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U.S. MNT in the Midst of Final Preparations for Mexico


TWO TO GO: The U.S. national team heads to their first training session in Houston this afternoon just two days away from the showdown with Mexico. More than 55,000 tickets have been sold for the USA's second visit to Reliant Stadium. The match will be part of a two-and-half-hour broadcast window on both ESPN2 and Univision beginning at 8 p.m. CT. Fans will also be able to listen to the match on 75 affiliates of the Fútbol de Primera Radio Network, and can follow live online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.

QUICK HITS

• The majority of the 22-man U.S. roster arrived into Houston on Sunday, with Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu scheduled to land late Monday afternoon
• The U.S. will debut the new Nike home kit Wednesday night, as well as the new Total 90 Omni ball
• The match on Feb. 6 will mark the 54th meeting between the USA and Mexico. The U.S. has a lifetime record of 14-29-10 against Mexico in a series that dates to 1934, but the U.S. has a 12-6-8 advantage in home matches since 1957. Since the rivalry between these two teams began in earnest in 1990, the sides have played 26 times, with the U.S. holding a 12-7-7 advantage
• The U.S. has dominated the series of late, collecting an 8-0-1 home record against Mexico since 2000. During that span, the USA has netted 15 goals, while the Mexicans scored only a single goal on American soil in this decade
• Seven players on the U.S. roster were on the field when the teams met in the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup final, including both goalscorers: Carlos Bocanegra, Ricardo Clark, Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan (1), Benny Feilhaber (1), Tim Howard, Oguchi Onyewu. Michael Bradley and Michael Parkhurst were also part of the championship-winning squad
• Eleven players on the roster appeared in the USA’s 2-0 win against Sweden on Jan. 19 at The Home Depot Center, including nine starters and both goalscorers: Josmer Altidore, Ricardo Clark, Ramiro Corrales, Brad Davis, Landon Donovan (capt., 1) Maurice Edu, Brad Guzan, Drew Moor, Pat Noonan, Michael Parkhurst, Eddie Robinson (1)
• The victory was the 10th straight time the U.S. has either tied or won their opening game of the year, with the U.S. also defeating Sweden to start the streak, 1-0, in 1998
• With the game-winning goal in the Jan. 19 game, Eddie Robinson became the 44th player in the 95-year history of U.S. Soccer to score in his first game with the national team. He is also the 11th player to accomplish the feat for the U.S. in the modern World Cup era (since 1986) and the sixth to do it this decade
• Robinson is one of four hometown favorites on the roster, the two-time MLS Cup champion Houston Dynamo contributing a quartet to the group. He is joined by Ricardo Clark, who appeared in both of the USA’s victories against Mexico last year, Brad Davis and Stuart Holden
• Along with Holden, two other players are being called up from the U-23 Men’s National Team that recently wrapped up camp in Bradenton, Fla. New York Red Bulls forward Jozy Altidore will be looking for his third cap, while Toronto FC midfielder and reining MLS Rookie of the Year Maurice Edu has started in the last three matches for the full team
• The USA is 6-0-5 lifetime in the state of Texas. The U.S. has played Mexico twice in the Lone Star State. Following the 0-0 draw at Reliant Stadium on May 8, 2003, Eddie Pope bundled home the game-winner in the 93rd minute to deliver the U.S. a well-deserved 1-0 victory on April 28, 2004 in Dallas.
• Bobby Convey and Landon Donovan both made their debut appearance for the full team against Mexico, and both in the same game. Donovan scored in the 1-0 win on Oct. 25, 2000, in Los Angeles
• Landon Donovan is the leading capwinner on the squad, the 25-year-old having earned 97 appearances. With his goal against Sweden last month, he claimed the top spot on the USA’s all-time scoring list with 35 career goals. Donovan has been a particular nemesis to El Tri, having scored four times in his career against Mexico, highlighted by the goal during the 2-0 win in the Round of 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. He scored in both meetings last year, notching the game-tying goal in the Gold Cup final
• U.S. Assistant Mike Sorber played two years for Pumas in the Mexican First Division
• Mexico head coach Hugo Sanchez is one of only two players to play in both the NASL and MLS, joining former U.S. international Roy Wegerle in achieving that accomplishment

DO “AWAY” GAMES HURT? Prior to the ‘Guerra Fria’ in Columbus (the USA’s 2-0 qualifying win on Feb. 28, 2001), the U.S. expected to walk into a domestic venue that was anything but supportive of their home team. While past managers have always talked about the valuable experience of a hostile environment no matter the location, how about the results? Take a look at the top five attended USA-Mexico games on home soil to see how the U.S. has fared.

Date                       Venue                                                      Result     Attendance
June 16, 1996      Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)             2-2 T       92,216
Feb. 15, 1998       L.A. Coliseum (Los Angeles)               0-1 L       91,255
June 4, 1994        Rose Bowl (Pasadena, Calif.)              1-0 W     91,123
May 8, 2003          Reliant Stadium (Houston)                   0-0 T       69,582
Feb. 7, 2007         Univ. of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale)  2-0 W      62,462

THREE THAT COUNT: While only three players on the roster have scored against Mexico, it’s hard to argue the significance of the points they have produced. Landon Donovan has four career goals against Mexico, including his first-ever international, the game-tying goal in last year’s Gold Cup final, and of course his picture-perfect header off an Eddie Lewis cross during the 2-0 win in the Round of 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Mr. Lewis happens to be the second player with a goal against El Tri, his strike in the 2-1 qualifying loss in 2005 in Mexico City marking the first U.S. goal in Mexican soil since 1986. That goal proved decisive in the race for the top spot in final round qualifying, the U.S. finishing in first place ahead of Mexico by virtue of being one better in goal differential. And finally Benny Feilhaber, who certainly made his debut turn against Mexico count when he nailed a 72nd minute volley that sealed the USA’s second consecutive Gold Cup title.

A BALL LIKE NO OTHER: When the U.S. Men take on Mexico this Wednesday, they’ll be kicking around a new ball – the Total 90 Omni. A ball is a ball, right? Not exactly. The Omni was tested for more than two years in Nike research labs and is engineered to set new performance standards for consistency, accuracy and visibility. The Omni’s innovative panel geometry places the hexagons and pentagons precisely together to create a nearly perfect sphere, which distributes pressure more evenly across the panels for what the engineers call a “360-Degree Sweet Spot.” The design of the ball is also beneficial for the players. The black asymmetrical band encircling the ball generates a more powerful visual signal as it rotates, providing a quicker read on ball location, spin rate, speed and trajectory from any angle. The U.S. and Mexico will actually be one of the first teams to actually play with the ball in an official match, as the Omni is making its premier for the first time on Wednesday, Feb. 6 in the Croatia-Holland and South Korea-Turkmenistan matches.

CONQUERING CONCACAF: For those who like to debate which team is the Gigante of CONCACAF, here’s a stat to consider: the United States has not lost to a regional opponent at home in 46 consecutive matches, amassing a 37-0-9 record since 2001. The last loss came Sept. 1, 2001, a 3-2 qualiyfing loss to Honduras at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. And of those 46 games, only two were played at altitude!

NEAR THE TOP OF THE TABLE: Three members of the USA’s foreign legion are faring extremely well with their clubs heading into the second half of their league campaigns. Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard has posted back-to-back clean sheets in EPL play and 12 overall in all competitions, backstopping Everton as they sit in fourth place in the English Premier League table and having already earned a place in the knockout phase of the UEFA Cup. Meantime, midfielder Michael Bradley enters the camp in fine form for Heerenveen, having scored six goals in his team’s last five matches to help elevate Heerenveen into third place in the Dutch Eredivisie, one point behind perennial Dutch powerhouse AFC Ajax. Bradley has 16 goals in all competitions, one shy of the season record for a U.S. international set by Earnie Stewart, who scored 17 times in his debut season at Dutch club Willem II in 1990-91. In Belgium, Oguchi Onyewu and Standard de Liege have gone 20 games without a loss this season, sitting one point behind league leaders Club Brugge in the Jupiler League table.

.500 IN THE 500TH: With the 2-0 win against Sweden, the U.S. celebrated its 500th international match by reaching an even .500 average for only the second time since 1937 (the first coming last year during the Gold Cup after the 2-1 win against Panama). With head coach Bob Bradley collecting a 13-5-1 record since last year, the USA's record currently stands at 194 wins, 194 losses and 112 ties in 500 official games. Amazingly, the U.S. bottomed out at 55 games below .500 just 12 short years ago with a 1-0 loss to Sweden back on August, 16, 1995 (88-143-70). That's a pretty impressive climb back to even.

MORE HELPING HANDS: U.S head coach Bob Bradley has bolstered his staff with three new editions in 2008. On the technical side, former Egyptian national team goalkeeper Zak Abdel will train the goalkeepers, the former Chivas USA goalkeeper coach having previously assisted Sigi Schmid with the U.S. U-20 MNT that participated in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland. Additionally, Pierre Barrieu has rejoined the national team staff after a year with the New York Red Bulls. Barrieu served as the Strength and Conditioning coach for the national team for a four-year span that included two World Cups. On the medical side, Bradley has appointed Ivan Pierra to be the Head Athletic Trainer for the Men’s National Team. Pierra has assisted the national team programs since 1993, and had served as the ACT for the Los Angeles Galaxy from the inception of the club in 1996.

NEW VOICES FROM THE BROADCAST BOOTH: Fans tuning into the USA-Mexico game on ESPN2 will hear some very familiar voices from the U.S. Soccer world as J.P. Dellacamera and John Harkes assume the lead role of calling games for the national team. Dellacamera has been broadcasting soccer for nearly 30 years, providing calls for some of the most important parts of the sport’s history in the United States, including the 1989 “Shot Heard Round the World” and 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. Harkes, the former captain of the U.S. national team who retired from playing in 2002, served as an ESPN analyst for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.


LAST TIME…

On the field for the USA
January 19, 2008 – Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif. – International Friendly
USA        2             Eddie Robinson 15’, Landon Donovan 48’ pen
Sweden 0

USA: 18-Brad Guzan; 15-Drew Moor, 8-Eddie Robinson (16-Michael Parkhurst, 46) 12-Jimmy Conrad (7-Clarence Goodson, 46), 6-Ramiro Corrales; 10-Landon Donovan (capt.), (23-Jeremiah White, 81), 13-Ricardo Clark, 19-Maurice Edu, 22-Brad Davis (26-Sacha Kljestan, 72); 20-Taylor Twellman (14-Josmer Altidore, 46), 11-Pat Noonan (17-Chris Rolfe, 63)

SWE: 1 Rami Shaaban; 2-Mikael Lustig, 3-Mattias Bjärsmyr, 4-Peter Larsson, 5-Oscar Rönningberg (15-Behrang Safari, 61), 6-Daniel Andersson (capt.); 7-Niclas Alexandersson (18-Viktor Elm, 46), 8-Anders Svensson, 9-Andreas Johansson (16-Samuel Holmen, 61); 10-Rade Prica (20-Johan Oremo, 61), 11-Pontus Wernbloom (19-Andreas Dahl, 78)


On the field for México
October 17, 2007 – Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, Calif. – International Friendly
México           2       Carlos Vela 30’, César Villaluz 32’
Guatemala   3       Rigoberto Gómez 30’, Marvin Ávila 64’, 74’

MEX: 1-Guillermo Ochoa, 2- Jonny Magallón (18-Juilo Domínguez, 46), 3-Carlos Salcido, 4-Omar Esparza (Omar Arellano, 81), 5-Héctor Moreno (15-Edgar Castillo, 76), 6-Patricio Araujo (Jorge Hernández, 87), 7-César Villaluz, 8-Gonzalo Pineda, 11-Andrés Guardado, 10-Giovani Dos Santos (19-Pablo Barrera, 46), 9-Carlos Vela (17-Ismael Valdez, 46)

GUA: 25-Paulo Motta, 3-Pablo Sebastián Melgar, 6-Gustavo Cabrera, 7-Claudio Albizuris, 13-Néstor Martínez, 4-Yony Wilson Flores, 14-Rigoberto Gómez, 11-Marvin Ávila, 2-Leonel Noriega, 18-Carlos Quiñónez (19-Mario Rodríguez, 38), 20-Carlos Ruiz

Vs. México
June 24, 2007 – Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill. – 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final
USA      2            Landon Donovan 62’ pen, Benny Feilhaber 73’
México  1            Andrés Guardado, 44’
Att: 60,000 (Sell Out)

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 16-Jonathan Spector (15-Frank Simek, 72), 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.), 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey (20-Taylor Twellman, 69), 5-Benny Feilhaber, 4-Pablo Mastroeni (19-Ricardo Clark, 46), 7-DaMarcus Beasley; 11-Brian Ching, 10-Landon Donovan
Subs not used: 9-Eddie Johnson, 12-Jay DeMerit, 14-Steve Ralston, 18-Kasey Keller
Head Coach: Bob Bradley

MEX: 11- Oswaldo Sánchez, 2- Jonny Magallón, 3-Carlos Salcido, 4-Rafael Márquez (capt.), 5-Ricardo Osorio, 7- Alberto Medina (10-Cuauhtémoc Blanco, 78), 8- Pável Pardo, 9-Jared Borgetti (19-Omar Bravo, 40), 16-Jaime Lozano (23- Adolfo Bautista, 81), 18-Andrés Guardado, 21-Nery Castillo
Subs not used: 13-Guillermo Ochoa, 14-Fausto Pinto, 20- Fernando Arce, 22- Francisco Rodríguez
Head Coach: Hugo Sánchez

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