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U.S. Soccer Wire [March 28, 2005]


U.S. MNT GEAR UP FOR FIRST HOME QUALIFIER OF FINAL ROUND: After falling to Mexico 2-1 in Estadio Azteca, the U.S. Men’s National Team flew to Birmingham, Ala., on Sunday night to prepare for the first home qualifier of the final round against Guatemala on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. on the third matchday of qualifying this year. The match will be televised live on ESPN2, and same-day-delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET and PT. The match can also be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. After a slow-paced beginning, Mexico sprinted to a two-goal lead with finishes by Jared Borgetti and Antonio Naelson within a four-minute span in the first half that put a dent in the USA's plans to come away from Estadio Azteca with a point, something the U.S. has only done once. The U.S. struggled offensively, getting only three shots in the first half, but finally got in a bit of an offensive groove in the second half and Eddie Lewis cut the lead in half with a well-placed strike in the 59th minute. The U.S. looked to find the equalizer in the final 20 minutes, but it ended up being Mexico who peppered the U.S. goal, forcing U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller to come up with a couple big saves. Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley will sit out the Guatemala match after picking up his second yellow card of qualifying in the 37th minute vs. Mexico.

U.S. WOMEN TIE WITH GERMANY FOR TOP SPOT IN FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD RANKINGS: The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team moved into a tie for No. 1 in the FIFA Women's World Rankings on the heels of its impressive run at the 2005 Algarve Cup that culminated with a 1-0 victory in the championship game over previously sole No. 1 Germany, which shares the current top-ranking. FIFA, the world governing body of soccer, re-ranks the teams four times a year, in March, June, September and December. The latest rankings came out last Friday. The USA also beat two other top-10 teams during the Algarve Cup, taking down France, 1-0, and Denmark, 4-0. FIFA has ranked men’s national teams for ten years, but did not start ranking women until the summer of 2003. The USA was the world’s top ranked team in that inaugural FIFA Women’s World Rankings, but the Germans bumped the U.S. out of the top after winning the 2003 Women's World Cup. In the latest rankings, Norway held at third, while Brazil and France, which moved up four spots, sit at fourth and fifth respectively. Sweden (down one to sixth), Denmark, North Korea, China (down two spots to ninth) and Italy round out the top-10. The U.S. women have complied a record of 33-2-5 since the end of the 2003 Women’s World Cup, losing only to Sweden and Denmark, teams they have also beaten during that stretch. The U.S. Women’s National Team has built a record of 263-50-36 since the start of the program in 1985. Winners of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991 and 1999, and Olympic gold in 1996 and 2004, the U.S. women are the only team in the world to have finished in the top three at all seven FIFA world championships that have been contested. Despite winning the gold in Athens in 2004, while defeating Germany in the semifinals along the way, and defeating Germany in the Algarve Cup Final, the American only earned enough points to tie the Germans in this latest ranking. The FIFA World Rankings are determined on the basis of a performance rating that takes into account numerous factors such as results, home advantage, importance of each match, and the difference in the strength of the two teams involved. The next FIFA Women’s World Ranking will be published on June 24, 2005.

-- FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

GET TICKETS NOW FOR U.S. MNT QUALIFIER IN ALABAMA:
There is still time to purchase tickets for the United States Men’s National Team’s first home game of the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Tickets range in price from $18 to $55 and can be purchased online at ussoccer.com, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix and Coconuts), and by phone at 1-800-277-1700. Groups of 15 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745, ext. 119. Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and tape delayed on Telemundo at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The last time the teams met was during semifinal round qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The teams split points in a 1-1 draw in Mazatenango, Guatemala on July 16, 2000, then Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in the USA’s hard fought 1-0 win on Sept. 3, 2000 at RFK Stadium.

U.S. vs. MEXICO IN COLUMBUS: The U.S. Men’s national team will host Mexico on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Columbus Crew Stadium at 7:30 p.m. ET in their seventh of 10 final round qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The U.S. vs. Mexico match will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic and Telemundo, with fans also able to follow the U.S. match live at ussoccer.com via MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. It will be the fourth out of five World Cup qualifiers played in the United States and the fifth World Cup qualifying match hosted by the six-year-old venue. Ticketing details will be announced in the near future.

U.S. TAKES ON TICOS IN SALT LAKE CITY:
The U.S. MNT will host Costa Rica on Saturday, June 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah’s Rice-Eccles Stadium at 5:30 p.m. MT in their fourth of 10 final round qualifying matches for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. The match against Costa Rica will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and will be followed by MLS expansion franchise Real Salt Lake hosting FC Dallas as the second game of the doubleheader at 8 p.m. MT. Fans can also follow the U.S. match live at ussoccer.com via MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The match in Salt Lake City is the second of five qualifiers in this round to be played in the United States. Tickets will range from $25 to $68 and on-sale details will be announced later. Fans can register for advance ticket information and an advance private sale at ussoccerfan.com. Real Salt Lake season tickets will be honored for the doubleheader.

HOME AT LAST:
The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago have kicked off the 10-game round-robin that will last until Oct. 12, 2005. After two tough road games, the U.S. men head back to the States to play their first home game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday (March 30) at 7 p.m. CT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The top three teams automatically advance to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany while the fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.  
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Final Round
Date       Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Feb. 9     Panama 0, Guatemala 0
Feb. 9     Costa Rica 1, Mexico 2
Feb. 9    Trinidad & Tobago 1,  USA 2  
Date            Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 26    Costa Rica 2, Panama 1
March 26    Guatemala 5, Trinidad & Tobago 1
March 27    Mexico 2, USA 1
Date             Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 30     Panama vs. Mexico    
March 30     USA vs. Guatemala    
March 30     Trinidad & Tobago vs. Costa Rica
Date       Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 4    Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama    
June 4    Guatemala vs. Mexico    
June 4    USA vs. Costa Rica    
Date      Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 8    Panama vs. USA    
June 8    Costa Rica vs. Guatemala    
June 8    Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date         Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Aug. 17    Guatemala vs. Panama    
Aug. 17    Mexico vs. Costa Rica    
Aug. 17    USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date        Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 3    Panama vs. Costa Rica   
Sept. 3    Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 3    USA vs. Mexico   
Date        Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 7    Mexico vs. Panama  
Sept. 7    Guatemala vs. USA   
Sept. 7    Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date       Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 8    Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 8    Mexico vs. Guatemala  
Oct. 8/9    Costa Rica vs. USA  
Date        Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 12    USA vs. Panama    
Oct. 12    Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 12    Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
 
Playoff (*home team will be determined by lottery at the conclusion of the final round)
Date    Match-up
*Nov. 12/13    AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4  
*Nov. 16    AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4

U.S. MNT TO FACE ENGLAND IN FRIENDLY AT SOLDIER FIELD:
The U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team will face England for the first time since 1994 in a Memorial Weekend match-up at Chicago’s Soldier Field on May 28 at 2 p.m. CT, in a match being broadcast live on ESPN. The meeting between the two quarterfinalists at the 2002 FIFA World Cup comes amidst the qualifying schedules for both nations as they aim for a spot in the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. Tickets ranging in price levels from $28 to $95 go on sale starting Thursday, March 31 at 12 p.m. CT through ussoccer.com, by phone at 312-559-1212 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Chicagoland (including Coconuts, Hot Tix, and Tower Records stores). Also starting on March 31, groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com. This will mark England’s sixth visit to the United States, with England posting a convincing 4-1-0 record against the U.S., including a 29-6 advantage in goal differential. This will be the fifth match the U.S. has played in Chicago, and the fifth different European power to come to the Windy City as an opponent. The U.S. has a 1-1-2 record in Chicago since 1993 versus the likes of Portugal, Italy, Germany and Poland.

-- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U-20 MNT TAKE SECOND PLACE AT SUWON CUP TOURNAMENT IN SOUTH KOREA: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team took second place at the Suwon International Youth Football Tournament last week in Suwon, South Korea. The U.S. opened the match with a 2-1 victory over Argentina before falling to South Korea 1-0 and then defeating Egypt 1-0 in their third and final match. In their first match, the U.S. fell behind early as Argentina scored in the eighth minute of play, but fought back to find the equalizer 10 minutes later as Chad Barrett buried a corner kick that was juggled by the Argentina goalkeeper. The rest of the match was in Argentina’s favor as the South American power took 15 shots overall, compared to the USA’s seven, but Hill allowed the U.S. to kickoff the tournament with a victory when he got behind the Argentina defense and finished low past Nereo Champagne a minute into extra time. The U.S. struggled offensively against South Korea and the host eventually capitalized off a corner kick late in the first half. The ball was headed clear of the box, but Yong Rae Lee blasted the bouncing ball from 24 yards out, placing it just inside the right post for the eventual game-winner. In their final match against Egypt, Arturo Alvarez buried a 25-yard blast just inside the right post to provide the U.S. with its second place finish. After the U.S. won, they had to wait for the second match of the doubleheader between Argentina and South Korea to see where they would finish in the tournament. Korea was reduced to 10 men late in the first half and Argentina scored a goal in the 87th minute, but a controversial penalty in extra time provided Korea with the draw and a first place finish in the tournament. The tournament was good preparation for the FIFA World Youth Championship, were the U.S. will also face Argentina and Egypt in Group D.
Suwon International Youth Football Tournament
Date            Opponent        Result     U.S. Goal Scorers
March 22    Argentina          2-1 W    Barrett, Hill
March 24    South Korea    1-0 L    
March 26    Egypt               1-0  W    Alvarez

U-17 MNT TO FACE CD CORTEZ AND HAITI THIS WEEK: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will leave the comforts of Residency in Bradenton and travel east to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they will face CD Cortez and Haiti. The U.S. will take on CD Cortez at Barry University in Miami Shores on April 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET and then meet the Haiti Under-17 Men’s National Team at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Hialeah on April 3 at 7 p.m. ET. The matches will be the last preparations for head coach John Hackworth’s team before they travel to Costa Rica for the CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament.
U-17 MNT Schedule
Date       Opponent
April 1    CD Cortez
April 3    Haiti


– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

MILWAUKEE AND ST. LOUIS TO HOST MISL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES FINALS: The Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) announced last week that the 2005 MISL Championship Series Finals has been reformatted as a two-game, “golden goal” set of matches with Championship Game One awarded to Milwaukee and scheduled for Saturday, May 14 at U.S. Cellular Arena at 9:00 p.m. ET. Game Two will be played in St. Louis on Saturday, May 21 at Savvis Center at 7:00 p.m. ET. Tickets for the 2005 MISL Championship Series Finals are available for purchase beginning Friday, March 25. Tickets for Championship Game One in Milwaukee maybe purchased through the Milwaukee Wave Box Office, online through TicketMaster, or by phone at 414-224-9283.  Tickets for Championship Game Two in St. Louis may be purchased through the St. Louis Steamers Box Office, online through TicketMaster, or by phone at 314-241-1888.The 2004-05 regular season concludes on Sunday, April 24. The 2005 MISL Championship Series is scheduled to begin with the Semifinal Round on the weekend of April 29-May 1.  The Championship Series consists of four teams.

TICKETS ON SALE FOR 2005 CONCACAF GOLD CUP:
Tickets are available at each of the seven stadiums in the six USA cities that will host the CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 6-24. Ticket prices for single dates start as low as $20 in some venues for first round doubleheaders. Discounts are available for group tickets and for packages of tickets to all the match days in the same city. The 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup will consist of three groups of four teams for the first round with the top two from each group, along with the best two third-placed teams progressing to the quarterfinals for a total of 10 doubleheaders from July 6-17 throughout six stadiums in the USA. The United States Men’s National Team has been drawn against Costa Rica, Canada and Cuba in the first round of the Gold Cup and will open Group B play against Cuba on Thursday, July 7, at 7:30 p.m. PT at Qwest Field in Seattle, before meeting Canada two days later on Saturday, July 9, at the same venue, the match slated for a 1:30 p.m. PT kickoff. The U.S. will travel across the country for their final group match against Costa Rica on Tuesday, July 12, at 7 p.m. ET at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. For a complete Gold Cup ticket information, click here.


*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team came away from South Korea with two important victories at the Suwon International Youth Tournament as they defeated Argentina (2-1) and Egypt (1-0), teams the U.S. will face in Group D of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland this summer. The victories provided the U-20s with first-hand knowledge of what they can expect from their opponents in June and the confidence that they can defeat either squad.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: The U.S. will be looking to rebound after a tough loss to Mexico when it plays its first home qualifier of the final round against Guatemala on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. on the third matchday of qualifying this year. The match will be televised live on ESPN2, and same-day-delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET and PT. The match can also be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: After holding Mexico scoreless for 463 minutes over a span of six games (including four shutouts), the U.S. let in two goals in a four-minute span against their CONCACAF rival during Sunday’s qualifier in Mexico City. Jared Borgetti's goal in the 30th minute ended Mexico's scoreless streak, while Antonio Naelson notched the eventual game winner three minutes later.

QUOTABLE: "Any way you look at it, altitude was a big factor. I believe our players shut down in the last 15 minutes of the first half, and it cost us the game,"
     -- U.S. coach Bruce Arena after the 2-1 loss to Mexico.

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