Playing on the last day in which team’s compete in their opening match, the U.S. Men’s National Team will get their 2002 World Cup started on Wednesday (June 5) versus Portugal in Suwon, Korea. The match, which will kickoff at 6 p.m. local time, will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 5 a.m. ET / 4 a.m. CT and then re-broadcast on ESPN2 at 3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT. Portugal, currently ranked an impressive fifth in the FIFA World Rankings, holds a 2-1-1 record against the U.S. (currently ranked 13th by FIFA) in the two team’s all-time history, with the last meeting coming in 1992, when the U.S. pulled out a 1-0 decision in Chicago before going on the win the first ever U.S. Cup.
U.S. THEN MEETS TOURNAMENT CO-HOST SOUTH KOREA ON JUNE 10 IN DAEGU: After starting off the World Cup against arguably one of the toughest teams in the competition, the U.S. next has the unenviable task of facing tournament co-host South Korea on June 10 in front of what will surely be a tremendous home crowd in Daegu, Korea. The match, which will kickoff at 3:30 p.m. local time, will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 2:30 a.m. ET / 1:30 p.m. CT and then re-broadcast on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. CT. Korea, who is making its fifth consecutive World Cup appearance, holds a 3-1-1 advantage over the U.S. in all-time meetings. The last time the two teams met, the U.S. pulled out a 2-1 decision in Pasadena, Calif., on the way to the winning the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
DEFENDING CHAMPS FALL IN TOURNEY OPENER; GERMANY CRUSHES SAUDI ARABIA: The 2002 World Cup kicked off with a shocker, as defending champions France fell 1-0 to a surprising Senegal team in Seoul, Korea, Friday on a fluke goal by Pape Bouba Diop. Without midfield maestro Zinedine Zidane, the French hit both the post and the crossbar, but couldn’t muster an equalizer in a disorganized opening performance. On Saturday, two fairly even, well-played contests (Ireland-Cameroon and Denmark-Uruguay) were overshadowed by Germany’s 8-0 dismantling of Saudi Arabia, which included five goals off headers, a hat trick by Miroslav Klose, and a final shot count of 26-3. Paraguay and South Africa played to a spirited 2-2 draw, with Bafana Bafana lucky to equalize on an injury time penalty kick by Quinton Fortune. Midfielder David Beckam and England limped along to post a 1-1 draw with Sweden to open the “Group of Death”. In the other Group F match on Sunday, famed striker Gabriel Batistuta got the high-profile start up front for pre-tournament favorite Argentina and again proved his worth, scoring the lone goal in a 1-0 win over Nigeria. Trying to shed the tag of World Cup underachievers, Spain opened strong with a 3-1 win over Slovenia, with talented striker Raul providing the opening goal. Today, fellow CONCACAF representative Mexico used a second-half penalty kick goal from Cuatehmoc Blanco to defeat ’98 semifinalist Croatia 1-0 in Niigata. In one of the more controversial matches of the young tournament, Ronaldo and Rivaldo both scored, but ’98 runner-up Brazil needed a controversial penalty kick goal in the 85th minute to come from behind and steal a 2-1 win over Turkey, who ended the match with just nine men. In the final game of the long but thrilling weekend, Italy got two goals from Christian Vieri to easily defeat Ecuador 2-0.
ETHAN ZOHN ARRIVES IN KOREA; “ZOHN’S ZONE” DEBUTS TODAY: Ethan Zohn, the million-dollar winner from the hit reality TV show “Survivor: Africa” and former professional soccer player, arrived in Seoul yesterday and made his first appearance at Misari Practice Stadium today. Zohn is following the U.S. Men’s National Team and the World Cup in Korea/Japan for “Ethan Zohn’s Zone”, an online journal that will provide fans with a behind-the-scenes look inside the U.S. team and the athletes taking part in the 2002 World Cup. To bring the excitement of the tournament to life for U.S. fans, U.S. Soccer and Philips Electronics will launch “Ethan Zohn’s Zone” today. Fans will be able to access Ethan’s daily entries at ussoccer.com, the ultimate destination for up-to-the-minute World Cup news. Designed to satisfy the curiosity of every fan, the online journal will offer exclusive video footage of both on- and off-the-field moments.
U.S. SOCCER PERSONALITIES CONTINUE TO “BREAK DOWN THE CUP” AT ussoccer.com: As one of the marquee attractions of ussoccer.com’s “World Cup Plus”, a number of U.S. Soccer experts are offering their expertise in dissecting the games, events and storylines at the 2002 World Cup, including U.S. Soccer referee Brian Hall, U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach John Ellinger, U.S. Women’s National Team star Brandi Chastain and U.S. Under-23 goalkeeper D.J. Countess. From Chastain’s take on Roy Keane’s exile from the Ireland National Team, to Ellinger’s piece on making or breaking a star in the World Cup, to Hall’s tales of preparations for his referee duties, “Breaking Down the Cup” provides a unique vantage point only available at ussoccer.com.
— U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
CONCACAF QUALIFYING FOR THE 2003 WWC TO TAKE PLACE FROM OCT. 27-NOV. 9: The 2002 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup Tournament, which will serve as this region’s qualifying competition for the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, will be held from Oct. 27-Nov. 9, 2002, at four venues on the west coast of the United States, with the championship match to be played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. on Saturday, Nov. 9. The eight-team tournament, which features two groups of four teams, will take place at Titan Stadium in Fullerton, Calif., at Centennial Stadium in Victoria, Canada and at SAFECO Field in Seattle, Wash., as well as at the world-famous Rose Bowl, site of the 1984 Olympic Final, the 1994 World Cup Final and the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final. All of the group matches will be played as doubleheaders. Ticket information for all four venues will be announced in the near future. The USA will open the tournament on Sunday, Oct. 27, against Mexico at the Rose Bowl, then play its second first-round match on Tuesday, Oct. 29, against a Caribbean nation at Titan Stadium before traveling to Seattle for the final game of group play on Saturday, Nov. 2, against a Central American team. Should the Americans qualify for the semifinals, they will stay in Seattle, as both semifinals will be played as a doubleheader at Safeco Field on Wednesday, Nov. 6. The matches in Canada’s group in Victoria, B.C. will be played on Oct. 30, Nov. 1 and Nov. 3.
U.S. WOMEN TO FACE NORWAY ON JULY 21 IN BLAINE, MINNESOTA LIVE ON ESPN: The U.S. Women's National Team will face long-time rival Norway on July 21 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., in a match to be televised live on ESPN at 12 p.m. CT (1 p.m. ET). Tickets are currently at all TicketMaster outlets, charging by phone at 651-989-5151 and online at ussoccer.com. For group tickets of 10 or more people, fans can call the Minnesota Thunder at 763-785-3668. The USA played in Blaine last summer, defeating Canada 1-0 in front the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game at the National Sports Center when 15,614 fans showed up to cheer on the U.S. women. The NSC holds 10,000 fans but additional seats can be added to accommodate an overflow. The U.S. women will be looking to break a frustrating four-game losing streak to the Norwegians, a streak which has seen the USA play equal to or better than Norway over the four matches, dating back to the 2000 Olympic gold medal game in Sydney, Australia, a crushing 3-2 sudden death overtime loss. Norway remains the only team in the world with an all-time winning record against the U.S. women, who are 13-18-2 vs. the Scandinavians.
- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -
UNDER-21 WNT SWEEPS THREE MATCHES IN FRANCE: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team completed a successful three-match series outside of Paris, France last week, winning all three matches against French women's club teams while not allowing a goal. The U-21s, which featured 11 players who own full national team caps, defeated Paris Saint-Germain 4-0, downed Juvisy 8-0 and then edged INF, a team of youth national team pool players, 1-0. Head coach Jerry Smith's squad featured the core of players who will represent the USA at the Nordic Cup in Finland in July, including rising stars Cat Reddick, Christie Welsh, Devvyn Hawkins, Hope Solo and Aly Wagner, all consistent call-ups for April Heinrich's senior national team. Against PSG on May 28th, the USA got goals from Betsy Barr, Joanna Lohman, Reddick (on a penalty kick) and Laura Schott. Two days later, the USA hammered Juvisy as the goals were once again spread around, with Schott scoring two while Veronica Zepeda, Wagner, Reddick, Nandi Pryce (on a penalty kick), Mary McDowell and Kim Yokers added one each. Against the INF side on June 1, Zepeda notched the game winner in the 23rd minute as Lohman stole the a ball in the U.S. defensive third and played Welsh wide. She slipped a short pass the streaking Zepeda who dribbled straight through the heart of the defense, carrying it 30 yards before chipping the goalkeeper from just outside the penalty box arc. Solo and Nicole Barnhart shared time in the nets for the USA while Pryce captained the squad in all three matches. Said Smith: "I was pleased with the individual performances of all the players, but the team still needs to gel and work on playing a complete 90 minutes when it steps onto the field for the Nordic Cup." All 18 players on the roster will be called back for the next training camp at the end of June in San Diego, Calif. along with 6 additional players.
— 2002 LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP UPDATE —
2002 U.S. OPEN CUP FIRST & SECOND ROUND BRACKETS TO BE ANNOUNCED WEDNESDAY: U.S. Soccer will announce the first and second round brackets for the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this Wednesday (June 5), with 24 teams – eight A-League, seven D3 Pro League, five Premier Development League and four United States Amateur Soccer Association -- being paired on a geographical basis. The 89-year-old competition will have a slight format revision in 2002, as the single-elimination tournament will pit the nine Amateurs squads against seven D3 Pro League Teams in the opening round this weekend, with the winners to face eight A-League teams from the United Soccer Leagues (USL) in the second round on June 26. After the conclusion of the first round, the eight MLS team will be placed into third brackets geographically and meet the second round survivors on July 17. In 2001, the Los Angeles Galaxy captured their first domestic championship by claiming the Open Cup crown with a thrilling 2-1 overtime victory over the New England Revolution in Fullerton, Calif. Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Español, which have broadcast a number of Open Cup matches across the last two years will once again be the official television broadcaster of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in 2002.
KANSAS CITY CLINCHES FINAL MLS SPOT FOR 2002 OPEN CUP: By virtue of their 2-2 draw against the Dallas Burn and a 2-0 San Jose Earthquakes win over the New England Revolution on Saturday, the Kansas City Wizards clinched the final MLS spot for the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with 10 points. The Wizards took the eighth and final MLS spot via a superior goal differential after the Revolution and D.C. United also finished with a total of 10 points in the current regular season standings. The Wizards, along with the Colorado Rapids, who clinched a spot in the competition last week, join six other teams -- Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Dallas Burn, Los Angeles Galaxy, NY/NJ MetroStars and San Jose Earthquakes -- that qualified based on their 2001 MLS regular season finish. The eight MLS squads will enter the 2002 Open Cup in the third round on July 17.
A-LEAGUE'S CHARLESTON ADVANCES; CINCINNATI, MILWAUKEE BATTLE FOR LAST SPOT: The A-League's Charleston Battery advanced to the 2002 U.S. Open Cup by defeating the Charlotte Eagles 5-2 on aggregate score and sweeping the home-and-home series over the weekend. The Battery join the Atlanta Silverbacks, Hampton Roads Mariners, Minnesota Thunder, Rochester Raging Rhinos, Richmond Kickers and the Seattle Sounders as seven of the eight A-League squads that have qualified for the 2002 Open Cup. The final A-League spot will be determined this coming Sunday (June 9) when the Milwaukee Rampage try to avoid elimination at the hands of the visiting Cincinnati Riverhawks when they meet in Game Two of their home-and-home qualifying series. The Riverhawks won the first encounter 3-2 in Cincinnati on May 4.
FINAL THREE D3 PRO LEAGUE CLUBS EARN OPEN CUP BERTHS: The New Jersey Stallions and the South Jersey Barons of the D3 Pro League clinched 2002 U.S. Open Cup berths on Saturday with 2-1 wins over the Western Mass Pioneers and New York Freedoms, respectively. On Sunday, the Greenville Lions also advanced to the Open Cup tournament after posting a 4-3 victory over the Northern Virginia Royals. The three clubs join the Carolina Dynamo, New York Freedoms and San Diego Gauchos as qualified teams based on their current regular season D3 Pro standings. The Utah Blitzz received an automatic berth to the 2002 Open Cup competition as the 2001 D3 Pro League champions. The D3 squads will face the amateur teams from the PDL and USASA in the opening round that will begin on this Friday (June 7) and conclude next Wednesday (June 12).
PDL, USASA TEAMS SET FOR 2002 OPEN CUP: Nine amateur teams (five Premier Development League, four U.S. Amateur Soccer Association) will compete against D3 Pro League squads in the opening round of the 2002 U.S. Open Cup from June 7-12. The five PDL teams were determined by selected 2002 regular-season results from the four-group regular season standings in which each group winner and the best-second place wildcard team, from all the groups, advance. PDL will be led by the Chico Rooks (Western Group Winner), who will be making their second consecutive appearance at the Open Cup. Also carrying the PDL banner will be the Des Moines Menace (Central Group Winner), Memphis Express (Wild Card – Southern Group Runner-up), Raleigh CASL Elite (Eastern Group Winner), Texas Spurs (Southern Group Winner). The USASA qualified one team from each of the four regions (I, II, III & IV) for the 2002 tournament. The USASA Region II winners AAC Eagles of Chicago return to the Open Cup competition for the first time since 1995, while Mexico S.C. of Selma, Calif., will be making their third consecutive appearance after winning the USASA Region IV title over the weekend. Rounding out the USASA representatives are Vereinigung Erzge of Doylestown, Pa., (Region I) and Real Madrid of Austin, Texas (Region III).
— AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD —
BLATTER WINS RE-ELECTION AS FIFA PRESIDENT: FIFA closed its pre-World Cup administrative meetings last week as Joseph S. Blatter of Switzerland was elected to a second term as FIFA President by a 139-56 vote as one of the final matters of business at the 53rd Ordinary FIFA Congress in Seoul. Blatter, 66, was elected to his first four-year term as the eighth FIFA President on June 8, 1998, at the 51st FIFA Ordinary Congress in Paris, France. Prior to being elected President, Blatter served as FIFA's General Secretary from 1981-1998.
BRIAN HALL OFFICIATES ITALY-ECUADOR WORLD CUP MATCH: U.S. Soccer referee Brian Hall refereed his first World Cup match today, running the middle in Italy’s 2-0 win over Ecuador. Hall controlled the match well, issuing four cautions. Hall will next serve as the Fourth Official for the Argentina-England “Group of Death” match on June 7, one of the most anticipated first round matches in years. U.S. referee Brian Hall, who is the first U.S.-born official ever selected to referee the world’s greatest sporting event, has been a Major League Soccer referee since the league’s inception in 1996. He reached the pinnacle of the officiating world in 1992, when, at the age of 31, he was named to U.S. Soccer’s International Panel of FIFA referees. As a FIFA Referee, Hall has traveled to 27 different countries to ply his trade.
BEASLEY HONORED WITH PROCLAMATION FROM INDIANA GOVERNOR: Indiana Governor Frank O'Bannon recently issued a proclamation declaring the month of June as Soccer Month in Indiana in honor of U.S. midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who hails from Fort Wayne, Ind. Beasley, who turned 20 years old on May 24, is the youngest player on the 2002 U.S. World Cup Team. In making the proclamation, Governor O'Bannon recognized Beasley as the first player in U.S. World Cup history to hail from Indiana and highlighted the Indiana Youth Soccer Association's membership of 64,000 youth players. As a former star in the IYSA system, Beasley began playing soccer at a recreational level as a youth in Fort Wayne, before getting involved with traveling clubs and then competing in ODP (Olympic Development Program) soccer.
NATIONAL SOCCER HALL TO HOST "BREAKFAST AT THE WORLD CUP" ON JUNE 14: The National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, N.Y., has announced a special event entitled “Breakfast at the World Cup”, in which fans are invited to watch the U.S. Men’s National Team against Poland at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan. Admission is only $10, and includes breakfast (bagels, quiche, fresh fruit, coffee, juice and muffins, etc.), admission to the museum, and a chance to watch the match on the Hall’s enormous video wall. For more information, call 607-432-3351 or visit their website at www.soccerhall.org. Also, the NSHoF has announced its Induction Weekend 2002, which is set to take place on Columbus Day Weekend from Oct. 12-14.
- U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT -
PEAK PERFORMER: When you score eight goals in a match, odds are you’re going to have yourself a hat trick hero. For Germany, it was forward Miroslav Klose, who knocked in three pinpoint headers in the 20th, 25th and 69th minutes to propel the improved Deutchland squad to an 8-0 crushing of Saudi Arabia. Klose now has a whopping eight goals in just 12 all-time appearances for Germany.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The day has finally come: June 5, USA-Portugal. Sure, the game is technically early Wednesday morning, but it feels like it’s just a day away. Just as many of the questions about the U.S. team will be answered (i.e., Who will start in goal?, Who will be at left back?, Who will fill in at defensive midfielder?), fans will also find out which Portugal team will show up in this Cup -- the team perennially ranked in the Top 10 in the world, or the team that is competing in just its third World Cup ever. The last four years of progress of the U.S. team will finally be tested in one of the most difficult World Cup groups a U.S. team has ever played.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Goals, goals, goals!!! No, it’s not someone singing Philips’ official U.S. Soccer chant, it’s what everyone who stayed up to watch the Germany-Saudi Arabia saw in the one-sided opening round match. The Germans pounded the Saudis 8-0, dissecting their defense with short precise passes and an efficient air attack that resulted in a bevy of goals off headers. When the dust settled, the final shot count was a lopsided 26-3. The result made the Saudi’s the early favorite finish last of 32 teams at this year’s 2002 edition of the World Cup. Who said soccer is low-scoring?
“We will approach the game as if we can win the game. We are not just showing up because we want to be nice, friendly participants. We are going to play a game.”
- U.S. MNT Head Coach Bruce Arena, on the team’s chances versus the favored Portugal team.