CHICAGO (Wednesday, March 17, 2004) — The U.S. Men’s National Team will face fellow 2002 World Cup finalist Poland on Sunday, July 11 at the newly renovated Soldier Field in Chicago in the team's first match in the Windy City in more than 11 years. Kickoff for the match, which will be broadcast live on ESPN2, is set for 6 p.m. CT. Fans can also follow the game live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Ticket information for the match, which is part of a unique doubleheader that also features the Chicago Fire hosting the New England Revolution at 8:30 p.m. CT, will be announced at a later date.
The U.S. and Poland will be meeting for the second time in 2004, with the Eastern European nation hosting their initial clash on March 31 in the city of Plock. That game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 1:30 p.m. ET.
“We are looking forward to our return to Chicago, one of the great soccer cities in America,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. “With the large Polish-American population in the area, we expect another fantastic atmosphere as we are hopefully preparing for the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying.”
In their history, the U.S. has played Poland more times than any other European opponent (12, dating all the way back to 1924). Poland leads the all-time series with a 7-4-1 record, including a 3-1 victory in the final Group D match in the 2002 World Cup. The USA took the spoils in the last meeting on U.S. soil, a 3-1 victory on May 9, 1990 in Hershey, Pa.
After failing to qualify for the final round of Euro 2004 by coming in third in their qualifying group behind Sweden and Latvia, Poland has bounced back of late with six straight victories. Poland began their winning streak on Nov. 12, 2003, with a 3-1 victory over Italy, their first in 18 years against the soccer powerhouse.
The U.S. is making its first appearance in the Windy City since June 13, 1993, a 4-3 loss to Germany. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-2-1 record in Chicago, including a 1-0 loss to the Poles in 1973.
The rare Soldier Field match presents an opportunity for Chicago Fire stars like forward Ante Razov and midfielders Chris Armas and DaMarcus Beasley to play for the U.S. in front of their hometown fans. Chicago area soccer fans were honored by U.S. Soccer in 2003 as the Best Soccer Fans in the country in ussoccer.com's annual Best of Series voting. The match could also be a homecoming for former Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra, who has earned a starting role in England with Fulham and has appeared in all three games for the U.S. in 2004.
After meeting Poland on March 31 and Mexico in Dallas on April 28, the U.S. also has a game set for June 2 at a site and against an opponent yet to be finalized. The U.S. begins CONCACAF World Cup qualifying with a two-game, home-and-away series against Grenada on June 13 in the United States (venue TBD) and June 20 in Grenada.
Should the U.S. advance through their preliminary qualifying round, the six-game, four-team semifinal round competition will begin on the road on August 18.2004 U.S. MNT Schedule