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And people think baseball fans have it good in October? This year, they’ve got nuttin’ on us soccer fans. Get ready to be spoiled over the next 30 days. Sure, a normal October promises the championship game of the two best soccer competitions in the nation with the MLS Cup (Oct. 20) and, usually a week later, the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (Oct. 24). But as good as those two events are, there’s much much more in store.

Whereas normally the end of October signifies the beginning of the professional (and often international) off-season here in the States, things keep rollin’ with two important world championship qualifying tournaments – the 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup (Oct. 27-Nov. 9) and the 2002 CONCACAF Youth (U-20) World Championship Qualifying (Nov. 13-17) – that take high-level soccer into mid-November. And we’re not talking friendlies here. We’re talking “win-or-go-home-for-a-few-years” matches that deeply impact the entire U.S. National Teams program as a whole.

The U.S. women struggle to qualify for the 2003 Women’s World Cup? Don’t think so? Have you seen Mexico and Canada play lately? They’re no longer teams that we beat 4-0. There’s little room for error for April & Co., as they must advance to the final to even earn a chance to defend their title. So no free ride here. Check the games out live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports Espanol.

And as for the U-20s, although they’ll be playing on home turf down in Charleston, S.C., a team of young MLS stars can’t help but feel the pressure of qualifying for a record fourth consecutive FIFA U-20 World Championship. With promising, young MLS studs like Santino Quaranta, Eddie Johnson,  Craig Capano and Justin Mapp teaming up for the first time since a disappointing U-17 tourney down in T&T in 2001, you can bet they’ll be out to keep the qualifying streak alive. Follow along with all three of the U-20’s matches on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

As if that’s not enough to get you through some of the monotony of the mammoth NFL season, Bruce and what promises to be a new crop of U.S. boys will return to the nation’s capital and take the field for the first international competition since their historic run at the 2002 World Cup in Korea. Find out who will make their full National Team debut, who the keepers of tomorrow will be and who might make up the new U.S. midfield on Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. ET, live on ESPN.

Below is a quick rundown of the embarrassment of riches that the U.S. Soccer viewer will enjoy over the next month:

 

Date Match-up Venue (City) Kickoff TV?
MLS Cup Final
Oct. 20 L.A. Galaxy vs. N.E. Revolution Gillette Stadium (Foxboro, Mass.) 1:30 p.m. ET ABC
Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Final
Oct. 24 L.A. Galaxy vs. Columbus Crew Columbus Crew Stadium (Columbus, Ohio) 7:00 p.m. ET FSW
2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup
Oct. 27 U.S. Women vs. Mexico The Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) 3:00 p.m. PT FSW
Oct. 29 U.S. Women vs. Trinidad & Tobago Titan Stadium (Fullerton, Calif.) 7:00 p.m. PT FSW
Nov. 2 U.S. Women vs. Panama Safeco Field (Seattle, Wash.) 7:30 p.m. PT FSW
Nov. 6 Semifinal: U.S. Women vs. TBD Safeco Field (Seattle, Wash.) 5:00 or 7:30 p.m. PT FSW
Nov. 9 Final/Third Place: U.S. Women vs. TBD Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.) 4:30 or 7:00 p.m. PT FSW
CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament for 2003 World Youth Championship
Nov. 13 U.S. Under-20 Men vs. Haiti Blackbaud Stadium (Charleston, S.C.) 7:30 p.m. ET --
Nov. 15 U.S. Under-20 Men vs. El Salvador Blackbaud Stadium (Charleston, S.C.) 7:30 p.m. ET --
Nov. 17 U.S. Under-20 Men vs. Canada Blackbaud Stadium (Charleston, S.C.) 2:30 p.m. ET --
Men's International Friendly
Nov. 17 United States vs. El Salvador RFK Stadium (Washington, D.C.) 3:00 p.m. ESPN
Note: Ticket information for all matches is available at ussoccer.com.

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Rating the MLS Cups)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT defender Ryan Cochrane)
3) Then and Now (w/ former WNT midfielder Shannon Higgins-Cirovski)
4) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT midfielder Cobi Jones)
5) Mark That Calendar (October = Everything)
6) Superstar!!! (w/ WNT defender Danielle Slaton)
7) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Impact U.S. Player for 2002 Women’s Gold Cup?)
8) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MLS Cup trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf) 

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