HOMETOWN HERO ARRIVES LATE, BUT TO GRAND WELCOME: Lacey, Wash. native Kasey Keller was one of the last players to arrive in camp on Monday after a long day of travel from England, and his absence at Monday's afternoon training session was noticed, as all of the four major TV stations were out in force to spy the local soccer hero. Denied on Monday, the patient Seattle media would have to wait until Tuesday morning's session, at which point Keller fielded an extended barrage of questions about returning home to Seattle, what it's like to be playing in Europe, and the ever popular "Did you ever think you'd go from growing up on an egg farm in rural Washington to being one of the top goalkeepers in the world?" Keller, who insists his address had always read Olympia, Wash. (about an hour south of Seattle, and a hop, skip and a jump from Lacey), disclosed that a street in Olympia -- Kasey Keller Drive -- will be named after him sometime this year. The 32-year-old standout, who plays for Tottenham Hotspurs in the English Premiership, will undoubtedly be the man of the hour for the rest of the week as Seattle gets ready for its first international soccer action since a 1-1 tie with Russia at the Kingdome prior to the 1994 World Cup.
JONES TO ARRIVE TODAY TO COMPLETE CAMP ROSTER: Los Angeles Galaxy and two-time World Cup veteran midfielder Cobi Jones will complete the 20-man roster when he arrives Wednesday morning, just in time for an afternoon scrimmage with the A-League's Seattle Sounders at the University of Washington.
AHHHHH...."TWO-A-DAYS"....: It wouldn't be an off-season National Team camp without one day that included both a morning and an afternoon training session. That day came yesterday, as the morning practice featured a 10-on-10 scrimmage (with MNT Assistant Coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick filling on for Mr. Jones) on the field turf adjacent to the University of Washington's Husky Stadium. In the afternoon, the players took out their frustrations out on goalkeepers Keller and Tim Howard during a 60-minute session that existed almost entirely of crossing drills and finishing from 20-25 yards out. At one point, MNT Assistant Coach Dave Sarachan had to be replaced by forward Brian McBride after a series of "intentionally" sloppy final passes to the onrushing shooters.
TICKET SALES HIT 30,000 MARK WITH FOUR DAYS TO GO: Ticket sales for Saturday's U.S. Men's National Team match versus Honduras at SAFECO Field just recently eclipsed the 30,000-mark with four days to go before the debut of international soccer in the start-of-the-art, convertable baseball/football/soccer venue. Home to Major League Baseball's Seattle Mariners, the 47,000-seat Safeco Field recently hosted football's Seattle Bowl. Tickets for the USA-Honduras friendly can still be purchased by calling TicketMaster at 206-628-0888.
HONDURAS ON HOT STREAK COMING INTO FRIENDLY: Although they narrowly missed out on qualifying for the 2002 World Cup as a member of the CONCACAF region (Costa Rica, Mexico and USA advanced out of the six-team final round in 2001), Honduras is coming off a year in which they were named FIFA's World Team of the Year for 2001. In January, Honduras traveled to Hong Kong, where they shocked World Cup finalist Slovenia 5-1 in the opening game of the Carlsberg Cup, before downing a Hong Kong Select team 1-0 three days later to win the four-team tournament, which also featured World Cup-bound China. Honduran forward Saul Martinez led the way with an impressive five goals in the two games. The U.S. and Honduras played two memorable World Cup qualifying matches in 2001, with each team winning on the other’s home soil. In the first match, the U.S. earned a hard-fought 2-1 win in front of a charged crowd in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on March 27. But Honduras got revenge on Sept. 1, battling back to win 3-2 at RFK Stadium in front of an energetic, mixed crowd of 54,282 fans.
ARENA ANNOUNCES 20-MAN ROSTER FOR MATCHES vs. HONDURAS, ECUADOR: United States Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena last week named a 20-man roster for the upcoming friendlies against Honduras and Ecuador. The USA first meets Honduras on Saturday, March 2 at SAFECO Field in Seattle. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN. The team then moves to Birmingham, Ala. where they will face Ecuador on March 10 at Legion Field in a match broadcast live on ABC at 3 p.m. CT. Fans can also follow both matches live on ussoccer.com’s Match Tracker, presented by Philips Electronics. "Our performances in the Gold Cup and against Italy have demonstrated that there will be serious competition for spots on the World Cup roster, and these matches will further aid in our evaluation,” said Arena, whose 2002 record is 4-1-1. A total of 17 players on the list were members of the 2002 FC Gold Cup championship-winning side. MLS players once again dominate the roster, with 17 of 20 players called from the domestic league. The following is the MNT roster for the upcoming two matches:
GOALKEEPERS: Tim Howard (MetroStars-MLS), Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur-England); DEFENDERS: Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Gregg Berhalter (Crystal Palace-England), Carlos Llamosa (New England Revolution-MLS), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids-MLS), Eddie Pope (D.C. United-MLS); MIDFIELDERS: Chris Armas (Chicago Fire-MLS), Bobby Convey (D.C. United-MLS), Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy-MLS), Eddie Lewis (Fulham FC-England), Brian Maisonneuve (Columbus Crew-MLS), Clint Mathis (MetroStars-MLS), Richard Mulrooney (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Richie Williams (D.C. United-MLS), Brian West (Columbus Crew-MLS); FORWARDS: DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire-MLS), Jeff Cunningham (Columbus Crew-MLS), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Brian McBride (Columbus Crew-MLS)
NIKE TO UNVEIL U.S. WORLD CUP JERSEYS ON FRIDAY: The U.S. Men’s National Team will wear their revolutionary new 2002 World Cup jerseys in action for the first time when they take the field against Honduras on Saturday, March 2. Nike spent considerable time developing the lightweight jerseys, as the 2002 World Cup will be played during the monsoon season from May 31-June 30 in Korea and Japan. The new "Cool Motion" jersey, along with "Mercurial Vapor" boot/cleat and the "Geo Merlin Vapor" match ball will be unveiled at a press conference at SAFECO Field on Friday, March 1 at 12 p.m. PT, just prior to the team's training session on the new stadium pitch at 1 p.m.
BEHIND THE SCENES WITH U.S. MNT ON FOX SPORTS WORLD: U.S. Soccer fans will have a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. Men’s National Team with Fox Sports World’s “Primed For the Cup”, which will air on February 28, at 7: 30 p.m. PT on Fox Sports World. “Primed For the Cup” will focus on the Men’s National Team’s recent trip to Italy, where they fell 0-1 to the Italians in one of the MNT’s better performances against one of the top teams in the world. “Primed For the Cup” contains off-the-field footage from the team’s trip to Italy and will show some to the team’s candid moments in the days ahead of the midweek friendly against Italy. The 30-minute show will also feature interviews with Bruce Arena, Earnie Stewart, Jeff Agoos, Cobi Jones, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasely and representatives from Nike, as well as a cameo with MNT Equipment Manager Aaron Barrett. The show will also include a Fox Sports World exclusive, as Nike displays the new Nike U.S. Men’s National Team uniform and the new Nike shoe, “The Mercurial Vapor.”
TICKETS NOW AVAILABLE FOR “NIKE ROAD TO KOREA”: With the hugely important “Nike Road to Korea” less than three months away, U.S. Soccer has announced ticket information for the USA’s final three domestic World Cup preparation matches. The “Nike Road to Korea” will include three games before the U.S. departs for Korea and the 2002 World Cup in late May. Before playing their World Cup send-off match against Holland in Foxboro, Mass., on May 19, the U.S. will face Uruguay on May 12 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C and then travel north to face Jamaica on May 16 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Including the Gold Cup, the U.S. will have faced seven World Cup-bound sides in 2002 prior to kicking off the World Cup on June 5 against Portugal.