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A stern reminder about an upcoming U.S. Soccer-related event, whether you plan to check it out live and in person, on the “telly” or that wacky world wide web.

MNT vs. Venezuela – Sat., March 29 – 1 p.m. PT – ESPN2

Thanks a lot, Dubya. Just as the U.S. Men’s National Team was gearing up to face one of its best opponents in a 2003 schedule that has featured Argentina and will include Mexico, Brazil and Cameroon, the gung-ho boys in beige start bustin’ bunkers and putting the rest of the world on alert. Obviously, soccer takes a back seat, but it’s a bit disappointing that our mix of young up-and-comers and 2002 World Cup vets won’t have a chance to match up against Japan’s almost entirely World Cup-vet squad on Saturday.

But ladies and gentleman, out of the dark comes the light, and it bringeth…Venezuela. “Huh?” you ask. Try a country that Bruce likes to refer to as the most improved national side in all of South America. Try a team that won four of their last five games in the last round of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Yes, it’s true: Venezuela isn’t just for Latin beauties and baseball anymore.

The U.S. and Venezuela have met just once, almost 10 years ago, with the U.S. giving up a 3-0 lead and stumbling to a 3-3 draw at Copa America in Quito, Ecuador on June 22, 1993. But this time Venezuela will face a U.S. team that is ranked in the Top 10 in the world and will feature as many as 10 players who were part of our summer to remember at Korea/Japan 2002. Kasey, Earnie and Frankie are back in the mix for this one, so don’t be surprised if this one feels and looks like a World Cup qualifier. With the Confederations Cup and Gold Cup coming up in June and July, respectively, not to mention the Mother of all Rematches on May 8 against Mexico in Houston, it’s time to get down to business no matter who the opponent.

And if that’s not enough incentive, then maybe you’d just like to check out what John “Turducken” Madden calls “the finest football stadium in the country” and see what it looks like with a real carpet. U.S.-Venezuela kicks off at 1 p.m. PT at Seahawks Stadium, live on ESPN2 and online with ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

Table of Contents
1) Armchair Midfielder (Off-season WUSA Pick-ups)
2) In Threes (w/ U-20 MNT forward Knox Cameron)
3) Queries and Anecdotes (w/ MNT, U-23, U-20 MNT midfielder Bobby Convey)
4) Mark That Calendar (MNT vs. Venezuela – March 29)
5) The Wife of Brian (w/ Dina McBride)
6) FAN Point/Counterpoint (Who will win 2003 MLS MVP?)
7) "You Don’t Know Jack (Marshall)" (MISL Trivia)

Download this issue of Center Circle (.pdf).

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