US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. Soccer Wire - March 5, 2007


CONCACAF TO ANNOUCE GOLD CUP GROUPS AND SCHEDULE ON TUESDAY;
U.S. WOMEN KICK OFF 2007 ALGARVE CUP AGAINST CHINA ON WEDNESDAY;
U-20s DRAW KOREA REPUBLIC, POLAND AND BRAZIL FOR FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP

U.S. MEN TO FIND OUT GOLD CUP OPPONENTS AND SCHEDULE ON TUESDAY, MARCH 6: The U.S. Men’s National Team will find out their opponents for the 2007 Gold Cup this Tuesday, March 6 when CONCACAF announces the groups and tournament schedule. The announcement of teams and the full tournament match schedule will take place at 2:30 p.m. ET and be made via a video news release that will be available via satellite and online at http://www.concacaf.com The 12-team 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup will take place from June 6-24 in six venues across the United States. The opening match will be in the Orange Bowl in Miami, while the final will be in Soldier Field in Chicago. The four other venues that will host the ninth edition of the Gold Cup are Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.; The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.; Reliant Stadium in Houston; and Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion will represent CONCACAF at the FIFA Confederations Cup, South Africa 2009.

U.S. WNT ARRIVE IN PORTUGAL, PREPARE TO KICK OFF ALGARVE CUP ON WEDNESDAY: The U.S. Women’s National Team touched down in Portugal on March 1 in advance of the annual Algarve Cup, which will take place from March 7-14. The U.S. will kick off the tournament against China on Wednesday, March 7 in Silves before facing Finland on March 9 and finishing the first-round against Sweden on March 12. All the first round games are played at small venues spread out over the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country with all of the placement matches taking place on March 14. Fans can follow the USA’s grueling schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and watch exclusive highlights from all_access video. Group A features defending Algarve Cup champions Germany, as well as Norway, France and Denmark. Six of the eight teams in Groups A and B will be participating in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China come September, with only France and Finland missing out. Group C features Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Iceland. The Algarve Cup will mark the first matches for U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx since she played against Japan on May 9, 2006. Boxx has almost fully recovered from ACL surgery and is ready for the run to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Visit the Algarve Cup competitions page at ussoccer.com for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the WNT in Portugal.

Roster by Position (Number of Algarve Cups attended, including 2007, in parenthesis)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Briana Scurry (7) (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (4) (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (7): Lori Chalupny (4) (St. Louis, Mo.), Tina Ellertson (2) (Vancouver, Wash.), Stephanie Lopez (3) (Elk Grove, Calif.), Heather Mitts (4) (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (7) (Point Pleasant, N.J.), India Trotter (2) (Plantation, Fla.), Cat Whitehill (7) (Birmingham, Ala.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Shannon Boxx (4) (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Angela Hucles (3) (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (2) (Delran, N.J.), Marci Jobson (2) (St. Charles, Ill.), Leslie Osborne (3) (Brookfield, Wis.), Aly Wagner (6) (San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (5): Natasha Kai (2) (Kahuku, Hawaii), Kristine Lilly (11) (Wilton, Conn.), Heather O’Reilly (5) (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (5) (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Abby Wambach (4) (Rochester, N.Y.)
2006 Algarve Cup Schedule – Group B

Date Opponent Kickoff
March 7 China 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
March 9 Finland 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
March 12 Sweden 8 p.m. local / 4 a.m. ET
March 14 Placement Match TBD

U-20 MNT DRAW KOREA REPUBLIC, POLAND AND BRAZIL FOR FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, which will take place from June 30-July 22. The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium (full schedule). Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria. The U.S. will play all their group matches in Montreal and Ottawa on artificial turf.

U-20 MNT Schedule – 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup
Date Opponent Location
June 30 Korea Republic Montreal, Canada
July 3 Poland Montreal, Canada
July 6 Brazil Ottawa, Canada

HAMM AND FOUDY TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME: Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, two legends of women’s soccer who helped pioneer the sport in the United States and around the world, will be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the Player Category for the class of 2007. The announcement was made at a press conference on Tuesday at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. It will be the first time that an all-female class will be inducted in the Player Category. The ceremonies will be held on August 26 at the National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y. Hamm was selected on 137 of the 141 ballots cast, setting a new high for votes received. Her 97.16 percent surpassed that of the previous high vote garnered by Michelle Akers in 2005, who was elected with 95.77 percent of the vote. Foudy was elected with 83.69 percent of the vote, having been selected on 118 ballots. The U.S. Women’s National Team won more than 80 percent of its games during the era in which the two played. Hamm and Foudy, who have earned induction on the first ballot for which they were eligible, both played their final games for the USA during the last match of the 2004 Fan Celebration Tour to commemorate the U.S. WNT’s memorable victory at the 2004 Olympics. The 5-0 win over Mexico on Dec. 8, 2004, capped off historic careers that saw them win two Women’s World Cup titles and two Olympic gold medals, as well as lead a generation of players who were at the center of groundbreaking achievements in women’s sports. The emotional run to the 2004 Olympic gold medal in Greece was the final world championship for the duo.

U-17 MNT MATCH AGAINST EL SALVADOR TO BE BROADCAST LIVE ON ussoccer.com: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will take on El Salvador’s U-17s in the opening match of a doubleheader with the U.S. Men’s National Team on March 25 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. The Under-17 match will kick off at 9:15 a.m. ET (gates open at 9 a.m. ET), followed by the U.S. MNT against Ecuador at 12 p.m. ET. Tickets are available online at ussoccer.com and provide entry for both matches, but re-entry into the stadium is not permitted. VISA is the preferred payment card of U.S. Soccer. Following the successful debut of MatchACCESS coverage on ussoccer.com in February at the U.S.-Mexico match, the popular website will broadcast the entire U-17 match live from Raymond James Stadium. Fans can log on to ussoccer.com at 9 a.m. ET to watch live streaming coverage of the match. MatchACCESS will also include post-match coverage of U.S.-Ecuador, which fans can follow live on ESPN2, Galavision and ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Coverage on ussoccer.com will include exclusive interviews after the match and the post-game press conference with head coach Bob Bradley, beginning at approximately 2 p.m. ET. The live streaming of the U.S. U-17 MNT match will provide fans with the opportunity to see head coach John Hackworth’s squad as they continue to prepare for Group B of the CONCACAF U-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament. The five-team, round-robin tournament will take place from April 28 to May 6 in Kingston, Jamaica, with all the matches being played at National Stadium. Along with the host, the U.S. will face Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago (full schedule). The top three teams will advance to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place in South Korea from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9. El Salvador is in Group A with Haiti, Honduras and Mexico. The top two finishers in the group, which will be played from April 4-8 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, will also qualify for the FIFA U-17 World Cup.

MORE THAN 14,000 TICKETS SOLD FOR MNT MATCH IN TAMPA, FRISCO ALSO ON SALE: Tickets are now available for U.S. MNT friendlies vs. Ecuador on March 25 in Tampa, Fla., and vs. Guatemala on March 28 in Frisco, Texas. The games will be played during a FIFA match window which will allow the U.S. to have a full compliment of players available for selection by head coach Bob Bradley as the United States continues to prepare for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America. More than 14,000 tickets have been sold for USA vs. Ecuador, which start at $18 and are available at ussoccer.com, all Bay area Ticketmaster outlets (including the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa Theater, the USF Sun Dome, and FYE stores) and by phone at 813-287-8844. Tickets for USA vs. Guatemala also start at $18 and are available online at ussoccer.com, at all Dallas-Ft. Worth area Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s, Fiesta Stores, and FYE) and by phone at 214-373-8000. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets to both matches by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. VISA is the preferred payment card of U.S. Soccer.

U.S. MEN TO FACE CHINA ON JUNE 2 AT SPARTAN STADIUM IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.: The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to the Bay Area on June 2, 2007, to take on China at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif., at 5 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision, and will be available to fans online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. One year after topping Japan, 3-2, in San Francisco, the U.S. will play in Spartan Stadium for the first time in four years in the team’s final friendly before the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2007 Copa America. Tickets starting at $22 are now on sale at ussoccer.com, all San Jose area Ticketmaster outlets (including Ritmo Latino and FYE) and by phone at 408-998-8497. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. VISA is the preferred payment card of U.S. Soccer. The June 2 match will be the eighth meeting between the U.S. and China, and the hosts hold a 4-1-2 record vs. their guests. Three of the last seven meetings between the U.S. and China have been in the Bay Area, with the last meeting coming six years ago on Jan. 27, 2001, in Oakland as the U.S. won, 2-1, on a Brian McBride goal and a China own goal.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR U.S. WNT DOMESTIC OPENER IN FOXBOROUGH: Tickets are on sale for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s domestic opener vs. Mexico on April 14 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The match will serve as the opening game of a doubleheader also featuring the hometown New England Revolution vs. Toronto FC. Kickoff for the U.S. match is at 5 p.m. ET followed by the MLS contest at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans will be able to follow the U.S. WNT game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Tickets start at $32 and are available online at ussoccer.com, all Massachusetts Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s and FYE Stores), the Gillette Stadium Box Office (Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and by phone at 1-866-448-7849 or 1-617-931-2222. Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets at discounted prices by calling the New England Revolution at 1-877-GET-REVS (438-7387). The U.S. women will be playing their first match in the Boston area since the historic 1-0 win against Norway on October 1, 2003, during the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals. VISA is the preferred payment card of U.S. Soccer.


– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –

U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN HEAD TO MANCHESTER, ENGLAND FOR THREE MATCHES: The U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team will travel to England March 9 through the 18 for its first matches abroad since the 2006 Nordic Cup in Norway. U.S. head coach Bill Irwin will bring 18 players over the pond for three matches against top English clubs as the USA will square off against Blackburn on March 13, Everton on March 14 and Leeds on March 15, which features at least seven England internationals including several first-choice players. The U.S. team will also get the rare treat of taking in a Manchester United match at Old Trafford as the Red Devils take on Bolton Wanders on March 17. Nine players on the roster were members of the U.S. team that played at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship, where the team finished in fourth place. Irwin played 17 years of professional soccer, including eight seasons in England with Cardiff City, winning several Welsh Cups, and played in the European Cup Winner’s Cup competition, before moving to the United States in 1978 where he played seven seasons in the NASL.

U-21 WNT Schedule
Date Opponent
March 13 Blackburn Ladies
March 14 Everton Ladies
March 15 Leeds Ladies

U-21 WNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Kelsey Davis (Portland), Val Henderson (UCLA);
DEFENDERS (6): Jordan Angeli (Santa Clara), Marian Dalmy (Santa Clara), Nikki Krzysik (Virgina), Stephanie Logterman (Texas), Meghan Schnur (UConn), Brittany Taylor (UConn)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Brittany Bock (Notre Dame), Tina DiMartino (UCLA), Ali Krieger (Penn State), Amanda Poach (Santa Clara), Kylee Rossi (Tennesee)
FORWARDS (5): Amanda Cinalli (Notre Dame), Kerri Hanks (Notre Dame), Ella Masar (Illinois), Amy Rodriguez (USC), Michele Weissenhofer (Notre Dame).

U-18 MNT IN CAMP AT IMG ACADEMIES IN BRADENTON, FLA.: The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team kicked off a weeklong camp on Sunday (March 4) at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla. The camp is the third domestic camp for the U-18s this year, and the fourth camp overall. Head coach Bob Jenkins invited 26 players into camp. The U-18s will play three games against the University of Virginia, the University of Connecticut and the U-17 ’90 MNT. The U-18s recently competed in the 2007 Copa Chivas Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, earning a 2-3-0 record while playing all five games in a four-day span.

U-18 MNT Schedule
Date Opponent
March 5 UVA
March 7 U-17 MNT
March 10 UConn

U-18 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (3): Warren Gross (Greenfield Center, N.Y.), Kevin Klasila (Los Angeles, Calif.), Joe Parsons (Springfield, Mass.)
DEFENDERS (10): Shawn Barry (Miramar, Fla.), Danny Cruz (Glendale, Ariz.), TJ Cyrus (Virginia Beach, Va.), Sean Flatly (Virginia Beach, Va.), Jamel Johnson (Miramar, Fla.), Hunter Jumper (Plano, Texas), Matt Kassel (Bridgewater, N.J.), Jimmy Simpson (Warrenton, Va.), Andrew Wiedeman (San Ramon, Calif.), Mark Wysocki (Waldorf, Md.)
MIDFIELDERS (10): Alen Acevedo (Amherst, N.Y.), Jalil Anibaba (Sacramento, Calif.), Jose Batista (Rego Park, N.Y.), Andrew Duran (Mokena, Ill.), Andrew Giallombardo (Newark, N.J.), Mike Green (Strongsville, Ohio), Ian Kalis (Plano, Texas), Diego Mayanga (Corona, N.Y.), Casey McCool (Bend, Ore.), William Velasquez (Sun Valley, Calif.)
FORWARDS (3): Chris Agorsor (Severn, Md.), Ricky Character (Memphis, Tenn.), Brian Ownby (Glen Allen, Va.)

U-17 ’90 MNT HEADS TO HONDURAS AND GUATEMALA THIS WEEK: The U.S. Under-17 ’90 Men’s National Team will travel to Honduras and Guatemala this week for a 10-day camp that includes two matches against the Honduras U-17 MNT. The U.S. will leave on Thursday, March 8 for Tegucigalpa, Honduras, where they will go up against the hosts on Saturday, March 10 and Monday, March 12. The U-17s will then travel to Guatemala City, Guatemala, and play two matches against local club teams, facing the Municipal Reserves on Wednesday, March 14 and Comunicaciones Reserves on Friday, March 16. Head coach John Hackworth will take a 24-player roster for the trip. This past weekend, the U-17 ’90 MNT fell, 3-2, to the University of Virginia, while the U-17 ’91 MNT defeated the Florida ODP ‘91s, 3-0, behind a hat trick from Ryan Finley.

U-17 MNT Results/Schedule
Date Opponent Result U.S. Goal Scorers
March 2 UVA 2-3 L Schuler, Levry
March 3 Florida ODP ‘91s 3-0 W Finley (3)
March 10 Honduras U-17
March 12 Honduras U-17
March 14 Municipal Reserves
March 16 Comunicaciones Reserves

U-17 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Josh Lambo (Middleton, Wis.), Zac MacMath (St. Petersburg, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (6): Mykell Bates (Roseville, Calif.), Chris Klute (Grand Prairie, Texas), Nick Millington (Raleigh, N.C.), Aubrey Perry (Ocoee, Fla.), Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Brandon Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Greg Garza (Grapevine, Texas), Jared Jeffrey (Dallas, Texas), Axel Levry (Fort Washington, Md.), Eder Arreola (Chino Hills, Calif.), Kirk Urso (Lombard, Ill.), Daniel Wenzel (Federal Way, Wash.)
FORWARDS (5): Bryan Dominguez (Atlanta, Ga.), Abdus Ibrahim (Richfield, Minn.), Ellis McLoughlin (Seattle, Wash.), Alex Nimo (Portland, Ore.), Billy Schuler (Allentown, N.J.)

U.S. U-17 WNT DEFEATS GERMANY U-17 WNT AT HDC: Forward Sydney Leroux and the U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team is off to a good start during the series of friendly matches between the U.S. U-17s and U.S. U-16 Girls’ National and the Germany U-17 Women's National Team at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. On March 2, the American teams got the five games in five days series going as the U.S. U-17s defeated the U.S. U-16s, 1-0, on a goal from Leroux in the 14th minute. On March 3, the U.S. U-17s squared off against the German U-17s with the USA coming away with a 2-0 victory as Leroux scored just before halftime off an assist from Tiffany McCarty and midfielder Teresa Noyola converted a penalty kick in the 90th minute. In a match that was short on scoring chances, featuring just six shots for the USA (but all on goal) and seven for the Germans, U.S. goalkeeper Jill Mastroianni went the distance to record her first international shutout at the U-17 level. The matches continue on Monday, March 5 with the U.S. U-16s facing Germany. Dean Duerst, an assistant coach for the U.S. U-21s, took over for this event from Erica Walsh, who was recently hired as the head women’s soccer coach at Penn State.

U.S. U-16/U-17 vs. Germany U-17 Game Results/Schedule
Friday, March 2 Kickoff HDC Field
U.S. U-17 1, U.S. U-16 0
Sunday, March 4
U.S. U-17 2, Germany U-17 0
Monday, March 5
U.S. U-16 vs. Germany U-17 4 p.m. PT Field 1
Tuesday, March 6
U.S. U-17 vs. Germany U-17 10 a.m. PT Field 1
Wednesday, March 7
U.S. U-16 vs. Germany U-17 10 a.m. PT Field 1


– AROUND THE SOCCER REGION –


SIX INVESTMENT GROUPS COMMIT TO NEW MAJOR PRO WOMEN’S SOCCER LEAGUE: Ownership groups representing franchises in six major U.S. cities have signed letters of intent to become charter members of the Women’s Soccer Initiative, Inc.’s effort to launch a new professional women’s soccer league. WSII CEO Tonya Antonucci made the announcement, saying the league anticipates a Spring 2008 launch, between the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2008 Olympic Women’s Football Tournament, both scheduled for China. The six announced teams are led by the following investors: AEG (Territory: Greater Los Angeles, Calif.); John Hendricks, Freedom Soccer LLC (Territory: Washington, D.C.); Jeff Cooper, St. Louis United Soccer LLC (Territory: St. Louis, Mo.); Soccer Initiative, LLC (Territory: TBD, pending its final decision to select a market); Jack Hanks and Brent Coralli, Dallas Franchise Group (Territory: Greater Dallas area, Texas); and WGLSI, LLC and an additional investor TBD (Territory: Chicago and Bridgeview, Ill.). “This is an important benchmark in the process to bring high-level professional women’s soccer back to North America,” Antonucci said. “We have taken both the lessons and the successes of the WUSA and applied them to create a business model that makes good economic sense.” The new league is built on a traditional franchise model and will play its games in stadiums designed specifically for soccer. This will give the teams opportunities to generate and retain more revenue and better showcase the sport. In creating the league, WSII will also build partnerships with established soccer and sports marketing organizations. The league is currently in negotiations with Major League Soccer’s marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, to represent its national sponsorship and marketing assets.

HOUSTON AND D.C. UNITED ADVANCE TO SEMIFINALS OF CONCACAF CHAMPIONS' CUP: D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup with victories last week against CD Olympia and Puntarenas, respectively. D.C. United defeated CD Olympia, 3-2, in their second leg to advance with a 7-3 aggregate, while Houston overcame a 1-0 loss in their first leg against Puntarenas with a 2-0 victory at home. D.C. United will now face CD Guadalajara, hosting the first leg of the home-and-home series on Thursday, March 15 at 8 p.m. at RFK Stadium. Houston will also host the first leg against Club Pachuca on Wednesday, March 14 at Robertson Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT. The away leg of this series will be played on Thursday, April 5, at 8:35 CT at Hidalgo Stadium in Pachuca, Mexico. The semifinal winners will play for the title on April 17-19 and 24-26, with the winner also qualifying to the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007. The CONCACAF Champions’ Cup is the longest running international club competition in the region and has crowned the champion club of the Confederation since its inception in 1962. The Dynamo qualified as MLS Cup Champions, and D.C. United qualified as Supporters’ Shield (regular season) winners.

CONCACAF Champions' Cup Schedule - U.S. Teams
Date Matchup Kickoff (ET) Location TV
March 14 Houston Dynamo vs. Club Pachuca 8:30 p.m. Robertson Stadium FSC
March 15 D.C. United vs. CD Guadalajara 8 p.m. RFK Stadium FSC
Full schedule at CONCACAF.com


– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –


MLS SETS QUALIFYING PAIRINGS FOR U.S. OPEN CUP: Major League Soccer has released their schedule for the first MLS play-in games for the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. For the first time, six MLS teams will try to qualify for the final two spots available in the tournament. Real Salt Lake will host the Kansas City Wizards on April 18 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and the Columbus Crew will host the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 24 at Crew Stadium. The winner of the Kansas City/Real Salt Lake game will play the Colorado Rapids, and the winner of Los Angeles/Columbus will play the New York Red Bulls. The second two play-in matches must take place prior to the qualifying deadline of May 28. The Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, D.C. United, New England Revolution, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo have already qualified for the Open Cup based on 2006 final standings.

MACCABI USA/SPORTS TO COMPETE IN MACCABI GAMES & PAN-AM MACCABI GAMES: Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel is looking for soccer players between the ages of 15-54 to participate on teams that will represent the USA in the 12th Annual European Maccabi Games in Rome, Italy, and at the 11th Annual Pan-Am Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maccabi USA is a volunteer organization that seeks to enrich the lives of Jewish youth in the United States, Israel and the Diaspora through athletic, cultural and educational programs. The European Maccabi Games will be held in Rome between July 4-12, 2007. A total of 16 sports are planned and more than 30 countries are expected to participate with over 2000 competing athletes. The Pan-Am Maccabi Games will be staged in Buenos Aires beginning on December 26 and conclude on January 2, 2008. More than 17 countries will compete in the event. To learn more and apply for a place on one of the teams, please visit the MUSA website at www.maccabiusa.com or call Ami Monson at 215-561-6900, ext 116.

HOST THE JR. OLYMPIC SKILLS COMPETITION IN YOUR COMMUNITY: U.S. Soccer and the United States Olympic Committee invite you to host the soccer portion of the Jr. Olympic Skills Competition. This is the second year of the program, and in its inaugural year in 2006, the program drew more than 1.5 million participants (of which 25 percent were soccer participants). The program is designed to provide 8 to 13-year-old boys and girls in your community with an opportunity to get involved in a soccer skills competition. For more information contact the Jr. Olympic Skills National Headquarters at joskills@usoc.org.


*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***


PEAK PERFORMER: After losing the first leg in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Confederations’ Cup, 1-0, Houston defeated Puntarenas FC, 2-0, in the return leg in College Station, Texas, to advance to the semifinals with a 2-1 aggregate. Paul Dalglish scored the opening goal, while it was Kelly Gray with the game-winner in the 74th minute. Houston will next face Mexican club Pachuca with the first leg coming at home on March 14.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Along with Houston, D.C. United also advanced to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Confederations Cup, which means MLS teams account for half the semifinal field in the CONCACAF Champions' Cup, the first time that's happened since the format went to a home-and-away series in 2002. With MLS teams still in preseason and hardly at top form, the achievement is nothing to sneeze at, especially due to the fact that an MLS team could end up in the FIFA Club World Cup, which could provide some welcomed international attention for the league.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: Barcelona’s hopes of retaining the Champions League title hinge on their match against Liverpool at Anfield on Tuesday (ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET). After a 2-1 home defeat in the first leg, Barca needs a big upset to move on, which may be tough to come by as the Spanish giants are slipping in league play as well with a loss to Sevilla this weekend which forced them to surrender the top spot in the Primera Liga. The odds are stacked against them as no team has ever successfully defended Europe's top club trophy in the Champions League era and it is 11 years since a team recovered from a first leg home defeat to progress.

QUOTABLE: "Anytime you go to a World Cup and you’re drawn with Brazil it’s exciting. For us to go out and measure ourselves against the best in the world is what this Under-20 competition is all about. With Poland and South Korea complementing Brazil we have a very interesting and tough group, but saying that, all 24 teams at this stage deserve to be there so there are no easy games.”
-- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen after the U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil on March 3 for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. [Rongen Full Interview]

×