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U.S. MNT Gears Up for Opening Match of 2006, Sunday vs. Canada


BACK TO BUSINESS: The U.S. Men's National Team put in their final day's work in advance of their opening match of 2006, working out for just over an hour at the National Training Center before boarding a bus bound for San Diego. The team will head straight to the stadium for a walk-through and then address the local media. Just under 1,500 tickets remain for the USA's match against Canada at Torero Stadium on the campus of the University of San Diego. Kickoff on Sunday is set for 5 p.m. PT, and fans can follow the match live exclusively on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. Check back tomorrow to see who U.S. boss Bruce Arena will put out against the Maple Leafs when the USA's Starting XI will be posted one hour before kickoff, only at ussoccer.com.

QUICK HITS:

• All 28 players on the roster traveled Saturday to San Diego. Steve Ralston remains the only question mark, still recovering from a strained right quadriceps
• The U.S. holds the edge in the lifetime series against Canada, going 11-8-8 in a rivalry that dates back to 1925. The USA has held the advantage of late over their border neighbors, going unbeaten in the last 11 meetings (6-0-5) going back to 1985. Nine of those matches have been shutouts for the U.S., including the last five encounters
• This match marks the first appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team at the 42-year old Torero Stadium, home to the University of San Diego football and soccer teams. The U.S. Women’s National Team played Japan to a 0-0 draw in Jan. 2003 at the stadium, which served as the home for the WUSA’s San Diego Spirit. The U.S. will be in search of their first win in five trips to San Diego, losing to Peru, Mexico and Iceland while drawing Paraguay in the 1990s
• Landon Donovan and Eddie Pope are the leading capwinners on the roster (73). Pope scored his first-ever goal for the national team against Canada during a 3-0 World Cup qualifying victory on March 16, 1997 in Palo Alto, Calif.
• Remarkably, two other players tallied their first goals for the U.S. against Canada, and both in the same game. On Jan. 18, 2003, Chris Klein got the USA’s third goal in the 32nd minute of the 4-0 win in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. His replacement in the match, Ralston, added the final goal in the 61st minute
• In addition to that trio, Donovan is the only other player on the roster with a goal against the Maple Leafs. His 90th minute strike in the USA’s second group match of the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup secured the 2-0 victory and the team’s advancement into the knockout phase of the tournament. That goal also moved Donovan into sole possession of third place on the all-time U.S. scoring list with 25 goals
• Five players on the current U.S. roster appeared in that Gold Cup victory on July 9, 2005, in Seattle: Jimmy Conrad, Donovan, Pope, Ralston, Josh Wolff
• Meantime, Canada’s roster has nine players who were on the field in Seattle, including eight starters: Patrice Bernier, Adam Braz, Dwayne de Rosario, Ali Gerba, Gabriel Gervais, Atiba Hutchinson, Patrick Leduc, Adrian Serioux, Greg Sutton
• Eighteen players in the U.S. group have played ten games or fewer with the senior team, and seven are looking for their debut appearance
• All but one of the 28 are plying their trade in MLS, with young defender Heath Pearce - who made his debut against Scotland on Nov. 12, 2005 - the lone European representative
• Among the combined seven players from the MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy and finalists New England Revolution, is 2005 MLS MVP Taylor Twellman. The 25-year old also claimed two other prestigious awards in a historic season: the Golden Boot for leading the League with 17 goals scored during the regular season and the Most Valuable Player of the 2005 MLS All-Star Game
• The roster also boasts the 2005 MLS Defender of the Year in Conrad, a finalist for Rookie of the Year in Chris Rolfe, and the MLS Humanitarian of the Year in Klein
• Brian Ching is current teammates in Houston with Canadian forward Dwayne De Rosario, the pair picking up two MLS Cup titles in San Jose in 2001 and 2003. Donovan was also a teammate during the championship seasons, while Frank Yallop, the Canadian head coach, was their manager
• De Rosario was himself a finalist for the 2005 MLS MVP award, leading the San Jose Earthquakes with eight goals and 13 assists.
• Four players on the two rosters made the 2005 MLS Best XI – Clint Dempsey , Conrad, De Rosario, Twellman
LOCAL TIES: Frankie Hejduk is a native of Cardiff, Calif., spending his time as a kid surfing and playing soccer on the coast. Hejduk is the longest serving member of the national team on this roster, making his debut on Aug. 30, 1996, against El Salvador. Conrad was born in Temple City and spent two years at San Diego State University, before going on to UCLA where he collected a national championship in 1997. He got his professional career kicking with the San Diego Flash of the A-League.

DOES JANUARY CAMP PREDICT WORLD CUP ROSTER? With six months to go until Germany, much speculation exists about how many ‘spots’ are still open on the roster. The U.S. was in a similar place four years ago, when Arena called 28 players into camp in Mission Viejo to try and whittle down his numbers. The camp roster back then – as now – was almost entirely domestic players, and more than half of the group had ten international appearances or fewer. So how did the 2002 group fare? Thirteen of 28 players traveled to Korea for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Of the 13 players who did play in Korea, four began the January camp with 10 caps or less: DaMarcus Beasley (3), Donovan (9), Pablo Mastroeni (2) and Wolff (10)

U.S. ROSTER BREAKDOWN: For those keeping score at home, here's a bit of roster trivia:

• All 12 MLS teams are represented by at least one player on the roster
• D.C. United and New England Revolution each send five players
• At 32 years old, Pope is the elder statesman of the group. At 16 years old, Freddy Adu is the youngest
• Rolfe and Pearce are the most recent inductees into the Cap Club, appearing in the USA's 1-1 draw against Scotland last November
• Players from 16 different states are on the roster; California boasts the most representatives with five coming from the Golden State

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO - O'BRIEN SPEAKS: A familiar face wandered out onto the training field earlier this week, and while the hair was a little shaggier, his identity was unmistakable. Players and staff alike were happy to catch up with U.S. midfielder John O'Brien, who has been in Los Angeles over the last several weeks rehabilitating a groin injury. In this exclusive interview with ussoccer.com, O'Brien describes the nature of his injury, talks through his road to recovery, and his outlook on making the World Cup roster. There's no question Johnny O is working hard and has his sights clearly set on Germany, and you can see it for yourself in this latest edition of all_access video.

LOOKING BACK ON ‘05: The U.S. posted a 13-3-4 record in 2005, collecting the most victories in team history. The team qualified for its fifth-consecutive World Cup finals in record-breaking fashion, finishing first in the final group hexagonal for the first time in 71 years while qualifying with three games to spare following the 2-0 win against Mexico on Sept. 3 in Columbus, Ohio. Bruce Arena coached his 100th game for the U.S. back on March 19 against Honduras, helping elevate the U.S. to sixth place in the FIFA rankings, its highest ranking ever. Donovan led all scorers with six goals and six assists, but it was Kasey Keller’s eight shutouts in 13 games – including five in the final round of World Cup qualifying – that earned the goalkeeper the U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year Award.

FAMILY MATTERS: Frankie Hejduk and Santino Quaranta each tied the knot with their long-time girlfriends in December. Frankie married Elissa at a New Year's Eve bash in Cincinnati, while Santino and Petrina wed Dec. 3 in Baltimore. Meantime, Eddie and Corina Pope welcomed their second child into the world on Dec. 17, daughter Viviana becoming the latest addition to the family alongside son Emilio.

NEXT UP - NORWAY: Preparations for the 2006 FIFA World Cup continue next week when the U.S. takes on Norway at The Home Depot Center on Jan. 29, 2006, at 2 p.m. PT live on ESPN2. Tickets begin at $20 and are available at ussoccer.com, all Southern California Ticketmaster ticket centers (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), The Home Depot Center ticket office (stadium ticket office is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and by phone at 213-480-3232. Groups of 15 or more can purchase discounted tickets starting at $18 by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or downloading a group order form at ussoccer.com.

LAST TIME…
On the field for the USA
November 12, 2005 – Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland – International Friendly
USA 1 Josh Wolff 9’ (pen)
Scotland 1 Andy Webster 37’
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 4-Carlos Bocanegra (12-Jimmy Conrad, 80), 3-Gregg Berhalter, 2-Jonathan Spector; 5-Brian Carroll, 25-Kerry Zavagnin (15-Ben Olsen, 46), 24-Eddie Gaven (23-Santino Quaranta, 46), 17-DaMarcus Beasley (19-Heath Pearce, 77); 16-Josh Wolff (11-Chris Rolfe, 58), 9-Brian Ching
Subs not used: 1-Tim Howard, 13-Benny Feilhaber

SCO: 1-Craig Gordon; 2-Christian Dailly (capt.), 3-Graham Alexander, 6-David Weir (15-Gary Caldwell, 46), 4-Steven Pressley (14-Steven Caldwell, 46), 5-Andy Webster; 8-Paul Hartley, 10-Nigel Quashie (20-Scott Brown, 74), 7-Darren Fletcher; 9-Garry O'Connor (17-Shaun Maloney, 74), 11-Neil McCann (16-James McFadden, 64)
Subs not used: 12-Rab Douglas, 13-Russell Anderson, 18-Jamie Smith, 19-Derek Riordan, 21-Ryan Esson, 22-Ian Murray

vs. Canada - Full Match Report
July 9, 2005 - QWEST Field, Seattle, Wash. – CONCACAF Gold Cup, Group B
USA 2 Own goal (Atiba Hutchinson) 48', Landon Donovan 90'
Canada 0
Att: 15,109
USA: 18-Kasey Keller (capt.); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope (12-Jimmy Conrad, 46), 4-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Greg Vanney; 25-Pablo Mastroeni, 19-Steve Ralston, 10-Landon Donovan, 5-John O’Brien (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 67); 16-Josh Wolff, 13-Pat Noonan (14-Chris Armas, 81)

CAN: 1-Greg Sutton, 2-Adam Braz, 5-Gabriel Gervais, 13-Atiba Hutchinson, 15-Josh Simpson; 6-Patrick Bernier, 16-Patrick Leduc (17-Jaime Peters, 68), 8-Adrian Serioux, 11-Jim Brennan (12-Sandro Grande, 79); 14-Dwayne De Rosario (capt.), 10-Oliver Occean (9-Ali Gerba, 70)
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