U.S. BEATS COSTA RICA 2-0 TO WIN SECOND GOLD CUP IN U.S. HISTORY: The U.S. Men’s National Team downed Costa Rica 2-0 on Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., to claim their second CONCACAF Gold Cup championship, having previously won the inaugural tournament in 1991. Josh Wolff and Jeff Agoos tallied goals for the U.S., while a strong defensive performance helped goalkeeper Kasey Keller record his fourth straight shutout in the tournament. The U.S. allowed just one goal in their five-game run to the tournament title, outscoring their opposition 9-1. U.S. forward Brian McBride was named the Gold Cup Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner as the competition’s top scorer (with four goals) and tournament MVP. It was McBride who hit a hat trick in the USA’s 4-0 dismantling of El Salvador in the quarterfinals on Jan. 27, and scored on a well-taken penalty kick to enable the U.S. to oust Canada on Jan. 30 in the semifinals on penalty kicks (4-2).
U.S. MEN FINALIZE FRIENDLIES AGAINST THREE OF EUROPE’S FINEST: The United States Men’s National Team has finalized a trio of World Cup preparation matches against traditional world powers Italy, Germany and Ireland in Europe across the next three months. The U.S. will first meet Italy on February 13 at the Stadio Cibali in Catania, Sicily, at 2:45 p.m. ET / 8:45 p.m. local (U.S. television TBD), before facing Germany in Rostock at the Ostseestadion on March 27 in a match which will be televised delayed on ESPN at 10 p.m. ET. The U.S. wraps up the trio of matches against Europe’s best on April 17 with a match against Ireland in Dublin live on ESPN2 at 2:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. local time). Collectively, the three matches represent arguably the best European-based World Cup preparation games in U.S. Soccer history. Between them, the three opponents have won six World Cup championships and finished as World Cup runner-ups five times.
STEWART, MILBRETT TAKE TOP CHEVY PLAYER OF THE YEAR HONORS: The top two annual awards went to U.S. Men's National team midfielder Earnie Stewart, who was named Chevrolet Male Athlete of the Year, and U.S. Women's National Team forward Tiffeny Milbrett, who was named Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year for the second consecutive year. As it has done since 1998, U.S. Soccer and Chevy also announced Young Male Athlete of the Year and Young Female Athlete of the Year awards, which went to midfielder DaMarcus Beasley and midfielder Aleisha Cramer. Stewart stepped up in 2001 and scored five goals to lead the U.S. team in scoring in 2001. All five goals came during final round of World Cup qualifying. Milbrett not only led the USA in scoring in 2001 with three goals and one assist in five games, but she led the WUSA in scoring with 16 goals and three assists to earn MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors. Beasley had a breakout year in 2001 that included his full debut with the Men's National Team as well as five goals and five assists in seven matches for the U.S. U-20 squad. Nineteen-year-old Cramer was second on the full Women's National Team in games played and third in minutes played. She was also an indispensable part of the U.S. Under-21s, helping the team win the Nordic Cup by recording two goals and two assists in a 6-1 thrashing of Sweden in the final.
BRUCE ARENA TO CONDUCT LIVE ONLINE CHAT THIS FRIDAY ON ussoccerfan.com: U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Bruce Arena will discuss the U.S. team's Gold Cup success and preview the upcoming match against Italy during a live online chat Friday, February 8 at 12 p.m. ET. Fans can register to log on to the chat at www.ussoccerfan.com.
— CONCACAF GOLD CUP RECAP —
AGOOS, DONOVAN & MCBRIDE EARN GOLD CUP "BEST XI" HONORS: U.S. defender Jeff Agoos alongside midfielder Landon Donovan and forward Brian McBride were all named to the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup "Best XI" on Saturday. McBride led the tournament in scoring with four tallies and earned MVP accolades. Donovan notched the first goal in the U.S. 2-1 victory against Korea Republic in the opening match, while Agoos closed out the U.S. scoring with the second goal in the 2-0 blanking of Costa Rica in the final on Saturday.
2002 GOLD CUP – BEST XI: Goalkeeper - Odelin Molina (Cuba); Defenders - Jeff Agoos (USA), Jason DeVos (Canada), Luis Marin (Costa Rica); Midfielders – Landon Donovan (USA), Ronald Gomez (Costa Rica), Kim Nam-Il (Korea Republic), Mauricio Solis (Costa Rica), Luis Alfonso Sosa (Mexico); Forwards - Brian McBride (USA), Kevin McKenna (Canada)
RESERVES: Goalkeeper - Shaka Hislop (Trinidad & Tobago); Defenders - Ludovic Mirande (Martinique), Pierre Richard Bruny (Trinidad & Tobago); Midfielders - Alex Aguinaga (Ecuador), Santos Cabrera (El Salvador); Forwards - Ronald Cerritos (El Salvador), Juan Carlos Plata (Guatemala)
MNT EURO UPDATE: Brad Friedel started two matches last week, but Blackburn Rovers dropped back-to-back games in the English Premiership. Rovers fell to 17th in the EPL after losing a close one at home 3-2 to Arsenal last Wednesday and being blanked 2-0 by West Ham United on the road on Saturday. Claudio Reyna played two straight 90-minute games (0-1 loss vs. Middlesbrough and 1-4 loss at Manchester United) for Sunderland, who slipped to 15th. Joe-Max Moore played a full 90 for Everton in the scoreless draw at Aston Villa last Wednesday, then came in as a sub for the final eight minutes in the 2-1 home-defeat against Ipswich Town on Saturday. Jovan Kirovski and Gregg Berhalter were both second-half subsitutes in Crystal Palace's 3-1 road win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday. In France, David Regis played 90 minutes in FC Metz 4-1 defeat at Lyon on Saturday, while Greg Vanney went the full 90 in FC Bastia's 1-0 win over Lille. In Holland, Earnie Stewart played 90 minutes in the N.A.C. Breda's 3-0 defeat at Groningen on Sunday, while John O'Brien played the whole game in Ajax's 3-1 victory at Willem II. In Germany, Steve Cherundolo earned "Man-of-the-Match" honors in Hannover 96, while Conor Casey came in for the final six minutes in the team's 1-0 win over Unterhaching on Sunday. Tony Sanneh played a full 90 in FC Nurnberg's 2-0 blanking of Energie Cottbus on Saturday, while Cory Gibbs played an impressive 90 minutes in FC St. Pauli 1-0 loss at Hansa Rostock.
JONES EARNS 150th CAP FOR USA: The Gold Cup win marked a special occasion for Cobi Jones, who earned his 150th cap for the United States. Wearing the captain's armband, Jones moved into a tie for fourth place on the all-time list with German legend Lothar Matthaus. He debuted for the U.S. at age 22 on Sept. 3, 1992 against Canada.
— U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE —
U.S. UNDER-23 MEN ANNOUNCE ROSTER FOR EUROPEAN MATCHES: U.S. Men's National Team assistant coach Glenn Myernick announced an 18-player roster for the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team's two-week trip to Portugal and Italy from Feb. 1-14, which he will oversee. The team arrived in Portugal this weekend, where they will compete in the Madeira International Tournament with a trio of games in Madeira Island. The U-23s will open with a match against a regional select team from Madeira on Feb. 5 in Machico, followed by internationals against Slovakia (Feb. 6 in Choupana) and Portugal (Feb. 8 in Funchal). The team will then travel to the island of Sicily, where they will meet Italy in a friendly in Messina on Feb. 12. The match can be followed live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Essentially an Under-21 team with the 2004 Olympics more than two years away, the U.S. roster features a host of players who were part of the U.S. Under-20 team that advanced to the second round of the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship, including midfielders DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire) and Bobby Convey (D.C. United).
Goalkeepers - D.J. Countess (NY/NJ MetroStars - MLS), Doug Warren (Clemson University - NCAA);
Defenders - Nelson Akwari (UCLA - NCAA), Jose Burciaga (Kansas City Wizards - MLS), Brian Carroll (Wake Forest University - NCAA), Brad Davis ( St. Louis University - NCAA), Philip Salyer (SV Werder Bremen - Germany), David Stokes (University of North Carolina - NCAA), Chris Wingert (St. John's University - NCAA), Alex Yi (UCLA - NCAA);
Midfielders - DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire - MLS), Kyle Beckerman (Colorado Rapids - MLS), Bobby Convey (D.C. United - MLS), Kyle Martino (University of Virginia - NCAA);
Forwards - Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes-MLS), Alecko Eskandarian (University of Virginia - NCAA), Kelly Gray (University of Portland - NCAA), Nate Jaqua (University of Portland - NCAA).
U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN SPLIT TWO GAMES WITH MEXICO WNT: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team completed its first action of the year last weekend with the second of two matches against the full Mexican Women's National Team, winning 1-0 in Juarez, Mexico in a reverse of the first result, a 1-0 U.S. loss in Chihuahua, Mexico. Following a short training camp at the ARCO U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. from Jan. 25-28, the U-21s, led by head coach Jerry Smith, traveled to Mexico for matches on January 31 and February 2. Mexico scored the first game’s only goal in the 86th minute, when Maribel Dominguez struck a free kick from the top of the box into the upper left corner of the goal. U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo suffered a gruesome and freak injury on the play as her right forearm slammed against the goalpost, catching on a hook used to secure the net and opening a deep, four-inch gash on her arm. The U.S. team performed much better in the second leg, dominating play while compiling a 12-3 edge in shots and 13-1 in corner kicks. Midfielder Joanna Lohman recorded the USA's lone goal, scoring after Nandi Pryce sent in a bending cross from the left flank. Lohman timed her run and short-hopped her shot into the lower left corner from 16 yards out.
U-19 WOMEN WRAP UP TRAINING CAMP, REGROUP FOR TRIP TO MEXICO: The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team completed another successful training camp last Saturday at the ARCO Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif. The U-19s defeated the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team, 1-0, earlier in the week on a goal from Heather O'Reilly and then dominated the San Diego Women's Football Club, 5-0, later in the week as O'Reilly added another goal while forwards Lindsey Tarpley and Megan Kakadelas added two goals each. The U-19s will travel to Mexico in early March for two matches vs. the Mexican U-19 women, then participate in the WUSA pre-season tournament in Chula Vista, Calif. The U-19s will then go through world championship qualifying from May 5-12 in Trinidad & Tobago, with the winner of each group going through to the first-ever Women’s World Youth Championship. The USA is grouped with Haiti, Suriname and the winner of the Central Qualifying Zone tournament. The U-19 Women’s World Youth Championships will be held in Canada at the end of August 2002.
U.S. UNDER-18 MEN OPEN FIRST CAMP OF THE YEAR: U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team head coach George Gelnovatch welcomed his newest crop of U.S. Under-18s to Bradenton, Fla., yesterday (Sunday) and the team plays its first game at the Under-18 level today, when they face the Chicago Fire at the IMG Academy. Three players who will take part in the first training camp - Hunter Freeman, Josh Villalobos and Greg Dalby - were capped at the Under-17 level, and Freeman and Villalobos were a part of U.S. Soccer’s Under-17 Residency Program. The team’s first training camp includes three matches, as the U.S. team will face Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire and Metrostars, before ending camp with a match against the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team. Last year, the U.S. Under-18s shocked the Fire with a 1-0 win on Feb. 8 in Bradenton, Fla. Players in the current pool of U-18s (born since 1985) are eligible for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship.
— AROUND THE SOCCER NATION —
SIX MORE STARS SIGN WITH MLS, ENTER SUPERDRAFT: Taylor Twellman, Jordan Stone, Luchi Gonzalez, John Barry Nusum, Mohamed Fahim and Dominic DaPra all signed with Major League Soccer last week and will be included in the player pool for the 2002 MLS SuperDraft that is scheduled for Orlando, Fla., on February 10. Twellman's arrival to MLS comes on the heels of his two-year stint with TSV 1860 Munich of the German Bundesliga. Stone, a 17-year-old defensive midfielder likened by some to the Chicago Fire's Chris Armas, will be the sixth new member of Nike Project-40 to enter the SuperDraft. DaPra is entering the draft after finishing as the Big Ten's leading scorer in each of the past two seasons. Gonzalez, Nusum and Fahim were all college standouts in 2001. Gonzalez, the 2001 Hermann Trophy Winner and MAC Player of the Year honoree, leads the talented trio of seniors, who finished their college careers with a combined 164 goals, 91 assists and 419 points.
WUSA ANNOUNCE ALL-STAR SHOWCASE ON FEBRUARY 10 IN FORT LAUDERDALE: An All-Star Game featuring some of the top women’s soccer players in the world - including reigning league MVP Tiffeny Milbrett - will highlight the WUSA Combine and Draft Weekend February 8-11 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The World All-Star match will be the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, Feb. 10, at Lockhart Stadium, with the top college players in the country meeting in the annual Umbro Select College All-Star Classic at 2 p.m. ET. The weekend, which also includes the WUSA Combine, will culminate with the second annual WUSA Draft on Feb. 11.
W-LEAGUE UNIFIES FOR 2002 SEASON: The United Soccer Leagues announced last week that in 2002 the W-League will play its first season as a unified league since it split into two levels in 1998. The 36-team league will be comprised of three conferences – Central, Eastern and Western. USL also announced the 2002 W-League playoff format. The Central and Eastern Conferences will be comprised of two divisions with the Atlantic and Midwest in the Central Conference and the Northeast and Northern in the Eastern Conference.
WUSA’S COURAGE GET NEW HOME FOR 2002 WUSA SEASON: The Carolina Courage and the Capital Area Soccer League (CASL) announced that the 7,000 seat, state-of-the-art stadium at the State Capital Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina will become the new home for the Carolina Courage of the WUSA. The complex features three regulation championship game fields, and the Soccer Park will offer luxury boxes, concession and merchandise areas and on-site parking for more than 2,500 vehicles. The stadium is projected to be completed in April before the start of the 2002 WUSA season.
FIRE REACH PRELIMINARY STADIUM AGREEMENT FOR 2002 MLS SEASON: The Chicago Fire announced that the team has reached a preliminary agreement with North Central College in Naperville to expand Cardinal Stadium and play there through the 2002 MLS season. The Fire needs a new venue due to the renovation of Soldier Field, where the team had played since its inception in 1998. The agreement between the Fire and NCC is contingent upon the development of an acceptable traffic and parking plan and upon the Naperville City Council's approval of a zoning permit. The permit will allow a temporary seating expansion at Cardinal Stadium that will raise its current 5,000-seat capacity to approximately 15,000.
LAGOS RESIGNS WITH MLS, STAYS WITH EARTHQUAKES: Manny Lagos will return to the San Jose Earthquakes to defend the MLS Cup in 2002, after signing a multi-year deal with MLS. Lagos had a career year in 2001, recording career highs in goals (8), assists (8) and points (24). He added three goals and two assists in the playoffs. Lagos debuted for the Men’s National Team on Dec. 9, 2001, starting in a friendly vs. Korea Republic. A member of the ’92 Olympic squad, he earned his second cap in a 2-1 win against Korea in the Gold Cup.
— WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN —
NIGERIA, MALI REACH SEMIS OF 2002 AFRICAN NATIONS CUP: Host Mali and World Cup bound Nigeria earned spots in the 2002 African Nations Cup semifinals (Thursday, Feb. 7) after posting quarterfinal victories on this past Sunday. A late goal by Nigerian midfielder Garba Lawal gave his team the 1-0 win over Ghana and put them into the semis. Nigeria will meet the winner of today's quarterfinal match between Senegal-RD Congo on Monday in the semifinals. In another quarterfinal match, goals by Bassala Toure and Dramane Coulibaly led the host Mali to a 2-0 win over South Africa. On Thursday, Mali will take on the winner of today's quarterfinal game between the Egypt and defending African Nations Champion Cameroon.
BRAZIL HAMMERS BOLIVIA IN SOUTH AMERICAN FRIENDLY: Brazil routed Bolivia 6-0 in a friendly last week, as Brazilian boss Luiz Felipe Scolari gave seven players their first international game in a Brazilian jersey. Brazil’s well-known struggles through CONMEBOL qualifying included a shocking 1-3 loss to Bolivia. The loss was Bolivia's first defeat under Argentine coach Carlos Leon Trucco.
— U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT —
SOCCER SHOCKER: World Cup finalists Tunisia tumbled out of the African Nations Cup without scoring a goal in three matches. Tunisia drew 0-0 with Senegal to assure themselves of an early finish to the tournament, after losing 0-1 to Egypt and opening with a 0-0 draw against Zambia.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team travels to Portugal where they will face Portugal on Feb. 8 in Funchal, in their third and final match of the Madeira International Tournament. The game will be just the USA’s second U-23 international since the 2000 Olympics. The game could foreshadow the all-important match on June 5, when the U.S. MNT meets Portugal in both teams’ World Cup opener.
PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. forward Brian McBride led all players with four goals at the Gold Cup, earning Golden Boot honors, and he was named Gold Cup MVP following the USA’s 2-0 win in the tournament final. Only three countries at the Gold Cup (the USA, Costa Rica and Canada) scored more than McBride’s four goals.
QUOTABLE: "I thought we had an outstanding performance today and certainly deserved to be the champions. We improved in every game in the tournament.”
- Bruce Arena, U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach.