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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. Men's National Team Falls 1-0 in Final Game of 2001, First of Two Meetings with Korea Prior to 2002 World Cup


U.S. FINISHES SUCCESSFUL WORLD CUP QUALIFYING YEAR WITH 6-6-3 RECORD: The U.S. Men's National Team suffered a 1-0 loss to Korea Republic yesterday in a highly entertaining contest before 42,256 fans at the sold-out Jeju World Cup Stadium in Seogwipo, Jeju Province.  Yoo Sang-Chul nodded home a corner kick in the 23rd minute to score the game's only goal, dropping the U.S. record to 0-3-1 all-time against South Korea. "I thought in the first half the Koreans did a good job of putting us under pressure and winning balls in the midfield.  They were a very fit team, and our lack of match fitness showed," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "Overall, it's been an excellent experience coming to Korea, and it will certainly help us get prepared for the World Cup next summer." Five players earned their first cap for the senior team in the match, bringing to 35 the total number of players getting their first cap under Arena.  Manny Lagos and Diego Gutierrez both grabbed a place in the starting lineup, while Jeff Cunningham, Richard Mulrooney and Carlos Bocanegra made second-half appearances. With the loss, the U.S. finishes .500 for the 2001 season with an even record of 6-6-3.  The U.S. Men's National Team finished with a record at or above .500 for the third straight year under Arena, bringing his lifetime record to 22-12-11.

AGOOS SETS UNIQUE "IRON MAN" MARK WITH 117TH CAP: With the start against South Korea, defender Jeff Agoos, Major League Soccer's 2001 Defender of the Year and an 11-year veteran of the U.S. Men's National Team, tied Switzerland's Heinz Hermann as the most capped player in the world (each has 117 caps) without a World Cup appearance.  Agoos was one of the last players cut from the 1994 U.S. World Cup squad and traveled to France with the 1998 team, but did not play in any of the matches there. "Goose" is hoping to end that streak and make his first World Cup appearance when the U.S. takes on Portugal, South Korea and Poland in the first round of the 2002 World Cup.

U.S. MEN ENJOY SPECIAL VISIT TO KOREAN DEMILITARIZED ZONE: The U.S. Men's National Team visited U.S. Military Camp Bonifas, located just 400 meters south of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, last week at the invitation of Major General James Soligan, the Deputy Chief of Staff for the United States Forces, Korea, stationed at the Yong San military base. The day-long trip saw the U.S. team transported from their southern training site on the island of Jeju in two Chinook CH-47 helicopters, a two-and-a-half hour trek north into the Joint Security Area (JSA), which is home to Camp Bonifas and the U.S. and Korea Republic forces which patrol and protect the DMZ.  The U.S. coaches, players and staff received a tour of the JSA, interacted and dined with the 800 soldiers from all four branches of the U.S. military stationed at the base. In addition to presenting the base with a number of autographed jerseys for display, the U.S. players recorded holiday messages which will be broadcast around the world on the Armed Forces networks.  More than 40 media outlets covered the team's trek to Camp Bonifas, including the Associated Press, Reuters and the Armed Forces Network Korea.

U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE

KIROVSKI SCORES GAMEWINNER, MOORE SEES ACTION IN EVERTON LOSS: Jovan Kirovski (21 league GP, 5 league goals; 2 Cup GP) scored the game-winning goal in Crystal Palace's 2-1 win against Manchester City. Kirovski scored just before halftime to end Palace's four-game losing streak.  Kirovski played 69 minutes before being replaced. Palace sits sixth in the First Division. Joe-Max Moore (5 League GP, 6 Cup GP) came on and played the final 18 minutes in Everton's 0-2 loss at Fulham.  The action was the first for Moore since Sept. 29. Brad Friedel (16 League GP, 1.19 GAA; 2 Cup GP, 0.00 GAA) played all 90 minutes as Blackburn fell to Leeds 1-2.  The loss was the second straight defeat for Rovers, who have slid to 14th in the league. Friedel will next face Arsenal in a Worthington Cup quarter-final match on Wednesday, before a weekend clash with Newcastle. John Thorrington (17 League GP, 4 goals; 1 Cup GP) missed his fifth straight game for Huddersfield Town, as they were knocked out of the FA Cup with a 0-4 loss to Mansfield in the second round.  Thorrington has been sidelined from training with a nagging hamstring injury. Earnie Stewart (16 League GP, 7 goals; 2 Cup GP) played all 90 minutes in NAC Breda's 0-1 loss to RKC.  The loss was the first league loss for Breda since Oct 19. They sit sixth in the league. Cory Gibbs (11 League GP, 1 goal; 1 Cup GP) played all 90 minutes as St. Pauli fell 0-3 to Werder Bremen.  Since being inserted into the starting line-up on Sept. 15, Gibbs has started 11 straight matches, playing 90 minutes in 10 of those matches.  St. Pauli currently sits at the bottom of the German Bundesliga. Tony Sanneh (15 league GP, 1 goal; 1 Cup GP) went 90 minutes in FC Nurnberg's 4-2 loss to Bayer Leverkusen.  Nurnberg sits 17th in the 18-team Bundesliga. Steve Cherundolo (15 league GP, 1 goal; 1 Cup GP)  went 90 minutes in Hannover's 6-2 route of MSV Duisburg.  Conor Casey (3 league GP) missed his fourth straight game due to knee problems.  Hannover continued their undefeated start to the season – nine wins and seven draws through 16 league games, one win in one cup game – and sits in second place, just two points behind the league leaders.

REYNA MOVES TO SUNDERLAND IN RECORD TRANSFER: U.S. MNT captain Claudio Reyna moved to the English Premier League last week, joining Sunderland in a club record-tying $6.8 million transfer from Scottish power Glasgow Rangers. The 28-year-old midfielder signed a five-year contract and was paraded in front of his new home crowd this weekend before watching his new teammate draw 0-0 with Chelsea. Reyna traveled to Sunderland last Friday after playing for the Rangers in Thursday night's UEFA Cup game at Paris St. Germain. The Rangers advanced to the fourth round after winning 4-3 on penalty kicks. Reyna joins four other Americans in the Premier League -- Brad Friedel (Blackburn), Kasey Keller (Tottenham), Eddie Lewis (Fulham) and Joe-Max Moore (Everton).  "There are only positives about it,'' Reyna said. "It's a wonderful club with a fantastic stadium and wonderful fans in the best league in the world. It's a club that's ambition is to get among the top six and get into Europe, and last year just missed out."

Highest Transfer Fees Paid For American Players
Monetary Value (US/UK) - Player, Date - Teams Involved
1) 6.8 million dollars / 4.5 million pounds   Reyna December 2001 Rangers to Sunderland
2) 2.8 million dollars / 2 million pounds   Reyna March 1999  Wolfsburg
to Rangers
3) 1.9 million dollars / 1.25 million pounds  Lewis March 2000  MLS to Fulham
4) 1.6 million dollars / 1 million pounds   Friedel January 1998  MLS to Liverpool

MLS COMMITS TO FIVE-YEAR PLAN THROUGH 2006 SEASON: Major League Soccer's Board of Governors met last week and committed to funding and operating the League for the next five years, through the 2006 season.  Included in this commitment are plans for extensive media programming, increased player development and progress on several stadium projects. The MLS Board of Governors also decided to evaluate closely the viability of several teams and markets, based on their ability to provide value to the League and the sport overall for the long-term.  Factors to be considered as part of this decision-making process include past market performance, future market potential, current stadium situation and ownership status. The results of the study will be release prior to the end of the year.

AROUND THE SOCCER NATION

FIELD SET FOR 2002 FC CHAMPIONS CUP IN FEBRUARY: Four MLS teams — the Chicago Fire, D.C. United, Kansas City Wizards and San Jose Earthquakes — learned their opponents last week for the 16-team FC Champions Cup tournament, which will kick off in February and run through September. The Champions Cup was originally scheduled to take place in October of 2001, but was postponed until early 2002 to allow for more teams to qualify and take on a new format. The winner of this prestigious tournament will be crowned as the club champion of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF). The winner of each of the eight series will be determined by aggregate goals in the two matches. More information on sites, dates and times will be released at a later date.

Round of 16 (matches to be played by March 24, 2002)
Home team for first leg listed first
P1: Liga Deportiva Alajuelense (Costa Rica) vs. Club América (Mexico)
P2: CSD Comunicaciones (Guatemala) vs. D.C. United (USA)
P3: Defence Force FC (Trinidad & Tobago) vs. winner Torneo Invierno 2001 (Mexico)
P4: CD Olimpia (Honduras) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (USA)
P5: CA Monarcas Morelia (Mexico) vs. Deportivo Saprissa (Costa Rica)
P6: CSD Municipal (Guatemala) vs. Chicago Fire (USA)
P7: Club Santos Laguna (Mexico) vs. Tauro FC (Panama)
P8: W Connection FC (Trinidad & Tobago) vs. Kansas City Wizards (USA)

FORMER WNT CAPTAIN OVERBECK CARRIES OLYMPIC TORCH THROUGH CHARLOTTE: Former U.S. Women's National Team captain Carla Overbeck carried the Olympic Torch in her home state of North Carolina last week as part of the Olympic Torch Relay, presented by Chevrolet. Overbeck ran through Charlotte, N.C., last Wednesday, just the second day of the Olympic Torch Relay.  The Torch will make its journey to Salt Lake City in 65 days.  The torch will travel more than 13,500 miles and be carried by about 11,500 torchbearers before it arrives into Salt Lake City on Feb. 7 for the 2002 Winter Games. Overbeck retired from the U.S. Women's National Team on Dec. 17, 2001, after wearing the captain's armband one final time in a 1-1draw with Japan in Phoenix, Arizona.  Overbeck's career spanned 13 years and included three world titles (1991 and 1999 Women's World Cups, 1996 Olympics).  She finished her international career with 168 international appearances, fifth most all-time.

U-21 WNT STAR WAGNER LEADS SANTA CLARA OVER UNC IN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH: U.S. Women's National Team and U-21 WNT midfielder Aly Wagner scored the lone goal in the 41st minute and led the Santa Clara Broncos to a 1-0 win over the previously undefeated and defending champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the final game of the NCAA Div. I Women's College Cup in front of a crowd of over 7,000 at SMU's Ford Stadium yesterday. The national title victory marked Santa Clara's first ever trip to the final. The Broncos defeated ‘98 champ Florida 3-2 in overtime in the semifinals, while #1-ranked UNC held off Portland 2-1 to get to the championship match. Wagner was named the tournament's Offensive Most Valuable Player, while U-21 WNT and Broncos teammate Danielle Slaton was the Defensive MVP.

#1 SMU FALLS AS MEN'S FIELD DOWN TO FINAL FOUR IN COLUMBUS THIS WEEKEND: The #1-ranked SMU Mustangs fell to St.John's this weekend as the field for the NCAA Division I Men's College Cup was narrowed to four teams — Indiana, North Carolina, St. John's and Stanford — that will compete for the championship this weekend (Dec. 14-16) at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The eighth-ranked Red Storm entered SMU's Ford Stadium and dropped previously-undefeated Southern Methodist 2-0 in front of a home crowd of 3,923 fans. The win marks St. John's first Final Four appearance since 1996, when they won the NCAA Championship. For the fifth consecutive season and the 15th time in 29 years, Indiana is headed back to the final four after defeating Clemson 2-0, with junior All-American Pat Noonan netting both goals. North Carolina advanced to the semis for only the second time in program history after defeating Cinderella team Fairleigh Dickinson, 3-2, in triple overtime. Finally, Stanford capitalized on a Saint Louis defensive error in the first half to give them a 1-0 win in their quarterfinal match. It will be the second consecutive trip to the Final Four for Stanford head coach Bret Simon, who guided Creighton to the national championship game last season, and the second time for the Cardinal, who also made it to the national championship game in 1998. Stanford will meet UNC Friday (Dec. 14) at 5 p.m. ET, while St. John's and Indiana face off in the second game at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN2 on Saturday (Dec. 15) at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET, respectively. The winners will meet in the National Championship game on Sunday (Dec. 16) at 1 p.m. ET, live on ESPN.

SOCKERS, SIDEKICKS TO BATTLE FOR 2001 WISL TITLE: The San Diego Sockers will face the Dallas Sidekicks for the 2001 World Indoor Soccer League (WISL) Championship the next two weekends.  The Sockers, who have won 10 indoor titles, are looking for their first WISL Championship in franchise history, while the Sidekicks captured the first WISL crown in 1998. San Diego owns home-field advantage during the finals but will head to Dallas' Reunion Arena on Saturday, December 15, to play the first game of the series. The Sockers will close out the finals on Saturday, December 22, at the San Diego Sports Arena.  If the series is tied after the second match, then a mini-game will determine the winner.

WISL ANNOUNCES 2001 AWARD WINNERS:  The World Indoor Soccer League (WISL) announced its 2001 First and Second Team Selections last week, as well as the Coach, Defender and Goalkeeper of the Year awards. Sacramento Knights' Player/Coach Iain Fraser won two WISL awards as the Toronto, Canada native was named the league's Coach of the Year on Dec. 4, and then Defender of the Year two days later (Dec. 6).  The Goalkeeper of the Year went to Dallas Sidekicks' netminder Sagu for a second consecutive season. The Brazilian had an overall record of 11-8 in net with the Sidekicks in 2001 and led the WISL with a goals-against-average of 3.86 with two shutouts and 273 saves. The 2001 First and Second Team selections were dominated by the San Diego Sockers, with four players earning accolades. The remaining four teams each had two selections.
FIRST TEAM
Goalkeeper: Sagu (Brazil; Dallas Sidekicks);
Defenders: Jeff Davis (USA; St. Louis Steamers), Iain Fraser (Canada; Sacramento Knights );
Midfielder: Mariano Bollella (Argentina; San Diego Sockers); Forwards: Ato Leone (Argentina; Sacramento Knights), Carlos Faris (Chile; San Diego Sockers).

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMANCE: The U.S. Soccer/Chevrolet Young Female Athlete of the Year for 2000, U.S. WNT/U-21 WNT midfielder Aly Wagner may have had an even better year in 2001 for Santa Clara. The 21-year-old San Jose, Calif., native scored 17 goals, including the game winner in the final, and added a whopping 20 assists to lead the Broncos to the first title in their program's history.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: Some relatively new faces will join soccer powerhouse and ‘99 champion Indiana at the NCAA Division I Men's College Cup this weekend at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.  Second-time Final Four invitees UNC will try to knock off the Cardinal, while ‘96 champs St. John's will try to return to national prominence with a win over the mighty Hoosiers. Men's college soccer will crown a new champion Sunday (Dec. 16) live on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Who would have thought at the beginning of the 2001 soccer season that three major soccer champions for the year would come from the San Jose area? First, the Brandi Chastain-led Bay Area Cyber Rays win the inaugural WUSA title. Then the defensive/offensive duo of Jeff Agoos and Landon Donovan help San Jose from worst to first and the 2001 MLS Cup. Now the duo of Slaton and Wagner guide Santa Clara to the women's NCAA title.  Stanford has a chance to make it a clean sweep at the Men's College Cup Final Four this weekend. It must be something that Bay Area-based Soccer America put in the water to mark their 30th anniversary.

QUOTABLE:
"You always want to measure yourselves against a standard. North Carolina is still the standard, but today we measured up."
- U.S. U-21 WNT and Santa Clara head coach Jerry Smith, after the Broncos claimed their first-ever women's college soccer national championship.


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