The Countdown Continues as Under-17 Tournament Nears Kickoff; Freeman Joins Team, Replacing Injured Chun
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THE COUNTDOWN CONTINUES: The U.S. took to the Robert R. Hermann stadium field Tuesday night, 24 hours before they kick off against Jamaica in their first game of the CONCACAF Group A qualifying tournament. The U.S. kicks off at 7 p.m. Wednesday night, following the tournament opener between Canada and El Salvador at 5 p.m. The U.S. training session lasted less than an hour, and began with the team's usual game-day warm-up and stretch led by trainer Brian Goodstein. The field players broke up into an 8 v 8 possession game, while the U.S. goalkeepers were put through the paces by goalkeeper coach Peter Mellor. The U.S. ended the session with the attacking players working on finishing, and the defenders hitting long balls and getting touches on the ball.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%FREEMAN JOINS TEAM: The U.S. camp added one player to the mix this weekend, when defender Hunter Freeman joined the team in St. Louis. Freeman, who was not originally on the 18-player qualifying roster, joined the team when the U.S. staff ruled defender David Chun would be unable to play in the tournament. Chun, who is one of three U.S. players to start all 15 U.S. internationals in the past two years, has a sprained right MCL. Freeman, who is the second youngest player currently on the team, has spent the last two years in the residency program with the team in Bradenton. He has appeared in ten matches in 2001 for the team, starting six and appearing as a sub in one international.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%SANTINO IN THE BRICKHOUSE: Santino Quaranta made his national radio debut Tuesday afternoon when he appeared on J.T. the Brick's afternoon radio show, the second-largest daily sports talk show in the U.S. Broadcast on more than 150 stations around the nation, "The Brickhouse" has a cult following second only to Jim Rome. J.T. spent about five minutes on his afternoon show with Quaranta, discussing the young midfielder's choice to turn pro and the transition to professional life at such a young age.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%WEATHER UPDATE: The U.S. squad took to the stadium field in parkas and gloves on Tuesday night, as the temperatures dropped into the low 40s. Princeton, N.J., native Paul Johnson felt at home in the weather and was down to shorts and his training shirt by the end of practice. Late Tuesday night temperatures were expected to drop into the 20s. Monday night the skies produced snow as the wind chill dropped into the low 30s. With the swirling winds that have been around all week, weather looks like it could be a factor when the tournament kicks off on Wednesday. Local meteorologists have said that recent temperatures have been 15 degrees colder than normal at this time of the year. The weather is supposed to show significant improvement beginning on Wednesday, when the forecast calls for sunshine and clouds and a high of 62 degrees.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%GOOD LUCK CUTS? Spectators at Tuesday evening's practice may have had a difficult time identifying a few of the U.S. players, as Chris Lancos and Mike Magee arrived with freshly buzzed haircuts. Midfielder Craig Capano was also showing off the buzz cut he received Monday evening. Although his teammates were hounding him, Hunter Freeman just said "No" to peer pressure and showed up at practice without a buzz cut. Paul Johnson attempted to make it out Tuesday afternoon to get his hair done, but was unsuccessful. Johnson was hoping to get his locks put into corn rows in advance of Wednesday's tournament opener.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. VS. JAMAICA: In the USA's tournament opener, two of the three CONCACAF representatives at the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship will face off. Jamaica finished a disappointing 16th of 16 teams at the tournament, while the U.S. advanced to the semifinals. Jamaica and the U.S. met in the final match of the 1999 qualifying tournament in Jamaica, a match that ended in a 0-0 draw and allowed Jamaica to emerge atop the group and sent the U.S. into a two-game playoff with El Salvador.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%JAMAICA ADVANCES TO ST LOUIS: Needing a victory in the final match, Jamaica exploded for a late three-goal burst to earn a 4-2 victory against Bermuda and advance from the Caribbean Zone 2 qualifying tournament to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying in St. Louis. Bermuda and Jamaica each won their first two matches to set up the thrilling finish, which Bermuda entered with a superior goal difference and needed only a draw to advance. Jamaica grabbed the lead in the first half from a Richard West strike in the 26th minute. Bermuda's Curt Stovell equalized from the penalty spot in the 61st minute before three goals in a seven minute span put Jamaica through to the next round. Vivian Malcolm (79th minute), Andre Whyte (80th) and West (85th) combined for the late flurry that ended the home side's chances. Domico Coddington pulled one goal back from the penalty spot in the 89th minute. Jamaica's victory earned them a berth in the CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament in St. Louis, Mo, from April 18-22 along with Canada and El Salvador. The winner of Group A will receive one of CONCACAF's two berths in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad & Tobago in September.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%JAMAICA IN THE UNDER-17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Jamaica qualified for their country's first-ever Under-17 World Championship in 1999. The Jamaicans advanced to New Zealand '99, only to finish a disappointing 16th out of 16 teams. The Jamaicans won the 1999 CONCACAF qualifying tournament that they hosted in Montego Bay, finishing atop the group that included a strong U.S. team. In the final match of the qualifying tournament, Jamaica and the U.S. drew 0-0, allowing Jamaica to advance to their first Under-17 World Championship. Jamaica was hammered when they arrived at the final competition, being shutout in three tournament games, allowing 10 goals and finishing last among 16 teams.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%IN MY WORDS: In each update, one of the Under-17 players will tell the stories of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in their own words. Today, on the eve of the tournament opener, the words of ...
Height: 5'11" Weight: 155 Birthdate: October 14, 1984
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Club Team: D.C. United (MLS)
"I can't believe that the tournament opener is almost here. The days that we have been here have just flown by. It seems like we just got in here, and all of a sudden the tournament is going to start. I've had a great time in St. Louis so far, but I can't wait to get the games going. It seems that we have been training for this week for so long. Most of us started almost a year and a half ago in residency, and it seemed like this week would never come. And now it is here and I can't wait.
"The team is definitely ready to get out there and start playing. I think that we have had some great training sessions this week. Sunday we went really went at it, and it was real intense. I think it is exactly what we needed. The coaches have done a great job of getting us ready for this week, and now it is up to us. I think that if we all come out to play, and we do what we know we can, then we should be able to take care of business.
"I just rejoined the team when they flew in here last Thursday. I had spent almost two weeks with D.C. United up in Washington, D.C. I think the time with United really helped me. It was good to get out and see what I need to do at the next level. I definitely think I can play there and I will go back to D.C. when the tournament is over. My time with D.C. also got me excited for this tournament, and now I can't wait to take the field Wednesday.
"When we scrimmaged Saint Louis University on Friday, there were quite a few people out there. I know I was, and I think most of the guys were, a little surprised how many people were there for a Friday afternoon practice match. I think it really got some of the guys excited thinking about playing in front of a large crowd for the qualifying games. I think it will be amazing to be playing in front of a large, Pro-American crowd and to be able to look up into the stands and see people cheering for the USA. I can't wait.
"I think it will be brilliant when we kick off tomorrow. I just can't wait to finally get out there and start the matches. We've been training a year and a half for this, and I think the team is ready to play. We are all feeling confident and just looking forward to playing. Like they say in boxing, 'Let's get it on!'"
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: Forward Ed Johnson has scored in the last four U.S. internationals, and will be looking to put his name in the books for the fifth consecutive match when the U.S. kicks off against Jamaica. The U.S. is undefeated in those four matches, and is 6-0-1 in international matches that Ed Johnson has scored in.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"My father finally came around and realized that Duke is the far superior school."