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U.S. Soccer Wire: December 17, 2007



U.S. MNT LEARNS HOME AND AWAY SCHEDULE FOR
SEMIFINAL ROUND OF 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING;
SERIES TICKETS GO ON SALE DECEMBER 19 FOR
CONCACAF OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT

U.S. MNT LEARNS HOME AND AWAY SCHEDULE FOR SEMIFINAL ROUND OF WCQ: The U.S. Men’s National Team will be on the road for its first two games of the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF qualifying should it get past their Second Round opponent (either Barbados or Dominica) in June. FIFA announced on Sunday the draw for the three Semifinal Round groups of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If the U.S. advances past Barbados or Dominica in their home-and-away series, they could face Guatemala and Cuba on the road to start the Semifinal Round before heading back to the U.S. for their first home match against Trinidad & Tobago. Guatemala, Cuba and Trinidad & Tobago all would need to advance out of their Second Round matches. The U.S. would kick off their Semifinal Round campaign away on Aug. 20 and on Sept. 6, which would be the first of a two-game stretch. The U.S. would then return from the United States to play their first home game of the round on Sept. 10, in a site to be determined. The U.S. would then play at home on Oct. 11, before traveling for their final away match on Oct. 15. The team's final match of the Semifinal Round would be at home on Nov. 19.

Semifinal Round of 2010 FIFA World Cup Qualifying
Aug. 20 - Away
Sept. 6 - Away
Sept. 10 - Home
Oct. 11 - Home
Oct. 15 - Away
Nov. 19 - Home

OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TICKETS GO ON SALE WEDNESDAY: U.S. Soccer and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) have announced that series tickets for the 2008 CONCACAF Men’s Under-23 Championship in Los Angeles, Tampa and Nashville will go on sale Wednesday, Dec. 19, at 10 a.m. local time in each market. The eight-team tournament, set to be played from March 11-23, 2008, will send two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Both The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., and Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., will host three doubleheaders each in group play, while LP Field in Nashville will host the semifinals on Thursday, March 20, and the championship match and third-place game on Sunday, March 23. Venue-specific series tickets go on sale to the public beginning this Wednesday (Dec. 19) at 10 a.m. local time in each venue. A series ticket consists of all matches scheduled at a single venue. Fans can order series tickets -- priced from $36 to $195 depending on the seating area and number of match days included in the series – online at ussoccer.com, by phone at 813-287-8844 (Tampa), 213-480-3232 (Los Angeles) or 615-255-9600 (Nashville) and at local Ticketmaster ticket centers in the venue cities. Individual match day tickets for doubleheaders at each venue will go on sale at a later date, pending availability.

U.S. U-23 MNT DRAWS WITH CHINA DURING TWO-GAME TOUR: The U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team kicked off preparations for 2008 Olympic qualifying with a two-game tour of China, in which they played the host nation's U-23 squad twice. In the first match, the teams played to a spirited 0-0 draw in front of an enthusiastic crowd in Changsha on Thursday (Dec. 13). On Sunday (Dec. 16), the teams met again in Guangzhou, battling to a 3-3 tie with first-half goals from Robbie Rogers, Patrick Ianni and Charlie Davies. The six-goal thriller saw three U.S. goals in the first half and three Chinese goals in the second half. The U-23’s will take a break for the holidays before regrouping at the IMG Academies for a two-week training camp from Jan. 6-20 in Bradenton, Fla. The camp will continue the team’s preparation for final round action of the 2008 CONCACAF Men’s Under-23 Championship to be held from March 11-23, 2008, in Los Angeles, Tampa and Nashville. The eight-team tournament will send the two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

FIRST THREE "BEST OF U.S. SOCCER" WINNERS ANNOUNCED: U.S. Soccer announced the first three winners of the 2007 “Best of U.S. Soccer” awards after three weeks of fans voting online at ussoccer.com. Fans can watch a special presentation of the first three winners for Best Store, Best Performance (Team) and Best all_access Video on ussoccer.com’s Studio 90 (watch now), which will showcase all 11 category winners over three days. The sixth annual installment of the awards was presented this year by Soccer America, the No. 1 soccer magazine in the United States, and fans had a chance to vote from Nov. 14 to Dec. 7 for all 11 categories. On Thursday, Dec. 20, U.S. Soccer will announce the winners of the 2007 Athlete of the Year Awards, which include Male, Female, Young Male and Young Female. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, the next four awards will be presented for Best Assist, Best Goal (Women), Best Fan Atmosphere and Best Photo, while on Wednesday, Dec. 19 fans will find out the winners for Best Bar, Best Blog, Best Goal (Men) and Best Performance (Player).

MORE THAN 29,000 TICKETS SOLD FOR U.S. MNT VS. MEXICO: More than 29,000 tickets have been sold for the U.S. Men’s National Team’s Feb. 6 clash with rival Mexico at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas, just four weeks after going on sale to the general public. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. CT and will be televised live on ESPN2 and Univision. The last USA vs. Mexico match at Reliant Stadium drew a passionate sellout crowd of 69,582 fans on May 8, 2003 and remains the largest home crowd for the U.S. Men’s National Team this decade. In an arrangement unique for this game, U.S. Soccer has divided the seating into U.S.A., Mexico, and mixed/neutral fan sections at each price level. Tickets as low as $35 are on sale now at ussoccer.com, by phone at 713-629-3700, at all Houston area Ticketmaster ticket centers (including Fiesta stores, Macy’s, Wherehouse Music, FYE, and select HEB stores), and at the Reliant Stadium south ticket office (open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.). Groups of 30 or more can obtain an order form at ussoccer.com or can call 312-528-1290. Ultimate Fan Tickets (a special VIP package which includes a premium ticket, a custom made official U.S. national team jersey with your name and number, VIP access to the field before and after the game, and other unique benefits), are also available exclusively through ussoccer.com. Additionally, ticket packages that include a premium pregame party starting at 6 p.m. inside the Houston Texans' training bubble (located across from Reliant Stadium) are also on sale through ussoccer.com and Ticketmaster. Packages priced at $250 each include a lower midfield game ticket, an all-you-can-eat buffet with beer and wine, and pregame entertainment.

– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –

CONCACAF 2008 UNDER-23 CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW TO BE HELD TUESDAY: The CONCACAF draw for the 2008 Under-23 Championship is slated for Tuesday, December 18, at 2 p.m. ET at CONCACAF headquarters in New York City. Along with hosts U.S., Canada, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico and Panama will be drawn into two groups as they vie for two Olympic berths. At the draw, the eight teams will be split into two groups, who will play in a round-robin format on opposite sides of the country. The U.S. will play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., while the other group will be based at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The top two teams from each group will meet at LP Field in Nashville. Series tickets for each venue go on sale on Wednesday, December 19.

U.S. U-17 WNT FINISHES TRIP TO ARGENTINA WITH WIN OVER URUGUAY U-17 WNT: The U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team finished its three-game trip to Argentina on a high note with a 3-0 win over the Uruguay U-17 Women’s National Team on Dec. 15 in Buenos Aires. The U.S. team had lost the first game of the tour to the Argentina U-17 Women’s National Team by a 2-1 score on Dec. 11, before rebounding with a 2-0 win over the Argentina Under-20 WNT two days later. Against Uruguay, the U-17s scored twice in the first seven minutes through Lauren Alwine and Merritt Mathias, both of whom scored in their second straight match, to secure an early 2-0 lead. In a contest totally dominated by the USA, the Americans out-shot Uruguay 15-0 and added a third goal in the 58th minute from Beth West. Shawna Gordon had two assists in the match. The U.S. U-17s finished 2007 with a 9-1-0 record, including 6-1-0 in international play.

U.S. U-17 WNT – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Date         Opponent                Result      U.S. Goal Scorers
Dec. 11    Argentina U-17s    1-2 L         Camille Levine
Dec. 13    Argentina U-20s    2-0 W        Lauren Alwine, Merritt Mathias
Dec. 15    Uruguay U-17s      3-0 W        Lauren Alwine, Merritt Mathias, Beth West

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

U.S. SOCCER WINTER COACHING SCHOOLS SET: U.S. Soccer's National Coaching Schools have been set for the first week of January, giving every coach a chance to obtain a FIFA recognized “A”, “B” or “C” level license while increasing their knowledge of the game. All January "A," "B" and "C" coaching schools will take place from Jan. 2-10, 2007, in three warm-weather locations. The National “A” License course will take place at the University of Tampa in Tampa, Fla., and The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The National “B” and “C” License courses will be offered at IMG Academies in Bradenton, Fla., and a soon to be announced West Coast site. Also in January is the third edition of U.S. Soccer's National Goalkeeping License course, which will be held Jan. 4-11 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. More information is available in the Coaches Section of ussoccer.com.

APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED FOR PASSBACK TOUR: The United States Soccer Foundation, the major charitable arm of U.S. Soccer, is now accepting applications for its 2008 "Passback Tour". The tour is a series of soccer skills clinics for urban disadvantaged children across the country held on a state-of-the-art field by some of the best coaches and players around. The 2008 event will consist of an eight-city tour with about 100 participants in each city. More information, including an application to participate in the tour, is available at passback.org/tour.

TWO WEEKS LEFT FOR 2008 WERNER FRICKER BUILDER AWARD NOMINATIONS: Nominations are now being accepted for the 2008 U.S. Soccer Werner Fricker Builder Award, which is presented annually to an individual or individuals who have worked tirelessly in furthering the interest of the sport of soccer, without regard to personal recognition or advancement. The award was created in 2002 and is the greatest recognition bestowed by U.S. Soccer on its membership. The award is designed to honor those who have created or fostered programs that will outlast their own active involvement in the sport and that establish a lasting legacy in the history and structure of soccer in the United States. Interested persons can nominate individuals for the annual Werner Fricker Builder Award by downloading the form at ussoccer.com and mailing it to U.S. Soccer, c/o the Werner Fricker Builder Award Committee, 1801 S. Prairie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60616 or emailing it to wernerfrickeraward@ussoccer.org. This form is also available at ussoccer.com, and applications must be postmarked or sent by January 1, 2008 (download application).

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER: We knew the U.S. National Team players were tough at every level, just ask Brian McBride, Abby Wambach and Stephanie Lopez, who have all endured face or head injuries during matches. This past weekend, Under-20 World Cup veteran Julian Valentin added his name to that list when he was taken out of the NCAA Men’s Soccer championship match against his will in the 82nd minute after being cleated in the face. The defender, and captain of the Wake Forest squad, required 25 stitches from above his left eyebrow, across his nose and down to his right cheek (photo). It was all good for Valentin, though, as Wake Forest collected their first National Championship with a 2-1 win against Ohio State.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Fulham FC, the home to three Americans in the EPL, has dropped into 18th place and into the relegation zone. The club lost 1-0 at home to Newcastle on Saturday, their season-high third straight loss, and has now won just one league game since August 16 (a span of 15 games!).

MARQUEE MATCHUP: Fans of Tim Howard can set their alarms early for Sunday, Dec. 23, as Everton takes on Manchester United at 7 a.m. ET, live on Fox Soccer Channel. It’s a perfect chance for fans to catch some soccer before Christmas and before all the English Premier League matches on Boxing Day.

QUOTABLE: “These guys need to feel like they are part of a tradition, one that began before them and one that they are contributing to for the future. I let them know from day one that they are the future of U.S. Soccer. What we are trying to instill is a winning mentality. We want to see the light at the end of the tunnel.”
-- U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team head coach Peter Nowak on how he approaches the task of leading the young squad (more quotes).

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