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U.S. Soccer Wire: April 4


U.S. Men's National Team Beats Guatemala in World Cup Qualifying;
Ticket Sales For USA-England Match Surpass 20,000 After Five Days

U.S. MNT EARNS THREE POINTS IN ALABAMA: After a tough loss to Mexico at the Estadio Azteca, the U.S. Men’s National Team came home to Alabama on Wednesday (March 30), where they picked up three points in a solid 2-0 win over Guatemala at Legion Field in Birmingham. A raucous crowd of 31,624 fans turned out on Wednesday to watch the U.S. move solidly into second place in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying in the CONCACAF region. The victory came courtesy of goals from Eddie Johnson and Steve Ralston on either side of halftime, and a stifling defensive performance from goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who earned his 37th career shutout for the U.S. The U.S. completely dominated play in the first half, out-shooting Guatemala 14-3, but were only able to sneak one shot past goalkeeper Richard Trigueno when Johnson extended his torrid scoring pace with another highlight reel goal. In scoring for the eighth time in eight career caps, Johnson slammed a 12-yard shot off the right post after collecting a back-heel touch from Landon Donovan in the penalty area. Donovan was sprung on the play in the 11th minute with a perfectly placed ball into the penalty area from Pablo Mastroeni. The goal was Johnson’s seventh in World Cup qualifying play after just six games, and incredibly moved him into a tie with Brian McBride for second all-time in U.S. World Cup qualifying history. Despite the team’s barrage of shots, the U.S. did not put the game out of reach until the 68th minute when Steve Ralston used a calm touch in the area to deftly flick a shot from six yards past Trigueno. The victory moves the U.S. into second place in the final round of FIFA World Cup qualifying play with six points in the CONCACAF region, just one point behind Mexico, who were held to a 1-1 draw in Panama on Wednesday evening. In the other game on Matchday 3, Costa Rica struggled to a 0-0 draw with Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. won’t play another match until the end of May when they suit up at Soldier Field in Chicago for a highly-anticipated match against England on May 28. The game will be followed just a week later by back-to-back qualifiers on June 4 against Costa Rica in Salt Lake City, Utah, and on June 8 against Panama in Panama City.

TICKET SALES FOR U.S.-ENGLAND FRIENDLY PASS 20,000 MARK: Tickets sales for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s May 28 friendly against England have surpassed the 20,000 mark after going on sale to the general public on March 31. Tickets ranging in price from $28 to $95 are available to the general public through ussoccer.com, by phone at 312-559-1212 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Chicagoland (including Carson Pirie Scott, Coconuts, Hot Tix, FYE, Tower Records, and Ritmo Latino stores). Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com. The Memorial Weekend match-up at Chicago’s Soldier Field kicks off at 2 p.m. CT and will be 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. England will be the second European power to visit the U.S. in Chicago in the last year. The U.S. men played their first game in Chicago since 1993, hosting Poland on July 11, 2004, in the return leg of a two-game series. A boisterous crowd of 39,592 saw a late header from former Chicago Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra earn a 1-1 tie. This will be the fifth match the U.S. has played in Chicago since 1992, 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 1992 versus the likes of Portugal, Italy and Germany in addition to the aforementioned Poland match-up in 2004. The Soldier Field match will mark England’s sixth visit to face the United States.

-- FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

U.S. TO FACE 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 SWEET HOME: 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 headed back to the States to play their first home game at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., on Wednesday (March 30), where they defeated Guatemala, 2-0. The top three teams in the hexagonal 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 1, Mexico 1
March 30   USA 2, Guatemala 0
March 30   Trinidad & Tobago 0, Costa Rica 0
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. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U-17 MNT DOWN HAITI 4-0 IN FINAL MATCH BEFORE QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team came away with a commanding 4-0 victory over Haiti on Sunday evening at Ted Hendricks Stadium in Haileah, Fla., in their final match before the U-17s attempt to qualify for the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. Quavas Kirk led the way with two goals and an assist for the U-17s. Ryan Soroka struck first for the U.S., putting away a nice cross from Kirk in the sixth minute. Kirk then notched his first goal of the night in the 23rd minute after a build-up from a throw-in on the left sideline. Defender Amaechi Igwe crossed the ball into the area where Kirk skillfully headed a ball to the right side of the goal over the outstretched hands of the Haitian ‘keeper. Kyle Nakazawa put the game out of reach in the 56th minute as he finished a pass from Igwe inside the left post. Kirk snagged his second of the evening eight minutes from the final whistle off a pass from Nakazawa, finishing into the upper-right corner. In their only other match two days earlier, the U-17s fell 2-0 to the much older (U-23) CD Cortez, which recently won the Copa Latina tournament title. While the U-17 ‘88s were conducting their final preparations for qualifying, the younger players in Residency, the U-17 ‘89s, played two games in Bradenton last week. The ‘89s drew 2-2 with Florida Southern College in their first match on April 1 before falling 4-1 to the University of South Florida a day later.

HACKWORTH TO ANNOUNCE U-17 MNT QUALIFYING ROSTER ON WEDNESDAY: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth will release his 18-man roster on Wednesday that will represent the U.S. in Group A of the 2005 CONCACAF Under-17 Final Round Qualification in Heredia, Costa Rica from April 12-16. The U.S. will attempt to advance to their 11th straight FIFA U-17 World Championship when they compete in the four-team tournament against Costa Rica, El Salvador and Cuba. The U.S. opens against El Salvador on Tuesday, April 12 at 4:30 p.m. CT, before facing Cuba on Thursday, April 14 at 4:30 p.m. CT and finishing the final round qualifying tournament against Costa Rica on Saturday, April 16 at 7 p.m. CT. The U.S. will play all three matches at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero. Every U.S. match of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Phillips Electronics. The winners of Group A and Group B, which will be contested among Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Honduras in Mexico from May 17-21, will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship to be played in Peru from September 15-October 2. The two second-place finishers will play a home-and-home playoff series for the third and final CONCACAF berth for the world championship. The U.S. is the only nation to qualify and compete in all 10 FIFA World Championships at this age group.

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

D.C. UNITED FACE UNAM PUMAS IN CHAMPIONS CUP SEMIFINAL: Defending MLS Cup Champion, D.C. United faces defending Mexican League champion UNAM Pumas in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal on Wednesday (April 6) at 7:30 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel. The second leg of the two-game series will take place on April 13 at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario in Mexico City. In the other semifinal, Deportivo Saprissa of Costa Rica will take on Mexican side CF Monterrey at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose, Costa Rica. The winner of the 2005 Champions’ Cup will qualify for the FIFA Club World Championship to be held in Japan on Dec. 11-18.
2005 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup Semifinal Round
Date         Matchup                                                     Time; Venue
April 6      D.C. United vs. UNAM Pumas                 7:30 p.m. ET; RFK Stadium
April 7      Deportivo Saprissa vs. CF Monterrey    9:30 p.m. CT; Estadio Ricardo Saprissa
April 13    UNAM Pumas vs. D.C. United                8:30 p.m. CT; Estadio Olimpico Universitario
April 13    CF Monterrey vs. Deportivo Saprissa    9 p.m. CT; Estadio Tecnologico

FREDDY ADU FEATURED IN MTV’S "FAKE ID CLUB": Fifteen-year-old D.C. United forward Freddy Adu will be featured on MTV’s “Fake ID Club” to be aired at 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 9. The teenage phenom will be featured alongside other celebrities who have yet to reach their 21st birthday. The episode will be re-aired on Sunday, April 10, at 10 a.m. and Monday, April 11, at 2 p.m.

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.

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. MNT and FC Dallas forward Eddie Johnson returned to his scoring ways for club and country last week, first opening the scoring for the U.S. with a game-winner against Guatemala on Wednesday (March 30) and assisting on the team’s second goal. Three days later, he netted his first goal of the 2005 MLS season, also a game-winner, for Dallas on Saturday. The U.S. went on to defeat Guatemala 2-0 and moved up to second in the CONCACAF Final Qualifying Round standings. FC Dallas posted a 2-1 win over the Chicago Fire in their 2005 MLS opening match.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: D.C. United continues their run in the CONCACAF Champions Cup on Wednesday (April 6) as they face off against UNAM Pumas of Mexico City. D.C. United, the 2004 MLS Cup Champion, reached the semifinals of the Champions Cup by defeating Jamaican club Harbour View by a 4-2 aggregate score. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7:30 p.m. ET

SOCCER SHOCKER: The U.S. couldn’t have asked for a better Matchday 3 in CONCACAF qualifying, as they were the only team to come away from the evening with three points, which moved them up to second place in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying Final Round standings. In Panama City, a bicycle kick in the 75th minute by Luis Tejada tied the game 1-1 for Panama and Mexico. Meanwhile, Trinidad & Tobago earned their first point of the final round as they earned a 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.

QUOTABLE: "We played 15 or 16 games without losing, and we have one bad five minutes against a very good team at an incredible altitude and nasty smog, and all of a sudden we’re the worst team in CONCACAF. This (win) should make for some peace and quiet for a week. We needed that."
-- Landon Donovan, after the U.S. team defeated Guatemala 2-0 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., three days after being heavily criticized for a 2-1 loss to Mexico in Mexico City.


 

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