U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Open Cup Final Set for October 27 in Fullerton, Calif.; U.S. Men's National Team Looks Ahead to Must-Win October 7 Qualifier
GALAXY TO HOST REVS AT CAL STATE-FULLERTON LIVE ON FOX SPORTS AT 2 P.M. PT: U.S. Soccer announced last week that Titan Stadium, on the campus of Cal State Fullerton, in Fullerton, Calif., will be the venue for the 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final between Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy and New England Revolution on Saturday, October 27. The 2001 championship final will be televised live at 2 p.m. PT (5 p.m. ET) on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Español. The Galaxy-Revs showdown will crown a new Open Cup Champion as both MLS squads are making their first appearance in the tournament final. Los Angeles earned their berth to the 2001 final after battling to a hard fought 1-0 semifinal victory in sudden-death overtime over last year's Open Cup Champion Chicago Fire on August 22 in Fullerton, Calif. In the other semifinal, the surprising New England Revolution blanked the 1996 U.S. Open Cup champion D.C. United 2-0 at Foxboro Stadium on Aug. 22, where the team played four straight matches en route to the final. Tickets for the 2001 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final are priced at $30 for VIP Midfield, $20 for West Sideline Bleachers and $15 East Sidelines and are available through the Cal State Fullerton Athletic Department at 714-CSU-CSUF (714-278-2783). New England fans can also purchase tickets through the Revolution by calling 508-384-9143.
OVER 35,000 TICKETS SOLD FOR UPCOMING USA-JAMAICA QUALIFIER LIVE ON ABC: U.S. Soccer and the New England Revolution announced today that ticket sales for the October 7 World Cup qualifier between the U.S. Men's National Team and Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium has surpassed the 35,000 mark. In a match that will be broadcast live on ABC at 2 p.m. ET, the USA will put its 6-0-3 unbeaten record at Foxboro Stadium on the line in the last international match to be played at the venue. Foxboro Stadium will be replaced by the new CMGI Field, which is scheduled to open in 2002. The U.S. Men's National Team is currently in a battle to qualify for the 2002 Japan/Korea World Cup and must defeat Jamaica at Foxboro Stadium in order to secure a berth to the greatest tournament in the world. Category One and Category Two seats are sold out, but good seats still remain available. Single ticket prices are $30 and $35, while groups of 20 or more people can purchase tickets at discounted prices of $20 (regularly $30) and $25 (regularly $35). All tickets purchased the day of the game will be $5 more. For individual tickets call TicketMaster at 617-931-2222. For more information, call the Revolution ticket office toll-free at 1-877-GET-REVS.
MONTHLY "CENTER CIRCLE" E-ZINE TO MAKE DEBUT NEXT WEEK: Next week, U.S. Soccer Communications will unveil the first edition of its brand new e-zine "Center Circle", a monthly newsletter designed to give soccer fans a look behind the scenes and behind closed doors in order to better know the players and personalities that make up the U.S. Men's, Women's and Youth National Teams. "Center Circle" will feature a variety of first-hand player viewpoints and unique interview variations, from a movie review by a pair of U-17 midfielders to a word association with Jeff Agoos. This edgy new fan-friendly online publication will be sent to U.S. Soccer's massive fan and media e-mail lists, as well as appearing online at www.us-soccer.com.
U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE
MANO A MANO: American internationals Brad Friedel and Joe-Max Moore squared off this weekend as Blackburn welcomed Everton in the English Premier League. Friedel turned in another show-stopping performance, saving a 28th minute penalty from Duncan Ferguson, then stoning second-half substitute Moore in the 90th minute to preserve a 1-0 victory. In earning his first EPL shutout of the season, Friedel was named Man of the Match.
SUSPENDED: The Dutch Eredivisie match between NAC Breda and Willem II was abandoned after 20 minutes when NAC Breda supporters showered the field with debris. Willem II took a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes on a goal by Tom Caluwe, but the referee was forced to suspend the match shortly thereafter. Earnie Stewart started the match for NAC Breda, who currently sit in 13th place in the Dutch table.
ON THE RISE: While many young U.S. players have struggled to earn roster spots and playing time in Europe, American midfielder Cory Gibbs is proving to be one of the success stories. Gibbs, 21, has earned a place in the first team of newly-promoted Bundesliga side FC St. Pauli and has started two consecutive league matches. FC St. Pauli's 2-2 draw away to Borussia Moenchengladbach lifted the Hamburg side out the Bundesliga cellar.
ON THE BOARD: Two American internationals notched their first goals for their professional clubs last week, with both turning out to be game-winners. Jovan Kirovski netted his first in a Crystal Palace kit in the Eagles' 5-0 pasting of Grimsby Town in a Division One midweek fixture. Kirovski put in the game-winner in the 32nd minute. Meantime, Tony Sanneh picked the perfect time to open his scoring account with FC Nurnberg, breaking a 1-1 deadlock with FC Koln in the 28th minute to earn his side an important 2-1 victory. Sanneh's performance earned him Kicker magazine's Bundesliga Player of the Week honors.
U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATEYOUTH NATIONAL TEAM STARS MAKE THEIR MARK IN THE MLS PLAYOFFS: A pair of U.S. Under-20's made their MLS Playoff debuts this weekend, including Landon Donovan, whose two goals led San Jose to a 3-1 win over the Crew in Columbus on Saturday. Donovan opened the scoring in the fifth minute and hit the ‘Quakes third goal of the game in added time of the first half. Crew forward Edson Buddle made his first playoff appearance when he entered the game in the 76th minute. DaMarcus Beasley sat out the Fire's first two playoff matches versus the Dallas Burn while still feeling the effects of a concussion suffered in Chicago's final regular season match.
FRANCE, NIGERIA ADVANCE TO UNDER-17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SEMIFINALS: France and Nigeria each scored impressive quarterfinal wins yesterday to advance to the semifinals of the 2001 Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad & Tobago. Costa Rica faces Burkina Faso and Argentina faces Mali in the remaining quarterfinal matches. France, 2-1 winners against Brazil on Sunday, will face the winner of Argentina vs. Mali in the semifinals on Thursday (Sept. 27), while Nigeria, who topped Australia 5-1 on Sunday, face the Burkina Faso vs. Costa Rica winner on the same day. France's Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama Pongolle tallied two minutes apart in the first half, before Brazil got within one goal with a 70th minute score. Nigeria's Femi Opabunmi scored the first three goals for the Super Eaglets, who jumped out to a 5-0 lead before Australia pulled a goal back in the 86th minute. The two finalists from 1999 - Brazil and Australia - were clearly outclassed in losses to the two teams that advanced from the "Group of Death" that also included the USA and Japan. The final and third-place match are scheduled for Hasely Crawford Stadium on September 30.
U.S. U-17s FALL TO NIGERIA 2-0 IN FINAL MATCH AT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: The United States Under-17 Men's National Team bowed out of the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship last week with a 2-0 loss to Nigeria at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. The U.S. team again wore black armbands during the match to honor the men and women who lost their lives in the September 11th attack on the United States. "We knew going into this tournament that we would face three very difficult opponents in the first round," U.S. Head Coach John Ellinger said. "I thought that we played better tonight than we had in our previous two matches. I am very proud of the effort this team put forth in this tournament in the face of tremendous adversity." The U.S. played their best match of the tournament in the loss and were able to move the ball much more crisply than they did in the first two matches, but could not get on the scoreboard. Below are the Group B standings and results from the opening round.
METROSTARS PLACE COUNTESS ON INJURED RESERVE: The MetroStars announced last week that goalkeeper D.J. Countess was placed on the Injured Reserve List with joint instability in his right shoulder. The Nike Project- 40 and U-20 U.S. National Team goalkeeper is unavailable for the remainder of the year. The native of Sacramento, Calif., has yet to see any action this season since joining the MetroStars on August 7, 2001 via a weighted lottery among MLS teams for his rights. Countess, 19, started all 37 of his career games with the Under-20 Men's National Team.
AROUND THE U.S. SOCCER NATION
FIRST WEEKEND OF MLS PLAYOFFS: After the final 10 games of the 2001 Major League Soccer season were canceled due to the national tragedies of two weeks ago, all eight playoff teams were in action last week for the first round of the MLS post-season. In Chicago, the Fire and Burn picked up their usual bruising rivalry at Soldier Field last Thursday, with the home team pulling out a 2-0 win on goals by Eric Wynalda and Evan Whitfield. Last Saturday, the two surprise teams of the season - the Miami Fusion and the San Jose Earthquakes - started on their way of exorcizing past post-season ghosts with series-opening victories against Kansas City and Columbus, respectively. In the fourth and final match-up, the NY-LA battle ended in a 1-1 tie after overtime.
A-LEAGUE PLAYOFFS KICK OFF WITH FOUR DAYS OF ACTION: The eighth-seeded Milwaukee Rampage took a 3-2 lead in the opening game of the two-leg, aggregate goal first round playoff series last week in Nashville against the ninth-seeded Metros on a rain soaked Ezell Park field. The sixth-seeded San Diego Flash F.C., the only higher seed to select home field for the first leg in Round One, took a 2-0 lead on the 11th-seeded Atlanta Silverbacks with a two-goal second half blitz from Thiago Martins. In the second night of Round One A-League playoff action last Thursday, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and Portland Timbers upset their higher-seeded opponents, taking leads into the second legs of their respective series. Pittsburgh, the 12th and final seed, took a 2-1 lead against the fourth-seeded Charleston Battery in the two-leg, aggregate series and the Timbers, seeded 10th, built a 2-0 series lead versus the seventh-seeded Charlotte Eagles. The 11th-seeded Timbers and the Riverhounds picked up where they left with 3-2 and 3-1 wins over the fifth-seeded Charlotte Eagles and fourth-seeded Charleston Battery last Saturday to complete the two-leg aggregate goal series. The Nashville Metros duplicated Milwaukee's feat of winning on the road, handing the Rampage a 1-0 loss to level the aggregate score at 3-3. After two 15-minute golden goal series overtime periods, Milwaukee advanced 4-2 in penalty kicks. Yesterday, the Flash moved to the quarterfinals of the A-League playoffs, holding off an aggressive Atlanta Silverbacks team with a 2-2 draw in the second leg of their home-and-home series. The Flash go through on a 4-2 aggregate score.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMANCE: U.S. international goalkeeper Brad Friedel earned his first shutout of the season, holding Joe-Max Moore and Everton scoreless in a 1-0 win for Friedel's Blackburn Rovers. Friedel saved a 28th minute penalty from Duncan Ferguson and stopping Moore in the 90th minute to preserve his clean sheet and earn Man of the Match honors.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: This Saturday (Sept. 29) is shaping up to be one of the most exciting days of the MLS season. Already on tap are two Game Three's in two crucial MLS quarterfinal series, with Dallas and Chicago, and the MetroStars and Los Angeles going down to the wire in the "first-to-five points" set-up. The Kansas City-Miami and San Jose-Columbus series could also come down to a final Game Three on Saturday, making four potential series' deciding matches on Saturday, with one match being shown live on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Cory Gibbs earned his second straight Bundesliga start this weekend with newly promoted FC St. Pauli. While other, more high-profile Americans have struggled to break into first team in Germany, Gibbs has found success early in his career. With a 2-2 away draw St. Pauli hopped out of last place in the Bundesliga with three points after seven games.
"They've got to come out and play us, and teams that do that normally get trampled on. I don't want to sound too happy, but they're probably sick of seeing us. We'll make sure that they don't want to see us for the third game."
- Miami midfielder Ian Bishop, directing strong comments toward the defending champion K.C. Wizards.