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U.S. Soccer Wire: "Nike Road to Korea" Set for D.C., N.Y. & Boston; Arena Names Roster to Face Italy on Wednesday


U.S. SOCCER ANNOUNCES “NIKE ROAD TO KOREA” AGAINST HOLLAND, JAMAICA, URUGUAY: The U.S. Men’s National Team will play European power Holland in the USA’s World Cup send-off match on May 19 at CMGI Field in Foxboro, Mass., in the final game of the three-game “Nike Road to Korea.”  The match will be televised live at 2 p.m. ET on ABC.  The last time the U.S. played in Foxboro, Mass., the team earned a spot in the World Cup in Korea/Japan with a 2-1 win over Jamaica in front of 40,483 fans at Foxboro Stadium.  The “Nike Road to Korea” will include three domestic matches before the U.S. departs for Korea and the 2002 World Cup in late May.  Before playing Holland on May 19, the U.S. will face Uruguay on May 12 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., in a game that will be televised live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET.  The U.S. then travels north to face Jamaica on May 16 at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in a match that will be shown live on ESPN2 at 7:30 p.m. ET. The announcement of the three-game “Nike Road to Korea” completes the USA’s preparation schedule prior to departing for the World Cup. Including the Gold Cup, the U.S. will have faced seven World Cup-bound sides in 2002 prior to kicking off the World Cup on June 5 against Portugal.

ARENA NAMES 18-MAN ROSTER TO FACE THREE-TIME WORLD CHAMPION ITALY:  United States Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena has named an 18-man roster to face three-time World Champion Italy on Wednesday, Feb. 13 in Catania, Sicily in a match that will be televised live on ESPN.  Kickoff at the Stadio Cibali is set for 2:45 p.m. ET (8:45 p.m. local).  Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.  U.S. captain Claudio Reyna will lead a largely European-based squad that gathers for the first time in 2002.  Six domestic-based players fill out the roster, the MLS contingent coming off a tremendous performance in Gold Cup play. The U.S. and Italy most recently met on June 6, 1992 in Chicago, and the U.S. came from behind for a 1-1 draw.
Goalkeepers: Brad Friedel (Blackburn Rovers-England), Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur-England);
Defenders: Jeff Agoos (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Gregg Berhalter (Crystal Palace-England), Frankie Hejduk (Bayer Leverkusen -Germany), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids-MLS), David Regis (F.C. Metz-France), Tony Sanneh (Nürnberg-Germany);
Midfielders: Chris Armas (Chicago Fire-MLS) Cobi Jones (Los Angeles Galaxy-MLS), Eddie Lewis (Fulham FC-England), John O’Brien (Ajax-Holland),  Claudio Reyna (Sunderland-England), Earnie Stewart (NAC Breda-Holland);
Forwards: Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Jovan Kirovski, (Crystal Palace-England), Joe-Max Moore (Everton-England), Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire-MLS).

U.S.-ITALY TO BE SHOWN LIVE ON ESPN ON WEDNESDAY:  The U.S. Men’s National Team’s match against Italy in on Wed., Feb. 13, will be televised live on ESPN at 2:30  p.m. ET.  The U.S. face the three-time World Cup champions at Stadio Cibali in Catania, Sicily, in a match that will kick-off at 2:45 pm ET.

U.S. WOMEN FACE SWEDEN, ENGLAND, NORWAY AT UPCOMING ALGARVE CUP: The U.S. Women's National Team will travel to Portugal in late February to participate in the 9th Algarve Cup, one of the most prestigious invitational women's tournaments in the world, being held March 1-7, 2002, in the scenic Algarve region on the southern tip of the country.  The USA was drawn into Group B, where three intriguing match-ups await against defending Algarve Cup champs Sweden, an England squad undergoing a tremendous growth spurt and Olympic champion Norway.  For the first time, the tournament will feature 12 teams, up from the usual eight.  Group A features China, Germany, Denmark and Finland. The new Group C will feature host Portugal, Canada, Scotland and Wales.  The U.S. will face a grueling schedule of four games in seven days, something the USA may be used to after playing three games in five days at the recent Four Nations Tournament in China.  A U.S. roster along with final kickoff times and venues will be announced later this week.

UPDATE ON EUROPEAN BASED U.S. PLAYERS:  Former U.S. Under-20 standout Cory Gibbs and Chicago Fire midfielder Dema Kovalenko helped FC St Pauli to the biggest surprise of the German season, as St. Pauli topped German power Bayern Munich 2-1 midweek.  Gibbs played a solid 90-minutes, helping to shut out the Bundesliga’s leading scorer Claudio Pizarro and was named to Kicker’s “Team of the Week” for all of the Bundesliga’s midweek games. Kovalenko also played 90 minutes, and with the win St. Pauli moved out of the Bundesliga cellar.  Gibbs played all 90 minutes, while Kovalenko started and played the first 29 minutes in a 0-4 loss to Schalke on Feb. 9.  Kovalenko has started four straight games for St Pauli, who now sit 17th out of 18 teams and appear ready for relegation.  Brad Friedel and Blackburn lost to Fulham 2-0 and are not sitting in the relegation zone (18th place) for the first time all season.  Rovers have lost four straight league matches and are fighting to stay in England’s top flight.  Claudio Reyna played all 90 minutes to help Sunderland post a 1-0 win over Derby County.  Reyna had a goal called back in the win, Sunderland’s first league win since Dec. 26, 2001. Joe-Max Moore came on as a late sub in Everton’s 1-0 loss to Arsenal.  Moore has now played in 13 of Everton’s last 14 matches across all competitions, and Everton sit just three points above the relegation zone. John O’Brien played all 90 minutes as Ajax topped RKC Waalwijk 3-1 on Sunday. With the win, Ajax remains level with Feyenoord at the top of the table with 45 points through 21 matches.  Earnie Stewart went the entire match in a midweek 2-2 draw with Sparta.  NAC Breda have not won in three league games since the winter break, but still sit in fifth spot. David Regis played all 90 minutes in two games this week as the FC Metz defense posted two shutouts.  Metz topped Nantes 2-0 midweek, before playing Montpellier to a scoreless draw on Saturday. Greg Vanney played 90 minutes in two matches for Bastia last week. Bastia drew 1-1 with Monaco on Wednesday, before topping Nancy 2-0 over the weekend in the round of 16 of the Coupe de France. Vanney has played 90 minutes in each of Bastia’s last five matches. Tony Sanneh helped Nurnberg to two big wins last week, topping VfB Stuttgart 3-2 midweek and coming back to beat TSV 1860 Munich 2-1 on Saturday. Sanneh played all 90 minutes in both matches, and Nurnberg has now won three straight matches after winning just three matches in the first half of the season. Hannover lost their first league game of the season, losing 4-2 at VfL Bochum.  Steve Cherundolo played 90 minutes, and Conor Casey came on to play the final 18 minutes.

ITALY ANNOUNCES ROSTER FOR FRIENDLY vs. U.S. ON WEDNESDAY:  Forwards Christian Vieri, Alessandro Del Piero and Marco DiVaio were among 22 players selected by Italy coach Giovanni Trapattoni for Wednesday's friendly against the U.S.  Vieri and Di Vaio have scored 14 goals each this season and are among the Italian League leaders.  Barcelona’s Francesco Coco was picked to make up for the absence of injured defenders Paolo Maldini and Alessandro Nesta.
Goalkeepers: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Francesco Toldo (Inter Milan); 
Defenders:  Davide Bonera (Brescia), Fabio Cannavaro (Parma), Francesco Coco (Barcelona), Mark Iuliano (Juventus), Marco Materazzi (Inter), Cristiano Anucci (Roma), Gianluca Pessotto (Juventus);
Midfielders:  Antonino Asta (Torino), Angelo Di Livio (Fiorentina), Cristiano Doni (Atalanta of Bergamo), Ivan Gattuso (AC Milan), Alessio Tacchinardi (Juventus), Damiano Tommasi (AS Roma), Gianluca Zambrotta (Juventus), Cristiano Zanetti (Inter Milan);
Forwards: Alessandro Del Piero (Juventus), Marco Di Vaio (Parma), Massimo Marazzina (Chievo), Francesco Totti (AS Roma), Christian Vieri (Inter Milan).

- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE -

U.S. UNDER-23s POST ONE WIN, TWO DRAWS IN PORTUGAL, FACE ITALY ON TUESDAY:  The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team played their first internationals since the 2000 Olympics this past week, posting two draws against Slovakia and Portugal. The U.S. Under-23s battled back to tie Portugal 1-1 in the final - and perhaps the best - game of the 6th Annual Madeira International Tournament at Estadio dos Barreiros in Funchal, Portugal today. With the tie, the USA finished with an undefeated 1-0-2 record for five points, good for second place in the four-team field. Alecko Eskandarian scored the equalizer against Portugal and was named the tournament's Top Goal Scorer with two goals in three games. The U.S. Under-23s wrap up their first foreign tour with a match against Italy on Tuesday at 8:45 p.m. (2:45 p.m. ET). Fans back home can follow the match via live updates on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

U.S. UNDER-18 MEN CLOSE OUT CAMP WITH 5-0 WIN OVER UNDER-17s: The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team ended their first training camp with a 5-0 defeat of the U.S. Under-17s in Bradenton, Fla.  After a scoreless first half, the U.S. Under-18s scored five times in the second half – including four in the last 15 minutes.  The U-18s got two goals apiece from Sergio Flores and Arturo Alvarez and one from Adam Christman in the win.  Earlier in the week, the U-18s topped the Under-19 IMG Academy squad 1-0 after falling to the Chicago Fire 2-0.  The U-18s are scheduled to regroup in March for a training camp in Chula Vista, Calif.

U.S. UNDER-17s ANNOUNCE SCHEDULE FOR HAVELANGE TOURNAMENT: The U.S. Under-17s will face Brazil, Panama and Angola in group play when they travel to Campos, Brazil, for the Mundialito Joao Havelange from March 2–10.  The U.S. was drawn into Group “A” at the tournament, which will feature the first four international matches the current Under-17s will play at the Under-17 level. The Under-17s are scheduled to close out the month of March by taking part in the Montaigue Tournament in Montaigue, France.

-  MLS SUPERDRAFT -

SIX U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM PLAYERS CHOSEN IN SUPERDRAFT:  Six U.S. Youth National Team players were selected in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft, including four of the first eight selections.  U.S. Under-23 midfielder Brad Davis was the first selected, going to the Metrostars with the third selection of the draft. Two of Davis’ teammates on the U.S. Under-23s - Kyle Martino and Kelly Gray - also went in the first eight picks. Gray was selected with the fifth pick by the Chicago Fire, and Martino went to the Columbus Crew with the eighth pick.  Justin Mapp (4th pick – D.C. United), Jordan Stone (15th pick – Dallas Burn) and Craig Capano (17th pick – Chicago Fire) rounded out the U.S. YNT presence at the draft.  Capano, who is a member of the U.S. Under-18s as well as the Under-20s, becomes the youngest player in the league. 

MLS WAIVER DRAFT ON FEB. 14:  With the MLS 2002 SuperDraft complete, MLS teams now have until February 12 to cut their rosters to 27 players (23 senior, 4 developmental).  Two days later, a waiver draft will be held at 3 p.m. ET.  The pool for this draft will include those players waived on Tuesday, and any former players from the Miami Fusion and Tampa Bay Mutiny that went unselected in January's Allocation/Dispersal Drafts.  Teams will have until March 15, before they must be in final compliance with the League's 22-player roster limit.

GBANDI SELECTED FIRST OVERALL BY DALLAS BURN IN MLS SUPERDRAFT: Chris Gbandi, the 2000 Hermann Trophy Winner from the University of Connecticut, was selected by the Dallas Burn with the first overall pick in today's MLS SuperDraft.  The six-round SuperDraft featured the selection of 66 players from the college and professional ranks, including five Nike Project-40 players taken in the first 17 selections. Midfielders carried the day, as 14 of the first 20 selections saw teams stock their rosters with young field generals and flank players.  Among those taken in the first round were Nike Project-40's Brad Davis (MetroStars), Justin Mapp (D.C. United) and Kelly Gray (Chicago), each selected in succession with the third, fourth and fifth picks. Also heading to Chicago will be 16-year old Craig Capano (17th overall) who joins the Fire's midfield corps as the youngest player currently under contract with MLS. The defending MLS Champion San Jose Earthquakes reloaded with offensive talent, taking 2001 Hermann Trophy and Missouri Athletic Club Award winner Luchi Gonzalez with the sixth overall pick. Gonzalez, who was also named the NSCAA Division I Player of the Year, will join a strike force that features Landon Donovan, Ariel Graziani and Dwayne DeRosario. Gonzalez was one of three players taken from SMU's top-ranked squad that finished with an overall record of 21-1 this past fall. 

-  AROUND THE SOCCER NATION -

GRAZIANI-FOR-CERRITOS DEAL HIGHLIGHTS WEEK OF MAJOR MLS TRADES: The San Jose Earthquakes and the Dallas Burn swapped high-scoring strikers this week, as the Quakes acquired two-time MLS All-Star Ariel Graziani in exchange for three-time all-star Ronald Cerritos and a second round draft pick (#17 overall) in the 2002 MLS SuperDraft.  Graziani led the Dallas Burn in goals scored the past two seasons, netting 15 in 2000 and 11 in 2001, while helping lead Dallas to the playoffs in both seasons.  Cerritos is the all-time leading scorer in San Jose history, amassing 55 goals and 38 assists for 148 career points, which ranks sixth all-time in league history in goals and seventh all-time in points. Chicago traded Diego Gutierrez, one of the team’s original players, to the Wizards for KC’s first round draft pick, which the Fire used to select Kelly Gray. Chicago also sent their sixth round pick (65th overall) to the Wizards. Gutierrez was a member of the Wizards before going to Chicago as part of the MLS Expansion Draft in November, 1997.  Richie Williams, who won three MLS Cups with D.C. United before being traded prior to the 2001 MLS Season, will return to RFK Stadium this season after a draft-day deal that sent the defensive midfielder to D.C. United for Brian Kamler and future considerations.  While Richie Williams will be returning to D.C., Carey Talley will be bidding adieu to the nation’s capital. Talley was traded to the Wizards for future considerations. Talley started 20 of 22 games in which he appeared in 2001, notching two goals and three assists while being second on the team in minutes played with 1,890.

SLATON GOES FIRST AT 2002 WUSA DRAFT:  Danielle Slaton was the first player selected at the 2002 WUSA Draft, highlighting a first round that saw seven U.S. Youth National Team players selected.  Slaton was the youngest member of the 2000 Olympic team that captured the silver medal in Sydney.  Abby Wambach and Jena Kluegel, who went second and third in the draft, have both been capped by U.S. WNT head coach April Heinrichs. 

—  WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN —

CAMEROON DEFENDS AFRICAN NATIONS CUP WITH SHOOTOUT WIN:  Cameroon became the first country in 27 years to retain the African Nations Cup after topping Senegal 3-2 in penalties following a 0-0 draw.  Goalkeeper Boukar Alioum saved two penalties to give Cameroon a shootout victory for the second successive final.  Cameroon did not allow a goal during the entire tournament.  Nigeria topped Mali 1-0 to finish in third place.

WEDNESDAY OF WORLD CUP FRIENDLIES:  Many of the teams that will be playing in the 2002 World Cup will be active this Wednesday, Feb. 13. The USA’s three first-round opponents – Portugal, Korea and Poland – all play on Feb. 13.  Following are six friendlies – in addition to U.S. vs. Italy -  that should interest U.S. fans: 
* Wales vs. Argentina
* Spain vs. Portugal
* Netherlands vs. England
* Uruguay vs. Korea
* Poland vs. Northern Ireland
* France vs. Romania 

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMERS:  Chris Gbandi and Danielle Slaton were the first players selected in the MLS SuperDraft and WUSA Draft, respectively. Gbandi, a three-time All-American, was selected by the Dallas Burn, and Slaton, the youngest member of the 2000 U.S. Women’s Olympic Team, was picked by the Carolina Courage.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  The U.S. Men’s National Team faces three-time World Champion Italy on Feb. 13 in Catania, Sicily in a match that will be televised live on ESPN.  Kickoff at the Stadio Cibali is set for 2:45 p.m. ET.  Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s Match Tracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Cory Gibbs and Dema Kovalenko helped FC St. Pauli pull off the biggest shocker in Germany this season, as St. Pauli topped Bayern Munich 2-1 on Wednesday.  The win was just St. Pauli’s third of the season and helped moved them out of the Bundesliga cellar, where they have spent much of the season.

QUOTABLE:
"[Zinedine] Zidane is a phenomenon, as good as me and Michael Jordan put together. I lived one of the most inspiring nights of my life and saw a great spectacle. I will never forget Zidane's goal. His combination of athleticism and technique, eye-foot coordination, is inspiring."
- NBA legend Magic Johnson, after witnessing his first soccer match - Real Madrid's 3-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruna (Boston Globe).
 

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