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USA to Open 2001 Campaign Against China in Oakland on January 27


CHICAGO (Thursday, December 14, 2000) - The United States will begin its year-long quest to advance to the 2002 FIFA World Cup when it plays the People's Republic of China in an international friendly match at the Network Associates Coliseum in Oakland, California, on Saturday, January 27, 2001 at 2:30 p.m. PT. The match will be televised live on ESPN2.

China and the United States last met almost four years ago in China when the USA traveled to Asia for a pair of games in January and February 1997, where the Americans lost one game, 1-2, and tied another, 1-1. The United States has won three of the six all-time meetings between the two, earning two ties and losing once in a series that played its first game in 1977.

Led by former U.S. National Team head coach Bora Milutinovic, China finished fourth in the 2000 Asian Cup after falling to eventual champions Japan in the semifinals, and is ranked 71st in the most recent FIFA standings. The Chinese squad should include 27-year-old captain Zhang Enhua, who recently joined English First Division side Grimsby Town, and central midfield leader Li Tie.

Milutinovic coached the United States to a 30-34-31 record from 1991 to 1995, earning more coaching wins than any other American coach. Known simply as "Bora" to most of the soccer world, Milutinovic guided the U.S. through its successful 1994 World Cup run.

For the United States, the match marks the return to Oakland for the first time since a 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on February 7, 1998. The USA is undefeated in two games played at the Coliseum, having also defeated Cuba at the venue on February 1, 1998.

The match will serve as head coach Bruce Arena's first chance to look at his team in 2001 before the first qualifying match in CONCACAF's final round, against Mexico in Columbus, Ohio on February 28.

The U.S. squad will begin almost two months of training and friendly matches in early January, leading up to the crucial qualifying opener. Head coach Bruce Arena will gather a number of players at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California beginning January 5, 2001. The team is expected to arrive in the Oakland area and begin training for the Saturday match on Monday, January 22.

The United States concluded the 2000 season with a 9-2-6 record and captured 10 of a possible 12 points in the final four semifinal qualifying matches to finish in first place in Group E, ahead of Guatemala, Barbados and Costa Rica.

In 2001 the U.S. National Team will compete alongside Mexico, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Honduras and either Costa Rica or Guatemala for one of three spots in the 2002 World Cup that will be played in Korea/Japan.

Tickets for the USA's match against China, which will go on sale at 10:00 a.m. PT on Friday, December 15, will cost $20-$50 and can be purchased at all Bass Ticket Outlets, via the web at tickets.com, or by calling 510-762-2277. Group tickets for the match can be purchased by calling 619-460-7612.

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