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U.S. U-23 MNT to Face St. Kitts & Nevis Tomorrow at 6 p.m. ET in Basseterre


U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team
CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Notes
November 14, 2003 -- Basseterre, St. Kitts

YOUNG YANKS vs. "SUGAR BOYZ" TOMORROW AT 6 P.M. (ET) LIVE ON ussoccer.com's MATCHTRACKER:
The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team is now just a little over a day away from their most important match to date since the group first gathered in January 2002. After recieving a bye to the second round, the USA faces St. Kitts & Nevis in a two-game series that will begin with an away match on Saturday (Nov. 15) at Warner Park in the capital city of Basseterre, St. Kitts. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. local time, or 6 p.m. ET, and can be followed via live web updates on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The return leg will be played on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md., a suburb west of Washington, D.C.

FINISHING UP IN FORT LAUDERDALE: As promised, the team went through a double session on Wednesday. But unlike what was promised, the practices were neither short nor sweet. In a continuing effort to get the team time on the field to gel as a unit and to get a host of MLS reserves match-fit, head coach Glenn "Mooch" Myernick led the team through a 90-minute practice in the morning at the Sunrise Hilton field, then loaded up the vans in the late afternoon to get in a much cooler 90-minute training session down the road at Nova Southeastern as the sun went down. Both sessions were heavy on scrimmages, with the team essentially playing 11 vs. 8, as former Miami Fusion midfielder Jim Rooney filled in for the undermanned opposition.  The team finished the Ft. Lauderdale portion of camp with a morning session on Thursday that concentrated on corner kicks and free kicks, with Rapids midfielder Kyle Beckerman demonstrating to fellow teammates Ricardo Clark and Eddie Johnson how to get the best bend on the ball.

WELCOME TO MIAMI. CAN WE LEAVE NOW?: Although the U-23 contingent left the hotel three hours before its departure team and secured its normal special assistance with checking in and clearing the team's 40-some bags, the players, coaches and staff barely survived an hour-long security check-in line, a gate change that required new boarding passes for all, and a change in aircraft that left the 5:10 p.m. flight overbooked by 10 passengers for the trip from Miami to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Well, most of the group survived. Team doctor William Heinz, whose travel day began at 7 a.m. and involved a bus ride from Maine to Boston and a delayed flight just to get to Miami, and another staff member were left back to take a later flight and spend the night in our nation's 51st state before joining the team in St. Kitts on Friday afternoon. After getting into St. Kitts just past midnight, the team will rest and recuperate before training Friday night at Warner Park at 7 p.m.

ABOUT ST. KITTS, THE TEAM: St. Kitts & Nevis advanced to the second round of CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying by defeating neighboring island Dominca (not to be confused with the Domincan Republic) by an aggregate score of 4-1. After taking a 1-0 lead with an away win at Dominica, the Sugar Boyz rallied to post a 3-1 win at Warner Park on Oct. 11 to put them away. In their most recent action, SKN fell 5-1 to Barbados. The U-23 MNT is coached by Eric Winstanley and features a 21-player roster made up entirely of players from the island's three-tiered professional league (Premier Division, Division I and Division II -- Zone A and B). Nineteen of the 21 compete in the Premier Division, with over a third of the team (7 players) from first place Valrico Newtown FC (3-0-0). Another third of the team is culled from second-place Village Superstars (three players; 2-0-1) and third-place S.L. Horsford (four players; 1-1-2). Below is their complete 21-player CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying roster:
Goalkeepers (3): Kayian Benjamin (S.L. Horsford St. Pauls), Delroy Delaney (Cayon Sunquick Rockets), Oge Samuel (Valrico Newtown FC); Defenders (5): Darrel Challenger (S.L. Horsford St. Pauls), Keithroy Eddy (Valrico Newtown FC), Sheldon Lawrence (S.L. Horsford St. Pauls), Earl Jones (Valrico Newtown FC), Jason Joseph (Village Superstars); Midfielders (8): Stephen Clarke (Garden Hotspurs), Alston Francis (Valrico Newtown FC), Atiba Harris (Cadiz FC -- Spain), Shashi Isaac (Valrico Newtown FC), Thrizen Leader (S.L. Horsford St. Pauls FC), Aiden Nurse (Elco St. Peters FC), Errol O'Loughlin (Cayon Sunquick Rockets), Alistair Warner (Village Superstars); Forwards (5): Zevon Archibald (Valrico Newtown FC), Jevon Francis (Village Superstars), Rashid Hodge (KFC St. Thomas Trinity Strikers), Dachan Jarvis (Mantaba FC), Ian Lake (Valrico Newtown FC).

ABOUT ST. KITTS, THE ISLAND:
St. Kitts is located over 1,200 miles south-southeast of Miami in the Caribbean as part of a string of islands that includes Anguilla, St. Maarten, Antigua, Guadaloupe, Dominca and St. Lucia and stretches almost all the way to Trinidad and the the northern coast of South America. At the center of St. Kitts stands the spectacular, cloud-fringed peak of Mount Liamuiga (pronounced Lee-a-mweega), a dormant volcano covered by a dense tropical forest. Christopher Columbus first spotted St. Kitts in 1493, when it was populated with native tribes, but the Europeans didn't colonize until the British arrived in 1623. Its strategic location and valuable sugar trade led to an advanced and luxurious development that was among the best in the Colonial Caribbean. Around 1775 and the American Revolution, a whopping 68 sugar plantations existed on the island. While development has been of the highest quality, it has fortunately remained in low quantity, so St. Kitts remains un-crowded and unspoiled, famous around the world for excellent preservation of the ecosystems and Colonial setting.

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: It's been raining all week on the island and throughout most of the Caribbean, and by the looks of the current weather forecast, it will continue to do so through the weekend (and all next week, for that matter), which could turn Warner Park into a giant puddle of mud and turn the game into a sloppy, rough-and-tumble battle not unlike the original MLS Cup at RFK Stadium. There is a 60% chance of precipitation on Saturday. The good news? Well, the temperature is still in the mid-80s. St. Kitts won't be so lucky when they head up to coast next week and feel the blast of cold air that will be waiting for them on the Atlantic coast.

SECOND ROUND SERIES START ALL OVER CONCACAF REGION: In additon to the USA-St. Kitts & Nevis series, five other series get underway this weekend, including three match-ups that begin on Saturday (Nov. 15). Costa Rica hosts Guyana at the Estadio Fello Meza in Cartago at 12 p.m.; El Salvador takes on visiting Canada at the Estadio Cuscutlan in San Salvador at 3 p.m.; Grenada greets Trinidad & Tobago at St. George’s National Stadium at 7 p.m. On Sunday (Nov. 16), Jamaica hosts Guatemala at National Stadium in Kingston at 4 p.m. and Haiti hosts Honduras at the Orange Bowl in Miami at 7 p.m. Panama has already qualified with a 13-1 aggregate win over St. Lucia after a 6-1 home win on Oct. 25 and then 7-0 on Oct. 28. Mexico is also through to the eight-team second round by virtue of being host for the final CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament, which will be played from Feb. 2-12, 2004 in two venues to be determined in Guadalajara.
Date           Match-Up                                        Kickoff (local)
Nov. 15      Guayana @ Costa Rica                    12 p.m.
Nov. 15      Canada @ El Salvador                     3 p.m.
Nov. 15      USA @ St. Kitts & Nevis                7 p.m.
Nov. 15      Grenada @ Trinidad & Tobago        7 p.m.
Nov. 16      Guatemala @ Jamaica                      4 p.m.
Nov. 16      Honduras @ Haiti                            7 p.m.

TESTO'S 85-YARD BOMB VS. MEXICO UP FOR "BEST U.S. YOUTH GOAL 2003":

Fans can now see and vote for the goal that had the soccer world buzzing back in mid-March and made both "Plays of the Day" and "Plays of the Week" on SportsCenter. After coming off the bench in the 89th minute, Richmond Kickers (A-League) midfielder David Testo put the nail in Mexico's coffin by scoring perhaps the most unlikely goal you'll ever see. With the U.S. U-23 up 2-1 at Jalisco Stadium in stoppage time and absorbing an all-out attack that included their goalkeeper, the former UNC standout collected a teammate's clearance at the top of the oppositon's penalty area and turned to unleash an 85-yard chip that bounced several times and rolled slowly toward the goal, only to knick the post in trickle into the back of an empty net for the final 3-1 result. Should the U.S. advance to the final qualifying round, the same roudy Guadalajara crowd that was whipped into a beer-bottle-throwing, spitting frenzy could be waiting for them at the very same venue in three month's time. To go vote on Best U.S. Youth Goal and the 10 other "Best of U.S. Soccer 2003" awards, click below:
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BORCHERS SCORES AN A+ ON "CENTER CIRCLE" ESSAY: Just like he did for most of his rookie season for the Colorado Rapids, defender Nat Borchers rose to the occasion when called upon on short notice. But instead of marking the opposing team's top striker, he was called on to write a 750-word essay about his storybook rise to a starting role in MLS for a recurring piece called "Making it in the Show" for the October/November double issue of "Center Circle," U.S. Soccer's online magazine, that came out yesterday. Borchers, whose mom teaches high school English, turned in a well-written, grammatically correct, 1,000-word-plus opus that surely did his Mom and the University of Denver (where he's a graduate student in Accounting) proud. The 6'3" defender, who was nicknamed "Thor" by his Rapids teammates for his hulking presence and shaggy blonde locks, has responded just as well on the field in his first U.S. National Team camp of any kind. While noticeably nervous in his first training session, Borchers has blossomed over the past four days and scored one of the best goals of camp with a rocket volley off a corner kick in a scrimmage on Thursday. To read Borcher's "Making it in the Show" offering, just click below:
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STRAIGHT OUTTA AMSTERDAM!!!: Following Thursday morning's training session, U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach / Under-23 assistant coach Thomas Rongen surprised the team with an impromptu show of his supposedly exceptional basketball skills while the team de-cleated on the bench. While simluating various crossover dribbles, tomahawk dunks, post-up moves and his patented "fall away" shot (he might mean a "fade away"), Rongen spun a yarn about his youth shootin' hoops in the mean streets of Amsterdam, which he described as much tougher than any urban communities in America. The players got the last laugh, though, with D.C rookie forward Alecko Eskandarian (or "Esky" to teammates) asking the former United coach if he'd ever been invited to play on one of the popular traveling streetball tours and comparing him to "The Professor," who won the most recent one-on-one tournament over finalists Spyda and Helicopter.

QUOTABLE: "This is like a Third World country or something. This is ridiculous."
        --Rapids midfielder Kyle Beckerman, expressing his dissatisfaction with the job performance and organization of the Miami Int'l Airport employees
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