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U.S. Men's National Team Notes - April 26, 2004

ALL IN: The full complement of the U.S. Men's National Team roster against Mexico arrived in Dallas today, Karlsruhe forward Conor Casey filling out the group after flying overnight from Germany following his side's 1-0 loss to Unterhaching on Sunday.  The four players travelling from the MetroStars - Revolution 1-1 draw at Giants Stadium yesterday (Eddie Pope, Jonny Walker, Pat Noonan, Taylor Twellman) checked into the team hotel late last night.  The team will train at 4 p.m. this afternoon, and will conduct its final pre-match training session Tuesday afternoon at the Cotton Bowl.

GIBBS, CALIFF OUT: A pair of U.S. defenders suffered injuries in MLS play this weekend, forcing their replacement on the U.S. roster for the friendly against Mexico this Wednesday at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas (7:30 p.m. CT, Telemundo, FoxSports World, HDNet).  Dallas Burn defender Cory Gibbs was sidelined with a groin injury in the Burn's 1-0 victory against Kansas City on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl, replaced by Chris Gbandi in the 79th minute.  Meanwhile, Los Angeles Galaxy defender Dan Califf suffered a sprained MCL in the Galaxy's 2-0 win against Columbus at the Home Depot Center.  Colorado defenders Pablo Mastroeni and Rich Kotschau were called as reinforcements, both arriving in time for the team's first training session Sunday afternoon in Dallas.

U.S. Manager Bruce Arena previewed the Mexico game on a national teleconference call with reporters this afternoon, discussing roster decisions, the rivalry, and more.  Arena holds a 5-3-1 record against the rivals to the south, but holds the highest card having marshaled the U.S. to a 2-0 win the Round of 16 in the 2002 World Cup.   Click here to read the transcript from today's call.

GUEST MATCHTRACKER:'s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, will introduce a new feature for Wednesday night's log that will enlist the analysis and insight of experts in the game.  Slated to add his commentary and opinion for the debut is San Jose Earthquakes captain and U.S. international defender Jeff Agoos.  Goose, second on the all-time U.S. capwinners list with 134 appearances, is no stranger to the U.S. - Mexico rivalry, having played 11 times against the Tricolores since 1993.  He played in four World Cup qualifiers against Mexico, and captained the side in their 2-0 win on Oct. 25, 2000 in Los Angeles.

TIMMY ON TOP: U.S. international goalkeeper Tim Howard capped a remarkable inaugural season when he was honored as the top goalkeeper in England at an awards banquet held in London on Sunday.  The former MetroStars 'keeper was named to the English Premier League's Team of the Year as voted on by the Professional Footballer's Association.  ""I'm extremely humbled to receive this recognition, having seen week in and week out the depth and talent that this league possesses," Howard told  "I'm honored to have won such and amazing award.  The most important thing right now is to win an FA Cup medal.  If we can do that, it will all be worth it."  The Manchester United goalkeeper is only the second American ever to be named to the team, and becomes the second American goalkeeper in a row to receive the award.  Blackburn Rovers goalkeeper Brad Friedel became the first American ever to be named to the EPL Team of the Year in 2003.

GOALKEEPER'S CHALLENGE: Both 'keepers on the U.S. roster, the Los Angeles Galaxy's Kevin Hartman and MetroStars Jonny Walker, have yet to face Mexico in their international careers, and can add themselves to a unique fraternity in the USA's goalkeeping corps.  Three U.S. netminders - Arnold Mausser, Kasey Keller, and Tim Howard, posted shutouts in the first-ever meeting against the Tricolores.  All told, the USA has collected 12 lifetime shutouts, including five of the last six contests.

THE NEXT GENERATION: More than anyone, it might be the neophytes to the USA - Mexico rivalry that will have the biggest impact on Wednesday's game.  Of the 18 players on the current roster, six have the chance to get their first taste of the Superclasico at the senior level, while others who have been waiting a long time to get another chance.  Here's a sample of what they had to say on the most competitive matchup in the region:

"Intensity.  Getting in on tackles.  The last couple games I've seen, including the World Cup, weren't the friendliest.  It helps you get going for the game because of the rivalry.  You don't want to lose."
--Pat Noonan, (no games against Mexico), on what he has seen from the matchups

"It filtered down to the youth national teams as well.  For us in New England, it's similar to the Yankees v. Red Sox rivalry.  It's like playing your older brother in your back yard.  No matter when you're playing, you don't want to lose."
--Taylor Twellman (no games at the senior level against Mexico), on the rivalry
"My experience has always been that we were a step down.  Having experienced it at the youth national teams level, and watched the results, it definitely adds a little bit of spice and pride to it.  No matter if you've been a part of it or not, U.S.-Mexico is U.S.-Mexico."

"It was an experience that I hadn't been in and haven't been in since.  The crowd was the loudest I've ever heard.  The most important thing about it is that we beat Mexico.  It will always be a vivid memory in mind."
--Richard Mulrooney, describing his only appearance against Mexico, a 1-0 win on April 3, 2002 in Denver

"What I expected was for the game to be at the highest level; it met that and more.  You have to go through it to know what it's all about."
--Mulrooney on the Denver match

"It seems like it escalates every year.  They used to beat us all the time, then we caught up.  Now that we've beaten them in the World Cup, they want to change the momentum.  We've worked hard to get where we are, and we don't want to give it up.  We want to prove that we're better than them at all levels."
--Mulrooney, on the rivalry

"You don't get many chances in your whole career to play in games like this.  It definitely ups the stakes.  There' s just bad blood.  It doesn't matter what level."
--Chris Albright, who played his first and only game against Mexico in the 2-0 victory on Oct. 25, 2000 in Los Angeles

"I remember going out to check the field by myself, and was whistled at by 60,000 Mexicans just because I was wearing my USA gear. The fact we won 2-0 was all the more sweet."
--Albright, describing his first experience

I imagine it will be very similar to the atmosphere playing away in some of big games I've been involved in in South America.  There's no love.  It's a little bit more than a friendly."
--Jonny Walker, who has never played against Mexico, on what he expects the atmosphere to be like

"I knew it was a big game.  Right after the MetroStars game Sunday, I started preparing myself for the potential to play against Mexico.  This is the big game.  There's no other way to put it."
--Walker (no games against Mexico), on the possibility of playing

"The game itself was faster than I expected, and it was a bit overwhelming.  The fact that they had 78,000 people at the game made me realize quickly that I was in a different environment.  You really don't know what it's like until you do it."
--Kerry Zavagnin, who earned his first cap for the national team in the 2-0 win against Mexico on Oct. 25, 2000