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MNT vs. Group B – France 2003
--MNT vs. Turkey – Thursday, June 19 – 7 p.m. ET – Galavision (Same Day Delay)
--MNT vs. Brazil – Saturday, June 21 – 3 p.m. ET – TeleFutura (Live)
--MNT vs. Cameroon – Monday, June 23 – 9 p.m. ET – Galavision (Same Day Delay)

A stern reminder about an upcoming U.S. Soccer-related event, whether you plan to check it out live and in person, on the “telly” or that wacky world wide web.

No Zidane or Trezequet? No problem. No Ronaldo, Rivaldo or Roberto Carlos? No worries. The show will go on. The 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup will still be what it is intended to be: a solid mid-summer competition featuring four of the Top 10 teams in the world and four other rising nations in the Top 50.

The U.S. Men’s National Team has their work cut out for them, but it’s only fitting. When you find your way to the quarterfinals of the biggest soccer tournament in the world, you have something to live up to. It’s just a bit unlucky that it this World Cup post-test has to come against the likes of eighth-ranked Turkey, the defending champs (Brazil, to those who were on another planet with Brad Friedel last summer), and reigning African and Olympic champions Cameroon.

Turkey is led by a familiar face from last summer’s surprising success, its cork-under-the-eyes ‘keeper Rustu Recber, who proved to be one of the top goalies in a tournament filled with them. While their main motivation will undoubtedly be to avenge their two losses to Brazil in Japan a year ago, don’t expect them to overlook the U.S. when the two teams square off June 19 live at 1 p.m. ET on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and broadcast via tape delay on Galavision at 7 p.m. ET.

Then come the Samba Kings. Although the roster is missing three of the four R’s, I think any coach would agree that one is enough to wreak havoc on a defense.  In this case, that offensive oomph will be the job of Ronaldinho, whose 14 goals in 39 caps lead the current squad.  While fielding a largely untested starting 11, expect goalkeeper Dida, defender Emerson and midfielder Alex to provide strength down the middle as Brazil tries to continue its mastery of the U.S. on Sunday (June 21) live on TeleFutura and MatchTracker at 3 p.m. ET.

After battling two of the top three finishers at 2002 Korea/Japan, it doesn’t get any easier in the third opening round game, as a mighty Cameroon squad awaits. Stacked with veterans like defenders Rigobert Song and Geremi, midfielder Marc-Viven Foe, and forwards Samuel Etoo and Joseph-Desire Job, it looks like the Indomitable Lions are out for nothing less than another trophy to add to the shelf. Cameroon and the USA, who will be meeting for the first time since a hard-fought 1-1 draw at the U-23 level in Canberra, Australia, face off on Monday (June 23) live on MatchTracker at 3 p.m. ET and tape delay on Galavision at 9 p.m. ET.

With a third place finish in their last visit to this eight-team competition at Mexico ’99 and an Elite Eight finish a year ago, the U.S. should be riding high as they head into perhaps their toughest stretch of three games in a non-World Cup year, but they’ll need out-of-their-head performances from Tim Howard in goal and the likes of Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Clint Mathis and the rest of the gang that turned heads in Korea.

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Back in the U.S.S.A.: The Big Six Venues)
2) In Threes (w/ MNT defender Greg Vanney)
3) DeeJay for a Day (w/ U-17 MNT forward Guillermo Gonzalez)
4) Queries & Anecdotes (w/ WNT forward Mia Hamm)
5) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Group B – France 2003)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ MNT midfielder Eddie Lewis)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win the 2003 Confederations Cup?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (1999 Confederations Cup Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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