ROAD TO KOREA STARTS IN CALIFORNIA: The U.S. Men's National Team, with its sights set firmly on June 5 in Suwon, begins World Cup preparations in earnest when training camp for the CONCACAF Gold Cup begins Saturday (Jan. 5) in Claremont, Calif. Bruce Arena's men will train for 12 days in the sunny locale 45 minutes from Los Angeles before moving to Pasadena prior to the first match against Korea on June 19 at the Rose Bowl. The U.S. plays its second match in Group B against Cuba two days later. The U.S. will be looking to improve on its performance in the 2000 edition of the tournament, having fallen in the quarterfinal round to eventual finalist Colombia on penalty kicks after a 2-2 draw in regulation. The training camp roster for the 2002 Gold Cup is still being finalized and will be announced in the coming days.
KELLER VS. FRIEDEL IN ENGLAND: In the first ever match-up of American goalkeepers in the English Premier League, Kasey Keller took the points but Brad Friedel earned "Man of the Match" honors as the USA's top two goalkeepers squared off on Jan. 1 at White Hart Lane. Tottenham earned a 1-0 shutout with a 45th minute goal from Dean Richards and Blackburn have now gone eight straight matches without taking full points. Keller made his second straight start for Spurs, posting a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in his debut performance. Joe-Max Moore made his seventh straight appearance for Everton, entering as a replacement for the injured Danny Cadamarteri in the 38th minute of Everton's 1-0 loss a Middllesbrough. The loss is the Blues fifth straight. Meantime, U.S. captain Claudio Reyna suffered an ankle injury in Sunderland's 1-1 draw with Aston Villa. Reyna left the match in the 22nd minute after a hard challenge by Villa's Lee Hendrie, and will have an MRI today to determine the extent of the injury. In the English First Division, the duo of Gregg Berhalter and Jovan Kirovski were scheduled to suit up for Crystal Palace, but the match against Gillingham faced postponement due to a frozen pitch.
U.S. TO MEET S. KOREA, CUBA IN 2002 GOLD CUP IN JANUARY ON PAY-PER-VIEW: The U.S. Men's National Team's two group matches of the 2002 Gold Cup on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 against Korea and Cuba, respectively, will be televised live on pay-per-view by Innovative Sports Marketing. The games will be available on the following pay-per-view cable and satellite systems: DirecTV, Dish Network, InDemand 2 and TVN. Other matches from the tournament will be televised on Fox Sports World, as well as the Spanish-language networks Univision and Galavision.
2002 GOLD CUP ACCREDITATION STILL AVAILABLE AT footballconfederation.com: Applications for media accreditation for the 2002 FC Gold Cup are still being accepted online at the Football Confederation website (www.footballconfederation.com). The deadline for all media applications is January 11, 2002. Absolutely no credential applications will be accepted after the deadline. In the light of heightened security measures throughout the USA, all journalists will be required to have accreditation with photos. Accreditation centers will be established at both the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. Media members are strongly advised to secure their credentials prior to the actual beginning of the event. While accreditation centers will be open prior to matches, significant delays could result, impairing the ability of media members to cover the event. All approved media applicants will receive, by return e-mail, details on the location and opening hours of the accreditation centers.
MLS AND ABC/ESPN ACQUIRE WORLD CUP TV PACKAGE THROUGH 2006: MLS Commissioner Don Garber has announced an innovative five-year broadcast arrangement that includes the television rights of MLS and the men's and women's FIFA World Cup tournaments through 2006 on the ABC and ESPN networks. Included in the package are the FIFA Men's World Cup for 2002 and 2006, the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2002-2006 MLS seasons. All 2002 World Cup matches will be televised with 17 matches live on ESPN, 46 live on ESPN2 and a minimum of 9 on ABC Sports, including the live telecast of the title match from Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, June 30 at 7 a.m. ESPN and ESPN2 will re-air at least 9 of the live telecasts later in the day. ESPN/ESPN2 will also feature all U.S. Men's National Team first round matches from South Korea beginning with U.S. versus Portugal Wednesday, June 5 at 5 a.m. (ET); against home team South Korea Monday, June 10 at 2:30 a.m. (ET); and against Poland Friday, June 14 at 7:30 a.m. (ET). In addition to World Cup Korea/Japan 2002, ABC and ESPN will televise the Women's World Cup China 2003, featuring the defending champion U.S. Women's Team, and the 2006 Men's World Cup in Germany. Women's World Cup 2003 will feature the championship match live on ABC and additional games on the ESPN networks. World Cup Germany 2006 will feature a minimum of 12 matches live on ABC and additional games broadcast live on the ESPN networks.
— U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
U.S. WOMEN HEAD TO CAMP ON TUESDAY TO BEGIN 2002 CAMPAIGN: The U.S. Women's National Team's clash with Mexico on Saturday, Jan. 12 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., (7 p.m. ET on ESPN2) will be just the beginning of a three-week trek that will take the team across the world to China, where they will face Norway, Germany and China in the Four Nations Women's Tournament taking place in Guangzhou on January 23, 25 and 27, 2002. The team begins training in South Carolina on Tuesday (Jan. 8), where they will remain until Jan. 16 when they depart for China. The 24-player training camp roster was announced in December, and includes a strong mix of international veterans and up-and-coming stars. The camp roster will be pared down to an active 18-player roster before the Mexico game and then again before the trip to the Far East.
U.S. WOMEN GET 2003 WOMEN's WORLD CUP PREVIEW: Guangzhou, China holds a special place in the hearts of the U.S. Women's National Team veterans, who won the first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup in the bustling metropolis back in 1991 with April Heinrichs as team captain. The USA will open the tournament on Jan. 23 vs. Norway at Huadu Stadium, face Germany on Jan. 25 at Panyu Stadium and finish the tournament in grand fashion, taking on China on Jan. 27 at Tianhe Stadium, site of the 1991 Women's World Cup Final. The tournament will afford the U.S. women some valuable experience, giving them a sneak preview of the venues, atmosphere and competition they should encounter at the 2003 Women's World Cup in China. The pre-Women's World Cup seasoning may be most valuable for the younger players on the squad, as this will mark the seventh trip to China for some of the U.S. veterans. The U.S. team last visited China in January of 2001 to play two matches, losing 1-0 in Panyu before tying 1-1 in front of 30,000 fans at the brand-new Dragon Stadium in Hangzhou.
LESS THAN 400 SRO TICKETS LEFT FOR U.S. WOMEN'S MATCH ON JAN. 12: Before the U.S. Women's National Team embarks on their foreign tour to China, they must first focus on an up-and-coming Mexican side at what is sure to be a sold-out Blackbaud Stadium. As of Jan. 2, only 362 standing room only tickets ($18 each) remain for the match at the 5,113-seat venue. Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas and Georgia (including Publix & Cat's Music) or by phone at 843-554-6060.
— U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
RONGEN NAMED NEW U.S. UNDER-20 MNT HEAD COACH: Thomas Rongen was named the new head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team on December 26, 2001. Rongen was named MLS Coach of the Year in 1996 after leading the Tampa Bay Mutiny to a league-best 20-12 mark and the Eastern Conference regular season title. After guiding the Mutiny during the league's inaugural season, Rongen took over the New England Revolution, where he coached for two years, before replacing current Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena at D.C. United prior to the 1999 season. He guided D.C. United to MLS Cup '99 in his first year with the team, and twice he has led teams to regular season titles ('96 with Tampa Bay and '99 with D.C. United). After six years in MLS, Rongen is the winningest coach in league history with 82 career victories. Rongen coached in MLS from its inception in 1996 until the conclusion of the 2001 season.
U.S. UNDER-20s OPEN FIRST CAMP OF NEW YEAR: Thomas Rongen and the U.S. Under-20 MNT will gather Jan. 2 for an 11-day camp in Chula Vista, Calif., that will include a match against the Canadian Under-20s on January 9. The U.S. will also face three Regional Teams, playing Region I (January 3), Region II (January 4) and Region III (January 6) at the ARCO Olympic Training Center. The training camp will be the first action for this group of players at the Under-20 level. The large majority of the players came from John Ellinger's Under-17 Men's National Team and George Gelnovatch's U.S. Under-18's. The following is a roster for the training camp and matches:
Goalkeepers: Adam Schuerman (Elmbrook United), Steve Cronin (Santa Clara);
Defenders: David Chun (Irvine Strikers), Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara University), Kirk Dinnal (Virginia), John Hartman (Virginia), Jordan Harvey (Irvine Strikers), C.J. Klaas (Washington), Chad Marshall (Irvine Strikers), Troy Roberts (California-Berkeley);
Midfielders: Craig Capano (Chicago Sockers FC), Ricardo Clark (Furman), Michael Enfield (UCLA), Ned Grabavoy (Indiana), Justin Mapp (Jackson FC), Miguel Saavedra (Dallas Burn), Jordan Stone (Dallas Texans);
Forwards: Mike Ambersley (Indiana), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Mike Magee (Chicago Sockers FC), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Brett Wiesner (Washington).
U.S. UNDER-23s KICK OFF FIRST ACTION SINCE SYDNEY GAMES: The U.S. Under-23s will kick off their first action since the 2000 Olympic Games with an eight-day training camp in Claremont, Calif, from January 5-12, 2002. The camp will coincide with the Men's National Team's preparations for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The team will arrive on the Jan. 5 and then train twice daily before breaking camp on the Jan. 12. Eleven players invited to the camp were on the U.S. Under-20 squad that finished 13th at the 2001 World Youth Championship in Argentina. Following is the 24-player training camp roster:
Goalkeepers: D.J. Countess (MetroStars), Curtis Spiteri (Portland), Doug Warren (Clemson);
Defenders: Jose Burciaga, Jr. (Kansas City Wizards), Ricky Lewis (Clemson), Oguchi Onyewu (Clemson), David Stokes (North Carolina), Chris Wingert (St. Johns), Alexander Yi (UCLA);
Midfielders: Guy Abrahamson (Rutgers), Kyle Beckerman (Fusion FC), Brian Carroll (Wake Forest), Brad Davis (Saint Louis), Kelly Gray (Portland), Adolfo Gregorio (UCLA), Kyle Martino (Virginia), Trevor Perea (Duke), Paul Souders (Clemson), Seth Trembly (Colorado Rapids);
Forwards: Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew), Alecko Eskandarian (Virginia), Nate Jaqua (Portland), David Testo (North Carolina), Mike Tranchilla (Creighton).
— AROUND THE SOCCER NATION —
SEITZ NAMED TO REFEREE FOUR NATIONS WOMEN'S TOURNAMENT IN CHINA: Veteran U.S. Soccer referee Kari Seitz has been selected to referee at the Four Nations Women's Tournament taking place in Guangzhou on January 23, 25 and 27, 2002, and featuring the Women's National Teams of China, Germany, Norway and the United States. The 31-year-old Seitz, of San Mateo, Calif., has been a FIFA official since 1999 and previously worked the 1999 Women's World Cup in the U.S. and the 1999 Asian Women's Championship in Manila.
SIDEKICKS CLAIM FINAL WISL CHAMPIONSHIP; WISL & MISL MERGE: The Dallas Sidekicks won their second World Indoor Soccer League championship on Dec. 22, 2001, in San Diego, downing the San Diego Sockers 2-1 in a tie-breaking mini-game (after the teams had each won at home in the two-game series). Prior to taking the final WISL crown, the WISL and MISL had formalized plans to merge for the 2002-03 season. The Major Indoor Soccer League, until recently known as the National Professional Soccer League, is currently completing its 2001-02 season with six teams, and the league will expand by a minimum of three teams as the WISL's Sidekicks, St. Louis Steamers and San Diego Sockers join the older, more established league.
- U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT -
PEAK PERFORMANCE: Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel faced off on New Year's Day in the English Premier League, with Friedel's Blackburn Rovers traveling to London to face Keller's Tottenham Hotspur. Friedel earned rave reviews in the match, making several great saves, but Kasey Keller earned the win and the shutout in freezing conditions at White Hart Lane. The start was Keller's second straight, and it appears the American international may have moved past Scottish goalkeeper Neil Sullivan as the first-choice ‘keeper at White Hart Lane. With the win, Tottenham moves to seventh in the Premiership, while Blackburn sits 16th.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The Premiership teams enter the 2001-02 FA Cup for the first time this weekend, as 32 games take place. The showcase game features Manchester United at Aston Villa. In other notable matches, Kasey Keller and Tottenham will travel to Coventry, and Gregg Berhalter, Jovan Kirovski and Crystal Palace face Newcastle.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Bolton Wanderers sit in 14th spot in the English Premier League table, but they produced another shocking result this weekend, drawing 1-1 with Liverpool at Anfield. Against teams at the top of the EPL table, Bolton has scored impressive results. The Wanderers have drawn and beat Liverpool, beat Manchester United at Old Trafford, and drawn at Leeds and at Arsenal. The draw continued Liverpool's recent slide, as the Reds have won just once in their last six league matches.
"At the moment my mind is made up about retiring at the end of the season. Is there any possibility of me changing my mind? You never know what might happen."
— Manchester United head coach Alex Ferguson to The Sunday Times, speculating on his future.