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U.S. Soccer Wire: WNT Kicks Off Olympics Wednesday


TEAM IS SETTLED IN HERAKLION IN ADVANCE OF OPENING MATCH WITH HOST NATION: The U.S. Women’s National Team’s path through Greece in search of an Athens 2004 Gold Medal in the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament begins on Wednesday (Aug. 11), as they take on Greece in one of the opening events of the Athens Olympics, two days before the Games officially kick off.  The match will be preceded by an opening ceremony for the women’s soccer tournament, and will be broadcast live on MSNBC at 11 a.m. ET and on a delay on Telemundo at approximately 6 p.m. ET.  The U.S. has never met Greece at the full Women’s National Team level.  The U.S. is 2-0 in its opening matches from that past two Games, outscoring their opponent by a combined score of 5-0.  The second game for the U.S. women in the first round, a tough match-up against Brazil, will be televised live on Saturday (Aug. 14) at 11 a.m. ET on CNBC as part of the network’s 14 hours of Olympic coverage that day. The USA will then wrap up their first round matches on Aug. 17 against Australia live at 11 a.m. ET from Thessaloniki on MSNBC. Each of the USA’s six possible games will be televised live, as will other select men’s and women’s matches in the Olympics. Should the U.S. advance out of their group to the quarterfinals, that match will be seen live on MSNBC and Telemundo on Aug. 20. Both semifinal match-ups will also be broadcast live on MSNBC and Telemundo, and the gold medal match will be featured live on NBC and Telemundo on Aug. 26.
WNT Schedule – 2004 Olympics (* if necessary)
Date             Opponent                          Venue                    Kickoff (ET)             TV
Aug. 11        Greece                              Heraklion               11 a.m.                     MSNBC / Telemundo (delay)
Aug. 14        Brazil                                 Thessaloniki           11 a.m.                     CNBC
Aug. 17        Australia                            Thessaloniki           11 a.m.                     MSNBC
Aug. 20        Quarterfinal *                    TBD                       11 a.m.                     MSNBC / Telemundo
Aug. 23        Semifinal *                        Heraklion / Patra     11 a.m. / 2 p.m.        MSNBC / Telemundo
Aug. 26        Bronze Medal Game *      Athens                    11 a.m.                     MSNBC / Telemundo
Aug. 26        Gold Medal Game *         Athens                     2 p.m.                      NBC / Telemundo

MLS TEAMS WIN ALL THREE MATCH-UPS, CHARLESTON ADVANCES TO SEMIFINALS:  The defending champion Chicago Fire are two wins away from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final for the fifth time in the team’s seven-year history as they topped the Richmond Kickers 1-0 on Aug. 4 in Richmond, Va. Forward Dipsy Selowane scored the game’s only goal in the 56th minute on a cross from Orlando Perez. The Fire will now host the Charleston Battery (A-League) on Aug. 25 at Benedetti-Wehrle (formerly Cardinal) Stadium in Naperville, Ill. The Battery upset the Rochester Raging Rhinos (A-League) 1-0 at Frontier Field in Rochester, N.Y. on a seventh minute goal by Gabe Valencia. Although they are the defending A-League Champion, Charleston is the most unlikely team to appear in this final foursome. The Battery’s win gave them three wins in the 2004 Open Cup, matching their total of three wins in 21 A-League matches as they sit in last place in the Eastern Conference. The Battery are the first A-League team in the semifinals since 1999, when Charleston and the Rhinos both qualified for the semifinals. In the other semifinal bracket, the Minnesota Thunder (A-League) took the San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) to overtime, before falling 5-4 in penalty kicks. Melvin Tarley scored for the Thunder in the first five minutes, but San Jose would eventually go ahead on goals by Brian Ching and Landon Donovan. Minnesota forced overtime with a Dustin Branan goal in the 77th minute, but were denied as the match went to spot kicks. In the fourth match, the Kansas City Wizards put four goals on the Dallas Burn, with Chris Klein’s goal in the 52nd minute opening the flood gates for goals by Davy Arnaud, Justin Detter, Alex Zotinca.
Quarterfinal Results
#         Date         Result                                                                                             Venue; City  
33       Aug. 4      San Jose Earthquakes 2, Minnesota Thunder (A) 2 (5-4 PKs)         James Griffin Stadium; St. Paul, Minn.
34       Aug. 4      Kansas City Wizards (MLS) 4, Dallas Burn (MLS) 0                      Blue Valley Complex; Overland Park., Kan.
35       Aug. 4      Chicago Fire (MLS) 1, Richmond Kickers (A) 0                             Univ. of Richmond Stadium; Richmond, Va.
36       Aug. 4      Charleston Battery (A) 1, Rochester Raging Rhinos (A) 0                Frontier Field; Rochester, N.Y.
Semifinal Schedule
#         Date         Match-up                                                                                       Venue; City                                                      Kickoff (local)
37       Aug. 24    San Jose Earthquakes (MLS) at Kansas City Wizards (MLS)         Blue Valley Complex; Overland Park., Kan.      7:30 p.m. CT
38       Aug. 25    Charleston Battery (A) at Chicago Fire (MLS)                                Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium; Naperville, Ill.          7:30 p.m. CT

-- U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --

U.S. MNT’S SEPT. 4, SEPT. 8 MATCHES TO BE BROADCAST LIVE ON FOX SPORTS WORLD: It was announced last week that the U.S. Men’s National Team’s second and third games of the semi-final round of 2006 FIFA World Cup Qualifying – Sept. 4 versus El Savador at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., and Sept. 8 versus Panama at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama – will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World and via tape delay on Telemundo.  The U.S. opens the six-game, four-team series with a road match on August 18 against Jamaica at National Stadium in Kingston live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET.  Tickets for the U.S. Men's National Team's important FIFA World Cup qualifying match against El Salvador on Sept. 4 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout New England (including all Filene's stores), and by calling 617-931-2000 (Boston), 413-733-2500 (Western Mass.), 207-775-3331 (Maine), 603-868-7300 (New Hampshire) or 401-331-2211 (Rhode Island). Substantial group discounts are available by calling 877-GET-REVS (877-438-7387) for more information. Tickets for the match, which kicks off at 4 p.m. ET and will be followed by the New England Revolution taking on the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS action, range from $35 to $125. U.S. fans attending the doubleheader in Foxboro are being encouraged to "Wear Red" in support of the U.S. Men's National Team as they battle El Salvador, Jamaica and Panama in their four-team semifinal round group of World Cup qualifying.
MNT FIFA World Cup Qualifying Schedule – Semifinal Round
Date            Opponent            Venue; City                                                Kickoff / TV
Aug. 18       Jamaica               National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica           7 p.m. ET / ESPN2
Sept. 4        El Salvador          Gillette Stadium; Foxboro, Mass.                4 p.m. ET / Fox Sports World, Telemundo (delay)
Sept. 8        Panama               Estadio Rommel Fernández                         9 p.m. ET / Fox Sports World, Telemundo (delay)
Oct. 9         El Salvador          TBD (away)                                               TBD / TBD
Oct. 13       Panama               RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.                TBD / TBD
Nov. 17      Jamaica               Crew Stadium; Columbus, Ohio                  TBD / TBD

– U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –

FIFA U-19 WOMEN'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW SET FOR WEDNESDAY: The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team will face Spain in the opening round of the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship after the Spaniards pulled off a shocking win in the championship game of the 2004 UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship, defeating overwhelming favorite Germany by a 2-1 score.  Germany had advanced to the final by scoring 23 unanswered goals, including a 7-0 win over Spain in the opening round and an 8-0 win over Russia in the semifinals, making the final result even more improbable.  Even more amazing was that Germany started the same 11 players for the final as they did in the four previous matches.  The USA was drawn into Group C at the 2004 U-19 FIFA World Championship in Thailand along with South Korea, the third place finisher in Europe (which will be determined by a draw on Wednesday between semifinal losers Russia and Italy) and the Europe champion (Spain).  The USA will open the tournament on Nov. 11, the second day of the competition, facing South Korea at 5 p.m. local (5 a.m. ET).  The USA then faces the third-place finisher in Europe (Russia or Italy) on Nov. 14 (Kickoff TBD) and finishes Group C play on Nov. 18 against Spain at (7:45 p.m. local / 7:45 a.m. ET).  While the USA's group is shaping up to be the most difficult, Group A, featuring host Thailand, Germany, Australia and Canada, and Group B, featuring the African champion, China, the fourth place team in Europe (Russia or Italy) and Brazil, will also be highly competitive.  In the Euro final, Jade scored the first goal against Germany in the tournament in the 29th minute.  Germany's captain Annike Krahn equalized right before halftime, but Iraia scored the winner in the 52nd minute.  The 2004 FIFA U-19 World Championship will be held November 10-27, and the USA will play all of its first round matches in Phuket, an island in the southwest part of the country.
U-19 WNT Schedule – FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship
Date             Opponent                Kickoff (ET)
Nov. 11        South Korea           5 a.m.
Nov. 14        Russia / Italy           TBD
Nov. 18        Spain                      7:45 a.m.

U-16 MNT ARRIVES IN PERU FOR THREE GAMES AGAINST CONMEBOL TEAMS: The U.S. Under-16 Men’s National Team arrived in Peru on Aug. 7 in advance of participating in the Peru International Friendly Tournament from Aug. 10-14. Head coach John Ellinger brought a 20-man roster to compete against Peru, Colombia and Ecuador during the five-day tournament. The U.S. players arrived in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., late last week and held three days of training before catching a late afternoon flight to Piura, Peru, the site of their first match. The U.S. will open against the host on Tuesday (Aug. 10) at 7 p.m., before facing Colombia in Chiclayo two days later (Aug. 12) and then finishing with Ecuador in Trujillo on Saturday (Aug. 14). The players and coaching staff will get their first look at Peru, the destination they will be working towards over the next eight months as they attempt to qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship, which will be held in the South American country. All of the players Ellinger is bringing to the tournament are in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program or will be joining this fall. Each of the three tournament venues were used for this year’s Copa America.
U-16 MNT Schedule
Date             Opponent
Aug. 10        Peru
Aug. 12        Colombia
Aug. 14        Ecuador
U-16 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Evan Newton (Virginia Beach, Va.), Bryant Rueckner (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.); DEFENDERS (6): Michael Balogun (Houston, Texas), Carlos Borja (Anaheim, Calif.), Richard Edgar (Mechanicsville, Md.), Jeremy Hall (Tampa, Fla.), Eric Lichaj (Downers Grove, Ill.), Ofori Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio); MIDFIELDERS (8): Kevin Alston (Silver Spring, Md.), Nicolas Besagno (Maple Valley, Wash.), Michael Dal Pra (Bronxville, N.Y), Ryan Soroka (Langhorne, Pa.), Blake Wagner (Tampa, Fla.), Kyle Nakazawa (Palos Verdes Est., Calif.), Michael Farfan (San Diego, Calif.), Gabriel Farfan (San Diego, Calif.); FORWARDS (4): Eddie Ababio (Tampa, Fla.), Quavas Kirk (Aurora, Ill.), Michael Stephens (Woodridge, Ill.), Preston Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.).

– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –

FUTSAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP FIELD ALMOST COMPLETE, DRAW TO BE HELD SEPT. 5: The U.S. National Futsal Team learned last week that the draw for the FIFA Futsal World Championship Chinese Taipei 2004 will be held on September 5 in Taipei City at 10:30 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 4). All but one of the 16 countries have qualified, with only Africa's qualifier to be determined. The championship begins on November 21 and wraps up with the final on December 5. The U.S. qualified for the championship last month with a 4-0 victory over host Costa Rica in the semifinals of the CONCACAF Futsal Championship. The U.S. then topped Cuba, who will also be representing the region, 2-0 in the final to win the CONCACAF Gold Medal. The U.S. last appeared in the FIFA Futsal World Championship in 1996.
Qualifiers – 2004 FIFA Futsal World Championship
Asia (3): Iran, Japan, Thailand
Africa (1): TBD
CONCACAF (2): USA, Cuba
South America (3): Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil
Oceania (1): Australia
Europe (5): Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Ukraine
Host (1): Chinese Taipei

CENTRAL FLORIDA WINS 2004 PDL TITLE, DOWNING BOULDER 1-0 WITH LATE GOAL: The Central Florida Kraze captured the 2004 Premier Development League Championship on Aug. 7 in Orlando as they downed the Boulder Rapids Reserve 1-0 on a goal from MVP Justin Cook in the 88th minute.  Central Florida star foward Orville Mullings tested the Boulder defense numerous times on the night, but it wasn't until two minutes from time that his efforts resulted in the game winner.  Mullings got the ball from Xavier Delgado in the middle at the top of the box and as he cut to the right side, he let off a shot that deflected off the defender marking him. The floating ball glanced off the fingertips of diving Rapids Reserve goalkeeper Luis Robles and to the feet of Cook, who was there to put the loose ball away. South Jersey Barons forward Ruben Mingo was honored as the league MVP as voted by team coaches and general managers. Mingo helped lead South Jersey to an undefeated 14-0-4 record and the team’s first playoff appearance since 2000. The Barons are only the fifth PDL team to go unbeaten in USL amateur men’s history. He finished 16th in the league in points (29) on 12 goals and five assists in 17 games.

VANCOUVER TAKES 2004 W-LEAGUE TITLE IN PKs; PARKER NAMED LEAGUE MVP: Two of the top three teams in scoring on the season, New Jersey and Vancouver displayed their defensive prowess in the W-League final, needing penalty kicks to decide the scoreless affair as the top two seeds finished their seasons unbeaten.  Vancouver became the first Canadian team to win the title, however, with a 4-2 decision in the penalty kick shootout. New Jersey's top two players, Anne Makinen and Marinette Pichon, opened the penalty kick tiebreaker with misses as Makinen's went wide left and Pichon's high. Vancouver's Martina Franko and Andrea Neil put the Whitecaps in the driver's seat converting theirs as teammate Kara Lang scored in the third round and goalkeeper Erin McLeod won it with a conversion in the fourth to give Vancouver, who had been eliminated via penalty kicks in the postseason twice before, their first title. Defender Randee Hermus was honored as the 2004 W-League Championship MVP for her efforts in shutting down Pichon, the league’s scoring champion. In the Third Place match, the championship host, Ottawa Fury defeated the Chicago Cobras 1-0 to finished third and improve their semi-final record to 1-3 lifetime. Finishing second in the league in points with 45 in 2004, Ottawa forward Kelly Parker won the W-League MVP award after becoming the first player to finish in the top two in consecutive years at the top level of the W-League.

ILLINOIS, CAL-SOUTH EARN MULTIPLE USASA AMATEUR CUP TITLES: The state of Illinois had a strong showing at the 2004 USASA National Cup Finals played this weekend in Orlando, Fla., with five teams advancing to the six tournament finals on Sunday. Illinois took home two of those championships, including a sweep of the Men's and Women's Amateur Cups with Assyrian Winged Bull winning the men's competition and Eclipse Cobras wining the women's tournament. The night before, Cal-South swept the Men's and Women's Amateur Open Cup competitions behind victories from the Chico Rooks and Ajax, respectively. Ajax also won the Women's Over-30 Cup, giving the Cal-South region three overall championships. A complete recap of the tournament finales follows.
USASA National Cup Results
Saturday, Aug. 7
Men's Amateur Open Cup        Ajax (Cal-S) 2, Detroit Jaguars (Mich.) 1
Women's Amateur Open Cup   Chico Rooks (Cal-S) 3, Legends (N-Texas) 1
Sunday, Aug. 8
Men's Amateur Cup                 Assyrian Winged Bull (Ill.) 4, Denver Kickers (Colo.) 3
Women's Amateur Cup            Eclipse Cobras (Ill.) 4, FC Littleton (Colo.) 0
Men's Over-30 Cup                 Hibernian & Caldedonian (Wash.) 3, Schwaben (Ill.) 1
Women's Over-30 Cup            Ajax (Cal-S) 3, Maryland Heights (Mo.) 1
Men's Under-23 Cup               Denver Kickers (Colo.) 4, Sockers FC (Ill.) 2
Women's Under-23 Cup          JB Marine (Mo.) 5, Eclipse Cobras (Ill.) 0

BAHARMAST, HUNT TO WORK FIFA U-19 WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP IN THAILAND: U.S. Soccer Director of Officials Esse Baharmast and U.S. Soccer Referee Sandra Hunt have been appointed by FIFA as a technical instructor and assessor, respectively, for the 2004 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship in Thailand from Nov. 10-27. Baharmast, a referee at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, has been in his current role with U.S. Soccer for more than six years. Hunt has been a FIFA official since 1999 and recently participated in the Four Nations Tournament in China and at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 2003.

U.S. SOCCER REFEREES WORK MORE THAN 400 DOMESTIC MATCHES IN JULY: Throughout the month of July in the United States, the tally of matches being played that required U.S. Soccer to place an officiating crew in charge of the game read like this: 17 U.S. National Team games, 364 professional games and 33 international games. Those matches included everything from games on the U.S. Women’s National Team’s Olympic send-off tour to a number of games involving European powerhouse clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Bayern Munich. The overall tally of games also included international friendly matches like El Salvador vs. Guatemala in Los Angeles. Without a doubt, the month of July was one of the busiest in U.S. Soccer history for referee placement, and that put officials in high demand. As the governing body of the sport in the United States, the U.S. Soccer Federation is not only in charge of the development of the U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams, as well as a dozen youth national teams, it is also responsible for assigning referees for all of the international and professional games played in this country.

*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***

PEAK PERFORMER:  Bob Bradley’s young MetroStars (32 points) remain the hottest team in MLS as the second half of the season is underway, rising to the top of the Eastern Conference on the strength of a 4-0-1 record in their last five matches. Two of those wins have come against the top two teams in the Western Conference, defeating Kansas City 2-1 on July 28 and posting a decisive 3-0 win over the league-leading Galaxy (33 points).

MARQUEE MATCH-UP:  Having never met Greece at the full international level, and facing the host nation’s home crowd at Pankrito Stadium, the U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team could face a tougher task than expected on Wednesday to open the 2004 Olympics. The match will be televised live on MSNBC at 11 a.m. ET and can also be followed via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SOCCER SHOCKER:  After an up and down 2003-04 season that started with an impressive 7-1-1 record, it looks like Manchester United is set to take some lumps in the early going of 2004-05.  The Red Devils will begin the season without the services of marquee players like star striker Ruud Van Nistelrooy (out for a month with hernia surgery), Christian Ronaldo (out for August with the 2004 Olympics), Louis Saha (out for two to three weeks with a knee injury) and now Ole Gunner Solskajer (out for the year with knee surgery). This will not be an easy week, as they meet Dinamo Bucharest in the Champions League third qualifying round on the road on Wednesday (Aug. 11) and then open Premier League play against early league favorites Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday (Aug. 15).

QUOTABLE:  "Crete is sweet."
--U.S. WNT captain Julie Foudy, after seeing the stunning beaches and picturesque mountains of Heraklion, the largest city on the island and fourth largest city in Greece.

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