CHICAGO (May 12, 2005) - England National Team head coach Sven-Goran Eriksson has assembled his roster for the team's two-game tour of the United States at the end of this month. Despite the absence of a number of marquee players due to club commitments and injury, the 19-man England squad for their May 28 match vs. the U.S. at Soldier Field in Chicago features a number of players who will surely be making their mark for England in their final push to qualify for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
"From the looks of their roster, I think they are bringing a very good team," said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. "It's going to be a great game, and it will certainly help us prepare for the upcoming qualifiers against Costa Rica and Panama."
More than 30,000 tickets have already been sold for the match with prices beginning at $28. Tickets are available through ussoccer.com, by phone at 312-559-1212 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Chicagoland. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtain a group order form at ussoccer.com.
Manchester United will be represented by four players on the roster in Wes Brown, Gary Neville, Phil Neville and dynamic scorer Alan Smith. Absent from Manchester United will be England regulars Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand, who have been left of the team at the request of ManU boss Alex Ferguson so they have time to recover from the long season. With 76 appearances, Gary Neville is the senior member of the England squad while younger brother Phil has 50 caps.
Cross town rival Manchester City features longtime English goalkeeper David James and speedy flanker Shaun Wright-Phillips, who is expected to continue to make a mark internationally for England after scoring in his England debut against Ukraine last August.
English Premier League champion Chelsea will be represented by Joe Cole, who has scored three times in earning 21 caps for England. Both John Terry and Frank Lampard of Chelsea will be undergoing surgery following the final league games and are not on the squad. Arsenal's defensive duo and regular England starters Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole are also on the team and would be expected to start in defense. Campbell has 64 appearances with England while Cole, 20, already has 39 appearances.
The balance of the England roster includes players who will be coming off stellar performances in the 2004/2005 Premiership season. Strikers Andy Johnson (Crystal Palace), Peter Crouch (Southhampton) and Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur) are the top English scorers going into the final weekend of the Premiership this weekend.
Johnson is second to only Thierry Henry in the league with 20 goals scored, and six clear of third-best Robert Pires who has 14 goals. At 6-foot-7, Crouch is an imposing figure in front of the goal and is difficult for any defender around the world to mark.
"For sure, he's very different and when you go into a big tournament, you should have one big striker," said Eriksson of Crouch, who is suspended for Southhampton's final league match vs. Manchester United as the club tries to avoid relegation.
Defoe is the top scorer for Tottenham, which sits in ninth place in the league going into this weekend's games. ManU's Smith will be the other option for Eriksson at striker, scoring six league goals in 30 appearances this season.
In addition to Joe Cole (8g, 2a in 2004/2005) in the midfield, two up and coming stars in Wright-Philips, 23, and Stewart Downing, 20, are coming off strong seasons. Wright-Phillips proved to be one of the top wingers in the Premiership with 10 goals and six assists as his blazing speed helped him get behind opposing defenders. Downing put up five goals and nine assists for Middlesbrough, which hopes to hold on to their seventh-place position for a spot in European competition next year.
Three players who will not be in Chicago for the game against the U.S., but will be in New York for England's match-up with Colombia include World Cup veterans David Beckham, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Owen. Beckham and Owen will be concluding their seasons in Spain as Real Madrid faces Real Zaragoza on May 29. On a conference call with media on Thursday, May 12, Eriksson left open the possibility that Owen and Beckham could join the squad in Chicago if Real Madrid is out of the title hunt in Spain.
Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard and James Carragher will miss both matches following Liverpool’s appearance in the UEFA Champions League Final on May 25 in Istanbul, Turkey.
U.S. National Team manager Bruce Arena will announce his roster for the game early next week on ussoccer.com.
Goalkeepers (3): Scott Carson (Liverpool), Robert Green (Norwich City), David James (Manchester City)
Defenders: (7): Wes Brown (Manchester United), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), Glen Johnson (Chelsea), Gary Neville (Manchester United), Phil Neville (Manchester United), Matthew Upson (Birmingham City)
Midfielders (5): Michael Carrick (Tottenham Hotspur), Joe Cole (Chelsea), Stewart Downing (Middlesbrough), Jermaine Jenas (Newcastle United), Shaun Wright-Phillips (Manchester City)
Forwards (4): Peter Crouch (Southampton), Jermain Defoe (Tottenham Hotspur), Andrew Johnson (Crystal Palace), Alan Smith (Manchester United)