CHICAGO (Nov. 3, 2003) – U.S. Soccer announced today that the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will host St. Kitts & Nevis in the second leg of second round CONCACAF Olympic qualifying on Wednesday, Nov. 19 at the 3,200-seat Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md. Kickoff for the match is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
The first leg of the home-and-home series will be played on Saturday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET) in St. Kitts. The winner of the series will be determined by aggregate goals for both matches. Fans can follow the action of both games live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Tickets will go on sale to the public on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 10 a.m. ET at any Washington-Baltimore-area Ticketmaster outlet (including Hecht's stores), charge by phone [D.C. 202-432-SEAT (7328); Baltimore 410-481-7328; Northern Virginia 703-573-7328; or out-of-state 1-800-551-7328], or at ussoccer.com. Tickets are $15 for General Admission and $25 for Midfield General Admission.
In all, 25 teams will participating in CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying, with the USA, El Salvador, Honduras and Saint Lucia receiving byes into the second round. The seven teams who advance out of the second round will join host nation Mexico from February 2-12, 2004, to compete in two groups of four, with the top two teams in each group earning a spot in the single elimination semifinals. The two finalists of the 2003 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament will receive the confederation’s two automatic berths for Athens 2004.
The U-23s have gathered three times in 2003, posting a 3-1-3 record on the year. The team’s most recent action was a tense 1-0 win over an explosive Haiti squad on Oct. 15 in front of a rowdy crowd of over 9,000 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
The team’s biggest win of 2003 was a 3-1 result over Mexico in Guadalajara, which featured one of the most unlikely goals in U.S. Soccer history. After coming off the bench in the 90th minute to help the U.S. preserve a 2-1 lead with Mexico mounting wave after wave of attacks in an attempt to equalize, Richmond Kickers midfielder and 2003 A-League Rookie of the Year David Testo collected a clearance just outside the penalty box and struck a 90-yard shot that took several bounces and somehow found its way across the unguarded Mexico goalline in the 92nd minute. Chicago Fire defender Kelly Gray and D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian provided the other two strikes in the 11th and 75th minutes, respectively.
The U.S. Under-23 MNT also features young MLS stars like MetroStars midfielder and likely 2003 MLS Rookie of the Year Ricardo Clark, the dangerous Columbus Crew attacking duo of Edson Buddle and Kyle Martino, as well as a promising pair from the Dallas Burn in goalkeeper D.J. Countess and midfielder Brad Davis.
After successfully qualifying for the 2000 Olympics at Hersheypark Stadium in Hershey, Penn., the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team went on to post a record fourth place finish at the Sydney Games behind the play of current full Men’s National Team and 2002 FIFA World Cup stars like Landon Donovan, John O’Brien and Josh Wolff.
Donovan and current U.S. MNT midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who both made their debut for the U-23s as teenagers in helping the USA to a bronze medal at the 1999 Pan American Games in Winnipeg, are still age-eligible to play in the 2004 Olympics and will likely be a major part of the team.