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U.S. Futsal Team Arrives in Chinese Taipei, Begins World Championship Training

U.S. Futsal Team Notes
FIFA Futsal World Championship
Taipei, Taiwan - November 17, 2004

FIRST TO ARRIVE, FIRST TO HIT THE FLOOR: The U.S. was the first of the 15 teams arriving from around the world to Chinese Taipei, with the initial group of nine players and five staff arriving at 8:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, Nov. 16, after departing from Los Angeles at about 2:30 a.m. on Monday morning. The flight left more than 2.5 hours late due to delays including a security breach somewhere in LAX and also "missing passenger" after the plane had pulled away from the gate, causing the 747 to return to the gate to refuel after sitting on the tarmac for about an hour. The U.S. held their first training on Tuesday night in a local gymnasium were the basketball lines had been removed in favor of futsal markings. The team played a six vs. six match with both coaches and the team coordinator taking the field. The second wave of players arrived at 11 p.m. Tuesday night, and had a much more comfortable time traveling on a half-empty plane that afforded them the opportunity to spread out to sleep. Goalkeeper Brett Phillips will be the last to arrive, arriving on Saturday after staying home as long as possible in the States as his wife is expecting.

U.S. OPENS TOURNAMNET ON SUNDAY VS. ITALY: The U.S. will face Italy, the reigning European champion, on Sunday, November 21 at 6 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) at the Linkou Gymnasium in nearby Tao Yuan County to open then FIFA Futsal World Championship 2004. The game will be broadcast on Galavision on tape delay at 8 p.m. ET in the U.S. Check local listings to see if Galavision is available in your area. The U.S. is the defending CONCACAF Region champion, defeating Cuba in the CONCACAF Futsal Tournament that qualified the team for the world championship.
U.S. Futsal World Championship Schedule - Group Play
Date Match   Venue; City Local Time/ET
Nov. 21 Italy vs. USA  Linkou Gymnasium; Tao Yuan County 6 p.m. / 5 a.m.
Nov. 23 USA vs. Paraguay Linkou Gymnasium; Tao Yuan County 8 p.m. / 7 a.m.
Nov. 25 USA vs. Japan  National Taiwan University; Taipei City 8 p.m. / 7 a.m.
U.S. Futsal World Championship Roster:
Goalkeepers (2): Scott Hileman, Brett Phillips (St. Louis Steamers)
Defenders (3): Sean Bowers (San Diego Sockers), Lee Tschantret (Baltimore Blast), Pat White (Milwaukee Wave);
Midfielders (7): John Ball (Cleveland Force), Jamar Beasley (Kansas City Comets), Steve Butcher (San Diego Sockers), Andy Guastaferro (Chicago Storm), Pat Morris (Philadelphia Kixx), Joel Shanker (Philadelphia Kixx), Johnny Torres (Milwaukee Wave)
Forwards (2): Todd Dusosky (Milwaukee Wave), Greg Howes (Milwaukee Wave)

PHOTO GALLERY OF THE TEAM'S ARRIVAL, FIRST TRAINING SESSION: The U.S. was greeting both at their hotel and at the airport by a group of elementary school children who had prepared a welcome message for the U.S. Click here to see photos of the team upon arrival, the BMW police escort and the first U.S. training session.

CONFUSION MADE IN TAIWAN: So why did the U.S. Futsal Team travel to Taiwan to face Chinese Taipei in the FIFA Futsal World Championship? The answer is a bit of a game political semantics. In 1949, Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Party fled China to it island of Taiwan as the communists gained complete control of Mainland China. The Communists had planned to invade, but the U.S. Navy stepped in to prevent the attack and the U.S. vowed to defend the island. Under Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalists, Taiwan was (and still is) known as the Republic of China, while the mainland is the People's Republic of China. Taiwan held international recognition as China by the United Nations until the 1970s around the time of Chiang Kai-shek's death. The U.S. established formal diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China on Jan. 1, 1979, which necessitated in not recognizing Taiwan as a separate nation, because PR China believes it still belongs to them. PR China wanted to call the island Taiwan, China - but the inhabitants wanted to be known simply as Taiwan. A compromise has been made using the name of the largest city on the island, as both sides settled on Taipei, China (or Chinese Taipei) - as less offensive. This has led to international organizations, such as FIFA and the Little League World Series, to recognize Taiwan under a politically neutral flag and the name Chinese Taipei.

DA BULLS! Upon returning from their first training session in Taipei, the U.S. team returned to see a rather large contingent of television journalists stationed outside of the team hotel. As the team liaison Jeff explained, the Sinon Bulls baseball team was at the hotel and later were surrounded by a mob of 15 reporters in the lobby. The Bulls are fresh off their first-ever Chinese (Taipei) Professional Baseball League championship. The Bulls finished with the second-half title with a 27-21-2 record, and faced the first half winners President Lions in the seven-game championship series. The Bulls have a formal relationship with the Los Angeles Dodgers and train at the team's Dominican Republic facility in the off-season. Jackets and hats of several Major League Baseball teams were seen around the hotel, assumedly scouts for team such as the Dodgers, Phillies, Indians and Yankees. The Bulls are honored on a wall in the lobby of the Imperial Hotel with an eight by 10 photo near the elevators. On the same wall are the photos of other celebrities and dignitaries who have stayed at the hotel including actor Jet Li, baseball player Ichiro Suzuki, the former vice president of the People's Republic of China as well as Puffy, a female teen pop duo. Also on the wall is Chin-Feng Chen, who was the second player from Taipei to play professional baseball in the U.S. when he signed a contract with the Dodgers in 1996 and left the Bulls. He had previously visited the U.S. in 1990 as a member of the Chinese Taipei's Little League World Series team.

OH, THANK HEAVEN: There have been few signs of home through the first whole day in Taipei City for the U.S. team. One of the first familiar sites was the 7-11 situated just down the block from the Imperial Hotel, where the team is staying. The store does not have much selection outside the just-add-water noodle aisle, but several of the U.S. contingent have stocked up on bottled water, as well as other staples such as chips, crackers and Coke.  On the bus ride to the training site, the team also learned that Starbucks is among the U.S. companies to have made its way to the island. Also spotted were Subway, KFC and - of course - McDonald's.

"If you just woke up and looked out your window, you would think that you are in Wisconsin."
 - Milwaukee-based head coach Keith Tozer, on the many lakes and ponds visible as the U.S. flight approached the airport over rural Tao Yuan County. The area is know for its more than 8,000 man-made ponds for irrigation, and Tao Yuan translates into "the county of a thousand ponds".