U.S. U-20 MEN ADVANCE TO RECORD FOURTH STRAIGHT WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team qualified for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship this weekend with a 1-0 win over El Salvador last Friday (Nov. 15) in their second game of the CONCACAF Under-20 Group B Qualifying Tournament at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The victory was the second for the U.S. in the tournament, following a 2-0 win over Haiti on Wednesday (Nov. 13), and guaranteed the squad at least a second place finish in the four-team group, and therefore, one of the tournament’s two automatic berths. Despite falling 3-2 to Canada in the final yesterday, the U.S. earned a spot in a fourth consecutive World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history. The 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship will be held in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16, 2003. In the team’s clinching victory over El Salvador, the U.S. played with 10-men for 71 minutes after the ejection of Santino Quaranta. Head coach Thomas Rongen was also ejected from the game, just two minutes after an El Salvador own goal off a perfectly placed Bobby Convey corner kick in the 85th minute. Both Quaranta and Rongen missed the USA’s final match, a second-half thriller which saw Canada score three goals in 17 minutes, only to watch Frank Simek and Ed Johnson come back with two U.S. tallies four minutes apart to make the final 15 minutes intense. Ed Johnson finished the tournament with two goals and an assist for the U.S., while Convey notched two assists and set up the own goal against El Salvador that clinched the berth. The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 17-8-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (65 to 30).
U.S. MNT CONCLUDES HISTORIC YEAR WITH 10th SHUTOUT: The U.S. Men’s National Team concluded its historic 2002 season with a 2-0 shutout of El Salvador in the cold and steady rain on Sunday at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. Ben Olsen celebrated his return to the national team with the game-winning goal in the 31st minute, and Sasha Victorine added his first tally for the full national team. The USA improved its lifetime record to 9-1-4 against El Salvador, and now holds a 9-3-3 record at RFK Stadium. On Olsen’s goal, midfielder Chris Klein strode down the right flank and spotted Olsen streaking to the center of the goal and launched a perfectly-placed cross that Olsen snapped to the back post with a powerful header. Olsen, the Chevrolet Man of the Match, notched his fourth career international strike, and his first for the United States since March 12, 2000. “I closed my eyes,” said Olsen of the goal. “The ball hit me in the head and it went back post. Seriously, Chris Klein hit an outstanding ball. It seemed like when we crossed the early balls we were dangerous.” The U.S. added an insurance goal in the 60th minute, with forward Clint Mathis slipping a beautifully weighted ball behind a defender and onto an onrushing Victorine, who calmly slipped the ball through the legs of El Salvadoran goalkeeper Juan Gomez for his first international tally in just his second appearance for the USA. The team is expected to regroup in early January 2003 at a site to be determined.
U.S. SETS VICTORY RECORD WITH 12 IN 2002: With their victory over El Salvador on Sunday, the U.S. Men’s National Team improved their final 2002 record to 12-6-2 in 20 games, the highest win total in the team’s 86-year history. The total surpasses the 10-win seasons of both 1993 and 1996. The team also had a record 10 shutouts on the year, the second time they have reached double-digits in that category in their history (the first coming in 1993 when the U.S. recorded 12 shutouts in a monstrous 34 games played). The USA’s impressive 10-1-1 record on home soil also marked a new high for the team.
U.S. MNT NOTEWORTHY NUMBERS: Four players earned their first full international caps for the U.S. yesterday, including goalkeeper Nick Rimando, defender Wade Barrett, midfielder Kyle Martino and forward Taylor Twellman. Both Barrett and Twellman started the match, while Rimando and Martino made their appearances as second-half substitutes … Clint Mathis’ assist in the second half was his third of the year, giving him a team-high 17 points on the year (seven goals, three assists) in 15 appearances … Against El Salvador, Mathis wore the captain’s armband for the first time for the U.S. … Landon Donovan concluded 2002 as the only player to appear in all 20 games for the U.S., a year in which a total of 45 players earned at least one cap.
– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –
FIRST-EVER U-17 WNT CAMP BEGINS SATURDAY IN BOCA RATON: U.S. Under-17 Women's National Team coach David Smith will bring 18 players to Boca Raton, Fla, from Nov. 23-Dec. 1 for the first ever camp and competition for this newly created women’s youth national team. The U-17s will play three matches in conjunction with the annual ODP Inter-Regional event, including the team’s first-ever full international (against Scotland’s U-17s on Nov. 30), as well as matches against the Region IV U-18 team and the Region III U-18 team. The U.S. team, consisting of players born in 1986 and 1987, come from nine states, including six players from California and three each from Ohio and New York. Smith was the assistant coach for Tracey Leone for the entire run up to and through the 2002 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Championship, which the USA won in dramatic fashion over host Canada, 1-0, on a "golden goal" from Lindsay Tarpley. Smith will have Maren Rojas, the assistant coach at Syracuse University, as his assistant/goalkeeper coach. "The goal of this team is to move players to the U-19 level to allow them to compete for a World Championship,” said Smith. “It's exciting to be a youth national team player in the United States right now. Our goal is to keep winning world championships and this group of players will help achieve that." The following is the first-ever U.S. U-17 National Women's Team roster, with hometown and club:
Ameera Abdullah (Denver, Colo./Real Colorado), Yael Averbuch (Upper Montclair, N.J./World Class U18), Lindsay Beam (Greer, S.C./Greenville FC), Amy Berend (Lewisville, Tex./Dallas Texas), Amanda Cinalli (Maple Heights, Ohio/Cleveland FC), Caroline Dw (Encinitas, Calif./San Diego Surf), Christina DiMartino (Massapequa Park, N.Y./Spirit), Valerie Hendersen (Orinda, Calif./Walnut Creek Strikers), Brittany Klein (Arcadia, Calif./Laguna Hills Eclipse), Stephanie Longterman (Austin, Tex., Warriors Black), Stephanie Lopez (Elk Grove, Calif./Elk Grove United), Alexia Orand (Orange, Calif./Slammers), Ashley Phillips (West Peabody, Mass./Spirit if MA), Lorraine Quinn (Farmingdale, N.Y./HBC Fury), Denay Riley (Washington, N.Y./Rockland Storm), Amy Rodriguez (Lake Forest, Calif./Eclipse White), Courtney Rosen (Brecksville, Ohio/Internationals), Jessica Rostedt (Kent, Ohio/Internationals).
U.S. U-17 MNT TO TAKE PART IN 2nd ANNUAL NIKE FRIENDLIES IN FLORIDA FROM DEC. 6-9: U.S. Soccer and Nike are teaming up to host the second annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies from Dec. 6-9 at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. After a successful tournament in 2001, the number of teams in the 2002 invitational swelled from 19 teams in two age groups last year to 28 teams in three age groups this year. The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will split into two teams – an older team made up primarily of players born in 1986 and a younger team made up primarily of players born in 1987 – with the older team competing in the Under-18 age group and the younger team in the Under-17 bracket. In addition to the two U.S. Under-17 squads, Finland’s U-17 Men’s National Team will compete in the friendlies, as will 25 other teams representing 10 different states. In all, 50 games will be played over the four-day event. The teams represent some of the finest youth clubs in the U.S., and the participating clubs combined to send 11 teams to the 2002 U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship.
Under-18 Teams: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, IMG Academy Team, FC Delco, Colorado Rush, Syracuse Blitz, Blackwatch SC (Florida), Richmond Strikers, Houston Texans, Finland Under-17 MNT, Bethesda Alliance, Sockers FC, Temple Terrace and Nike Northeast Select.
Under-17 Teams: U.S. Under-17 MNT, IMG Academy Team, FC Delco, Colorado Rush, Dallas Texans, Richmond Strikers, Atlanta Fire, Houston Texans, Blackwatch SC (New York), Bethesda Cannons and Blackwatch SC (Fla).
Under-16 Teams: IMG Academy Team, FC Delco, Temple Terrace, Blackwatch SC (Fla.).
U.S. SOCCER TO HOST GIRLS "PLAY-IN DAYS" IN MIAMI THIS WEEKEND: In an effort to reach out and create more identification and development opportunities for youth female soccer players, U.S. Soccer will host its first "Play-In Days" in Miami this weekend (Nov. 23-24). Geared toward players who are playing outside of the traditional scouting networks, the "Play-In Days" will take place at Tropical Park in Miami on Saturday and Sunday, beginning at 9 a.m. ET. The two-day training sessions will involve players from the Under-13 to the Under-15 age groups (players born from 1987 to 1989) playing in an informal setting and receiving help from some of the nation's top coaches. The event will be led by a combination of U.S. Soccer National Staff coaches and local state and club coaches. The "Play-In Days" event, which will be replicated in other cities across the U.S. in the future, allows coaches to evaluate players from outside the traditional scouting network and at the same time expose these young players to a new level of play.
– AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD –
FRANCE QUALIFIES FOR 2003 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: France beat England 1-0 at home in St. Etienne on Saturday behind a second-half goal from French captain Corinne Diacre to become the eighth of 16 teams to qualify for the 2003 Women's World Cup in China next year. France had earlier grabbed a precious first-leg victory in London on Oct. 17, 2002, winning 1-0 on a goal from Marinette Pichon, the MVP of the WUSA last season for the Philadelphia Charge. The fourth FIFA Women's World Cup will run from Sept. 24-Oct. 11, 2003, with 32 matches being played in the five host cities of Shanghai, Hongkou, Hangzhou, Wuhan and Chengdu. The FIFA Women's World Cup draw will take place in Wuhan on May 24, 2003, and the U.S. is guaranteed a seeded position in one of the four groups as the tournament's defending champion. The breakdown of qualified teams appears below:
AFRICA (0 of 2): The final African Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament will take place in Nigeria from Dec. 7-24, 2002.
ASIA (1 of 3.5): China (host); dates/venues of qualifying tournament yet to be finalized.
CONCACAF (2 of 2.5): Canada, United States; Mexico will play the third place finisher in Asia qualifying for a berth in China.
EUROPE (5 of 5): France, Germany, Norway, Russia and Sweden.
OCEANIA (0 of 1): Approximately 10 teams will compete in the OFC Women's World Cup Qualifying Tournament in Australia in April of 2003.
SOUTH AMERICA (0 of 2): 10 teams will compete for two spots in South American qualifying in Peru in January or February of 2003.
McDERMOTT RESIGNS AS HEAD COACH OF 2002 WUSA CHAMPION CAROLINA COURAGE: Carolina Courage head coach Marcia McDermott announced last week that she declined the WUSA's offer to exercise the option year of her contract to pursue other interests. McDermott, the only female head coach in the WUSA during its first two seasons, compiled an all-time record of 20-17-7. McDermott also holds the WUSA record for wins in a season with 12. "It was an extremely hard decision," said McDermott. "I really enjoyed coaching this team and working with this coaching staff, but the timing is right in my life to step away from coaching. I am grateful to the WUSA and the Carolina Courage for the opportunity to coach at this level. It has been an unbelievable experience to work in this league, and I am proud of what we accomplished." McDermott guided the Carolina Courage from a last place finish in 2001 to the 2002 regular season title and its first Founders Cup championship.
USASA ADMINISTRATOR FRITZ MARTH PASSES AWAY: The United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA) and U.S. Soccer have lost one of their longtime friends in Fritz Marth, who passed away last week (Nov. 11) after a long illness resulting from a fall in July of this year. Marth worked with thousands of people across the United States in his role as the USASA Administrator from 1981-2002, and has long been associated with amateur soccer in America. Marth was 67 years old. Marth originally assumed his role as the Division Administrator in 1981, shortly after the creation of the U.S. Senior Soccer Division (USSSD). Prior to that, he was the Region I Director overseeing the creation of the USSSD. He was a walking historian of U.S. Soccer facts and information, having worked through the heady years of the NASL, as well as the lean years of the 1980s, when no professional soccer dotted the U.S. landscape and when U.S. Soccer was in the midst of a 40-year World Cup drought.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team forward Ed Johnson got his team off and running with a goal and an assist in the USA’s 2-0 victory over Haiti on Wednesday, launching the squad toward qualification in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship. After slamming a well-placed shot home in the 26th minute, he assisted on Santino’s Quaranta goal to close out the first half. A second goal against Canada helped him finish off the tournament with a team-leading two goals and one assist in three games.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The NCAA Women’s (Div. I) College Cup has dwindled to the Sweet 16 after the majority of the higher-seeded teams made it through the first and second rounds unscathed this past weekend. Interesting match-ups await this weekend, including #1 Stanford hosting traditional power and #19-ranked Notre Dame, #3 UCLA hosting #4 Texas A&M, and the dynasty -- #2-ranked North Carolina – hosting #11 Tennessee, all on Saturday (Nov. 23).
SOCCER SHOCKER: The mighty have fallen. In an unlikely turn of events during Men’s college soccer conference tournaments this weekend, the Top 5 teams in the country (as ranked by the NSCAA) all had a stumble with the 2002 NCAA Men’s College Cup set to begin this weekend (Nov. 22-23). In the ACC, red-hot #7 Virginia knocked off #1 Wake Forest 1-0 but fell 3-0 to Maryland in the tournament final yesterday. In the Big East, #5 Connecticut stole a penalty kick win over #2 St. John’s on Friday but then themselves were upset in a 3-2 loss to #14 Boston College. In the Big Ten, unranked Penn State downed #3 Indiana 2-1 on Friday (Nov. 15) and went on the claim the conference crown with a 2-1 win over Michigan in the final yesterday. And finally, in the Missouri Valley, unranked Bradley knocked off #4 SMU 1-0 on Friday before falling to #12 Creighton in the final yesterday.
"It was nice that we received a lot of praise over the past couple months, and I'm grateful for all of that, but I really want to get on with the business. We've had our congratulatory tour, and now we want to get started all over again."
- U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena, after the USA’s successful return to the field yesterday.