The announcement came after it was ruled that "over-age" midfielder Chris Armas would be unfit to compete in the Sydney 2000 Games after a medical evaluation earlier this week. Coming on the heels of Adin Brown's withdrawal from the team yesterday due to leg injuries, the Armas decision left two open spots - one Under-23 and one "over-age" - on the final 18-man roster, which must be submitted by the Sept. 1 deadline.
"Obviously, I'm very disappointed that Chris (Armas) and Adin (Brown) won't be joining us in Sydney. I'm sorry for them, and I'm sorry for us," said U.S. U-23 Head Coach Clive Charles, who led an inexperienced Under-23 squad to a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games last summer. "But we're bringing in a world-class ?keeper in Brad (Friedel) and a versatile midfielder in Sasha (Victorine)." Armas, arguably the best defensive midfielder in the country, suffered a Grade 2 sprain of the MCL in his left knee while helping the U.S. Men's National Team defeat Barbados 7-0 in an important World Cup qualifying match on Aug. 16 at Foxboro Stadium. The injury, which came on a vicious tackle from behind in the midfield, was similar to an MCL sprain that he suffered last year on the same knee.
To fill the third and final "over-age" spot and likely take Brown's spot in the starting lineup, Charles called on the experienced Friedel, the second most-capped goalkeeper in U.S. Men's National Team history with 66 international appearances. The 6'4" Friedel started all three first round games of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics as an Under-23 player and is a two-time U.S. World Cup veteran from USA ?94 and France ?98.
The Bay Village, Ohio, native has spent the last three seasons in the highly rated English Premier League with Liverpool, one of England's most heralded clubs. Prior to his stint in England, Friedel was considered the top goalkeeper in Major League Soccer over the league's first two seasons (1996 and 1997), where he competed for the Columbus Crew and earned MLS Goalkeeper of the Year honors in ?97. A three-time All-American at UCLA, Friedel first made a name for himself on the pro level with famed Turkish club Galatasaray, where he spent the 1995 season.
Also a UCLA almnus, midfielder Sasha Victorine has earned six caps with the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team and was on the bronze medal-winning Pan Am Games team last summer. A groin injury kept him off the U-23 squad that qualified back in April, but he has gone on to have a stellar rookie season with the Los Angeles Galaxy, where he has registered three goals and five assists in 25 games. A standout collegiate player for the Bruins, the Carmichael, Calif., native was selected in the first round (11th pick overall) of the MLS SuperDraft 2000 shortly after he was named the 1999 Missouri Athletic Club Player of the Year (college soccer's version of the Heisman Trophy) for his senior season.
With the addition of Friedel and Victorine to the squad, the final 18-player U.S. Men's Olympic Soccer Team roster features four alums from UCLA, the most of any college, and three players from the Los Angeles Galaxy, the most of any MLS team.
U-23's HEADED TO SAN DIEGO BEFORE AUSTRALIA DEPARTURE: The U.S. Olympic team will head to San Diego on Monday afternoon (Sept. 4) for their final camp before departing for Sydney via Los Angeles on the evening of Sept. 6. While in the San Diego area, the team will face the A-League's San Diego Flash in a closed-door exhibition on Sept. 5 at the ARCO Olympic Training Center at 5:30 p.m. (PT).
SIZING UP THE COMPETITION: When they arrive in Australia in September, the U.S. Men's Olympic Team will be looking to advance to the second round of the Olympic Soccer Tournament for the first time in their history. The U.S. team will kick things off against the Czech Republic in Canberra on Sept. 13, in a tape delay broadcast on MSNBC at 6:30 p.m. (ET) on the first day of Olympic competition. The team will then face Cameroon on Sept. 16 in Canberra and will meet Kuwait on Sept. 19 in Melbourne to finish group play.
The only meeting between the U.S. U-23's and the Czech Republic in the last decade was a 2-2 draw on Aug. 20, 1997, as part of the World University Games in Italy. While the U-23's have not met Cameroon in the ?90's, Kuwait is a familiar Olympic opponent, as the U.S. squad earned a 3-1 win when they met in the opening round of the 1992 Olympic Games in Zaragoza, Spain.
Should the USA advance to the second round, they will travel to either Adelaide or Brisbane against an opponent from Group D, which includes Brazil, Slovakia, South Africa and Japan.