CHICAGO (Wednesday, December 4, 2002) - The U.S. Men’s National Team will open 2003 with an international match against Canada at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., on Saturday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET.
The match against Canada is a rematch of the team’s 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal clash on January 30 in Pasadena, Calif., which was won by the U.S. in penalty kicks after a well-played 0-0 draw. In that game, the U.S. outshot Canada 36 to 10 but were stone-walled by a brilliant performance from Canadian goalkeeper Lars Hirschfeld. In the penalty kick shutout, though, it was U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller who rose to the occasion, stopping two of four Canadian penalty kicks as the U.S. won easily, 4-2.
"We are looking forward to the game against Canada,” said U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena, who has won a record 34 games since taking the U.S. helm back in 1998. “Our last game against them in the 2002 Gold Cup was a great one. They have an experienced team, with a roster filled with players from European clubs. Like us, Canada is preparing their team for qualifying for the 2006 World Cup, therefore, this game will be great preparation for both countries."
In their history, the U.S. and Canada have squared off against each other 25 times in a rivalry dating all the way back to 1925, with the U.S. holding a slight 9-8-8 advantage. However, the United States has not lost to Canada in nine consecutive games, compiling a 5-0-4 mark in a stretch dating back more than 17 years to a 2-0 loss in Vancouver on April 2, 1985.
The U.S. is also currently riding a three-game shutout streak over Canada, and has held their Northern neighbors scoreless in seven of their last eight match-ups.
In their last visit to Lockhart Stadium, the U.S. used a last-minute goal by D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen to defeat Chile 2-1 on Feb. 21, 1999. That appearance was the first for the U.S. at Lockhart Stadium since playing a pair of World Cup qualifiers in Ft. Lauderdale way back in 1980 against Canada (a 0-0 draw on Oct. 25, 1980) and Mexico (a 2-1 win on Nov. 23, 1980). Altogether, the U.S. is 2-0-1 in three games in Ft. Lauderdale.
The U.S. will kick-off the 2003 calendar year with a training camp in Bradenton, Fla., during the first week of January. The training camp and a comprehensive schedule of games throughout the first half of the year will help prepare the team for two important summer competitions. The U.S. will travel to France for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup from June 18-29, 2003, and the team will compete in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup from July 12-27, 2003, as the tournament moves into a bi-annual schedule in which it will be played every odd year moving forward.
In addition to winning a U.S. record 12 games in 2002, the U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup for the first time in 72 years. However, with both the Confederations and Gold Cup approaching, and with 2006 World Cup qualifying kicking off in 2004, the preparation for the future begins against Canada.
The U.S. will learn who their 2003 Confederations Cup opponents will be at the tournament draw on Februray 12, 2003. In addition to the U.S. and host France, Brazil, Cameroon, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand and Turkey have all qualified for the 2003 Confederations Cup. Additional U.S. matches will be officially announced and added to the team’s 2003 schedule shortly.
Tickets ranging in price levels from $17 to $40 go on sale starting Saturday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. ET 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 on-line at www.ussoccer.com. Discount rates for groups of 20 or more are available immediately through U.S. Soccer by calling 312-528-1249.