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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Opens 2002 World Cup with Historic Win over Portugal, Tough Draw with Korea


MATHIS SCORES IN WC DEBUT; FRIEDEL SAVES CRUCIAL PENALTY KICK FOR 1-1 DECISION: Just five days after posting one of the biggest upsets in U.S. Soccer history by shocking Portugal in a 3-2 win, the U.S. Men’s National Team battled valiantly to a 1-1 draw with co-host Korea Republic today in Daegu, Korea. Playing in stifling heat and humidity and in front of a noisy crowd of over 60,000, the U.S. was under attack from the outset, but the stellar play of goalkeeper and Chevy Man of the Match Brad Friedel and an early strike from forward Clint Mathis in the 24th minute help the Americans earn a valuable point in an extremely difficult atmosphere. Friedel saved a crucial penalty kick in the 40th minute after a dubious call on Jeff Agoos in the box to preserve the 1-0 lead, but Korea’s relentless offense in the second half finally produced a goal in the 78th minute of the head of second-half substitute Jung Hwan Ahn. With the draw, the U.S. now sits in second place with four points. Korea, who also holds a 1-0-1 record, leads the group based on a superior goal differential (+2, compared the +1 for the USA). The U.S. now only needs a draw against Poland on Friday (live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET) to assure itself a spot in the second round with a total of five points. In other Group D action today, Portugal took out their frustrations on an overmatched Poland side, winning 4-0 in Jeonju this morning.

U.S. SCORES THREE FIRST-HALF GOALS, HOLDS OFF PORTUGAL 3-2 IN SUWON: The U.S. Men’s National Team opened the 2002 World Cup by posting perhaps the tournament's biggest upset so far, scoring three first-half goals and holding on for a 3-2 win over popular pre-tournament favorite Portugal in Suwon, Korea, today. U.S. forward Brian McBride earned Chevy Man of the Match honors after providing the assist on the first goal and scoring the game winner, making him the only U.S. player to score a goal in two different World Cups (McBride had the USA's only goal at France '98 in a 2-1 loss to Iran on June 21). The U.S. got the quickest goal in its World Cup history when John O’Brien slotted home the rebound of a McBride header in the 4th minute. After benefiting from a fluke own goal off a Landon Donovan cross in the 39th minute, defender Tony Sanneh provided McBride with a perfect cross for him to head home to make it 3-0. Portugal would mount a comeback and score on a Beto goal in the 39th minute and a Jeff Agoos own goal in the 71st minute. “We beat a great team today,” said Bruce Arena, who helped the U.S. improve their all-time World Cup record to 5-12-1 and became just the fourth U.S. coach to record a win in the World Cup.  “We came into this game believing we could win this game, and our guys played a great 30-40 minutes in the first half that really won the game for us.”

U.S.-PORTUGAL GAME SETS SOCCER RATINGS RECORD FOR ESPN2:  Despite the 5 a.m. ET kickoff, the USA’s 3-2 win over Portugal set a record for the largest audience to watch a soccer game on ESPN2.  The U.S. win got a 1.19 rating and was watched in an average of 998,000 households, according to Nielsen Media Research.

CONCACAF STILL UNDEFEATED AFTER SIX GAMES: With the U.S. draw, CONCACAF remains undefeated in 2002 World Cup play with a 4-0-2 record and has established itself as the most successful of the FIFA confederations so far in Korea/Japan. After all three representatives opened with wins in their respective opening matches (Mexico 1, Croatia 0; Costa Rica 2, China 0; USA 3, Portugal 2), Mexico earned a 2-1 comeback victory over Ecuador on Sunday to lead Group G with six points and Costa Rica earned a 1-1 draw with Turkey to give them four points in Group C. Both teams may still need a draw in their final match to advance to the second round, with the Tricolores meeting Italy and the Ticos facing group leader Brazil on Thursday.
Confederation (WC Teams): Record
CONCACAF (3): 4-0-2
UEFA (15): 10-10-10
CAF (5): 3-3-4
AFC (4): 2-4-2
CONMEBOL (5): 3-5-2

A LOOK AT THE BIGGEST U.S. WINS IN WORLD CUP HISTORY: The 3-2 win against Portugal certainly qualifies as one of the USA’s biggest wins in World Cup history, along with the shocking 1-0 win over England in 1950 and the 2-1 win over pre-tournament favorite Colombia in 1994.  In the 1994 win against Colombia, ironically, the U.S. benefited from a Colombian defender inadvertently knocking a U.S. cross into the goal – similar to Jorge Costa’s own goal on June 5 in Suwon.  In 1950, the U.S. knocked off European power England 1-0 in what many still refer to as the greatest upset in World Cup history.

CONGRESSMAN WALSH MENTIONS MNT ON HOUSE FLOOR: Representative James Walsh (Rep. – NY) made a brief one-minute remark on the House Floor last week regarding the USA’s win over Portugal.  Walsh and others watched the game at the Republican Club, which opened just for him and his staff.  The following statement was read:  “Early this morning while most Americans were sound asleep, about a billion people from all over the globe, myself included, watched a group of talented young American athletes do something truly remarkable.  Against all odds the U.S. Men's Soccer team defeated Portugal in their first game of the 2002 World Cup.  The Portuguese were one of the favorites to win the World Cup outright but our team prevailed 3-2.  And it was no fluke!  We took them apart in the first half with slashing attacks and wore them down with tough defense in the second half.  It was a balanced effort with everyone contributing under Coach Arena's guidance. The win gave the U.S. the opportunity to move into the quarter finals (sic) but they have more work to do.  They play the host team Korea and then Poland with the two best teams from the group moving on. These young men have already exceeded expectations.  They are off to the best start of any American team in history.  Please tune in.  Set the alarm clocks for an early rise, brew some strong coffee and enjoy a great spectacle.  They deserve our support!”

STEWART, JONES APPROACH U.S. WORLD CUP APPEARANCE RECORD: After playing one half in the USA’s 3-2 win over Portugal, Earnie Stewart and Cobi Jones are each one World Cup appearance away from tying the U.S. Soccer record of nine appearances, held by retired midfielder Tab Ramos. Ramos, who ended his international career last year with 81 caps, played nine World Cup matches for the U.S. across Italy ’90, USA ’94 and France ’98.  Both Stewart and Jones played in USA ’94 and France ’98, before appearing on June 5.  The two tied Eric Wynalda, whose eight World Cup appearances rank second all-time.  Cobi Jones is the all-time U.S. leader in caps with 156, and Earnie Stewart is the all-time U.S. leader with 27 World Cup qualifying appearances.

JOE-MAX MOORE NEARING 100-CAP MARK: With his second-half appearance against Portugal, Joe-Max Moore earned his 99th career cap with the U.S.  With his next appearance, Moore will become just the sixth U.S. player to earn 100 caps.  Already in that exclusive century club are: Cobi Jones, Marcelo Balboa, Jeff Agoos, Paul Caligiuri and Eric Wynalda. U.S. goalkeeper Tony Meola will become the first goalkeeper to join the 100 cap club when he makes his next appearance with the U.S.

— U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —

CONCACAF QUALIFYING FOR THE 2003 WWC TO TAKE PLACE FROM OCT. 27-NOV. 9: The 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Tournament, which will serve as this region’s qualifying competition for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, will be held from Oct. 27-Nov. 9, 2002, at four venues on the west coast of the United States, with the championship match to be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 9. The eight-team tournament, which features two groups of four teams, will take place at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, Canada and at Safeco Field in Seattle, Wash., as well as at the world-famous Rose Bowl, site of the 1984 Olympic Final, the 1994 World Cup Final and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final.  All of the group matches will be played as doubleheaders. The USA will open the tournament on Sunday, Oct. 27, against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, then play its second first-round match on Tuesday, Oct. 29, against a Caribbean nation at Titan Stadium before traveling to Seattle for the final game of group play on Saturday, Nov. 2, against a Central American team.  Should the Americans qualify for the semifinals, they will stay in Seattle, as both semifinals will be played as a doubleheader at Safeco Field on Wednesday, Nov. 6.  The matches in Canada’s group in Victoria, B.C. will be played on Oct. 30, Nov. 1 and Nov. 3. Those wanting to purchase tickets for the matches played in Southern California should go to their nearest Ticketmaster location, call 213-480-3232 in Los Angeles County or 714-740-2000 in Orange County. Ticket prices for matches at the Rose Bowl on October 27 range from $15-$40, while tickets for Titan Stadium in Fullerton on October 29 vary between $20 and $40. Tickets for the Women's Gold Cup 2002 Final at the Rose Bowl are between $20-$50. Prices in Seattle range from $18-$50 per day, with discounted two-day packages available for purchase from Ticketmaster. In the greater Vancouver, British Columbia area, tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at 604-280-4444 or by visiting select Blue Line Sports stores and Information Centers in major shopping malls.

U.S. WOMEN TO FACE NORWAY ON JULY 21 IN BLAINE, MINNESOTA LIVE ON ESPN: The U.S. Women's National Team will face long-time rival Norway on July 21 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., in a match to be televised live on ESPN at 12 p.m. CT (1 p.m. ET).  Tickets are currently at all TicketMaster outlets, charging by phone at 651-989-5151 or for more information see ussoccer.com.  For group tickets of 10 or more people, fans can call the Minnesota Thunder at 763-785-3668. The USA played in Blaine last summer, defeating Canada 1-0 in front the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game at the National Sports Center when 15,614 fans showed up to cheer on the U.S. women.  The NSC holds 10,000 fans but additional seats can be added to accommodate an overflow. The U.S. women will be looking to break a frustrating four-game losing streak to the Norwegians, a streak which has seen the USA play equal to or better than Norway over the four matches, dating back to the 2000 Olympic gold medal game in Sydney, Australia, a crushing 3-2 sudden death overtime loss. Norway remains the only team in the world with an all-time winning record against the U.S. women, who are 13-18-2 vs. the Scandinavians.

—  2002 LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP UPDATE —

D3'S GREENVILLE, SOUTH JERSEY ADVANCE TO SECOND ROUND OF 2002 U.S. OPEN CUP: The 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off yesterday with two First Round matches as two D3 Pro League teams (Greenville Lions & South Jersey Barons) posted victories over two U.S. Amateur Soccer Association clubs (Real Madrid of Austin, Texas & Vereinigung Erzgebirge of Warminster, Pa.) for a spot in the Second Round slated for June 26. South Jersey opened the single-elimination tournament with a 4-0 blanking of the host Vereinigung Erzgerbirge, while three tallies by forward Jerome Lee Yaw led Greenville to a 3-1 win over visiting Real Madrid.  South Jersey will now host the A-League's Hampton Road Mariners in a Second Round match-up on June 26, while Greenville will continue its homestand with a visit from the Charleston Battery (A-League).

MILWAUKEE EARNS FINAL A-LEAGUE SPOT IN OPEN CUP: The Milwaukee Rampage defeated the visiting Cincinnati Riverhawks 3-1 on Sunday (June 9), as the squad came from behind in the two-game qualification series to earn a 5-4 aggregate score and the final A-League berth in the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Riverhawks came into the match with a 3-2 edge on the overall aggregate score, after posting a home win in the first match over the Rampage on May 4.  After tallies by Jason Russell, John Wolyniec and Igor Soso gave Milwaukee a commanding 3-0 lead, Cincinnati attempted to grab the berth in the prestigious tournament with a late rally, as Ryan Lucas scored to make it 3-1 in the 90th minute, but Milwaukee held on for the win.  The Rampage will now host the winner of this Wednesday's (June 12) First Round match-up between the New York Freedoms (D3) against the AAC Eagles of Chicago (USASA) on June 26 in the Second Round.

OPEN CUP FIRST ROUND CONCLUDES THIS WEEK: The U.S. Open Cup First Round concludes this week with back-to-back three-game days set for Tuesday and Wednesday.  The opening round continues on Tuesday (June 11) with three match-ups, as the Carolina Dynamo (D3) squares off against the host Raleigh CASL Elite (PDL) at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C., while the D3 Pro’s New Jersey Stallions hit the road to play the PDL’s Des Moines Menace at Cara McGrane Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa.  In an intra-state battle between California clubs, Mexico S.C. of Selma (USASA Region IV) takes on the San Diego Gauchos (D3) at Stan Canaris Stadium (Eastlake H.S.) in Chula Vista.  The First Round concludes on Wednesday night (June 12) with three more encounters.  In an all-PDL contest, the Memphis Express faces the Texas Spurs at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) in suburban Richardson, while the AAC Eagles from Chicago (USASA Region II) battle the D3 Pro club New York Freedoms at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.  The Utah Blitzz (D3) takes on the Chico Rooks (PDL) in Chico, Calif., to finish the tournament’s first stage.

EIGHT MLS TEAMS WILL KNOW THEIR OPEN CUP FIXTURES THIS THURSDAY:  After the conclusion of the 2002 Open Cup First Round (June 9-12), the eight qualified Major League Soccer (MLS) teams will be placed into the Third Round brackets geographically on Thursday (June 13) and will meet the Second Round survivors on July 17.  Six MLS squads (Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Dallas Burn, Los Angeles Galaxy, NY/NJ MetroStars, San Jose Earthquakes) were pre-qualified to this year's Open Cup based on their 2001 regular season finish in the MLS standings.  The final two spots were taken by the Colorado Rapids and Kansas City Wizards as they finished ahead of the remaining MLS squads on points from the 2002 regular season results.

— AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD —

UNIVISION RATINGS IMPRESSIVE AS FIRST ROUND CONTINUES:  While ESPN2 has seen record soccer ratings on its telecasts, Spanish language station Univision has also seen an incredible spike in its numbers.  For its first 17 broadcasts (May 31-June 5), Univision averaged 627,000 households per match. Univision's highest ratings were for Mexico-Croatia (1.43 million) and Argentina-Nigeria (1.21 million).

DONOVAN NAMED ONE OF THREE FINALISTS FOR MALE ESPY AWARD: U.S. Men’s National Team forward Landon Donovan has been nominated for the ESPY Best Male Soccer Player Award after a 2001 in which he helped the U.S. qualify for their fourth straight World Cup and led the San Jose Earthquakes to the MLS Cup.  Donovan played in eight matches for the U.S., including four qualifiers.  Donovan tore up MLS in his first season, earning MVP honors at the MLS All-Star Game and leading the league in scoring during the playoffs.

MTV TO AIR UNICEF PSAs STARRING MCBRIDE, JONES, DONOVAN: U.S. players Brian McBride, Cobi Jones and Landon Donovan each filmed a brief Public Service Announcement (PSA) for UNICEF during the “Nike Road to Korea.” The three U.S. players spoke on camera about the importance of HIV/AIDS and the charitable work being done worldwide by UNICEF.  MTV has agreed to air the PSAs across five days in June (June 10, 14, 19, 29/30).  The players will be part of a global PSA campaign that includes other soccer stars (including Maldini, Totti, Raul, Figo, Silvestre and Veron) who speak on behalf of UNICEF.

U.S. SOCCER BECOMES MOST REQUESTED SEARCH ITEM AFTER PORTUGAL UPSET: After their stunning opening round victory over heavily-favoured Portugal, the U.S. Men’s National Team (or U.S. Soccer) became the most requested sports search item on Yahoo! registering an  impressive 224% increase from the previous day. Landon Donovan, the team's 20-year-old forward, was the second most requested sports search item and registered a 194% increase over the previous day. Yahoo! is the supplier of FIFA's official World Cup website.

BRIAN HALL TO REFEREE CRUCIAL NIGERIA-ENGLAND MATCH ON WEDNESDAY: U.S. Soccer Referee Brian Hall earned quality reviews for his work in the middle of the Italy-Ecuador match on June 3, and has been named by FIFA as the referee for the Nigeria-England match on Wednesday (June) 12 in Osaka, Japan.  Hall served as the fourth official for the highly anticipated England-Argentina match on June 7, which England won 1-0. The match against Nigeria is crucial to England, who are in position to qualify for the second round with a draw or a win against the African team. Working with Hall in Osaka will be assistant referees Hector Vergara (Canada) and Evzen Amler (Czech Republic) and fourth official Toru Kamikawa (Japan).  Vergara served as an assistant in the Italy - Ecaudor match that Hall worked earlier in this tournament. Each of the 36 referees in the World Cup were assigned one match as a referee and one as a fourth official.  The referees are evaluated after each game, and then FIFA assigns more matches to select referees.  Hall is one of the first four referees to be assigned to a second game this tournament. Hall, who is the first U.S.-born official ever selected to referee the world’s greatest sporting event, has been a Major League Soccer referee since the league’s inception in 1996.  As a FIFA Referee, he has traveled to 27 different countries to ply his trade.

SEITZ TO OFFICIATE AT FIFA U-19 WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT IN CANADA: U.S. Soccer referee Keri Seitz has been selected to officiate at the FIFA Under-19 Women's World Championship in Canada from August 17 – September 1, 2002. Seitz is coming off officiating three matches during the U-19 qualifying tournament held in Trinidad & Tobago from May 5-12.  The 31-year-old California native has been a FIFA official since 1999. Last year, Seitz worked the 2002 Nordic Cup for U-20 women's team in Norway.

NATIONAL SOCCER HALL TO HOST "BREAKFAST AT THE WORLD CUP" ON FRIDAY: The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., will be hosting a special event this Friday (June 14) entitled “Breakfast at the World Cup”, in
which fans are invited to watch the USA against Poland at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Admission is only $10, and includes breakfast (bagels, quiche, fresh fruit, coffee, juice and muffins, etc.), admission to the museum, and a chance to watch the match on the Hall’s enormous video wall. For more information, call 607-432-3351 or visit their website at www.soccerhall.org. Also, the NSHoF has announced its Induction Weekend 2002, which is set to take place on Columbus Day weekend from Oct. 12-14.

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMER: Perhaps no U.S. player has more to do with the U.S. standing in second place in Group D with a 1-0-1 record more than goalkeeper Brad Friedel. Starting in his first big World Cup match in the opener against Portugal, his work coming off the line was key in limiting their dangerous attack. Against Korea, he often single-handedly (literally) stopped their relentless attack, making big saves on three sure goals, including a brilliant diving save on the penalty kick, to help the U.S. escape with a point in its second match. While Kasey Keller has made his name on performances of this magnitude, Friedel has proven in the first two matches that he can perform just as well when it counts.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Well, it’s come down to game three. But who would’ve thought the U.S. would already have accumulated three points and would have the chance to control its destiny by only needing a draw in its final opening round match against Poland on Friday (live on ESPN at 7:25 a.m. ET). With the U.S. under pressure to earn the point, it will be interesting what kind of opposition Poland provides, having been blown out in its first two matches – a 2-0 loss to Korea last week and a 4-0 loss to Portugal today – and already been mathematically eliminated.

SOCCER SHOCKER:  With the opening round winding down, some of the top teams in the world are faced with must-win situations against their respective group leaders in their third matches, including defending champion France and European powers like Argentina, Italy and Portugal. After being upset by Senegal 1-0 in the tournament opener, France was held scoreless in a draw with Uruguay and now must knock off Denmark. Italy was a surprise loser in a controversial match against Turkey and now must face Mexico in its third match. Argentina fell 1-0 to England in the highly-anticipated rematch of ’98 and now meets Sweden for a spot in the second round from the Group of Death. And after the 3-2 upset loss to the USA, Portugal has to get a result against Korea in order to survive to the Round of 16. On the other hand, Brazil, Spain and Mexico are cruising right along, having won their first two matches and sitting comfortably in first place.

QUOTABLE: 
“Most people, a month ago, would not have believed the United States would get four points in our first two matches.  One hundred percent of the people would have said no.”
- U.S. MNT Head Coach Bruce Arena, on the expectations for the U.S. team coming into the tournament.


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