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U.S. National Team to Face Haiti & Peru in Opening Round of TFC Gold Cup 2000 in Miami

CHICAGO (Thursday, October 21, 1999) - The United States have been placed into Group B and will face Haiti and Peru in the opening round of Gold Cup 2000, the regional championship hosted by The Football Confederation (formerly CONCACAF) from Feb. 12-27, 2000. The USA's opening two matches will be played at the Orange Bowl in Miami on Feb. 12 (vs. Haiti) and Feb. 16 ( vs. Peru), respectively. The complete schedule, with tournament pairings and locations, was released earlier today at The Football Confederation's headquarters in New York City.

"The Gold Cup is a significant test for the U.S. National Team," said Head Coach Bruce Arena. "With World Cup qualifying just around the corner, it's very important that we bring in our best players and challenge them against the top teams in the region."

Group A, which consists of Jamaica, Colombia and Honduras, will also play at the Orange Bowl in Miami. Reigning Gold Cup Champions Mexico will highlight Group C, and along with Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago, will play matches in San Diego and Los Angeles. Rounding out the tournament will be Group D; Costa Rica, South Korea and Canada will also battle it out in the two Southern California venues. The top two teams in each of the four groups will advance to the tournament quarterfinals.

The United States has a 1-2-1 overall record in matches against Peru. The teams last met during U.S. Cup '97, when the Peruvians claimed a 1-0 victory in San Diego. Peru is led by veteran defender Juan Reynoso and forward Claudio Pizarro. Peru, along with Colombia and South Korea, are participating in the tournament by invitation from The Football Confederation.

Haiti were unlikely Gold Cup qualifiers on paper, but the team did not play like an underdog at the recent TFC playoffs in Los Angeles. A 1-0 victory over Cuba and a 1-1 draw with El Salvador was enough to put the Haitians into the Gold Cup finals for the first time ever. With three goals, Haitian forward Johnny Descolines tied for top honors (with Canada's Carlo Corazzin) in goal scoring. The United States has a losing record (4-6-3) all-time against Haiti, but the two nations have not met in a full international match since 1983.

"Haiti will be a very difficult opponent to open up the tournament against," added Arena. "They are coming off an impressive qualifying tournament and will have great support in the stands. Likewise, Peru is an outstanding opponent with great strength in the midfield. They played extremely well in Copa America and were a little unlucky to lose to Mexico on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals." Should the U.S. advance to the Gold Cup quarterfinals, the Americans would remain in Miami to face Colombia, Jamaica or Honduras.

The United States had an exceptional year in 1999, finishing with an overall international record of 7-3-2. Along the way, the U.S. defeated current European champions Germany (twice) and Argentina, and earned a bronze medal at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup in Mexico. Head Coach Bruce Arena, who was introduced as the U.S. National Team Coach and Technical Director almost one year ago to the day (Oct. 27, 1998), utilized a deep pool of players this year.

Formerly known as CONCACAF, The Football Confederation is the governing body for soccer in North and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. The Gold Cup was first contested in 1991, with the U.S. claiming the inaugural trophy in Los Angeles.

Groups & Schedule
(Miami) (Miami) (San Diego / L.A.) (San Diego / L.A.)
Jamaica United States Mexico Costa Rica
Colombia Peru Guatemala South Korea
Honduras Haiti Trinidad & Tobago Canada

Date Match Location *Kickoff
Feb. 12 United States vs. Haiti Orange Bowl 7 p.m.
Colombia vs. Jamaica Orange Bowl 9 p.m.
Feb. 13 Costa Rica vs. Canada Qualcomm Stadium Noon
Mexico vs. Trinidad & Tobago Qualcomm Stadium 2 p.m.
Feb. 14 Jamaica vs. Honduras Orange Bowl 7 p.m.
Haiti vs. Peru Orange Bowl 9 p.m.
Feb. 15 South Korea vs. Canada L.A. Memorial Coliseum 7 p.m.
Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala L.A. Memorial Coliseum 9 p.m.
Feb. 16 Honduras vs. Colombia Orange Bowl 7 p.m.
Peru vs. United States Orange Bowl 9 p.m.
Feb. 17 Mexico vs. Guatemala L.A. Memorial Coliseum 7 p.m.
South Korea vs. Costa Rica L.A. Memorial Coliseum 9 p.m.
Feb. 19 Winner B vs. Runner-up A (Q 1) Orange Bowl 3 p.m.
Winner A vs. Runner-up B (Q 2) Orange Bowl 5:30 p.m.
Feb. 20 Winner D vs. Runner-up C (Q 3) Qualcomm Stadium Noon
Winner C vs. Runner-up D (Q 4) Qualcomm Stadium 2:30 p.m.
Feb. 23 Winner Q 1 vs. Winner Q 2 (Semifinal 1) Qualcomm Stadium 8 p.m.
Feb. 24 Winner Q 3 vs. Winner Q 4 (Semifinal 2) L.A. Memorial Coliseum 8 p.m.
Feb. 27 Gold Cup 2000 Championship Match L.A. Memorial Coliseum Noon
* All kickoff times are local