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U.S. Ready for Final Group A Game of Olympic Qualifying Against Honduras


U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team
Olympic Qualifying Notes
Tampa, Fla.
March 14, 2008

FINAL GROUP MATCHES ON TAP: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will be playing for first place in Group A and a spot in the all-important semifinals when they take on Honduras this Saturday, March 15 in Tampa. The USA’s final first-round match will kick off at 7 p.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium, and fans can follow live on Fox Soccer Channel, ESPN Deportes and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

THREE WAYS IN: The U.S. could advance to the semifinals in Nashville and be one game away from qualifying for the 2008 Beijing Olympics with a win, loss or draw against Honduras. With a win, the U.S. would finish atop Group A and guarantee a spot in the semifinals, where they would face the second place team in Group B. With a draw, the U.S. would also book a spot in the semifinals, but would finish in second place in Group A and have to take on the top team in Group B. If Panama defeats or ties Cuba in the opening match of the doubleheader on Saturday night in Tampa, the U.S. would also be assured of a second place in Group A and Peter Nowak's team would move on to the semifinals even if they were to lose to Honduras.

HONDURAS ALREADY IN: Honduras stayed atop Group A after picking up their second win in as many games on Thursday night, and with six points, Los Catrachos became the first team to book a spot in the semifinal round. With their first victory in group play, the U.S. moved into sole possession of second place, while Cuba moved to third place and Panama stayed in last place.

2008 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying
RESULTS / STANDINGS
Team    GP    W    L    T    GF    GA    GD    Pts.
HON      2       2     0    0     3        0     +3     6
USA       2       1     0    1     2        1      +1    4
CUB      2       0      1    1     1       2      -2      1
PAN       2       0     2     0     0      2       -2     0

Tuesday, March 11
Panama 0, Honduras 1
USA 1, Cuba 1

Thursday, March 13
Honduras 2, Cuba 0
USA 1, Panama 0

Saturday, March 15
Cuba vs. Panama (4:30 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Honduras (7 p.m. ET)

GROUP B CONTINUES TONIGHT: With three points from a 1-0 win against Haiti on Tuesday evening, Guatemala sits atop Group B at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Mexico and Canada, who drew, 1-1, on Tuesday night are tied for second with one point each, while Haiti is in fourth place. Group B play continues tonight with Canada taking on Haiti in the first game of the doubleheader at 5:30 PT, and Mexico pitted up against Guatemala at 8 p.m. PT. Both games can be seen live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN360.com.

Wednesday, March 12
Guatemala 1, Haiti 0
Mexico 1, Canada 1

Friday, March 14
Canada vs. Haiti (5:30 p.m. PT)
Mexico vs. Guatemala (8 p.m. PT)

Sunday, March 16
Guatemala vs. Canada (3:30 p.m. PT)
Mexico vs. Haiti (6 p.m. PT)

CATCH THE GAMES LIVE ON FSC AND ESPN DEPORTES: Live coverage of the USA’s path towards an Olympic berth continues on Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN Deportes as the English-language and Spanish-language exclusive rights holders, respectively. FSC will broadcast four upcoming games live, including the remaining USA group game against Honduras, both semifinal matches and the final and third-place games. ESPN Deportes will broadcast all 16 matches of the tournament, including tonight’s Group B matches. Along with ESPN Deportes, ESPN360.com will also show the full schedule of games live online, and the online provider will have a replay of each game available on demand for 48-hours following its completion.

Group A (Tampa, Florida; Raymond James Stadium)
Date            Matchup                          Kickoff                Television                              
March 15    Cuba vs. Panama         4:30 p.m. ET       ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com
March 15    USA vs. Honduras         7 p.m. ET            FSC/ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com

Group B (Carson, California; The Home Depot Center)
Date            Matchup                           Kickoff                 Television                                    
March 14    Canada vs. Haiti              5:30 p.m. PT        ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
March 14    Mexico vs. Guatemala    8 p.m. PT             ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
March 16    Guatemala vs. Canada  3:30 p.m. PT       ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
March 16    Mexico vs. Haiti                 6 p.m. PT            ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com

Final Stage (Nashville, Tennessee; LP Field)
Date             Matchup                            Kickoff                Television                                     
March 20     Semifinal 1 *                     5 p.m. CT            FSC/ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com
March 20     Semifinal 2 *                     8 p.m. CT            FSC/ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com
March 23     Third-Place Match           1 p.m. CT             FSC/ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com
March 23     Final                                   4 p.m. CT            FSC/ESPN Deportest/ESPN360.com
* Winner advances to 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing

A FULL ROSTER: Peter Nowak has taken full advantage of a his 20-player roster, with 18 players earning time during the first two games. Back-up goalkeeper Dominic Cervi and defender Jonathan Spector (who won’t travel to the U.S. unless the team advances to the semifinals) are the only two players who have yet to play. With five changes from the first game to the second, a total of 16 players have started for the U.S.

U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Dominic Cervi (not under contract), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)

DOUBLE TAKE: The U.S. met Honduras twice four years ago in the 2004 qualifying tournament, with the USA winning an offensive battle, 4-3, in the group phase, and falling in penalty kicks in the third-place game. Alecko Eskandarian scored a hat trick and Kyle Beckerman rounded out the scoring in the first game. Eskandarian also tallied the lone U.S. goal in the third-place game. The two games in 2004 were the fifth and sixth time the two countries have met in this age group, with the U.S. holding a 4-1-1 advantage.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Honduras, who picked up wins over Panama (1-0) and Cuba (2-0) in its first two Group A games, advanced to the final round of Olympic qualifying through a Central American triangular. They beat El Salvador, 3-0, in its first match and tied Panama, 1-1, claiming the top spot in the group based on goal differential.

HONDURAS ROSTER: Honduras brings a 20-player roster of three goalkeepers, six defenders, eight midfielders and three forwards.

Honduras Under-23 Men’s National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Kevin Hernandez (CD Victoria), Obed Enamorado (CD Vida), Levon Smitt (Arsenal)
DEFENDERS (6): Quiarol Arzu (CD Platense), David Alejandro Molina (CD Motagua), Erick Norales (CD Marathon), Rigoberto Padilla (Hispano), Vicente Hipolito Solorzano (Deportiva Savio), Misael Ruiz (CD Platense),
MIDFIELDERS (8): Irvin Reyna (CD Olimpia), Ramon Nunez (CD Olimpia), Mario Martinez (Real CD Espana), Marvin Sanchez (CD Platense), Daniel Alvarez (CD Marathon), Hendry Thomas (CD Olimpia), Oscar Morales (Real CD Espana), Georgie Wilson Welcome (no club)
FORWARDS (3): Luis Alfredo Lopez (CD Marathon), Jefferson Bernardez (CD Motagua), Jose Cesar Guity (CD Marathon),

AHEAD OF HONDURAS: The U.S. players and coaches met with the media about Thursday night’s game against Panama, their upcoming match against Honduras and the possibility of advancing. For a full pre-game quote sheet, click here.

TICKETS STILL ON SALE: Tickets are still available for the remaining 14 matches of 2008 Olympic Qualifying. Tickets priced from $18 to $65 for each of the eight doubleheaders in the tournament ($25 to $70 on day of game) are now on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 813-287-8844 (Tampa), 213-480-3232 (Los Angeles) or 615-255-9600 (Nashville) and at local Ticketmaster ticket centers in the venue cities (Tampa | Los Angeles | Nashville).

INSIDE STUFF: Despite the attention being focused on this qualifying tournament, no source can provide an inside look at the team in the way like the YNT Blog. Check out the information you can’t get anywhere else, including behind-the-scenes videos, laughs and inside scoop at http://ynt-ussoccer.blogspot.com/

QUICK HITS:
-Adu, Charlie Davies, Kamani Hill, Sturgis and Marvell Wynne each carry a yellow card into Saturday’s match. Should they pick up another card, they will have to serve a one-game suspension if the U.S. advances to the semifinal.
-Eddie Gaven, who appeared in the USA’s first two Group A matches, is the only player on the roster who was part of 2004 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in Mexico. He was the youngest player to ever play in the event.
-Adu’s two goals in the tournament have come in his first two games with the U-23 MNT.
-The USA’s starting lineup in its first two games included three players from Florida – Boca Raton’s Jozy Altidore, St. Augustine’s Nathan Sturgis, and Winter Park’s Dax McCarty – who are all playing close to home.
-Six U.S. starters in Thursday night’s contest –Adu, Altidore, Gaven, Sacha Kljestan, Michael Orozco and Wynne - have earned caps with the Men’s National Team. Overall, 11 players on the USA roster have played minutes for the full team, with Charlie Davies, Robbie Findley, Kamani Hill, Jonathan Spector and Sal Zizzo rounding out the contingent.

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