FOUR DAYS AND COUNTING: Only three training sessions remain before the United States takes on two-time World Champion Argentina at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., at 11:55 a.m. ET live on ESPN2, Telemundo and Radio Unica. The match can also be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. As of today, the U.S. MNT has conducted 29 training sessions since opening training camp on Jan. 4 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The team will move operations to Ft. Lauderdale on Feb. 6, less than 48 hours prior to kickoff, and will train at the Orange Bowl at 12 p.m. ET on Friday. Advance tickets for the Argentina match are priced from $15 to $35 and are on sale now at all South Florida Ticketmaster outlets (including FYE, Spec’s Music and Ricky’s Records), by phone (Ft. Lauderdale 954-523-3309; Miami 305-358-5885; West Palm Beach 561-966-3309) and online at ussoccer.com.
FITNESS REPORT: MetroStars defender Eddie Pope made his first appearance in a full-sided scrimmage today, playing 45 minutes in central defense against the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team. Pope has been participating in full training sessions for the last several days after nearly three months of rehabilitation following knee surgery. DaMarcus Beasley suffered a contusion in his right shin, and will be examined by team trainers later today. Meantime, Columbus Crew defender Chad McCarty has missed the last two days with a sprained ankle, and L.A. Galaxy midfielder Sasha Victorine returned to action after sitting out yesterday’s session with a right quad contusion.
ARENA, MASTROENI TO BE FEATURED ON CONFERENCE CALL TOMORROW AT 1 P.M. ET: U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena and Argentine-born U.S. World Cup midfielder Pablo Mastroeni will be featured in a special conference call tomorrow (Wednesday, Feb. 5) at 1 p.m. ET to discuss the upcoming games against Argentina and Jamaica.
A HOUSE DIVIDED: For U.S. midfielder Pablo Mastroeni, the match against Argentina represents a special chance to earn bragging rights. Born in Mendoza, Argentina, he moved with his family to the United States at the age of four. With much of his family still in Argentina, his father remains a fervent supporter of his home country, so passionate that he is unable to sit through an entire match when Argentina takes the field. Mastroeni gained U.S. citizenship in 2001, and played his first match for the United States on June 7, 2001 in the 0-0 draw against Ecuador. Still no word on which jersey the elder Mastroeni will wear Saturday.
vs. ARGENTINA: The United States holds a 2-4-0 lifetime record against Argentina, collecting victories in the last two meetings. The Feb. 8 match will be the third ever on U.S. soil. The countries last met June 13, 1999 in Washington, D.C., when a Joe-Max Moore goal lifted the U.S. to a 1-0 victory. The previous win came four years earlier, when the United States shocked Argentina 3-0 on July 14, 1995 en route to a fourth-place finish at the Copa America in Uruguay. The match also represents the third time Bruce Arena will have managed a U.S. team against Argentina, having served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 when the USA fell 3-1 in their opening match before 83,183 fans in Birmingham, Alabama.
ARGENTINA DROPS HONDURAS 3-1, MEETS MEXICO TONIGHT BEFORE U.S. CLASH: Despite finishing with nine men on the field, Argentina came back from an early one-goal deficit to defeat Honduras 3-1 on Jan. 31 in San Pedro Sula behind an equalizer from forward Diego Milito and second-half goals from midfielders Luiz and Mariano Gonzalez. Argentina will face Mexico tonight at the L.A. Coliseum live on Telemundo at 10:30 p.m. ET in the second game of a three-game tour of the Americas.
January 31, 2003, San Pedro Sula, Estadio Olímpico
HONDURAS 1 Saúl Martinez 7
ARGENTINA 3 Diego Milito 15, Luis Gonzalez 53, Mariano Gonzalez 56
HON: Víctor Coello; Héctor Gutiérrez (Maynor Figueroa, 30), Arnold Cruz, Sergio Mendoza, Edgard Alvarez, Rony Morales, Alex Andino, Amado Guevara, Francisco Pavón (Walter Martínez, 77), Jairo Martínez (Maynor Suazo, 62), Saúl Martínez (Angel Gil, 79).
Sent off: Figueroa, 46
ARG: Sebastián Saja; Ariel Garcé, Nicolás Burdisso, Gabriel Milito, Leonardo Ponzio (Sebastián Bataglia, 46), Pablo Guiñazú, Mariano González (Clemente Rodríguez, 85), Luis González, Federico Inzúa (Gonzalo Rodríguez, 80), Andrés D'Alesandro, Diego Milito (César Garignano, 87).
Sent off: G. Milito, 73; Garcé 79'
CONVEY CROONING: Already an accomplished player for D.C. United and several U.S. national teams, Bobby Convey also appears to have skills as a singer. During a recent meal with fellow players at a local restaurant, Convey joined a guitarist on stage and belted out two songs for the dinner crowd. “Pretty damn good,” said fellow United midfielder Ben Olsen, which is about as good a praise as one can expect from a teammate.
WHO WILL BE NUMBER 600? When Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia entered in the 77th minute against Canada on Jan. 18, he became the 599th player to make at least one appearance for the United States Men’s National Team since their inaugural match, a 3-2 win against Sweden on August 20, 1916. The U.S. has played 417 matches in the 87 years since, compiling a 145-178-94 lifetime record.