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U.S. Soccer Wire: U.S. WNT Kicks Off Busy January with Match vs. Mexico on Saturday in Charleston, S.C. (Live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET)


U.S. WOMEN ARRIVE IN CHARLESTON TOMORROW: The U.S. Women's National Team's clash with Mexico on Saturday, Jan. 12 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., (7  p.m. ET on ESPN2) will be just the beginning of a three-week trek that will take the team across the world to China, where they will face Norway, Germany and China in the Four Nations Women's Tournament taking place in Guangzhou on January 23, 25 and 27, 2002. The team begins training in South Carolina tomorrow (Jan. 8), where they will remain until Jan. 16 before they depart for China.  The 24-player training camp roster was announced in December, and includes a strong mix of international veterans and up-and-coming stars.  The camp roster will be pared down to an active 18-player roster before the Mexico game and then again before the trip to the Far East.

WELSH REPLACES INJURED HAMM ON U.S. ROSTER: Christie Welsh, the 2001 Hermann Trophy and Missouri Athletic Club award winner, has replaced Mia Hamm on the 24-player training camp roster set to come into Charleston, S.C. on January 8.  Hamm, who has a lingering injury to her left leg, will look to get 100% healthy before taking part in U.S. Women's National Team events in February and March and the 2002 WUSA season. Welsh, a powerful 5-foot-10 striker, was the consensus college player of the year this past season after scoring 25 goals with 18 assists for Penn State University and was named an NSCAA First-Team All-American. She was also named the NSCAA Player of the Year and the Big-10 Player of the Year.

PAIR OF CYBERRAYS LEAD MEXICO WNT ROSTER: Mexico announced the 18-player roster that will take on the USA at Blackbaud Stadium, led by Lisa Nanez of the WUSA champion San Jose CyberRays, Monica Gerardo of the Washington Freedom, and Gina Eagleson, who also played a key role in the CyberRays championship run.  Eagleson, formerly Oceguera, captained Mexico at the 1999 Women's World Cup. Mexico also named 5-foot-10 defender Monica Gonzalez, who starred for Notre Dame during her senior year this past fall after which she was named an NSCAA Second-Team All-American. Mexico's goalkeeper will be former San Diego State star Linnea Quinones, who was Mexico's starter at the 1999 Women's World Cup.  Mexico's most dangerous player is forward Iris Mora, who scored on an improbable 50-yard shot against the USA in Mexico's 3-2 loss during the last meeting between the two teams at the end of 2000 in Houston, Texas.
Goalkeepers (2): Linnea Quinones, Jennifer Molina;
Defenders (7): Maria Castillo, Gina Eagleson, Ana Del Bosque, Elizabeth Gomez, Monica Gonzalez, Martha Moore, Susie Mora;
Midfielders (6): Patricia Perez, Lisa Nanez, Christina Romero, Dioselina Valderrama, Monica Vergara, Janeth Palmira; Forwards (3): Iris Mora, Teresa Guadalupe, Monica Gerardo.

U.S. WNT TO GET 2003 WOMEN's WORLD CUP PREVIEW WITH FOUR NATIONS TOURNEY:  Guangzhou, China holds a special place in the hearts of the U.S. Women's National Team veterans, who won the first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup in the bustling metropolis back in 1991 with April Heinrichs as team captain.  The USA will open the first ever Four Nations Tournament on Jan. 23 vs. Norway at Huadu Stadium, face Germany on Jan. 25 at Panyu Stadium and finish the tournament in grand  fashion, taking on China on Jan. 27 at Tianhe Stadium, site of the 1991 Women's World Cup Final.  The tournament will afford the U.S. women some valuable experience and give them a sneak preview of the venues, atmosphere and competition they should encounter at the 2003 Women's World Cup in China.  The pre-Women's World Cup seasoning may be most valuable for the younger players on the squad, as this will mark the seventh trip to China for some of the U.S. veterans.  The U.S. team last visited China in January of 2001 to play two matches, losing 1-0 in Panyu before tying 1-1 in front of 30,000 fans at the brand-new Dragon Stadium in Hangzhou.

JUST OVER 300 SRO TICKETS LEFT FOR U.S. WOMEN'S MATCH ON JAN. 12: Before the U.S. Women's National Team embarks on their foreign tour to China, they must first focus on an up-and-coming Mexican side at what is sure to be a sold-out Blackbaud Stadium.  As of today, only 307 standing room only tickets ($18 each) remain for the match at the 5,113-seat venue.  Tickets are available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas and Georgia  (including Publix & Cat's Music) or by phone at 843-554-6060.

— U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —

UPDATE ON MNT STARS IN EUROPE: While most of the Americans based overseas remain on winter break, a few were forced into dormancy by Mother Nature. The third round of the FA Cup had a full fixture list slated for the weekend, but frozen pitches forced the cancellation of several matches. Kasey Keller and Tottenham Hotspur were scheduled to meet Coventry City. Tottenham's replay is scheduled for Jan. 16, so Keller waits until Wednesday's EPL match against Ipswich to find out if he makes his third straight start for Spurs. Eddie Lewis had been expected to make his debut for Fulham against Wycombe, with that canceled match rescheduled for tomorrow. [Lewis has already joined the U.S. training camp in Claremont, Calif.] For the matches that did get the go-ahead, Brad Friedel and his Blackburn Rovers could only manage a 1-1 draw with Barnsley, forcing a replay on Jan. 16 at Ewood Park. Joe-Max Moore appeared in his eighth straight match for Everton, starting and playing all 90 minutes in the club's 1-0 win away to Stoke City. Crystal Palace ended their FA cup run, falling to Newcastle 2-0. Jovan Kirovski went 90 minutes for the Eagles, while Gregg Berhalter remained on the substitutes' bench.

MNT TRAINING CAMP UPDATE FROM ARCO: The U.S. Men's National Team opened their first camp of the new year this weekend in Claremont, Calif., in rugged fashion.  Twenty-four players, including goalkeepers, were put through the famed "beep test", a grueling fitness evaluation tool. The afternoon session brought the balls out of the bag as the group began the process of building stamina and sharpness. Day two of the USA's Gold Cup training camp went much as the first, Arena once again putting the players through fitness evaluations during the morning session and devoting the afternoon to training exercises. Kansas City Wizards goalkeeper Tony Meola joined the mix, arriving in Claremont late Saturday evening, while midfielder Eddie Lewis traveled from London yesterday and will begin training today. The squad will continue with two-a-day sessions throughout the week as the first match of the Gold Cup against South Korea arrives in less than two weeks.

ARENA ANNOUNCES 28-PLAYER GOLD CUP TRAINING CAMP ROSTER: U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena named a 28-player roster that will train for the upcoming 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be held Jan.18-Feb. 2 in Pasadena and Miami.  "We are very anxious to get back on the field and begin the process of improving our team as we head towards the World Cup this summer," said Arena.  "This tournament provides us an opportunity to give our players the chance to begin to regain their fitness and soccer sharpness, and at the same time demonstrate how they can contribute to our roster." MLS players once again dominate the training camp roster, with eight teams represented from the domestic league.  The Chicago Fire contributes six players to the U.S. contingent, while the Columbus Crew sends four. A pair of European-based players will make their return to the U.S. fold during this camp, as Bayer Leverkusen defender Frankie Hejduk joins the National Team for the first time in nine months and Fulham midfelder Eddie Lewis returns after a similar absence, with six months separating his last call-up to the National Team.
Goalkeepers (4): Tim Howard, Tony Meola, Nick Rimando, Zach Thornton;
Defenders (8): Jeff Agoos, Carlos Bocanegra, Dan Califf, Frankie Hejduk, Carlos Llamosa, Pablo Matroeni, Eddie Pope, Greg Vanney;
Midfielders (10): Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Cobi Jones, Manny Lagos, Eddie Lewis, Brian Maisonnueve, Richard Mulrooney, Brian West, Richie Williams;
Forwards (6):
Jeff Cunningham, Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis, Brian McBride, Ante Razov, Josh Wolff.

U.S. TO MEET KOREA, CUBA IN 2002 GOLD CUP ON PAY-PER-VIEW:  The U.S. Men's National Team's two group matches of the 2002 Gold Cup on Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 against Korea and Cuba, respectively, will be televised live on pay-per-view by Innovative Sports Marketing.  The games will be available on the following pay-per-view cable and satellite systems:  DirecTV, Dish Network, InDemand 2 and TVN. 

FRIDAY DEADLINE FOR 2002 GOLD CUP ACCREDITATION APPROACHES: Applications for media accreditation for the 2002 FC Gold Cup will be accepted online at the Football Confederation website (www.footballconfederation.com) this week until the deadline Friday (Jan. 11). Absolutely no credential applications will be accepted after the deadline. In the light of heightened security measures throughout the USA, all journalists will be required to have accreditation with photos. Accreditation centers will be established at both the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., and the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla. Media members are strongly advised to secure their credentials prior to the actual beginning of the event. All approved media applicants will receive, by return e-mail, details on the location and opening hours of the accreditation centers.

— U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE —

U.S. UNDER-20s GO 3-0 VERSUS REGIONAL TEAMS, FACE CANADA WEDNESDAY: The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team opened the Thomas Rongen era with three shutout wins against Regional teams at the ARCO Olympic Training Center last week in Chula Vista, Calif.  The U.S. will end its first training camp on Wednesday (Jan. 9) against Canada with the first international game of the year and the first cap of each players' U-20 career.  Mike Magee got his Under-20 career off to a blazing start, scoring four goals in his first three exhibitions, while Mike Ambersley added two goals and Dallas Burn striker Ed Johnson also scored.

Date - Opponent - Result - U.S. Goalscorers
Jan 3
 - Region I  - 2-0 W  - Magee, Ambersley
Jan 4 - Region II - 3-0 W  - Magee (2), Johnson
Jan 6 - Region III - 2-0 W - Ambersley, Magee

—  AROUND THE SOCCER NATION —

MLS AND ABC/ESPN ACQUIRE WORLD CUP TV PACKAGE THROUGH 2006:  MLS Commissioner Don Garber announced an innovative five-year broadcast arrangement that includes the television rights of MLS and the men's and women's FIFA World Cup tournaments through 2006 on the ABC and ESPN networks.  Included in the package are the FIFA Men's World Cup for 2002 and 2006, the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2002-2006 MLS seasons.  All 2002 World Cup matches will be televised, with 17 matches live on ESPN, 46 live on ESPN2 and a minimum of 9 on ABC Sports, including the live telecast of the title match from Yokohama, Japan, Sunday, June 30 at 7 a.m.  ESPN and ESPN2 will re-air at least nine of the live telecasts later in the day.  ESPN/ESPN2 will also feature all U.S. MNT first round matches from South Korea beginning with U.S. versus Portugal (Wednesday, June 5 at 5 a.m. ET); against host nation Korea (Monday, June 10 at 2:30 a.m. ET); and against Poland (Friday, June 14 at 7:30 a.m. ET). Women's World Cup 2003 will feature the championship match live on ABC and additional games on the ESPN networks.  World Cup Germany 2006 will feature a minimum of 12 matches live on ABC and additional games broadcast live on the ESPN networks.

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMANCE: Trailing 2-0 away to Aston Villa with less than 15 minutes remaining in their Third Round FA Cup match, Manchester United's run in the FA Cup seemed over.  But after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scored the equalizer in the 77th minute, Ruud van Nistelrooy tallied in the 80th and 82nd minutes to add another game to United's growing list of improbable comebacks.  With the two goals, the Dutchman became the first player in Man. United's history to score in seven successive games. He has now scored 12 goals in the team's last nine matches, and has taken his tally for the season to 21 goals.

MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The U.S. Women's National Team kicks off 2002 on Saturday (Jan.12) with a clash against southern border rivals Mexico at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., in a match that will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The U.S. is a perfect 6-0 against Mexico, but needed two Cindy Parlow second-half goals to earn a 3-2 come-from-behind win in the teams' last match on Dec. 10, 2000.

SOCCER SHOCKER: The third round of the English FA Cup this weekend produced two of the biggest upsets in the history of one of the sport's oldest tournaments. Third division club Bristol Rovers beat Derby, 3-1, and second division club Cardiff City topped Premier League leaders Leeds United, 2-1 on Sunday.   Bristol, which ranks 87th out of 92 English soccer league clubs, used a Nathan Ellington hat trick to become the only bottom division club to beat a top division club in the 130-year history of the FA Cup.

QUOTABLE:
"For China, qualification for the finals is almost like winning the World Cup itself.  I am very proud of my players and what they've achieved. Now that we've managed to qualify for the country's first ever finals, the pressure is off and I do feel more relaxed in my work."
- China MNT head coach Bora Milutinovic on his team's World Cup qualification.

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