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U.S. MNT Take on Cuba on Thursday in 2005 Gold Cup Opener


U.S. MNT Take on Cuba on Thursday in 2005 Gold Cup Opener
Pre-Game Notes
July 6, 2005

GETTING DOWN TO GAME TIME: The U.S. Men's National Team is heading towards its final workout in advance of the opening of the 2005 CONCACAF Gold Cup, the 45-minute session at Qwest Field scheduled for 4:30 p.m. PT.  U.S. Manager Bruce Arena has a full complement of players, with no injuries reported.  The USA's quest for their third Gold Cup title kicks off against Cuba this Thursday night at 7:30 p.m. PT at Qwest Field in Seattle.  The match will be broadcast live on Telefutura, which has added English closed-captioning for all USA Gold Cup matches for U.S. fans who don’t speak Spanish. As always, fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. game follows the first match of Group B when Costa Rica takes on Canada at 5:30 p.m. PT.

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO - GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: With less than a year remaining before the World Cup, the 2005 Gold Cup is the last chance for many players to prove their mettle.  They need only look back to the 2002 event, where players like DaMarcus Beasley and Pablo Mastroeni put their stamp on the tournament, performances that put them on the path to the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. In today's Gold Cup preview, hear Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan, Beasley and others talk about what these games can mean to those dreaming of Germany.  And in case you missed it, yesterday's edition featured Seattle boys Kasey Keller and Marcus Hahnemann talking about being back in the 'hood.  It's all part of All_Access Video, the exclusive video content at ussoccer.com.

ONALFO BREAKS DOWN CUBA: U.S. assistant coach Curt Onalfo is the chief scout for the national team, and today he takes us through a Cuba side that remains largely unchanged from 2003.  From scoring sensation Lester More to the experience of goalkeeper Odelina Molina, the Cubans bring a surprising mix of experience and attacking punch.  Find out the strengths of their side and the keys to the matchup as Onalfo breaks down Cuba in this exclusive podcast on ussoccer.com.

DONOVAN, KELLER MADE HISTORY AGAINST CUBA: The last meeting between the clubs added new pages in the U.S. history books, as Landon Donovan and Kasey Keller both had record-setting performances.  The date was July 19, 2003 in the quarterfinals of the 2003 Gold Cup.  The then-21 year old attacker had his most prolific day ever in a national team uniform, becoming the fourth player in U.S. history to record four goals in a game as the U.S. routed Cuba 5-0 in Foxboro, Mass.  At the other end, Keller eased his way into the history books as he didn't face a single shot en route to his 33rd career shutout, surpassing Tony Meola on the all-time list.  It was also Keller's seventh consecutive shutout in Gold Cup play, and one of many memorable moments throughout Keller’s accomplished career.

BY THE NUMBERS: U.S. IN THE GOLD CUP:

2- Gold Cup championships won by the United States (1991, 2002)
4 - matches the U.S. will play against Costa Rica in 2005 should the tournament seeds hold their form into the Gold Cup semifinals
5 - number of goals scored by Landon Donovan in the Gold Cup, good for third place in team history
6- semifinal appearances for the U.S. in seven previous Gold Cup tournaments
7- years since the United States and Mexico have met in Gold Cup play, a span of three full tournaments and 13 games
9- goals scored by Eric Wynalda in Gold Cup play, the team's all-time tournament leader
10- number of victories for Bruce Arena in Gold Cup history.  His all-time record is 10-1-2
16- wins in the USA's perfect 16-0-0 record in group play in Gold Cup history
19 - shutouts for the U.S. in 31 all-time Gold Cup games (10 of which recorded by Keller)
20 - appearances by Cobi Jones in the Gold Cup, the most in U.S. team history

GOLD CUP FOR DUMMIES: The CONCACAF Gold Cup is the regional championship of North America, Central America and the Caribbean. With 12 teams participating in the finals, the winner will represent CONCACAF in the next FIFA Confederations Cup.  The tournament consists of two phases - the group phase and the knockout phase.  In the group phase, three groups of four teams will play round-robin style, with the top two teams in each group advancing, plus the two best third-place teams.  In the knockout phase, beginning with the quarterfinals, matches are single elimination.  Each team is permitted up to 23 players on the roster, with 18 players dressing for each game.  Any player accumulating two yellow cards will be suspended for the next game.  Single cards will not carry over from the group phase to the knockout phase.

Group A - Colombia, Honduras, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago
Group B - Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba, United States
Group C - Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, South Africa

SUPER IN SEATTLE: The U.S. has played three times in Seattle since 1990, each time in a different venue. The USA first played host to Russia at the Kingdome on January 29, 1994, drawing 1-1 on a goal by Alexi Lalas.  Fast forward eight years to March 2, 2002, and a preparation match for the 2002 FIFA World Cup.  In front of a raucous crowd of 38,534, Landon Donovan and Clint Mathis each grabbed a pair as the U.S. handled Honduras 4-0 at Safeco Field.  Then it was time to move next door to then-Seattle Seahawks Stadium, where the U.S. hosted Venezuela on March 29, 2003.  Once again Donovan found the back of the net, along with Jovan Kirovski, as the U.S. downed the vinotintos 2-0.  Incidentally, the goalkeeper in both shutout victories?  Kasey Keller.

GROUP A GETS IT GOING:  The official start to the 2005 Gold Cup takes place this evening in Miami, when Panama takes on Colombia at 7 p.m. ET at the Orange Bowl.  That match will be followed by Honduras v. Trinidad.  Group C action gets underway Friday night, with Mexico facing South Africa and Guatemala meeting Jamaica.  For all the updated news, scores, and standings on the Gold Cup, visit the Gold Cup competition page on ussoccer.com.

QUICK HITS

• With the return of Matt Reis, all 23 players on the U.S. roster are fit for selection for tomorrow's match
• Nine players on the roster were part of the third-place finish in the 2003 Gold Cup - Armas, Beasley, Donovan, Hejduk, Keller, Mastroeni, Sanneh, Vanney, Wolff
• Six players were on the field for the USA's Gold Cup quarterfinal final win against Cuba in 2003 - Donovan-4, Hejduk, Keller, Mastroeni, Ralston-1, Vanney (view the complete match report)
• Kasey Keller leads all players on the roster with 16 lifetime appearances in the Gold Cup
• Keller is one of two players to play every minute of the last two Gold Cups, along with Frankie Hejduk
• Four players on the roster will be looking for their first-ever cap with the senior national team - Jimmy Conrad, Brad Davis, Santino Quaranta, Matt Reis
• Steve Ralston and Clint Dempsey are tied for the most appearances for the U.S. team this year, each having earned minutes in seven of eight matches
• With only foames under his belt, Steve Ralston is already tied for third on the all-time U.S. assist list with three.  Wynalda tops the board with seven assists
• D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen holds the longest current stretch between appearances with the national team, last playing against Argentina on Feb. 8, 2003
• Marcus Hahnemann holds the career title, having gone nearly nine years between games for the USA.  Before playing against New Zealand on June 8, 2003, his last match for the U.S. came in the 1-1 draw against Honduras on Dec. 11, 1994, in Fullerton, Calif.
• Despite 41 career caps over an eight-year international career, Tony Sanneh has yet to play in a Gold Cup

ALL ABOUT CUBA

THE SQUAD: Cuba brings a squad largely unchanged throughout the last several years, one with surprising attacking enterprise.  They nearly stunned the region in World Cup qualifying, just missing out on advancing to the semifinal phase after consecutive draws against Costa Rica in the second round.  The Cubans posted a 2-2 draw at home, then went level again with the Ticos with a 1-1 draw in Costa Rica. Losing out on away goals, the performance nonetheless earned the Cubans respect while spelling the ouster of Costa Rica coach Steve Sampson.

HISTORY: The U.S. holds a 4-1-1 lifetime record against Cuba dating back to 1947, posting three shutouts.  All three shutouts have come in Gold Cup competition, where the teams have met in 1998, 2002 and 2003.  The U.S. has recorded 17 goals in the series, while the eight surrendered all came in three matches prior to 1950.  Nearly 50 years passed between meetings, the teams resuming the series in 1998 after last playing in a World Cup qualifier in 1949.  The U.S. has twice posted five-goal performances against Cuba, including the 5-0 quarterfinal win last year and a 5-2 World Cup qualifying win Sept. 21, 1949 in Mexico City.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Cuba earned one of two automatic berths in the Caribbean region by claiming the top spot in Group B of the Digicel Cup, the play-in tournament for that region.  After beating Barbados 3-0 in their opening game, the Cubans erased a one-goal deficit to shock Trinidad with a 2-1 victory.  Lester More was the star of the show, scoring four of five goals in leading the Cubans to their third consecutive Gold Cup.

TOP PLAYERS: Cuba's shining star is forward Lester More, whose ability to find the back of the net largely dictates Cuba's fortunes.  With 10 goals in his last nine international matches, he is clearly the man to watch.  Supporting the attack are Maikel Galindo and Alain Cervaintes, who are largely responsible for providing the service.  In the back, goalkeeper Odelin Molina provides the defensive anchor to a tall and athletic backline, having been named the goalkeeper of the tournament in the 2002 Gold Cup.

 

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