GOODBYE TO UAB - The United States held its final training session at UAB today, the first with all 17 players available for full participation. Gregg Berhalter continued to look sharper as he recovers from a hamstring injury and should be ready for Sunday. The team ran through small field possession games before ending the session with a seven v. seven match with goalkeepers. The team will hold its final practice of the two-week tour tomorrow at Legion Field.
27 AND COUNTING - With the 4-0 win against Honduras in Seattle on March 2, USMNT head coach Bruce Arena became the second winningest coach in U.S. history, surpassing his predecessor Steve Sampson on the career wins list. Arena has collected a lifetime record of 27-13-13 since taking the reigns in October 1998, and has started out his fourth full year with the team with a solid 5-1-1 record. Arena is closing in on the all-time mark of 31 wins set by Bora Milutinovic from 1991-95.
NUMERO UNO - 23-year old goalkeeper Tim Howard looks to be making his debut appearance for the senior team this weekend. After participating in four national team training camps beginning in April of last year, U.S. head coach Bruce Arena will finally place Howard on the international stage. "He's a kid with great potential," Arena told USA Today. "He's an outstanding shot blocker. He does a good job dealing with crosses and does a good job talking with players in front of him. We've seen him in a number of training sessions and he's done exceptionally well. Now it's time to throw him in a game to evaluate him properly and fairly." Howard has appeared for the U.S. at the U-17, U-20 and U-23 levels, starting three games at the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship and traveling to Australia as a member of the U.S. Olympic Team that placed fourth at the 2000 Olympic Games in Australia. The MetroStars first-choice 'keeper had a stellar year in 2001, earning honors as the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.
STREAKING - A pair of San Jose stalwarts are making a lasting run in the USA's run-up to the FIFA 2002 World Cup. Veteran defender Jeff Agoos has appeared in the last 15 consecutive matches for the United States, dating back to the friendly against Ecuador on June 7, 2001. During the stretch he surpassed Paul Caligiuri on the U.S. all-time capwinners list, moving into third place with 124 appearances and counting. Agoos is only four caps shy of catching former U.S. defender Marcelo Balboa in second place. Meantime, 20-year old Landon Donovan has not missed a match for the U.S. since his World Cup qualifying debut against Honduras in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 1, 2001. The streak now standing at 12 games, Donovan has begun 2002 in brilliant form, scoring three goals and three times earning Chevrolet Man of the Match honors.
ECUADOR PREPARATION: Ecuador conducted their first states-side training session this afternoon at UAB. With Geovanny Ibarra and Jorge Guagua joining the team in Birmingham today, the 16-man traveling roster practiced for nearly two hours. The team will train twice tomorrow, once in the morning at Legion Field and back at UAB in the late afternoon. Seven different radio stations from Ecuador have contracted to broadcast Sunday's match, which will be broadcast live in the U.S. on ABC and Telemundo and the Futbol de Primera Radio Network beginning at 3 p.m. CT. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.