 DNP
Next Game: March 11 at Duisburg, March 15 at Barcelona (Champions League)
Notes: Hertha jump up to fifth spot with 34 points after win over Unterhaching, heading into a difficult stretch where they play Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Porto in a seven-day period.

STEVE CHERUNDOLO - Hannover 96 (Germany)
Last Game: March 5 v. Kickers Offenbach - Draw, 1-1 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 12 v. Cologne
Notes: Made his second consecutive 90-minute appearance against Offenbach on Sunday, and has started three of the last four games after having not appeared since August 28, 1999.

KASEY KELLER - Rayo Vallecano (Spain)
Last Week: March 5 v. Deportivo Alaves - Loss, 0-1 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 12 at Real Betis
Season to Date: 10 Wins, 4 Draws, 13 Losses - 1.37 GAA
Notes: Expected to miss 3-4 weeks after suffering dislocated collarbone in loss to Alaves.

BRAD FRIEDEL - Liverpool (England)
Last Week: March 4 at Manchester United - Draw, 1-1 DNP
Next Game: March 11 v. Sunderland
Season to Date: 2 League Starts (including 1-0 win v. Chelsea), 2 FA Cup starts (1 win, 1 loss)
Notes: Despite making several reserve team starts, Friedel has not appeared for Liverpool since October 23, 1999, when he held Southampton to a 1-1 draw.

JOE-MAX MOORE - Everton (England)
Last Game: March 4 v. Sheffield Wed. - Draw, 1-1 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 11 at Chelsea
Season to Date: 12 appearances (10 League, 2 FA Cup), 5 starts. 6 Goals (4 League, 2 FA Cup)
Notes: Made 5th consecutive start Saturday v. SWFC. Opportunistic play and an injury to Francis Jeffers should guarantee his starting spot for next few games at least.

CLAUDIO REYNA - Rangers (Scotland)
Last Game: March 4 v. St. Johnstone - Draw, 0-0 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 8 at Celtic (re-arranged match from 9/18/99), March 11 v. Hearts
Notes: Made his second consecutive start and played 90 minutes for the first time since 12/27/99 (v. Celtic, 1-1).

JOHN O'BRIEN - Ajax (Holland)
Last Game: March 5 at FC Twente - Draw, 0-0 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 26 v. NEC
Notes: Started and played 90 minutes for only the fifth time in League action this season, and picked up a caution in a disappointing draw for Ajax. Has one goal (10/17/99 v. NEC) in 13 total appearances (10 League, 1 Dutch Cup, 2 UEFA Cup).

GREGG BERHALTER - Cambuur Leeuwarden (Holland)
Last Game: March 4 v. MVV Maastricht - Draw, 2-2 Starter / 90 minutes
Next Game: March 12 at FC Twente
Notes: Started and played 90 minutes in his sixth consecutive match, during which time the team has gone without a victory (0-3-3).

ERNIE STEWART - NAC Breda (Holland)
Last Game: March 5 at Dordrecht - Loss, 1-3 Starter
Next Game: March 11 v. Heracles
Notes: Scored his fourth goal of the season in the 59th minute against Dordrecht on Sunday. Has four goals in 19 League appearances.

DAVID REGIS - FC Metz (France)
Last Game: March 4 at Bordeaux - Loss, 0-1 (French Cup) not active Next Game: March 11 at Le Havre
Notes: Has not appeared in a match since a four-minute substitute stint on 11/27/99 at Troyes, and has made only one start this season (10/30/99 at St. Etienne, 0-2 Loss).