"Our match against Ecuador will provide us with excellent preparation for our three World Cup qualifiers in the coming weeks," said Arena. "It's always a benefit to get a chance to compete with a quality opponent. It is also certainly a bonus to have the opportunity to see most of our foreign-based players in this match while they are fit and coming off the European season, as well as the chance to look at some younger players."
Arena enlisted a mostly foreign-based squad for the match, with 13 players playing their professional football in Europe. Glasgow Rangers midfielder Claudio Reyna returns to wear the captain's band, while Ajax midfielder John O'Brien makes his return to the U.S. selection for the first time since September 3, 2000, having been sidelined for most of the year with various injuries after starring for the U.S. in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Goalkeeper Brad Friedel, who recently led Blackburn Rovers to promotion to the English Premier League, has recorded two victories in the final round of World Cup qualifying against Mexico and Honduras. Everton forward Joe-Max Moore and Fulham midfielder Eddie Lewis both return to the squad for the second time in 2001.
Only five players represent MLS as the domestic league has a nearly full fixture list. MetroStars forward Clint Mathis has been the bright light for both club and country in 2001, netting two goals for the USA while posting seven goals and four assists to lead the Budweiser scoring charts in MLS competition. Mathis is joined by teammates Richie Williams, Mike Petke and Tim Howard. Colorado Rapids veteran defender Robin Fraser has been capped 27 times and joins the side for the first time since appearing in the team's first 2002 World Cup qualifier July 16, 2000 against Guatemala.
In continuing his effort to foster new talent, Arena has given four players their first look in the senior national team. Conor Casey, a starter for the Olympic team that reached the medal round in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney and a key component of the U.S. Under-20 qualification for the World Youth Championship next month in Argentina, will be on the senior national team roster for the first time. Casey is joined by fellow Olympian Tim Howard, the 22-year old goalkeeper for the MetroStars. John Thorrington, currently signed to Huddersfield Town in the English Second Division, was a part of the Olympic qualifying effort but a knee injury in mid-July of 2000 ended his Sydney aspirations. Also getting his first call up to the senior team is midfielder Joe Enochs. The 29-year old graduate of Sacramento State University has played for Second Bundesliga side VfL Osnabrück since 1996.
The match-up will mark the final preparation for the Americans before their important back-to-back final round World Cup qualifying games in the middle of June. In those crucial games, the U.S. travels to Jamaica on June 16 and then returns to the states four days later to take on Trinidad & Tobago at Foxboro Stadium in Massachusetts.
Ecuador has been one of the surprises in CONMEBOL (South American) World Cup qualifying. Led by veteran attacking midfielder Alex Aguinaga and the goalscoring of Augustin Delgado, they currently stand in third place with 22 points (7-4-1 record). Ecuador achieved an historic first-ever win over world power Brazil, 1-0, on March 28 in Quito. The top four teams in South American qualifying will automatically qualify for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan and the fifth-place finisher in South America will playoff against the Oceania champion. Ecuador, which has won its last four qualifying matches on the trot, will put its winning streak on the line when they travel to Peru for a qualifier June 2 before traveling directly into Columbus.
Amazingly, in seven all-time meetings against Ecuador, the U.S. has never won. The South Americans own a 4-0-3 record against the U.S., which includes a 1-0 victory in the teams' last meeting back on August 7, 1997 in Baltimore, Md.
The U.S. is off to their best start ever in World Cup qualifying final round play after defeating Mexico in Columbus and then earning a critical 2-1 victory on March 28 in Honduras. The road victory against the high-scoring Hondurans was just the third-ever World Cup qualifying victory for the U.S. in Central America. The top three teams from the six-team 30-game CONCACAF final round, which concludes on Nov. 11, will advance to the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan.
Tickets for the international friendly against Ecuador are priced at $32 (sideline), $24 (corner) and $18 (end). Tickets are available by calling TicketMaster at 614-431-3600 or going online at www.us-soccer.com.
|U.S. Men's National Team Roster|
USA vs. Ecuador (International Friendly)
June 7, 2001
Columbus Crew Stadium - Columbus, Ohio
|Berhalter, Gregg||D||6'1"||175||08/01/73||20/0||Tenafly, N.J.||Crystal Palace (England)|
|Casey, Conor||F||6'1"||170||07/25/81||0/0||Denver, Colo.||Borussia Dortmund (Germany)|
|Cherundolo, Steve||D||5'6"||145||02/19/79||3/0||San Diego, Calif.||Hannover 96 (Germany)|
|Enochs, Joe||M||5'9"||155||09/01/71||0/0||San Francisco, Calif.||VfL Osnabrück (Germany)|
|Fraser, Robin||D||6'1"||175||12/17/66||27/0||Denver, Colo.||Colorado Rapids (MLS)|
|Friedel, Brad||GK||6'4"||202||05/18/71||68/0||Bay Village, Ohio||Blackburn Rovers (England)|
|Howard, Tim||GK||6'3"||210||03/06/79||0/0||North Brunswick, N.J.||NY/NJ MetroStars (MLS)|
|Kirovski, Jovan||F||6'1"||175||03/18/76||45/7||Escondido, Calif.||Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)|
|Lewis, Eddie||M||5'10"||155||05/17/74||28/2||Cerritos, Calif.||Fulham FC (England)|
|Mathis, Clint||M/F||5'10"||170||11/25/76||11/3||Conyers, Ga.||NY/NJ MetroStars (MLS)|
|Moore, Joe-Max||F||5'9"||150||02/23/71||84/22||Irvine, Calif.||Everton (England)|
|O'Brien, John||M||5'9"||150||08/29/77||6/1||Playa del Rey, Calif.||Ajax (Holland)|
|Petke, Mike||D||6'2"||185||01/30/76||0/0||Bohemia, N.Y.||NY/NJ MetroStars (MLS)|
|Regis, David||D||5'11"||160||12/02/68||18/0||Valenciennes, France||FC Metz (France)|
|Reyna, Claudio||M||5'9"||160||07/20/73||80/8||Springfield, N.J.||Glasgow Rangers (Scotland)|
|Sanneh, Tony||D/M||6'2"||190||06/01/71||19/1||St. Paul, Minn.||FC Nürnberg (Germany)|
|Thorrington, John||M||5'8"||150||10/17/79||0/0||Palos Verdes, Calif.||Huddersfield Town (England)|
|Williams, Richie||M||5'5"||145||06/03/70||15/0||Middletown, N.J.||NY/NJ MetroStars (MLS)|
|Head Coach||Bruce Arena||Fairfax, Va.|
|Assistant Coach||Dave Sarachan||Ashburn, Va.|
|Goalkeeper Coach||Greg Andrulis||Miamisburg, Ohio|
|General Manager||Pam Perkins||Evanston, Ill.|
|Trainers||David Andrews||Seattle, Wash.|
|Larry Grine||Reston, Va.|
|Equipment Manager||Aaron Barrett||Chicago|
|Director of Security||Gene Williams||New York|
|Press Officer||Michael Kammarman||Laurel, Md.|