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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Men's National Team Heads to Trinidad & Tobago


U.S. MNT CONCLUDES PREPARATION FOR OPENING GAME OF FINAL ROUND HEXAGONAL: The U.S. Men's National Team is making a brief stop in Miami en route to Trinidad, spending around 36 hours in Southern Florida.  Thirteen players from the training camp in Carson arrived in Miami just before midnight Saturday evening, then met up with the European-based contingent for a one-hour training session Sunday afternoon.  The team trained at 10 a.m. at the University of Miami, then joined goalkeeper Kasey Keller, who arrived Monday afternoon from Germany, at Miami International Airport. The 23-man squad that is expected to arrive in Port of Spain just after 9 p.m. local time.  The U.S. opens play in the final round hexagonal of 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying Feb. 9 against Trinidad & Tobago. Kickoff at the Queen's Park Oval is set for 2:30 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. local), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

-- FIFA 2006 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING UPDATE --

TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR U.S. MNT QUALIFYING HOME OPENER IN ALABAMA: Tickets are on sale for the United States Men’s National Team’s first home game of the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup on Wednesday, March 30, at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Tickets ranging in price from $18 to $55 will be available online at ussoccer.com, all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Alabama (including Publix and Coconuts), and by phone at 1-800-277-1700.  Groups of 15 or more can order through the Alabama Sports Foundation at 205-967-4745, ext. 119. Kickoff against Guatemala is set for 7 p.m. CT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and tape delayed on Telemundo at 10:30 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will be returning to Birmingham’s Legion Field Stadium for the first time since March 10, 2002, when the U.S. defeated Ecuador 1-0 in a World Cup preparation match before 24,133 fans. The team’s only other visit came nearly two years earlier, when the U.S. MNT drew 1-1 with Tunisia in front of 21,637 fans in the team’s first-ever match in Alabama. Birmingham also served as a venue for soccer at the 1996 Olympic Games, where the Bruce Arena-led U.S. Olympic team played two matches at Legion Field, falling to Argentina and topping Tunisia. The U.S. holds a 7-4-3 lifetime record against Guatemala, including a perfect 6-0-0 mark on U.S. soil. The last time the teams met was during semifinal round qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The teams split points in a 1-1 draw in Mazatenango, Guatemala on July 16, 2000, then Brian McBride tallied the lone goal in the USA’s hard fought 1-0 win on Sept. 3, 2000 at RFK Stadium.

SIGI TO CHIME IN ON GUEST MATCHTRACKER: U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team Coach Sigi Schmid will add his analysis and insight to ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics, for the USA's clash against Trinidad. Schmid took over the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team in late October for his second term as the head coach of the U-20s (he also held the position from 1998-99). In his second tenure, Schmid has not seen a single blemish on his record, as the Under-20s have won all seven of their international matches. In January, Schmid led the U.S. to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, which will take place in Holland from June 10-July 2, by winning all three matches in Group A of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament at The Home Depot Center. It was the first time the U.S. has ever gone undefeated and finished in sole possession of first place in CONCACAF qualifying.

U.S. OPENS WORLD CUP QUALIFYING WITH TWO AWAY MATCHES: The U.S., along with Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago will compete in the 10-game round-robin format from Feb. 9-Oct. 12, 2005, with the top three teams automatically advancing to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.  The fourth-place team will compete in a two-game playoff to be held Nov. 12/13 and Nov. 16 against the fifth-place finisher in Asian qualifying.  Drawn as Team 6 in the final round format, the U.S. faces a tricky road to Germany as their first two games will take place on the road.  The U.S. gets consecutive home dates for Matches 3 & 4 and 6 & 7 and will then face two away matches before concluding final round play in the United States.  The first U.S. home game will be played at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. on March 30, with kick off scheduled for 7 p.m. CT. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s Matchtracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Venues for the remaining four home matches for the U.S. will be announced as they become finalized.
2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – CONCACAF Final Round
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Feb. 9        Panama vs. Guatemala 
Feb. 9        Costa Rica vs. Mexico 
Feb. 9        Trinidad & Tobago vs. USA  
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 26   Costa Rica vs. Panama
March 26   Guatemala vs. Trinidad & Tobago
March 27   Mexico vs. USA 
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
March 30   Panama vs. Mexico   
March 30   USA vs. Guatemala   
March 30   Trinidad & Tobago vs. Costa Rica
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 4        Trinidad & Tobago vs. Panama   
June 4        Guatemala vs. Mexico   
June 4        USA vs. Costa Rica   
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
June 8        Panama vs. USA   
June 8        Costa Rica vs. Guatemala   
June 8        Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Aug. 17      Guatemala vs. Panama   
Aug. 17      Mexico vs. Costa Rica   
Aug. 17      USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 3       Panama vs. Costa Rica  
Sept. 3       Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 3       USA vs. Mexico  
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Sept. 7       Mexico vs. Panama 
Sept. 7       Guatemala vs. USA  
Sept. 7       Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 8         Panama vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Oct. 8         Mexico vs. Guatemala 
Oct. 8/9      Costa Rica vs. USA 
Date           Match-up (Home teams listed first)
Oct. 12       USA vs. Panama   
Oct. 12       Guatemala vs. Costa Rica
Oct. 12       Trinidad & Tobago vs. Mexico
 
Playoff (*home team will be determined by lottery at the conclusion of the final round)
Date                Match-up
*Nov. 12/13    AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4 
*Nov. 16          AFC #5 vs. CONCACAF #4

U.S. SOCCER GOALKEEPER BRAD FRIEDEL RETIRES FROM INTERNATIONAL PLAY: After a career spanning 13 years (1992-2004) with the U.S. Men’s National Team, goalkeeper Brad Friedel announced his retirement from international play on Monday (Feb. 7). Friedel, who currently minds the net for Blackburn Rovers of the English Premier League, was the United States’ starting goalkeeper at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea and Japan. A veteran of three World Cups, Friedel retires as the second-most capped goalkeeper in U.S. National Team history with 82 appearances, playing more than 7,000 minutes in goal while collecting 27 wins and 24 shutouts.

PLAY ussoccer.com's CORNER PICKS TODAY!: Wednesday's opening match of the Final Round of Qualifying means that ussoccer.com's Corner Picks, is back and the "Round" scoring is reset to give all players a fresh chance to begin building their point totals in ussoccer.com's online prediction contest. We're asking fans to show what they know about the U.S. Men's National Team's attempt to qualify for a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup. As with every match, the single game competition winner will be decided on solely the results of Wednesday's match. Further, the Final Round competition and Grand Prize standings will also be impacted by Wednesday's events.

-- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U-20 MNT BACK TOGETHER FOR FIRST CAMP SINCE QUALIFYING FOR WYC: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will get together for their first camp since qualifying for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship when they conduct a week of training from Feb. 11-20 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Head coach Sigi Schmid has invited in 26 players into camp as the U-20s take their first steps toward the World Youth Championship, which is in Holland from June 10-July 2. Exactly half of the squad in camp was not involved in any of the previous camps Schmid has held since taking over the team last October, as he continues to search through the U-20 player pool. The U-20s will play five games over the course of ten days, taking on three MLS teams that will be conducting their preseason training - MetroStars, San Jose Earthquakes and Chicago Fire – and the USASA National Select Team and the U.S. Under-17 MNT. The U.S. advanced to the FIFA World Youth Championship in January after winning Group A of the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament at The Home Depot Center. The U.S. went undefeated and won the group outright for the first time ever with a 6-1 victory over Trinidad & Tobago, followed by consecutive 2-0 shutouts over Panama and Costa Rica.
U.S. Under-20 Schedule
Date            Opponent
Feb. 13       MetroStars
Feb. 14       San Jose
Feb. 16       USASA National Select Team
Feb. 17       U.S. Under-17 MNT
Feb. 19       Chicago Fire
U.S. Under-20 Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Andrew Kartunen (Stanford), Justin Hughes (UNC); DEFENDERS (8): Greg Dalby (Notre Dame), Sean Franklin (CSU-Northridge), Michael Gavin (University of Portland), Patrick Ianni (UCLA), Steve Purdy (California), Robby Rogers (Fairfax Station, Va.), Nathan Sturgis (Clemson), Rob Valentino (University of San Francisco); MIDFIEDLERS (8): Corey Ashe (UNC), Nico Colaluca (Virginia), Jay Denny (Stoke City), Benny Feilhaber (UCLA), Jeff Harwell (Dallas, Texas), Sacha Kljestan (Seton Hall), Brandon McDonald (University of San Francisco), Teddy Niziolek (Seton Hall); FORWARDS (8): Charlie Davies (Boston College), Brad Evans (UC-Irvine), Michael Harrington (UNC), Kamani Hill (UCLA), Lee Nguyen (Richardson, Texas), Sammy Ochoa (Tecos), Robbie Rogers (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Darren Yeagle (Louisville, Ky.)

U-17 MNT DRAW WITH COLUMBUS CREW, DOWN IMG U-19 OVER THE WEEKEND: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Teams came away with a draw and a victory over the weekend at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The older Under-17 MNT (Team A) took on the Columbus Crew, which is holding part of their preseason in Bradenton, and got on the scoreboard first when Quavas Kirk fed Preston Zimmerman for a finishing strike in the 10th minute. Playing three 30-minute periods, the score stayed the same until the final period when Kyle Martino found the equalizer in the 74th minute. On Saturday, the younger Under-17 MNT (Team B) got goals from Jeremy Hall and an own goal that was knocked in after a cross by Ernesto Mariscal in the first half, before a strike Michael Farfan and two goals from Eric Avila provided the U.S. with an easy 5-0 victory. This week, Team A will face Real Salt Lake on Thursday (Feb. 10) and Team B will take on the North Carolina ODP on Saturday, (Feb. 12). Team A will also take part in the Tom Fitzgerald Memorial Soccer Festival in on Sunday (Feb. 13), playing D.C. United in Tampa.
U.S. U-17 MNT (Team A) Schedule
Date            Opponent
Feb. 10       Real Salt Lake
Feb. 13       D.C. United
U.S. U-17 MNT (Team B) Schedule
Date            Opponent
Feb. 12       NC ODP

ALL 24 TEAMS NOW QUALIFIED FOR 2005 FIFA WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSIP: All 24 teams for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship are known after the last four qualifiers from South America were determined over the weekend. Colombia, Brazil, Argentina and Chile all advanced to the tournament, which will take place in six venues in Holland from June 10-July 2. Along with the host, the other qualified countries are USA, Panama, Canada and Honduras from CONCACAF; Korea Republic, China PR, Japan and Syria from Asia; Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland, Italy and Germany from Europe; Nigeria, Egypt, Benin and Morocco from Africa; and Australia from Oceania. The 24 teams will compete for three weeks, playing a total of 52 matches in Doetinchem, Emmen, Enschede, Kerkrade, Tilburg and Utrecht. The draw for the world championship will take place on Sunday, March 6 in Utrecht.

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN KICKS OFF JUNE 2005: A total of 42 teams – 26 professional and 16 amateur – will compete in the 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup as it kicks off in June. The U.S. Open Cup, which is recognized as U.S. Soccer’s National Championship, is an annual competition open to all amateur and professional soccer teams affiliated with U.S. Soccer. The addition of the two expansion MLS teams has led to the creation of a qualifying round prior to the first round. In the qualifying round, four amateur teams will face off as two of the United States Adult Soccer Association’s regional second-place qualifiers will face two second-place teams from the Premier Development League of the United Soccer Leagues. The qualifying round will be determined by a random draw after teams are paired geographically. Qualifying is slated to be completed by May 30, with the pairings announcement expected on June 1. The defending champion Kansas City Wizards enter the tournament on Aug. 3 in the fourth round. The semifinals will be played Sept. 14, with the final being played on Sept. 28. After the Qualifying Round on June 8, the first round will be played on June 15 with the remaining 12 qualifiers from the USASA and PDL, as well as two USL Second Division teams joining the qualifying winners. The winners of those games advance to the second round to face four teams from the USL Second Division and four from the USL First Division. In the third round, the four remaining USL First Division teams join the fray along with four MLS teams. The final eight MLS teams join in the fourth round.
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Schedule
Qualifying Concludes             May 30 Qualifying completed Memorial Day weekend
Pairings Announcement        June 1       
Qualifying Round                    June 8 2 PDL vs. 2 USASA Regional Qualifiers
First Round                             June  2 Qualifying Round Winners, 6 PDL, 6 USASA Regional Qualifiers, 2 USL Second Division
Second Round                       June 29 First Round winners vs. 4 USL Second Division, 4 USL First Division
Third Round                            July 13 Second Round winners vs. 4 USL First Division, 4 MLS
Fourth Round                          Aug. 3 Third Round winners vs. 8 MLS
Quarterfinals                           Aug. 24 Fourth Round winners
Semifinals                               Sept. 14 Quarterfinal winners
Final                                         Sept. 28 Semifinal winners
Composition of participating teams:
12 - Major League Soccer
8 - United Soccer Leagues First Division
6 - United Soccer Leagues Second Division
16 - Amateur (8 USL Premier Development League, 8 USASA regional qualifiers)
Total Number of Teams: 42
Total Number of Games: 41

CHASTAIN SET TO APPEAR ON BRAVO'S CELEBRITY POKER SHOWDOWN: U.S. Women's National Team star Brandi Chastain recently participated in Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown. The episode featuring Chastain taking on four other celebrities (Camryn Manheim, Colin Quinn, Tom Verica & Kevin Weisman) is scheduled to air on Bravo on Tuesday, February 15, at 8 p.m. ET/PT. Chastain was playing for the Children's Cancer Research Fund.

2005 W-LEAGUE SCHEDULE TO KICK OFF IN BRADENTON, FLA.: United Soccer Leagues announced the W-League season schedule for 2005 last week. The 34-team league kicks off its 239-game schedule May 6 in Bradenton, Fla., with the Bradenton Athletics playing host to the Carolina Dynamo Women. Opening weekend in the W-League continues the following night when the Dynamo visit the expansion Central Florida Krush in Orlando and the expansion Atlanta Silverbacks Women play host to the 2003 champion Hampton Roads Piranhas. The defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps open defense of their title May 14 at home against the Arizona Heatwave. Fellow finalist New Jersey Wildcats kick off their 2005 campaign the same night with a road trip to the Big Apple to play the New York Magic. Vancouver and New Jersey will be looking to continue their unbeaten streaks when they open the season after finishing in a draw in the 2004 final. Both completed the season unbeaten with New Jersey at 17-0-1 and the Whitecaps at 15-0-2. The season comes to a close July 24 with nine games.

FIFA WORLD CUP TRYOUT BEGINS FOR U.S. SOCCER REFEREE KEVIN STOTT: Selected in January by FIFA as one of 46 referees who will be considered to officiate at the 2006 World Cup finals, U.S. Soccer referee Kevin Stott begins his own road to Germany on Wednesday (Feb. 9). Stott will be the fourth official in the match between Panama and Guatemala at 7 p.m. local time at Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in Panama. Stott is competing for one of 30 referee positions at the World Cup final in Germany, and will be attending a FIFA camp from Feb. 12-16 where he will undergo physical and written tests and attend practical sessions and classroom lectures.

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart returned to his VVV Venlo of the Dutch League, the club where he began his professional career, in heroic fashion. He scored a goal in the first eight minutes of the match and played the full 90 minutes in Venlo’s 2-2 draw with Excelsior.

MARQUEE MATCHUP: After months of anticipation, the final round of 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying is finally here. The U.S. begins the hexagonal on Wednesday (Feb. 9) against Trinidad & Tobago amidst the commotion and festivities of the Trinibagodian Carnival—the second largest carnival celebration after Brazil’s. Kick-off time is slated for 2:30 p.m. ET and fans can watch the game live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s Matchtracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Birmingham City and Trinidad & Tobago striker Dwight Yorke is back with the national team after a three-year absence. His return to the national squad in Sunday’s 0-1 loss to Haiti marks the first time Yorke has been with the team since June 2001, although he has participated in various camps and training sessions in an unofficial manner.

QUOTABLE: "The day after a club signs you is the day they start looking for a replacement, because they're always trying to improve. Being celebrated to being fired goes real fast. There's pressure every day to prove you're worthy of being in the 11."
     --U.S. National Team and Hannover 96 defender Steve Cherundolo about the competitiveness of playing in Europe.

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