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U.S. Prepares For Epic Match Against Nigeria For Spot In Olympic Quarterfinals


U.S. Men’s Olympic Team
USA-Nigeria Pre-Game Notes
August 11, 2008

ONE MORE FOR THE GROUP: The U.S. Men’s Olympic Team enters the third and final Group B game against Nigeria in first place and with a chance to win the group and advance to the quarterfinal stage. Wednesday’s decisive match can be seen live on Aug. 13 at 5 a.m. ET on the USA Network. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The USA can claim the top spot in the group with a victory or a draw. They can also advance if Japan defeats or draws the Netherlands in their match, which kicks off simultaneously. Both the U.S. and Nigeria have four points from their first two matches, and have the same goal differential of +1, but the U.S. has the edge on the second tiebreaker – goals for.

Group B Standings
Team W  L   T   Pts  GF  GA  GD
USA    1   0   1    4      3     2    +1
NGA   1   0   1    4       2     1   +1
NED   0   0   2    2      2      2    --
JPN    0   2   0    0      2      4    -2

Aug. 7
Japan 0, USA 1
Netherlands 0, Nigeria 0

Aug. 10
Nigeria 2, Japan 1
USA 2, Netherlands 2

Aug. 13
Netherlands vs. Japan, 5 a.m. ET
Nigeria vs. USA, 5 a.m. ET

UNPRECEDENTED BEGINNING: The U.S. Men’s Olympic Team has never before taken four points from its first two games at the Olympics, and in Beijing they have done it in style. A 47th minute goal from Stuart Holden proved to be the game-winner in the 1-0 victory against Japan on Aug. 7 in Tianjin. An epic battle with the Netherlands followed in a game that saw the U.S. come back from a goal down to take the lead on goals from Sacha Kljestan and Jozy Altidore, only to see a stoppage time rocket from the Dutch end the game locked in a 2-2 draw. In 2000, during the USA’s last run through the Olympics, the team won their opener but lost the second game. They came away with a tie in the third match to advance to the quarterfinals, where they defeated Japan in penalty kicks. With that game officially going down as a draw, the USA has never won two games in the Olympic Tournament.

2008 U.S. Men’s Olympic Team Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (4): Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Freddy Adu (Monaco), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Brian McBride (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

QUICK HITS:

  • U.S. forward Freddy Adu and midfielder Michael Bradley will both miss Wednesday night’s match due to yellow card accumulation. Both players picked up a caution in each of the USA’s first two matches.
  • Two Nigerians who started both matches so far – Olubayo Adefemi and Onyekachi Apam – will also miss Wednesday night’s match after accumulating two yellow cards.
  • Yellow cards accumulated during the first four games are cancelled out after the quarterfinal round.
  • The 47th minute goal scored by Stuart Holden against Japan on Aug. 7 was the first scored by the U.S. Men’s Olympic Team since September 26, 2000, when Peter Vagenas scored in the team’s 1-3 semifinal loss to Spain in Sydney.
  • The United States and Nigeria have never met in the Olympics.
  • Nigeria made history by becoming the first nation outside of Europe and South America to win Gold at the Olympics when they took the title in 1996 in Atlanta.
  • The U.S. has used a total of 14 of 18 players on the roster throughout the first two matches. U.S. coach Peter Nowak sent out the same starting XI against Japan and the Netherlands, and both Jozy Altidore and Benny Feilhaber entered each match as a substitute. Danny Szetela provided defensive cover for the final three minutes in the 1-0 win against Japan.
  • The Beijing Games are the 13th Olympic tournament for the U.S. Men, more than any nation except Italy (15). Meantime, the Nigerians are playing in their sixth Olympic Games.
  • There are 12 players on the roster who helped the team qualify for the Olympics in March. Adu and fellow midfielder Dax McCarty, along with defenders Maurice Edu and Michael Orozco, were named to the Qualifying Tournament Best XI. Midfielder Sacha Kljestan earned an Honorable Mention.
  • Of the four players named as alternates to the U.S. team, only goalkeeper Dominic Cervi will travel with the team throughout their stay in China.
  • Seven players were part of the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Altidore was among the leaders of that tournament with four goals, Adu had three and Bradley scored the overtime winner in the Round of 16 match against Uruguay.
  • Six players participated in the 2005 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, including Adu and Szetela, the only players to have appeared for the U.S. more than once. Other members of the 2005 team included Feilhaber, Patrick Ianni, Kljestan and Marvell Wynne.
  • The U.S. team ranges in age from 18 (Altidore) to 36 (Brian McBride). The other two overage players – Brad Guzan and Michael Parkhurst - were both born in 1984, making them less than a year too old to be considered Under-23.
  • Parkhurst was named Major League Soccer’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 at just 23 years old, while Guzan was last year's MLS Goalkeeper of the Year at the same age. Edu was also an award winner last year, as he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

NIGERIA’S ‘DREAM TEAM IV’ GOING FOR GOLD: Nigeria’s Olympic squad entered the 2008 Games with high hopes and expectations following the country’s second place finish in the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Much of that squad makes up the backbone of the current team, who qualified for Beijing on the final matchday, winning 3-0 against South Africa while eliminating group heavyweights Ghana. Head coach Samson Siasia – an 11-year veteran of the Nigerian national team who started three games in the 1994 FIFA World Cup – has collected a talented and diverse squad led by the strikeforce of Victor Obinna and Everton forward Victor Anichebe. The pair of Victors were the goalscorers in Nigeria’s 2-1 win against Japan. Combined with a hard fought 0-0 draw against the Netherlands to open the tournament, the ‘Dream Team IV’ heads into Wednesday in a difficult position. Despite holding four points and second place in the group, only a victory guarantees their place in the medal phase.

2008 Nigeria Olympic Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ikechukwu EZENWA (Ocean Boys), Ambruse VANZEKIN (Akwa United)
DEFENDERS (5): Olubayo ADEFEMI (Hapoel Bnei Lod), Dele ADELEYE (Sparta Rotterdam), Efe AMBROSE (Kaduna Utd), Onyekachi APAM (Nice), Chibuzor OKONKWO (Bayelsa United)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Ebenezer AJILORE (Groningen), Emmanuel EKPO (Columbus Crew), Promise ISAAC (Trabzonspor), Monday JAMES (out of contract), Sani KAITA (Sparta Rotterdam), Oladapo OLUFEMI (Boavista)
FORWARDS (5): Victor ANICHEBE (Everton), Chinedu OGBUKE OBASI (1899 Hoffenheim), Victor OBINNA (Chievo), Peter ODEMWINGIE (Lokomotiv Moscow), Solomon OKORONKWO (Hertha Berlin)

Last Time Out:
USA
August 10, 2008 - Olympic Center Stadium, Tianjin - Olympic Games, Group B
USA    2  Kljestan 64’; Altidore 72’
NED   2  Babel 17’; Sibon 93+

USA: Guzan; Wynne, Edu, Parkhurst, Orozco; Holden, Bradley, Kljestan, Rogers (Altidore, 65); Adu (Feilhaber, 80), McBride
NED: Vermeer, Zuiverloon, Marcellis (Makaay, 75), Jaliens, de Guzman, Emanuelson, Maduro, Drenthe (10-Sibon, 75), 17-Bakkal, 11-Babel, 16-Beerens (Jong-a-Pin, 69)

NIGERIA
August 10, 2008 – Olympic Center Stadium, Tianjin – Olympic Games, Group B
NGA   2   Victor Obinna, 58, Victor Anichebe, 74
JPN    1   Yohei Toyoda, 79
NGA: Vanzekin; Okonkwo, Apam, Adeleye, Kaita, Obinna (Ekpo, 77), Isaac (Ogbuke Obasi, 73), Okoronkwo, Ajilore, Adefemi, Odemwingie (Anichebe, 62)
JPN: Nishikawa; Hosogai (Kajiyama, 75), Mizumoto, Morishige, Uchida, Honda, Taniguchi, Yasuda, Kagawa (Toyoda, 63), Honda, Lee (Okazaki, 63)

GETTING THE POINT: While the players are preparing for their key match against Nigeria, you can still take a look back at their epic draw against the Netherlands on Sunday. We caught up with the players post-game to get their reaction to the game and to sitting on top of a difficult Group B. They also spoke about their upcoming opponent, Nigeria. To hear what they had to say, check out ussoccer.com.

MO’S MOVE: U.S. Men’s Olympic Team defender Maurice Edu hasn’t been a defender for very long. He has made the move from central midfield, where he plays for both Toronto FC and the full National Team, to central defender for the Olympic Games. While it’s not as drastic as asking Tyson Gay to run the 10,000 meters instead of the 100 meters, it’s still a difficult transition. But for ‘Mo,’ as he’s called by his teammates, it’s been smooth sailing through the team’s first two games. Read about Mo’s smooth transition to the U.S. backline here.

EXPERIENCE OF A LIFETIME: The U.S. Men spent part of the day after their first match against Japan attending one of the biggest spectacles the world has ever seen – the Opening Ceremonies. In ussoccer.com’s exclusive video, the players show off their parade outfits and talk about the experience, which some called ‘the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.”

NBC TO PROVIDE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVELY FOR OLYMPIC SOCCER COVERAGE: NBC Universal has launched a channel exclusively dedicated to full coverage of Men’s and Women’s Soccer at the 2008 Olympic Games. A total of 32 Men’s and 26 Women’s Soccer Games will be shown in their entirety on the NBC Olympic Soccer Channel, in addition to coverage on USA Network, MSNBC and live streaming on NBCOlympics.com. The seven NBC Networks — NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, USA, Oxygen, Telemundo and Universal HD — will provide an unprecedented 3,600 hours of coverage, all in high definition. NBCOlympics.com will also provide over 3,000 hours of on-demand access to full event replays and extensive highlights. The NBC Olympic Soccer Channel is available on most major cable, satellite and telephone companies and distributors.

STUDIO 90 IN FULL EFFECT: The Studio 90 crew is splitting time between China and the home offices in Chicago, and you can come along on the journey. Today’s video holds a preview of the U.S. Men’s climactic group match against Nigeria, with post-match reaction following the U.S. Women’s 4-0 domination of New Zealand on the way later today - and very early tomorrow morning, if you’re following from Beijing! Don't forget to tune in all week long where U.S. Soccer's all_access video will have all the inside scoop as the U.S. teams continue their Olympic journey.

JOIN U.S. FANS TO WATCH U.S. OLYMPIC SOCCER AT A LOCAL WATERING HOLE: What's better than being surrounded by jersey-clad fans that live and die with every breath-taking goal, nerve-racking foul and brilliant save? If that's the tradition that you're looking for - and some great food to boot - head to the Official U.S. Soccer Bars to take in the USA's matches as they search for Olympic Gold. Summer’s Grill and Sports Bar in Arlington, Va. is showing the game at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. ET. Nevada Smith’s will be the place to watch the game in New York City, with a viewing at 12 p.m. ET and repeats all day. The Globe Pub in Chicago will be the place to catch the action in the Midwest, with the replay party starting at 7 p.m. CT.

BUSY BLOGGING: The Olympic Team has made it to the Olympic capital – Beijing, and the YNT Blog is there with them every step of the way. For all the behind-the-scenes happenings from the Olympic Village, Workers Stadium and everything in between, click on http://ynt-ussoccer.blogspot.com.

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