U.S. Soccer Wire - Feb. 26, 2007
U.S. SOCCER BOD ENDORSES EFFORT TO BRING 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP TO USA;
U.S. MEN TO FACE CHINA IN SAN JOSE ON JUNE 2 BEFORE GOLD CUP;
RYAN NAMES 20-PLAYER U.S. WNT ROSTER FOR 2007 ALGARVE CUP
U.S. SOCCER BOD APPROVES EFFORT TO BRING 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP TO USA: U.S. Soccer's National Board of Directors has unanimously approved the effort to bring the 2018 World Cup to the United States. The decision was made on Friday (February 23) on the first day of U.S. Soccer's 2007 Annual General Meeting in Los Angeles. U.S. Soccer's membership also unanimously endorsed the bid at the organization's National Council meeting on Saturday.
U.S. MEN TO FACE CHINA ON JUNE 2 AT SPARTAN STADIUM IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.: The U.S. Men’s National Team will return to the Bay Area on June 2, 2007, to take on China at Spartan Stadium in San Jose, Calif., at 5 p.m. PT. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Galavision, and will be available to fans online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. One year after topping Japan, 3-2, in San Francisco, the U.S. will play in Spartan Stadium for the first time in four years in the team’s final friendly before the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup and 2007 Copa America. Tickets starting at $22 will go on sale Friday, March 2, at ussoccer.com, all San Jose area Ticketmaster outlets (including Ritmo Latino and FYE) and by phone at 408-998-8497. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com. As a special benefit to VISA cardholders, a VISA-only pre-sale will be held between 10 a.m. and 11 p.m. PT on Thursday, March 1 through ussoccer.com. VISA, the preferred payment card of U.S. Soccer, is the only payment method available for this pre-sale opportunity. The June 2 match will be the eighth meeting between the U.S. and China, and the hosts hold a 4-1-2 record vs. their guests. Three of the last seven meetings between the U.S. and China have been in the Bay Area, with the last meeting coming six years ago on Jan. 27, 2001, in Oakland as the U.S. won, 2-1, on a Brian McBride goal and a China own goal.
SHANNON BOXX PART OF U.S. WNT HEAD COACH GREG RYAN’S ALGARVE CUP ROSTER:
U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Greg Ryan has named 20 players to the roster for the 2007 Algarve Cup, being held from March 7-14 in southern Portugal. The Americans, who have been drawn into Group B at the prestigious tournament, will open play on March 7 against China, face Finland on March 9 and finish the first-round against Sweden on March 12. All the first round games are played at small venues spread out over the Algarve region on the southern coast of the country with all of the placement matches taking place on March 14. Fans can follow the USA’s grueling schedule of four games in eight days online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker and watch exclusive highlights from all_access video. Group A features defending Algarve Cup champions Germany, as well as Norway, France and Denmark. Six of the eight teams in Groups A and B will be participating in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China come September, with only France and Finland missing out. Group C features Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Iceland. The Algarve Cup will mark the first matches for U.S. midfielder Shannon Boxx since she played against Japan on May 9, 2006. Boxx has almost fully recovered from ACL surgery and is ready for the run to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Roster by Position (Number of Algarve Cups attended, including 2007, in parenthesis)
GOALKEEPERS (2): Briana Scurry (7) (Dayton, Minn.), Hope Solo (4) (Richland, Wash.)
DEFENDERS (7): Lori Chalupny (4) (St. Louis, Mo.), Tina Ellertson (2) (Vancouver, Wash.), Stephanie Lopez (3) (Elk Grove, Calif.), Heather Mitts (4) (Cincinnati, Ohio), Christie Rampone (7) (Point Pleasant, N.J.), India Trotter (2) (Plantation, Fla.), Cat Whitehill (7) (Birmingham, Ala.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Shannon Boxx (4) (Redondo Beach, Calif.), Angela Hucles (3) (Virginia Beach, Va.), Carli Lloyd (2) (Delran, N.J.), Marci Jobson (2) (St. Charles, Ill.), Leslie Osborne (3) (Brookfield, Wis.), Aly Wagner (6) (San Jose, Calif.)
FORWARDS (5): Natasha Kai (2) (Kahuku, Hawaii), Kristine Lilly (11) (Wilton, Conn.), Heather O’Reilly (5) (East Brunswick, N.J.), Lindsay Tarpley (5) (Kalamazoo, Mich.), Abby Wambach (4) (Rochester, N.Y.)
2006 Algarve Cup Schedule – Group B
Date Opponent Kickoff
March 7 China 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
March 9 Finland 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
March 12 Sweden 4:15 p.m. local / 11:15 a.m. ET
March 14 Placement Match TBD
NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME TO ANNOUNCE 2007 INDUCTEES ON TUESDAY: The National Soccer Hall of Fame will announce the 2007 inductees on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The announcement will mark the first-ever all-women induction class in its 57-year history, and includes the inductee voted in by the widest margin in election history. Coverage of the announcement will be available on ussoccer.com, including a podcast with the inductees. The athletes will be formally inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame at the Induction 2007 ceremonies on Sunday, August 26th in Oneonta, NY.
U.S. U-20 MNT PREPARES FOR OFFICIAL FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP DRAW THIS SATURDAY: After this weekend’s qualification of Mexico and Costa Rica, the list of 24 nations for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup is complete. The U.S., along with the other qualified teams, now looks to the Official Draw, to take place on Saturday, March 3 in Toronto, which will determine the opponents each team will challenge during the group stage as well as the venues and dates for each game. The Official Draw will be broadcast live across Canada by the official Host Broadcaster for the competition, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), from Liberty Grand Entertainment Complex in Toronto. Fans across the world can turn to FIFA.com to follow the draw live and find profiles on all 24 qualified teams. Quotes from U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen and U-20 players will be available on ussoccer.com after the draw.
2007 U-20 FIFA World Cup Qualified Teams
Host (1): Canada
AFC (4): Japan, Jordon, Korea DPR, Korea Republic
CAF (4): Congo Republic, Gambia, Nigeria, Zambia
CONCACAF (4): Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, United States
CONMEBOL (4): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay
OFC (1): New Zealand
UEFA (6): Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Scotland
CORDEIRO NAMED TO U.S. SOCCER BOARD OF DIRECTORS: In other news at U.S. Soccer's AGM, the organization's membership approved the addition of Carlos Cordeiro to the Board of Directors as the first of three Independent Directors. (The three "independent director" positions were created at last year's AGM, when the Board of Directors was reduced from 40 to 15.) Cordeiro has more than 20 years of experience providing strategic and financial advice to corporations, financial institutions and governments around the world. He has previously been a Partner and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and was the senior banker to the World Bank. He has also served as Advisory Director of The Goldman Sachs Group Inc., and as Vice Chairman of Goldman Sachs (Asia). Jim Hamilton also was named to U.S. Soccer's Board of Directors as a representative of the Adult Council. U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors also received a preliminary application for sanctioning from a Division 1 Professional Women's League to begin play in 2008. Additionally, the U.S. Soccer Foundation saw Richard Groff voted to the organization’s Board of Directors, while Linda Hamilton and Kevin Payne were re-elected to the same body. Chris Christoffersen, Peter Masotto and Darl Rose were voted as Life Members by the National Council.
FRANCISCO MARCOS RECEIVES WERNER FRICKER BUILDER AWARD: Francisco Marcos, the president and founder of the United Soccer Leagues (USL), was presented the Werner Fricker Builder Award at U.S. Soccer’s Annual General Meeting in Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 24. Named after Werner Fricker, U.S. Soccer President from 1984-1990 and widely credited for his role in bringing the 1994 FIFA World Cup to the United States, the award honors those who have created or fostered programs that will outlast their own active involvement in the sport. Marco’s soccer career is highlighted with the creation of the USL, which began as a five-team indoor soccer league in Texas and Oklahoma in 1986, and eventually expanded to clubs in more than 100 cities in North America. Along the way, USL took over the management of the then independent A-League (now USL First Division), launched the first-ever national women’s league (W-League) and developed a national elite youth league (Super Y-League). The President of U.S. Soccer appoints a selection committee to review the nominations and select a winner. This year, the committee included chairman Marge Madriago, Bob Contiguglia, Stephen Flamhaft, Werner Fricker Jr., Jim Hamilton and Kevin Payne.
DANIELLE FOTOPOULOS RETIRES FROM INTERNATIONAL SOCCER: Danielle Fotopoulos, a member of the historic 1999 Women’s World Cup Team for the United States, retired from international soccer last week. The 5-foot-11 striker steps away from the game having earned 35 caps for the USA while scoring 16 goals, which ranks her 17th on the all-time U.S. scoring list. She debuted for the Women’s National Team in Brazil on Jan. 14, 1996, against Russia, and two days later scored her first three career goals in a hat trick performance against the Ukraine. She scored her final four goals for the USA with braces in back-to-back games on July 10, 2005, against Ukraine and July 24, 2005, against Iceland. Formerly Danielle Garrett, she was one of the most dominate players in the history of college soccer. She played two years at SMU in Dallas and two years at the University of Florida, finishing her career with an NCAA Division I record of 118 career goals, shattering the previous mark (103) held jointly by Mia Hamm and Tiffeny Milbrett.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR MARCH MNT FRIENDLIES IN TAMPA, FRISCO: Tickets are now available for U.S. MNT friendlies vs. Ecuador on March 25 in Tampa, Fla., and vs. Guatemala on March 28 in Frisco, Texas. The games will be played during a FIFA match window which will allow the U.S. to have a full compliment of players available for selection by head coach Bob Bradley as the United States continues to prepare for this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and Copa America. Tickets for USA vs. Ecuador start at $18 and are available at ussoccer.com, all Bay area Ticketmaster outlets (including the Florida State Fairgrounds, Tampa Theater, the USF Sun Dome, and FYE stores) and by phone at 813-287-8844. Tickets for USA vs. Guatemala also start at $18 and are available online at ussoccer.com, at all Dallas-Ft. Worth area Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s, Fiesta Stores, and FYE) and by phone at 214-373-8000. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets to both matches by calling U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290 or obtaining a group order form at ussoccer.com.
TICKETS ON SALE FOR U.S. WNT DOMESTIC OPENER IN FOXBOROUGH: Tickets are on sale for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s domestic opener vs. Mexico on April 14 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The match will serve as the opening game of a doubleheader also featuring the hometown New England Revolution vs. Toronto FC. Kickoff for the U.S. match is at 5 p.m. ET followed by the MLS contest at 7:30 p.m. ET. Fans will be able to follow the U.S. WNT game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Tickets start at $32 and are available online at ussoccer.com, all Massachusetts Ticketmaster outlets (including Macy’s and FYE Stores), the Gillette Stadium Box Office (Monday through Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and by phone at 1-866-448-7849 or 1-617-931-2222. Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets at discounted prices by calling the New England Revolution at 1-877-GET-REVS (438-7387). The U.S. women will be playing their first match in the Boston area since the historic 1-0 win against Norway on October 1, 2003, during the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarterfinals.
– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAMS UPDATE –
U-23 MNT EARNS TWO DRAWS DURING JAPAN TRIP: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team finished its two-match tour of Japan with an 0-0-2 record, earning a scoreless draw against the Japan U-22 Men’s National Team and a 2-2 draw against JFL side Rosso Kumamoto. Against Japan on Feb. 21, U.S. goalkeeper Chris Seitz earned Sierra Mist Man of the Match honors by making a number of key saves throughout the contest in front of 14,000 fans at KKWing Stadium in Kumamoto. The match was fairly even as both sides had their opportunities on goal, but timely saves by Seitz and two attempts off the woodwork allowed the U.S. to earn a share of the spoils. Two days later, Bob Bradley’s squad spent 82 minutes controlling the match on the field and on the scoreboard before surrendering back-to-back goals that led to a 2-2 draw against JFL side Rosso Kumamoto. Adam Cristman netted a pair of second half goals off deliveries from Sal Zizzo to seemingly give the U.S. command of the match, only to see goals in the 82nd and 83rd minutes erase the lead and force the team to settle for a point.
U-23 MNT Results
Date Opponent Result U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 21 Japan U-22 MNT 0-0 T --
Feb. 23 Rosso Kumamoto 2-2 T Cristman (2)
U.S. UNDER-21 WOMEN HEAD TO MANCHESTER, ENGLAND FOR THREE MATCHES: The U.S. Under-21 Women’s National Team will travel to England March 9th through the 18th for its first matches abroad since the 2006 Nordic Cup in Norway. U.S. head coach Bill Irwin will bring 18 players over the pond for three matches against top English clubs as the USA will square off against Blackburn on March 13, Everton on March 14 and Leeds on March 15, which features at least seven England internationals including several first-choice players. The U.S. team will also get the rare treat of taking in a Manchester United match at Old Trafford as the Red Devils take on Bolton Wanders on March 17. Nine players on the roster were members of the U.S. team that played at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship, where the team finished in fourth place. Irwin played 17 years of professional soccer, including eight seasons in England with Cardiff City, winning several Welsh Cups, and played in the European Cup Winner’s Cup competition, before moving to the United States in 1978 where he played seven seasons in the NASL.
U-21 WNT Schedule
March 13 Blackburn Ladies
March 14 Everton Ladies
March 15 Leeds Ladies
U-21 WNT Roster
Goalkeepers (2): Kelsey Davis (Portland), Val Henderson (UCLA);
Defenders (6): Jordan Angeli (Santa Clara), Marian Dalmy (Santa Clara), Nikki Krzysik (Virgina), Stephanie Logterman (Texas), Meghan Schnur (UConn), Brittany Taylor (UConn)
Midfielders (5): Brittany Bock (Notre Dame), Tina DiMartino (UCLA), Ali Krieger (Penn State), Amanda Poach (Santa Clara), Kylee Rossi (Tennesee)
Forwards (5): Amanda Cinalli (Notre Dame), Kerri Hanks (Notre Dame), Ella Masar (Illinois), Amy Rodriguez (USC), Michele Weissenhofer (Notre Dame).
U.S. UNDER-20 WNT DROPS TWO GAMES IN MEXICO: The U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team dropped a pair of matches to the full Mexican Women’s National Team, falling 1-0 on Feb. 20 and 4-2 on Feb. 22. The Mexicans played with almost their entire full squad – minus star forward Maribel Dominguez – as they continue preparations for the two-game playoff against Japan on March 10 (in Japan) and March 17 (in Mexico) for the final spot in the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The first match was played at Nemesio Diez Stadium in Toluca, and the young U.S. side got out-shot, 15-6, but a fine game from goalkeeper Chantal Jones, who made nine saves, kept Mexico off the board until the 78th minute when young star Charlyn Corral tallied. The 15-year-old had just entered the match in the 67th minute. In the second leg played at the training fields of Mexican club Toluca, the U.S. team struggled while giving up three first half goals. The Americans rallied with two goals in the 76th and 77th minutes as Jessica McDonald and Gina DiMartino scored, but the Mexicans put the game away with a goal in the 80th minute. Jones played in the net during the first half for the USA while Kristin Olsen played the second half. These matches were the first U-20 caps for this group of players, except for team captain Tobin Heath, who was a member of the U.S. team at the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia. The U-20s will come together next at the end of March in College Station, Texas, for several matches against college teams during their spring seasons, including the host Aggies.
U-20 WNT Results
Date Opponent Result U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 20 Mexico WNT 0-1 L --
Feb. 22 Mexico WNT 2-4 L McDonald, DiMartino
U-18 MNT TO HOLD WEEKLONG CAMP AT IMG IN BRADENTON, FLA.: The U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team will hold a weeklong camp from March 4-10 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The camp will be the third domestic camp for the U-18s this year, and the fourth camp overall. A full roster and schedule will be provided later this week on ussocccer.com. The U-18s recently competed in the 2007 Copa Chivas Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, earning a 2-3-0 record while playing all five games in a four-day span.
MATCH TIMES CHANGED FOR CONCACAF U-17 FINAL ROUND QUALIFYING: The match times for Group B of the CONCACAF U-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament were pushed back an hour by CONCACAF in attempts to deal with the possible high temperatures in Jamaica. The five-team, round-robin tournament will take place from April 28 to May 6 in Kingston, Jamaica, with all the matches being played at National Stadium. The matches will now be played at 5 and 7 p.m. ET on the five match days and fans can follow all four U.S. matches live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Along with the host, the U.S. will face Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. The U.S. has a bye during the opening day of the tournament on April 28 and will open up against Trinidad & Tobago on April 30. The U.S. will then face Canada on May 2, Jamaica on May 4 and finish against Costa Rica on May 6. The top three teams will advance to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, which will take place in South Korea from Aug. 18 to Sept. 9. The U.S. is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous FIFA U-17 World Cups (previously known as FIFA U-17 World Championship). Group A will be played from April 4-8 in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, between the hosts, El Salvador, Haiti and Mexico.
2007 CONCACAF UNDER-17 FINAL ROUND
Group B – Kingston, Jamaica; National Stadium
Costa Rica vs. Trinidad & Tobago (5 p.m. ET)
Jamaica vs. Canada (7 p.m. ET)
Canada vs. Costa Rica (5 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago (7 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Canada (5 p.m. ET)
Jamaica vs. Costa Rica (7 p.m. ET)
Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago (5 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Jamaica (7 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Costa Rica (5 p.m. ET)
Jamaica vs. Trinidad & Tobago (7 p.m. ET)
U-16 GNT AND U-17 WNT TO FACE GERMANY AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER: Some of the top young female players in the world will come together at The Home Depot Center from March 4-7 as the U.S. U-16 GNT and U-17 WNT host the German Under-17 Women’s National Team. The Germans will play two matches each against the U.S. U-16s and U-17s on alternating days while the U.S. U-16s and U-17s will kick off the five-game schedule with a match against each other on Friday, March 2 at 4 p.m. PT. The U-17 Women’s National Team will play Germany on Sunday, March 4, at 4 p.m. PT and Tuesday, March 6, at 10 a.m. PT while the U-16s will get their chance to face Germany on Monday, March 5, at 4 p.m. and Wednesday, March 7, at 10 a.m. This will be the third consecutive year that the German U-17s have visited the HDC in late February/early March to face the U.S. U-16s and U-17s. U.S. U-16 Girl’s National Team head coach Kazbek Tambi will bring 24 players to the event as he continues preparations for next year’s FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup, the first-ever FIFA women’s championship held for this age group, taking place in the fall of 2008 in New Zealand. All of the matches between the USA and Germany will be played on Field No. 1 at The HDC.
U.S. U-16/U-17 vs. Germany U-17 Game Schedule
Friday, March 2 Kickoff HDC Field
U.S. U-16 vs. U.S. U-17 4 p.m. PT Field 3
Sunday, March 4
U.S. U-17 vs. Germany U-17 4 p.m. PT Field 1
Monday, March 5
U.S. U-16 vs. Germany U-17 4 p.m. PT Field 1
Tuesday, March 6
U.S. U-17 vs. Germany U-17 10 a.m. PT Field 1
Wednesday, March 7
U.S. U-16 vs. Germany U-17 10 a.m. PT Field 1
* Detailed rosters at ussoccer.com.
U-15 BNT FINISH CAMP AT THE HOME DEPOT CENTER: The U.S. Under-15 Boys’ National Team won their final two games to finish their weeklong camp at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., with a 2-1-0 record. In their first match on Feb. 19, the U.S. fell, 1-0, to Cal South, but rebounded with back-to-back shutouts. On Feb. 23, Sebastian Lletget received a pass from Ross Tomaselli and buried his shot past the LAFC goalkeeper to give the U.S. a 1-0 victory. Two days later against Inter-America, Charles Renken assisted on the first goal by Stefan Jerome and then scored the second off a pass from Lletget to give the U-15s a 2-0 win.
U-15 BNT Schedule
Date Opponent Result U.S. Goal Scorers
Feb. 19 Cal South 0-1 L --
Feb. 21 LAFC 1-0 W Lletget
Feb. 23 Inter-America 2-0 W Jerome, Renken
– AROUND THE SOCCER REGION –
HOUSTON, D.C. UNITED LOOK TO ADVANCE IN CONCACAF CHAMPIONS' CUP THIS WEEK: D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo welcome CD Olympia and Puntarenas, respectively, this Thursday, March 1, as they host the second leg of the quarterfinals of the 2007 CONCACAF Champions’ Cup. D.C. United is sitting in the driver’s seat after a stunning 4-1 victory over Olympia in Honduras last Wednesday, while Houston will try to bounce back after allowing a last-minute injury time strike that sunk their hopes of earning a draw on the road. Both games are live on Fox Soccer Channel and FoxSports en Español, with D.C. United-Olympia kicking off at 7 p.m. ET and Houston-Puntarenas at 9 p.m. ET. The quarterfinal winners will advance to the Champions’ Cup semifinals on March 13-15 and April 3-5. The semifinal winners will play for the title on April 17-19 and 24-26, with the winner also qualifying to the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2007. The CONCACAF Champions’ Cup™ is the longest running international club competition in the region and has crowned the champion club of the Confederation since its inception in 1962. The Dynamo qualified as MLS Cup Champions, and D.C. United qualified as Supporters’ Shield (regular season) winners.
CONCACAF Champions' Cup Schedule - U.S. Teams
Date Matchup Kickoff (ET) Location TV
March 1 D.C. United (4) vs. CD Olimpia (1) 7:05 p.m. Washington, D.C. FSC/FSE
March 1 Houston Dynamo (0) - Puntarenas FC (1) 9:05 p.m. College Station, Texas FSC/FSE
Full schedule at CONCACAF.com
FIELD COMPLETE FOR 2007 CONCACAF GOLD CUP: The field is complete for the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala and Panama all securing their position in the Gold Cup as semifinalists in the qualifying tournament. Canada, Mexico and the United States qualified for the Gold Cup as past champions, and Cuba, Guadeloupe, Haiti and Trinidad & Tobago qualified via The Digicel Caribbean Cup in mid-January. The CONCACAF Gold Cup will be played across six venues in the United States from June 6-24. The semifinals and finals will be played in Chicago at Soldier Field. CONCACAF will unveil the groups and complete schedule of the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup in early March.
2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup Teams
Trinidad & Tobago
– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION –
MLS SETS QUALIFYING PAIRINGS FOR U.S. OPEN CUP: Major League Soccer has released their schedule for the first MLS play in games for the 2007 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. For the first time, six MLS teams will try to qualify for the final two spots available in the tournament. Real Salt Lake will host the Kansas City Wizards on April 18 at Rice-Eccles Stadium, and the Columbus Crew will host the Los Angeles Galaxy on April 24 at Crew Stadium. The winner of the Kansas City/Real Salt Lake game will play the Colorado Rapids, and the winner of Los Angeles/Columbus will play the New York Red Bulls. The second two play-in matches must take place prior to the qualifying deadline of May 28. The Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, D.C. United, New England Revolution, FC Dallas and Houston Dynamo have already qualified for the Open Cup based on 2006 final standings.
MISL GAMES TO BE AIRED ON VERSUS UNDER TWO-YEAR TIME BUY DEAL: Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) games will kick off on national TV next month on Versus, as the all new “Saturday Soccer Showdown.” The coverage will include two regular-season games, March 24 and 31, 4-6:30 p.m. ET, a studio playoff preview April 7, a semifinal game April 14, and the 2007 MISL Championship April 21. The two-year time buy deal allots MISL approximately a third of the commercial inventory and a Saturday evening time slot. The league was considering three networks, including ESPN, before committing to Versus, who also works with the NHL and Tour de France. According to MISL Commissioner Steve Ryan, “Versus wanted us the most and they positioned us well.” 40% of the league’s games were on TV because of local deals, but this will be the first time MISL gains national TV exposure since their deal with ESPN2 last season.
NEWEST TEAM IN MISL NAMED ORLANDO SHARKS: Sham Maharaj, president of Buena Vista Corporation, and Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Commissioner Steve Ryan announced on Wednesday (Feb. 21) the name of Central Florida’s newest professional sports team. The Orlando Sharks will be the eighth team to join the MISL, kicking off their 15-game home schedule this fall with the Inaugural Season Opening Night Gala. Rich Bradley, vice president of Buena Vista Sports & Entertainment and team president, explained how the Central Florida community was involved in the naming process, “We offered a selection of geographic references, historical nicknames, mythical creatures and native species in the polling; ultimately, the most popular name was originally a write-in that was the clear winner in the final round of voting.” After a total of 3,500 responses, the bull shark made the final cut as the new team name and logo. Bradley outlined upcoming events including the team’s first-ever draft pick during the MISL Collegiate Amateur Draft, to be held on March 8, as well as local team try-outs and community partnerships. After the current MISL season draws to a close, there will be a dispersal draft of unprotected current MISL players, helping fill the rosters of Orlando and Newark, N.J. teams. The Sharks will announce the team’s head coach, uniforms and mascot in the spring, as well as their plans for a series of local try-outs this summer throughout counties in Central Florida. Overall, the MISL teams for the 2007-08 season include the Baltimore Blast, California Cougars, Chicago Storm, Detroit Ignition, Milwaukee Wave, Orlando Sharks, Philadelphia KiXX and a yet-to-be-named New Jersey team.
ROCHESTER, PAETEC PARK TO HOST W-LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP: The Rochester Rhinos and United Soccer Leagues announced last week that the 2007 W-League Final Four Championship will be held at PAETEC Park on Friday, Aug. 3, and Sunday, Aug. 5. PAETEC Park is the home of the second-year W-League Rhinos. Last season, the Rochester Raging Rhinos hosted the 2006 USL First Division Final at PAETEC Park. In the stadium’s inaugural season, the Rhinos also hosted such high-profile events as Drum Corps Associates (DCA) 2006 World Championship, the Empire State Games opening ceremonies, a U.S. Women’s National Team match, and numerous high school soccer and football games. The W-League season kicks off on Friday, May 11 when the Charlotte Lady Eagles host the Atlanta Silverbacks.
MACCABI USA/SPORTS TO COMPETE IN MACCABI GAMES & PAN-AM MACCABI GAMES: Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel is looking for soccer players between the ages of 15-54 to participate on teams that will represent the USA in the 12th Annual European Maccabi Games in Rome, Italy, and at the 11th Annual Pan-Am Maccabi Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Maccabi USA is a volunteer organization that seeks to enrich the lives of Jewish youth in the United States, Israel and the Diaspora through athletic, cultural and educational programs. The European Maccabi Games will be held in Rome between July 4-12, 2007. A total of 16 sports are planned and more than 30 countries are expected to participate with over 2000 competing athletes. The Pan-Am Maccabi Games will be staged in Buenos Aires beginning on December 26 and conclude on January 2, 2008. More than 17 countries will compete in the event. To learn more and apply for a place on one of the teams, please visit the MUSA website at http://www.maccabiusa.com or call Ami Monson at 215-561-6900, ext 116.
HOST THE JR. OLYMPIC SKILLS COMPETITION IN YOUR COMMUNITY: U.S. Soccer and the United States Olympic Committee invite you to host the soccer portion of the Jr. Olympic Skills Competition. This is the second year of the program, and in its inaugural year in 2006, the program drew more than 1.5 million participants (of which 25 percent were soccer participants). The program is designed to provide 8 to 13-year-old boys and girls in your community with an opportunity to get involved in a soccer skills competition. For more information contact the Jr. Olympic Skills National Headquarters at email@example.com.
*** “CENTER CIRCLE” SPOTLIGHT ***
PEAK PERFORMER: Didier Drogba scored both Chelsea goals in an emotion-filled 2-1 victory against Arsenal on Sunday (Feb. 25) to give the Blues the Carling Cup title for the second time in three years. After Theo Walcott gave the Gunners the lead, Drogba buried his 27th and 28th goals of the season, netting the winner in the 84th minute. The match was marred by a ghastly injury to captain John Terry and an injury-time brawl that saw three players sent off.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Veteran goalkeeper Scott Garlick surprised Real Salt Lake this week when he suddenly announced his retirement from soccer, forcing the club to make a deal with the New York Red Bulls to re-acquire Nick Rimando. The Utah club had traded Rimando to the Red Bulls two weeks earlier, but Garlick’s retirement forced them to ask for Rimando back to provide them with a veteran goalkeeper to start the season. The trade was the third for Rimando during this off-season after playing with D.C. United last year.
MARQUEE MATCHUP: D.C. United and the Houston Dynamo will look to advance to the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions’ Cup when they host the second legs of their quarterfinal series this Thursday (March 1). D.C. United is sitting pretty after their surprising 4-1 blowout against Olympia last week, while the Dynamo will need to bounce back after falling to Puntarenas, 1-0, on an injury time goal. Both matches will be live on Fox Soccer Channel with D.C. vs. Olympia at 7 p.m. ET and Houston vs. Puntarenas at 9 p.m. ET.
QUOTABLE: “My head’s taken its fair share of stitches and a few odds and ends of other things. But I think that’s probably happened to a lot of players who are center forwards or center halves. It’s part of the job. I think if you start shying away from it, it’s going to affect the way you play. If you don’t take the hits you are showing a lack of respect to your teammates and, for a large part, the game itself.”
-- Retired U.S. MNT and current Fulham FC forward Brian McBride talking about the injuries he’s suffered and explaining why he’s always been willing to put his body on the line during his soccer career.