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U.S. Men's National Team Prepares to Kick Off 2009 Confederations Cup Against World Champion Italy


CONFED CUP KICKS OFF AGAINST ITALY: Less than 72 hours remain before the U.S. begins play in the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, with no less than defending World Cup champion Italy waiting to greet them. Kickoff at Loftus Versfeld in Tshwane/Pretoria is set for 2:25 ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN and Telefutura. Fans can also follow the match on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. The U.S. will then face five-time World Cup champion Brazil on June 18 in the same venue (9:55 a.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura) before closing out group play against two-time defending African Nations Cup champion Egypt on June 21 at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenberg (2:25 p.m. ET, ESPN2 and Telefutura).

OFFICIAL U.S. CONFEDERATIONS CUP MEDIA GUIDE AVAILABLE ONLINE: Both media and fans alike now have free access to the USA's 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup media guide. The reference tool includes player bios, the team's history in the tournament, a look back at the 2007 Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, and more. The free media guide can be downloaded as a PDF file by clicking here.

QUICK HITS

  • The U.S. team has been together in part since training camp opened on May 26 before two FIFA World qualifiers, at Costa Rica and home against Honduras. The team departed from Chicago on June 8 for South Africa, arriving on June 9 into Pretoria.
  • The U.S. is without several regulars due to injury. Defenders Steve Cherundolo (Hanover 96) and Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), midfielder Maurice Edu (Glasgow Rangers) and forward Brian Ching (Houston Dynamo) are all unable to participate due to injury.
  • The U.S. is the reigning champion of CONCACAF, qualifying for the FIFA Confederations Cup via a 2-1 defeat of Mexico on June 24, 2007, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final.
  • The last game for the U.S. was a 2-1 victory against Honduras on June 6 in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on goals by Landon Donovan and Carlos Bocanegra.
  • The Confederations Cup marks the second U.S. visit to South Africa. On Nov. 11, 2007, the U.S. defeated the hosts 1-0 in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup.
  • South Africa marks the U.S. team’s fourth appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup. The U.S. also appeared in Saudi Arabia (1992), Mexico (1999) and France (2003).
  • Five players on the 2009 U.S. Confederations Cup roster appeared in France 2003: Howard, Beasley, Bocanegra, Califf and Donovan. Coincidentally, there were only five players who carried over for the U.S. from Mexico 1999 to France 2003.
  • Beasley scored the lone U.S. goal of France 2003 against Turkey on June 19, 2003, but the U.S. fell 2-1 in the team’s opening match.
  • Of the 23 players on the roster, 16 are plying their trade in Europe – in nine different countries. Six play in Major League Soccer in the U.S., and José Francisco Torres plays for Pachuca in Mexico.
  • In 2003, 15 of the 23 players on the U.S. roster were Major League Soccer-based, although several U.S. regulars were given the 2003 tournament off in the year following the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
  • Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster with 110 international appearances. The USA’s all-time leader in goals (39) and assists (36) notched two goals in World Cup qualifying this past week, setting the mark for most career goals in qualifying history for the team (11).
  • Third-choice goalkeeper Luis Robles (Kaiserslautern) is the only U.S. player yet to be capped, having just appeared in his first U.S. training camp in late May.
  • Fritz-Walter Stadion, home to Robles’ FCK side, hosted the last meeting between the U.S. and Italy, a 1-1 draw at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.
  • Overall, the U.S. has lost three and tied three in six all-time meetings with Italy. Half of the teams’ meetings have come in the FIFA World Cup (1934, 1990, 2006).
  • South Africa 2009 is the eighth edition of the FIFA Confederations Cup. The tournament began as the Intercontinental Championship (King Fahd Cup) in 1992 and 1995, before becoming an eight-team tournament in 1997.
  • The U.S. has twice finished third at the FIFA Confederations Cup. In 1992, the U.S. was third out of four teams, and it 1999 they were third of eight teams.
  • Bruce Murray and Brian McBride lead the U.S. with two goals each in Confederations Cup play. Overall, Mexico’s Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brazil’s Ronaldinho hold the record with nine career goals in the tournament.
  • The FIFA Confederations Cup is the 48th FIFA men’s competition in which the U.S. has participated. Only Brazil (61st) has participated in more.
  • If a player accumulates two yellow cards in the FIFA Confederations Cup, he will miss his team’s next game in the tournament. Yellow cards do not carry over into July’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, however, if a player receives a red card in the final Confederations Cup match for the U.S., he will be suspended for the Gold Cup opener.
  • Following the conclusion of the Confederations Cup, the U.S. returns to home soil to defend the Gold Cup title from July 3-26 in 13 venues across the United States.
  • In the home game against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1 in Nashville, Tenn., the 19-year-old Altidore scored the third U.S. hat trick in FIFA World Cup qualifying, with all three goals coming off assists from Donovan.
  • Altidore is now the leading U.S. goal scorer of this FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle with five goals in six appearances. Ching, Dempsey and Bradley are all tied for second on the U.S. squad with four each.
  • The three assists put Donovan’s U.S. all-time leading total to 36. The next closest on this roster is Beasley with 12 assists.

ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Average Age: 24.8
Average Caps: 27
Most Caps: 110 (Landon Donovan)
Least Caps: 0 (Luis Robles)
Oldest: 30 (Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra)
Youngest: 19 (Jozy Altidore)
Play professionally in: USA (6), England (5), Germany (3), France (2), Denmark (2), Spain (1), Sweden (1), Belgium (1), Mexico (1), Scotland (1)

GETTING HERE: The U.S. qualified for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup by virtue of a 2-1 come-from-behind win against regional rival Mexico on June 24, 2007, in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final. After falling behind in the 34th minute, Landon Donovan tied the game with a 62nd-minute penalty kick and 11 minutes later Benny Feilhaber hit a one-time, full-volley blast out of the air and into the upper left corner from the top of the penalty area to clinch the U.S. win. Nine of the 11 U.S. starters from that game are on Bob Bradley’s Confederations Cup roster: Tim Howard, Jonathan Spector, Oguchi Onyewu, Carlos Bocanegra, Jonathan Bornstein, Clint Dempsey, Feilhaber, DaMarcus Beasley and Donovan. Ricardo Clark appeared in the final as a halftime substitution and is also in South Africa.

RETURN TO AFRICA FOR U.S.: The U.S. returns to South Africa less than two years after an extremely unique visit on Nov. 17, 2007, to face the Bafana Bafana in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. The U.S., along with Brazil and Egypt, are the only countries that have played on South African soil prior to arriving for the Confederations Cup. The U.S. traveled and played 17 players, and 15 of those 17 are on the Confederations Cup roster. Steve Cherundolo, who scored the winner for the U.S., and Maurice Edu, who earned his first career point with the assist, are absent this time around due to aforementioned injuries. In the week leading up to the tournament, Italy and New Zealand faced off in an international friendly that saw the World Champions earn a 4-3 victory against the Kiwis.

AT THE CONFEDERATIONS CUP – U.S. HISTORY: South Africa 2009 is the fourth U.S. appearance at the FIFA Confederations Cup. The U.S. played the first-ever game in the tournament, a 3-0 loss to hosts Saudi Arabia in 1992 when the tournament was then known as the King Fahd Cup. The U.S. went on to finish third in that event with a 5-2 victory against Ivory Coast, but would not return until the 1999 edition came just south of the U.S. border in Mexico. There, the U.S. would repeat the success of 1992, albeit with a field doubling in size from four to eight. The U.S. posted victories against New Zealand and Germany in group play, but fell to hosts Mexico at Estadio Azteca in the semifinals. Against Saudi Arabia in the third-place match, the U.S. earned the bronze with a 2-0 victory. In 2003, the U.S. again qualified as CONCACAF Gold Cup winners, and were set to face-off against Turkey, Brazil and Cameroon in group play. A pair of one-goal losses to Turkey and Brazil in the first two games saw an inexperienced U.S. team packing its bags before managing a 0-0 draw in the group finale to eventual runner-up Cameroon.

STUDIO 90 FROM SOUTH AFRICA: The Studio 90 crew is on hand in South Africa and capturing all the sights and sounds from the FIFA Confederations Cup. Friday's episode will include the media scrum surrounding U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, a special day of reaching out to the children of South Africa, and more. For all of the latest video, podcasts, and blog updates, log onto ussoccer.com

DEBUTANTE IN 2007, SCORING LEADER IN 2009: Forward Jozy Altidore earned his first career cap on Nov. 17, 2007, as the U.S. faced South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. Since then, Altidore has gone on to lead the U.S. in scoring in the 2010 qualifying campaign with five goals – three of which came in a hat trick performance against Trinidad & Tobago on April 1, 2009. Amazingly, Altidore was the 61st player to earn a cap in 2007 under Bob Bradley across 18 games. The 61 players were the most-ever to appear in a calendar year for the U.S. as Bradley scoured the player pool for his core group of players that would take part in the 2010 qualifying campaign.

CARRYING CHAMPIONSHIPS INTO CAMP: Two members of the roster won league championships in Europe this season. Oguchi Onyewu and Standard de Liège won their second Belgium title in a row after a harrowing two match playoff with Anderlecht, winning 2-1 on aggregate. Meanwhile in Scotland, DaMarcus Beasley helped Rangers capture their 52nd Scottish League title. A week later, they collected their second trophy of the season when a 1-0 victory against Falkirk in the FA Cup final handed Rangers the Scottish ‘double’.

SUCCESS IS RELATIVE: On the other end of the spectrum, Michael Bradley helped Borussia Mönchengladbach stave off relegation from the Bundesliga. ‘Gladbach collected 20 points in the second half of the season, including wins in three of their last four matches to guarantee another season in Germany’s top flight.

BIG MEN IN MLS: Conor Casey, the MLS Player of the Month for May, is tied for the league lead with eight goals. Casey replaced Ching on the U.S. roster, and made his first start since 2005 on June 6, 2009, against Honduras. Casey has excelled with the Colorado Rapids, scoring 19 goals in 31 games across the 2008 and 2009 seasons. Also having a successful campaign in the U.S. domestic league, Landon Donovan has picked up where he left off after his 20-goal season in 2008. Donovan is tied for third in MLS with six goals.

THE 'ALL WHITES'? In a strange coincidence - and not to be confused with New Zealand in Group A of the tournament - the U.S. team will be wearing an all-white strip through the three group matches. FIFA determines the uniform colors for each match based on which team is designated the 'home' team and how best to make the kit colors of each team the most easily distinguishable for the referee, fans and television.

HOPING FOR A THIRD TRIP TO SOUTH AFRICA: After five of 10 games, the U.S. sits in second place in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying, two points behind Costa Rica. The difference between the top two teams in the standings is the result of a 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica suffered by the U.S. on June 3 on the artificial surface of San Jose’s Saprissa Stadium. Following the loss in Costa Rica, the U.S. defeated Honduras on Wednesday, June 6, in Chicago to continue an undefeated run in home qualifiers that dates to 2001. The road to South Africa started for the U.S. with a 9-0 aggregate win in a two-game series against Barbados, and continued in the fall as the U.S. posted a 5-1-0 record in the CONCACAF semifinal round in a group with Trinidad & Tobago, Guatemala and Cuba.

CONCACAF FINAL ROUND QUALIFYING UPDATE: The fourth and fifth match days of CONCACAF qualifying wrapped up, with the majority of games taking place on Saturday, June 6, and Wednesday, June 10. To get a head start on their departure to South Africa, FIFA granted the U.S. permission to move up their qualifier at Costa Rica to June 3. The top three teams in the hexagonal table automatically earn berths to the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, while the fourth-place team will face a two-leg playoff against the fifth-place finisher in South America. The next set of games is slated for Aug. 12, when the U.S. travels in an attempt to earn their first victory against Mexico at the famed Estadio Azteca – the host venue for the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup final.

Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
Costa Rica 5 4 1 0 9 5 +4 12
United States 5 3 1 1 10 6 +4 10
Honduras 5 2 2 1 6 6 0 7
Mexico 5 2 3 0 5 7 -2 6
El Salvador 5 1 2 2 6 7 -1 5
Trinidad & Tobago 5 0 3 2 5 10 -5 2


BOB ON THE JOB: Since January of 2007 it has been the charge of U.S. head coach Bob Bradley to achieve the most important goal of any soccer playing nation: qualification for the FIFA World Cup. With 38 games under his belt, seeing more than 70 different players at least once and the process of reaching South Africa in 2010 in full swing, a review of the body of work during the past two years points to the U.S. clearly heading in the right direction. Since the start of the four-year cycle, the U.S. has:

  • won six straight FIFA World Cup qualifiers in a row in 2008, a new team record (June 15-Oct. 15)
  • defended the CONCACAF Gold Cup title and qualified for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup
  • won by the largest margin of victory in U.S. World Cup qualifying history (8-0 vs. Barbados on 6/15/08)
  • won back-to-back games in Europe for the first time in team history (Oct. 17, 2007, @ Switzerland and March 26, 2008, @ Poland)
  • won three straight matches on the road for the first time in team history (Oct. 17, 2007, @ Switzerland, Nov. 17, 2007 @ South Africa and March 26, 2008, @ Poland)
  • played five matches against four teams ranked in the Top 10 in the world at the time they stepped on the field against them (Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain)
  • played matches on four continents and the FIFA Confederations Cup will be his third major tournament

THE BRADLEY BREAKDOWN
Record
All-Time: 25-9-4
Qualifying: 10-2-1
Goals For: 74
Goals Against: 36
Shutouts: 16

Record vs. …
CONCACAF: 16-2-3, 44 GF, 14 GA
CONMEBOL: 1-4-1, 7 GF, 13 GA
UEFA: 5-3-0, 12 GF, 7 GA
AFC: 1-0-0, 4 GF, 1 GA
CAF: 1-0-0, 1 GF, 0 GA

Record when …
Leading at half: 16-0-1
Losing at half: 1-3-1
Tied at half: 8-6-2

IN FOCUS: ITALY
Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio
Founded: 1898 (Joined FIFA in 1905)
Head Coach: Marcello Lippi
Best FIFA World Cup Finish: Champions (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006)
Best FIFA Confederations Cup Finish: First appearance
Caps Leader: Paolo Maldini (125)
Top Scorer: Luigi Riva (35)
Key Players: Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Danielle De Rossi, Luca Toni

U.S. HISTORY AGAINST ITALY: While Italy and the U.S. have only met six times, the two teams have a history that stretches back more than 70 years and includes three FIFA World Cups. In 1934, the U.S. met Italy in the latter's first-ever World Cup match, a 7-1 victory for Italy in Rome. Fifty-six years later the U.S., ushered into the modern era by Paul Caligiuri's “Shot Heard Round the World,” emerged from the international wilderness to again take part in a World Cup in Italy. Drawn into Italy's group for the second time, the inexperienced U.S. squad fell 1-0 at the Stadio Olimpico. In 2006 the teams contested their most memorable match, which also proved to be one of the most exciting matches of the FIFA World Cup. A 1-1 draw – the only result earned against the eventual champions – featured three red-cards and 90 minutes of riveting drama that served as one of the highlights of the tournament in Germany. One of the few positive moments of the World Cup for the U.S., the match is still remembered fondly for the massive U.S. presence that packed the Fritz Walter Stadion in Kaiserslautern.

U.S. PLAYERS AGAINST ITALY: Just five players on the Confederations Cup roster have faced Italy. Landon Donovan leads the way with two appearances, a Feb. 13, 2002, friendly in Catania, Italy, to go along with the 2006 FIFA World Cup matchup. Also appearing in that 2006 World Cup match were DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra, Clint Dempsey and Oguchi Onyewu. Tim Howard was on the bench for the 2006 clash – one of six from the 23-man U.S. World Cup roster at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

ITALY PLAYERS AGAINST THE U.S.: Nine of the 23 players on Italy’s Confederations Cup roster took the field in the last meeting between the teams in 2006. Those players are: Gianluigi Buffon, Fabio Cannavaro, Luca Toni, Vincenzo Iaquinta, Daniele de Rossi, Gianluca Zambrotta, Andrea Pirlo, Gennaro Gattuso and Alberto Gilardino. On the bench in June of 2006 for Italy, Marco Amelia, Fabio Grosso and Mauro Camoranesi make it 12 of the 23 players at the Confederations Cup in South Africa that were medal winners with Italy in 2006. Italy bench boss Marcelo Lippi, who led the Azzurri to the 2006 World Cup title, has returned to the team after Euro 2008 with sights set on a repeat in 2010. Long-time stalwarts in the Italy team, Cannavaro, Gattuso and Zambrotta all took the field against the U.S. on Feb. 13, 2002, when Alessandro del Piero gave Italy a 1-0 win.

YOUTH AGAINST EXPERIENCE: The U.S. will be the youthful squad in the Italy matchup, with the U.S. roster on average more than three years younger than Italy’s. Just two U.S. players – Tim Howard and Carlos Bocanegra – have crossed their 30th birthday, while Italy has 10 players who are 30-plus. The elder statesman on the Italian team is defender Fabio Cannavaro who is 35. Five players on the U.S. roster – Freddy Adu, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Jonathan Spector and Marvell Wynne – were on the field when the U.S. lost to Italy 3-1 in the Round of 16 of the 2005 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, while only three players from Italy’s Confederation’s Cup roster were age-eligible for Holland 2005, and none were on the squad.

LAST TIME…
On the field for the USA
June 6, 2009 – Soldier Field, Chicago – FIFA World Cup qualifier, MatchDay 4
Honduras 1      Carlos Costly, 5
USA            2      Landon Donovan, 43 (PK); Carlos Bocanegra, 68


USA: 1-Tim Howard; 12-Jonathan Spector, 5-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (capt.) (14-Jay DeMerit, 71), 13-Jonathan Bornstein; 8-Clint Dempsey, 2 -Ricardo Clark, 4-Pablo Mastroeni (9-Benny Feilhaber, 46), 10-Landon Donovan; 11-Conor Casey (7-DaMarcus Beasley, 75), 17-Jozy Altidore

HON: 18-Noel Valladares; 14-Mauricio Sabillon, 2-Osman Chavez, 6-Mario Beata, 3-Maynor Figueroa; 13-Carlos Costly, 7-Amado Guevara (capt.), 4-Hendry Thomas, 10-Ramon Nunez (15-Walter Martinez, 79); 9-Carlos Pavon (16-Georgie Welcome, 67), 8-Wilson Palacios (17-Danilo Turcios, 66)

On the field for Italy
June 10, 2009 – South Africa – International Friendly
Italy                     4      Alberto Gilardino, 33, 48; Vincenzo Iaquinta, 68, 73
New Zealand    3      Shane Smeltz, 14; Christopher Killen, 42, 57 (PK)


ITA: 14-Marco Amelia; 13-Alessandro Gamberini, 6-Nicola Legrottaglie, 22-Andrea Dossena, 2-Davide Santon (19-Gianluca Zambrotta, 66); 8-Gennaro Gattuso (20-Reiccardo Montolivo, 61), 7-Simone Pepe (16-Mauro Camoranesi, 62), 18-Angelo Palombo, 23-Fabio Quagliarella (15-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 62); 11-Alberto Gilardino (9-Luca Toni, 60), 17-Giuseppe Rossi (21-Andrea Pirlo, 46)

NZL: 12-Glen Moss; 17-David Mulligan, 6-Ivan Vicelich, 3-Tony Lochhead, 18-Andrew Boyens; 11-Leo Bertos, 8-Tim Brown, 7-Simon Elliott, 10-Christopher Killen (20-Chris Woods, 81); 9-Shane Smeltz, 15-Jeremy Brockie (13-Andrew Barron, 75)

Against Italy
June 17, 2006 – Fritz-Walter Stadion, Kaiserslautern, Germany – 2006 FIFA World Cup Group E
USA    1      Own goal (Andrea Pirlo), 27
Italy    1      Alberto Gilardino, 22


USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 23-Eddie Pope, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra; 4-Pablo Mastroeni, 8-Clint Dempsey (17-DaMarcus Beasley, 62), 10-Claudio Reyna (capt), 15-Bobby Convey (13-Jimmy Conrad, 52), 21-Landon Donovan; 20-Brian McBride

ITA: 1-Gianluigi Buffon; 2-Cristian Zaccardo (7-Alessandro del Piero, 54), 5-Fabio Cannavaro (capt), 13-Alessandro Nesta, 19-Gianluca Zambrotto; 4-Daniele de Rossi, 20-Simone Perrotta, 21-Andrea Pirlo, 10-Francesco Totti (8-Gennaro Gattuso, 35); 11-Alberto Gilardino, 9-Luca Toni (15-Vincenzo Iaquinta, 61)


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