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CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Group A Preview/Group B Recap - Feb. 3, 2004


 
-- GROUP A PREVIEW --

USA LOOKING FOR GOOD START VS. PANAMA TONIGHT AT 8 P.M. CT LIVE ON MatchTracker: After having most of yesterday off, the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team went through its final tournament preparations on Monday (Feb. 2), participating in a light training session in the late morning before getting a scouting report on Panama and dissecting some video footage following the team dinner. Although disappointed to find out that the tournament-opening match between Costa Rica and Jamaica wasn't on either Galavision or Televisa on local TV, the entire team made sure to tune in to watch Mexico throttle T&T match (see match report below) at 8 p.m. Having gotten a taste of tournament action on the tube, the U.S. team is chomping at the bit to get out on the field and face Panama at Estadio 3 de Marzo tonight at 8 p.m. (LIVE on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker). The U.S. U-23s will be looking to use their superior pace, speed of play and height to attack the Central American nation from the outset and get three points in their first match before difficult matches against Canada on Thursday (Feb. 5) and Saturday (Feb. 7). Below are capsules of the USA and its three Group A opponents:

United States of America (USA)
Current MNT World Ranking: 11
Head Coach: Glenn "Mooch" Myernick
Past Olympic Results: Have the most appearances in the Olympics (with 12) of any CONCACAF nation, and are looking for a sixth consecutive trip to the Summer Games dating back to 1984. After finishing second to Honduras at the 2000 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Hershey, Pa., the U.S. went on to post a best ever fourth place finish in Sydney.
Road to Guadalajara: After receiving a bye in the first round, the U.S. dropped St. Kitts & Nevis 6-0 in Basseterre, St. Kitts, on Nov. 15 behind two-goal games from forwards Ed Johnson and Edson Buddle before riding a five-point (2 G, 1 A) performance from forward David Testo to a 4-0 win in the home leg on Nov. 19 at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown, Md.
Last Match: The U.S. is 2-0-1 in a trio of exhibitions in 2004, downing top El Salvador club Aguila 2-1 on Jan. 17 at East L.A. College on Jan. 17, before tying Tecos 2-2 on Jan. 27 and beating Atlas reserves 3-2 on Jan. 29 in Guadalajara.

Final Olympic Qualifying Roster (* key player at each position)
Below is the final 20-player U.S. U-23 roster, broken down by position with Major League Soccer club in parentheses (unless otherwise noted):
Porteros / Goalkeepers (2): D.J. Countess* (Dallas Burn), Doug Warren (D.C. United);
Defensas / Defenders (7): Nat Borchers* (Colorado Rapids), Jose Luis Burciaga (K.C. Wizards), Ricky Lewis (L.A. Galaxy), Chad Marshall (Columbus Crew), David Stokes (D.C. United), Zak Whitbread (Liverpool -- England), Chris Wingert (Columbus Crew);
Volanteros / Midfielders (7): DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire), Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids), Brian Carroll (D.C. United), Bobby Convey* (D.C. United), Brad Davis (Dallas Burn), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars), Logan Pause (Chicago Fire);
Delanteros / Forwards (4): Landon Donovan* (San Jose Earthquakes), Alecko Eskandarian (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), David Testo (Richmond Kickers -- A-League).

Panama (PAN)
Current MNT World Ranking: 125
Nickname: Canaleros
Head Coach: Jose "Cheche" Hernandez
Past Olympic Results: Have yet to qualify for a Summer Games.
Road to Guadalajara:
Struggled more in their first round series than their second, drawing 2-2 with Nicaragua on Sept. 6 before posting a big 4-1 home win four days later (Sept. 10) to take the 6-3 aggregate win. In their second round series, they blew by the island of Saint Lucia by a combined 13-1 score on Oct. 25 and 28. The prolific forward tandem of Jose Luis Garces (six goals) and Luis Tejada (eight goals) accounted for 14 of the team's 19 goals.
Last Match: Tied a mixed U-23/U-20 El Salvador team 1-1 on Jan. 28 at in Panama.

Final Olympic Qualifying Roster (* key players)
Below is the final 19-player Panama U-23 roster, broken down by position, with Panama club in parentheses (unless otherwise noted):
Porteros / Goalkeepers (2): Jaime Penedo* (Árabe Unido), Francisco Portillo (San Francisco FC);
Defensas / Defenders (7): Felipe Baloy* (Porto Alegre -- Brazil), Luis Henriquez (Árabe Unido), Francisco Lopez (Alianza FC), Victor Miranda (San Francisco FC), Luis Moreno (Tauro FC), Leonel Parris (Plaza Amador), Roberto Stewart (Plaza Amador);
Volanteros / Midfielders (5): William Aguilar (Tauro FC), Gustavo Avila (Tauro FC), Rolando Escobar (Chorrillo FC), Engin Mitre (Plaza Amador), Blas Perez* (Envigado -- Colombia),Wess Torres (Chorrillo FC);
Delanteros / Forwards (4): Jose Luis Garces (Árabe Unido), Jose Justavino (Racing -- Argentina), Nicolas Muñoz (Chorrillo), Luis Tejada* (Tauro FC).

Canada (CAN)
World Ranking for MNT: 87
Nickname: Maple Leafs
Head Coach: Bruce Twamley
Past Olympic Results: Have not advanced to the Summer Games since Los Angeles 1984, where they reached the quarterfinals but fell 4-2 on penalty kicks to the eventual silver medal winners Brazil.
Road to Guadalajara: Outscored their opponents 25-1 in their four previous 2004 CONCACAF U-23 qualifying matches, but 24 of those goals (including seven by towering forward Rob Friend) came in a first round thrashing of the U.S. Virgin Islands on Sept. 7 (10-0) and Sept. 10 (14-0). In their second round series, they fell to El Salvador 1-0 on Nov. 15, but came back to pull out a 1-0 win at home on Nov. 19, forcing extra time to determine the aggregate winner. After 30 minutes of scoreless sudden death play, Canada advanced 5-4 on penalty kicks.
Last Match: Tied Martinique 1-1 in a friendly on Dec.

Final Canada Olympic Qualifying Roster (* key player at each position)
Below is the final 20-player Canada U-23 roster, broken down by position with club in parentheses:
Porteros / Goalkeepers (2):
Alim Karim (Syracuse University/USA), Andrew Olivieri* (Montreal Impact);
Defensas / Defenders (6): Adam Braz (Montreal Impact -- A-League), Kevin Harmse (Tromso -- Norway), Winston Marshall (Wright State University), Victor Oppong (FC Saarbrucken -- Germany), Chris Pozniak* (Orebro SK -- Sweden), Justin Thompson (unsigned);
Volentes / Midfielders (9): Julian DeGuzman* (Hannover 96 -- Germany), Atiba Hutchinson (Osters IF -- Sweden), Tam Nsaliwa (SSV Jahn Regensburg -- Germany), David Masciantonio (A.C. Isola Liri -- Italy), Sita-Taty Matondo (Montreal Impact -- A-League), Rocco Placentino (US Avellino -- Italy), Mathieu Savaria (Fairleigh Dickinson University), Joshua Simpson (University of Portland), Chris Williams (Montreal Impact -- A-League);
Delanteros / Forwards (3): Stephen Ademolu (Cleveland State University), Rob Friend* (Moss FK -- Norway), Elliott Godfrey (Watford FC -- England).

Honduras (HON)
World Ranking for MNT: 47
Nickname: Catrachos
Head Coach: Edwin Pavon
Past Olympic Results: Looking to make it two trips in a row after qualifying for their first Olympic Games in 2000, winning the tournament in Hershey, Pa., with a 2-1 win over the U.S. Was drawn into the "Group of Death" in Australia, finishing third and failing to advance in a Group A that included '96 champs Nigeria, Euro powerhouse Italy and the host nation.
Road to Guadalajara: After receiving a bye in the first round, scraped by a dangerous Haiti squad by a slim 3-2 aggregate margin, winning 1-0 on Nov. 16 before stumbling to a 2-2 tie on Nov. 19.
Last Match: Recently lost to Mexico 1-0 in their most recent action on Jan. 17 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Final Honduras Olympic Qualifying Roster (* key player at each position)
Below is the final 19-player Honduras U-23 roster, broken down by position, with Honduras  club in parentheses (unless otherwise noted):
Porteros / Goalkeepers (2): Donis Escobar* (CD Olímpia), John Bodden (CD Victoria);
Defensas / Defenders (7): Víctor Bernárdez (Vida), Mario Berríos, Maynor Figueroa (CD Olímpia), Nery Medina (CD Motagua), Sergio Mendoza* (Real CD España), Wilson Palacios (CD Olímpia), Roy Francisco Posas (CD Motagua);
Volantes / Midfielders (7): Samir Arzú (Real CD España), Mauricio Castro (CD Motagua), Clifford Laing (unsigned), Hendry Thomas (CD Olímpia), Emil Martinez* (CD Marathón), Walter Martínez (CD Victoria), Ronald Maradiaga (CD Victoria);
Delanteros / Forwards (3): Jeff Brooks,  Abidán Solís (CD Motagua), Jerry Palacios* (CD Olímpia).

-- GROUP B UPDATE --

 COSTA RICA DOWNS JAMAICA 3-0 IN TOURNAMENT OPENER AT JALISCO: The two favored teams in Group B jumped to the top of the standings after convincing wins in their respective openers. In the tournament's first match, Costa Rica downed Jamaica 3-0 in a wide open affair at Estadio Jalisco. Both teams came out trying to impose their attacking style on the other, but the game was scoreless until the 68th minute when Ticos flank midfielder Roy Myrie dispossessed a Jamaican defender and struck a right-footed shot inside the left post for a 1-0 lead. The Ticos seized control of the match at that point, finding the net again six minutes later as jose Villalbos fed Myrie for his second goal of the match in the 74th minute. Costa Rica got an important third goal in the first minute of extra time with youngster Leonardo Araya's first time volley past goalkeeper Richard McCallum for the final result, which vaulted Costa Rica to the top spot in Group B based on a superior goal differential of +3.

MEXICO COMES BACK FROM EARLY GOAL TO DOMINATE T&T 3-1: In Monday's marquee match, the "tricolores" overcame a scary start to dominate Trinidad & Tobago and post a decisive 3-1 result at Jalisco Stadium. Mexico pushed for goals, goals, goals from the opening whistle, but had nothing to show for it after almost 20 minutes. Before they knew it, the "soca warriors" had struck on a terrific counter-attack and blinder of a finish from forward T&T Devon Mitchell, who crushed a ball from the right corner of the penalty area diagonal across the back and off the far post past a bewildered Jose de Jesus Corona in the 19th minute. It didn't take long for a stunned Mexico side to get back into the match, as the crowd chanted "May-he-co, May-he-co, May-he-co" from the minute the T&T goal was scored. They finally got the equalizer in the 43rd minute when a poor clearance of a corner kick resulted in a loose ball in the box that defender Ismael Rodriguez easily flicked home. Mexico got the go-ahead goal in the 60th minute when diminutive playmaker Luis Perez fed defender Mario Perez (no relation), who finished into the side netting. Only an outstanding acrobatic performance from goalkeeper Daurence Williams, a tricky save off the line in the 91st minute, and some poor finishing by Mexico kept the score from being as lopsided as the action was.  Still, Mexico got a well-deserved third goal with one final push in the 93rd minute against a tired team of "soca warriors," as Rodriguez dribbled into the box from the right and sent in a perfect cross to the back post that second-half sub Juan Carlos Cacho easily headed home.

MEXICO, COSTA RICA TOP GROUP B AFTER FIRST NIGHT OF ACTION: Below are the updated standings, results and upcoming schedule for Group B:

Group B Standings
Team            GP   W    L     T    GF    GA    GD    Pts.
Costa Rica     1      1     0     0     3        0       +3      3
Mexico          1      1     0     0     3        1       +2      3
T&T              1      0     1     0     1        3       -2       0
Jamaica          1      0     1     0     0        3       -3       0

Group B Results
Mon., Feb. 2
Costa Rica 3, Jamaica 0
Mexico 3, Trinidad & Tobago 1
Wed., Feb. 4
Costa Rica vs. T&T       6 p.m. (local/CT)
Mexico vs. Jamaica        8 p.m. (local/CT)
Fri., Feb. 6
Jamaica vs. T&T            6 p.m. (local/CT)
Mexico vs. Costa Rica   8 p.m. (local/CT)

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