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U.S. Men Gear Up for May 28 Send-Off Series Finale vs. Latvia


U.S. Men's National Team
Send-Off Series Update
East Hartford, Conn.
May 28, 2006

HARTFORD SEND-OFF:
The U.S. closes out the Send-Off Series in East Hartford, Conn., when they host Latvia at Rentschler Field (presented by Hyundai) on Sunday, May 28, at 7 p.m. ET (live on ESPN2, delayed on Telemundo). Fans can also follow the action live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. At the game, Nike will distribute red ‘Don't Tread on Me’ rally towels bearing the snake and ball mark. All fans attending the game are encouraged to wear red to celebrate the U.S. Soccer team's final game in the U.S. before leaving for Germany on June 1.

QUICK HITS
• The U.S. will dress 22 players for the match and the maximum number of substitutions will be six
• Team captain Claudio Reyna will not be available as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury suffered May 23 against Morocco
• Additionally, Carlos Bocanegra is suspended for Sunday’s friendly after receiving two yellow cards in the 2-0 win against Venezuela
Gregg Berhalter, who was added to the USA’s 23-man roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, after replacing the injured Cory Gibbs, will be in uniform
• The U.S. holds a 5-2-2 record in 2006, outscoring their opponents 17-8 and posting four shutouts
• The U.S. has never faced Latvia at the senior international level
• The U.S. returns to play their second-ever match at Rentschler Field, site of a 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory against Trinidad & Tobago on Aug. 17, 2005, in front of a crowd of 25,488
• Ten players on the World Cup roster appeared in that victory, all as starters: Albright, Berhalter, Convey, Donovan, Keller, Lewis, McBride (1), O’Brien, Onyewu, Reyna (capt.)
• With the victory against Venezuela, U.S. boss Bruce Arena grabbed his 70th career win at the helm, compiling a lifetime record of 70-28-28 in eight years
• Josh Wolff is the only player on the U.S. roster to appear in all nine of the team’s matches in 2006, including eight starts. Donovan holds the lead in minutes played, reporting for 564 minutes during seven matches
• Six players on the roster have scored at least one goal in 2006, with Clint Dempsey leading the pack with a trio after scoring the insurance goal against Venezuela, his fifth for the senior team. Four players have recorded a pair in Brian Ching, Eddie Pope, and Ben Olsen. Ching scored the game-winner vs. Venezuela on Friday night. Olsen netted the USA’s lone goal in the 1-1 draw against Jamaica on April 11 in Cary. Pope scored in back-to-back games for the first time in his international career, against Norway and Japan, respectively. Cherundolo got his first-ever goal for the national team in the 4-1 loss to Germany, with Eddie Johnson rounding out the ’06 goal scorers
• Against Venezuela, Jimmy Conrad wore the captain’s armband for the first time in his national team career, while Michael Bradley, who has been practicing with the 23-man World Cup roster since they started training camp on May 10, got his first cap for the MNT when he came on in reserve for Ben Olsen in the 89th minute. Bradley became the 80th player to earn his first cap during Arena’s tenure
• The same night, goalkeeper Tim Howard recorded his seventh career shutout for the senior team. Howard is one of eight U.S. goalkeepers to earn a shutout in his first start, getting his debut clean sheet in the 2-0 win against El Salvador on Nov. 17, 2002, in Washington, D.C.
• Twelve players heading to Germany return from the 2002 World Cup roster. Reyna will be joined by U.S. Soccer's 2005 Male Athlete of the Year Kasey Keller as the only players in U.S. Soccer history to appear on four World Cup rosters. Reyna, Pope and McBride boast the most appearances in World Cup matches on the roster, each having appeared in seven contests
• Reyna is the leading cap winner on the World Cup roster with 109 international appearances, while goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann has the fewest with six caps. The field players with the lowest cap total are defenders Jimmy Conrad and Oguchi Onyewu with 14 appearances. Keller is the oldest player at 36 years, 154 days (as of May 2, 2006), while the youngest is Johnson at 22 years, 32 days
• In total, nine MLS teams are represented on the World Cup roster, with an additional 10 teams sending at least one player from clubs in Belgium (1), England (7), Germany (3) and Holland (1)
• Keller leads the goalkeeping trio as the USA’s all-time leader for goalkeepers in wins (50), shutouts (44) and World Cup qualifying appearances (31)
• Donovan, a two-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year, is already the leading assist man in U.S. history (23), and has led the team in points the last three years running. His 25 goals are good for third place on the U.S. goal-scoring charts
• McBride is the only player in U.S. history to score goals in multiple World Cups, his three career World Cup tallies include the game-winners in the 3-2 opening match victory against Portugal in the 2002 World Cup and the impressive 2-0 win against Mexico in the Round of 16. Just one shy of the USA’s all-time leader in World Cup goals, his 29 international strikes also put him in second place on the all-time U.S. list
• The victory vs. Venezuela marked the 20th time the U.S. has won when Ben Olsen earned a cap, upping the winning percentage for the USA in games in which he makes an appearance to .750, the best in U.S. Soccer history (the U.S. is 20-3-11 in his 34 appearances). Olsen is the only player on the 23-man World Cup roster not to play in a single World Cup qualifier in the 2006 campaign, assuming the mantle occupied by Mastroeni in 2002

U.S. FANS TO SEE RED ‘DON'T TREAD ON ME’ JERSEY IN HARTFORD: In their final match of the Send-Off Series in advance of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the United States will take the field in a red, limited edition "Don't Tread on Me" jersey. This smart new kit will only be worn in the USA's May 28 match against Latvia in East Hartford, Conn., as part of the team's World Cup send-off celebration. This is a true limited edition, one-of-a-kind item. The red jersey features the USA's classic diagonal sash across the chest, reminiscent of the 1950 U.S. World Cup squad. The white-and-blue sash is offset by a 1950 era crest over the left chest. The right sleeve features the popular "Don't Tread" snake logo. The uniform is made of Nike Dri -FIT Mesh and features a polo-style collar. Be sure to pre-order your “Don't Tread on Me” jerseys now at ussoccerstore.com.

BERHALTER REPLACES GIBBS: Gregg Berhalter, a veteran of the USA’s 2002 FIFA World Cup roster, has been added to the USA’s 23-man roster for the 2006 FIFA World Cup, replacing defender Cory Gibbs who was diagnosed with a right knee injury on Thursday. Berhalter joined the U.S. in Cleveland on Friday in advance of the team’s match with Venezuela but did not dress. Berhalter has 44 caps across a career that spans 13 years with the U.S. Men’s National Team. Known for his strong play in the air, the 32-year-old is a highly competitive central defender with excellent man-marking abilities. He is perhaps best known for a goal-bound shot off the hand of midfielder Torsten Frings in the USA’s 1-0 loss to Germany in the quarterfinals of the 2002 World Cup. The non-call is among the most infamous in FIFA World Cup history.

RELIEVED REYNA: U.S. captain Claudio Reyna received good news last Wednesday morning after an MRI examination revealed no muscle damage to his right hamstring. While there is no specific time frame set for his return, the prognosis is very positive. "I am relieved that there is no serious damage," said Reyna. "I'll be working with the trainers on a daily basis and will be focused on getting back on the field as quickly as possible." Reyna felt tightness in his hamstring around the 11th minute of the USA’s 1-0 loss to Morocco on Tuesday night, and was replaced by Sierra Mist Man of the Match Pablo Mastroeni five minutes later.

ESPN TO AIR U.S. MNT BEHIND-THE-SCENES FEATURES NIGHTLY FROM MAY 24-29 ON SPORTSCENTER: Sports fans are getting another view inside the locker room of the U.S. Men’s National Team as ESPN’s SportsCenter kicked off a series of daily behind-the-scenes features on Wednesday evening. SportsCenter’s World Cup reporter Shelley Smith will deliver the 90-second segments that will be shot and aired the same day from now until May 29, showing scenes from training, team meetings, locker rooms and wherever else the cameras might make their way during the five-day window. For even more exclusive coverage of the team’s build-up to Germany, tune into the extensive all_access videos found only on ussoccer.com.

ALL_ACCESS ON SEND-OFF SERIES: ussoccer.com's all_access video continues to be the best source for an inside look into the U.S. MNT's pre-World Cup Send-Off Series. The latest installment features highlights and post-game comments from the USA’s match against Venezuela. Catch all of the highlights at ussoccer.com.

LEEDS FALLS IN FINAL: Eddie Lewis and his Leeds United teammates were unable to move up to the English Premier League after falling, 3-0, to Watford in the League Championship Promotion Final on Sunday (May 21) at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Lewis had helped Leeds United advance to the final by scoring the lone goal in their 1-1 first leg draw against his old club Preston North End, then going the distance in the 2-0 victory on May 8 that secured their place in the final match. Lewis re-joined the national team in Nashville on Monday, having spent the first four days of training camp in Cary before heading back to England to prepare for the final. Last week, Lewis talked about his side's promotion playoff run and joining up with his old mates on the national team in an exclusive audio podcast on ussoccer.com.

'DON'T TREAD' MUSIC VIDEO AVAILABLE ON USSOCCER.COM: You've watched U.S. Men's National Team midfielder Clint Dempsey perform on the soccer field, and now's your chance to see him in action off the field. Well-known as a freestyle rapper, Clint put his words down on paper to record a hip-hop track for Nike's "Don't Tread on Me" soccer campaign, titled "Don't Tread," collaborating with Texas rappers Big Hawk and XO, and Boston-based producer Da BeatzSmith (listen). Dempsey, a.k.a Deuce, shot a video for the track in his hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas, which you can now check out on ussoccer.com.

KASEY KELLER PODCAST: Of all the American soccer players who have paved the path to Europe, veteran goalkeeper Kasey Keller stands above the rest. The most accomplished goalie in U.S. Soccer history has played his entire career across the pond, starting at gritty Milwall before making stops in the top leagues in England, Spain and Germany. Revered for his uncanny ability to make game-altering saves and admired for his determination and leadership, Keller has forged an international career that has hardly been smooth sailing. For the man who Brazilian legend Romario described as having "the greatest performance by a goalkeeper I have ever seen," patience and perserverance have landed him in the Number One role heading into Germany this summer. Through it all, he has managed to handle himself with dignity and class - in short, he's done things his way. And as you're about to find out, his way is something very uniquely Kasey Keller. In this extended one-on-one interview on ussoccer.com, Keller discusses his career in Europe, his goals for the World Cup and the possibility of returning to play in the U.S. [TRANSCRIPT]

GETTING BACK IN THE SWING: Unlike four years ago, when the FIFA international calendar included three match dates that allowed the European-based players more time with the national team, this year’s schedule only included a single match date prior to the naming of the World Cup roster. Additionally, the CONCACAF Gold Cup was held in January of 2002, giving a couple players – most notably Eddie Lewis – the opportunity to play their way onto the World Cup roster. This time around, the three matches in six days during the Send-Off Series provides a bit of a personnel challenge for U.S. boss Bruce Arena, who must juggle playing time for 24 players over the critical three-match swing.

DAILY ‘CENTER CIRCLE’ LAUNCHED: For more than four years we’ve tortured you with a vicious cycle. You’d receive our monthly Center Circle in your e-mail inbox and it would make you laugh, cry and give you that much needed pick-me-up. But all that laughter, all that enlightenment would fade after a week and you’d have to wait until the next month to be re-energized. Well, no more. The Center Circle e-magazine has transformed from the once-a-month newsletter on ussoccer.com, to an interactive page that will be updated on a regular basis with new features on all the U.S. National Teams. All your favorite CC sections will still be available, such as Armchair Midfielder, In 3s and You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall) trivia, mixed in with more podcast interviews, new video segments, a chance for you to rant opinions and ask questions, and much, much more. Our little Center Circle baby is all grown up. Come check it out.

GROUP E GERMAN PLAYERS: While the U.S. might get some support in their first round games at the 2006 FIFA World Cup from German fans attending the matches as Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover) and Kasey Keller (Borussia Monchengladbach) ply their trade in the German Bundesliga, they’re not the only teams in Group E with German-based players. The Czech Republic has five players in the Bundesliga: Tomas Rosicky and Jan Koller (Borussia Dortmund), Jan Polak (Nuremberg), David Jarolim (Hamburg) and Jiri Stajner (Hanover). Ghana has three players: Matthew Amoah (Borussia Dortmund), Hans Sarpei (Wolfsburg) and Otto Addo (Mainz). All of Italy’s players are with clubs in Italy.

McBRIDE HONORED AS FULHAM’S PLAYER OF THE YEAR: U.S. MNT forward Brian McBride was named the Fulham FC Player of the Season at the club’s end of the season dinner. Voted on by Fulham supporters, McBride was running neck and neck in the poll with teammate Steed Malbranque, but was able to squeak by in the end to win the award. McBride scored 10 goals and three assists in 39 games to help Fulham finish 12th in the English Premier League.

GETTING OLDER: The U.S. roster’s average age has steadily increased since the beginning of camp on May 10 as a number of players have celebrated birthdays. U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu was the first, celebrating his 24th birthday on May 13, followed by Eddie Lewis (32) on May 17, DaMarcus Beasley (24) and Brian Ching (28) on May 24, and Carlos Bocanegra (27) on May 25. The team didn’t have to wait much longer to sing another rendition of “Happy Birthday to You…” at lunch as Bobby Convey turned 23 on May 27. After celebrating four in four days, there’s a bit of a layoff until the middle of June when Marcus Hahnemann turns 34 on June 15 and Brian McBride catches up to the U.S. goalkeeper four days later on June 19.

ESPN/ABC ANNOUNCES FIFA WORLD CUP BROADCAST TEAMS: ESPN/ABC Sports have announced their broadcasters for the network’s 64-game coverage of the 2006 FIFA World Cup beginning June 9 in Germany. Below is a list of broadcast pairings for the World Cup:

BROADCAST TEAMS
Play-by-play, Analyst
Dave O’Brien, Marcelo Balboa
JP Dellacamera, John Harkes
Rob Stone, Robin Fraser
Glenn Davis, Shep Messing
Adrian Healey, Tommy Smyth
In addition, Eric Wynalda, Alexi Lalas and Julie Foudy will serve as studio analysts from the United States.

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