MIAMI, Fla. (Friday, February 7, 2003) - The emerging force of young U.S. internationals faces its toughest test to date, welcoming perennial world power Argentina to the Orange Bowl on Saturday at 11:55 a.m. ET on ESPN2, Telemundo and Radio Unica (8:55 a.m. PT). The match will be followed by a Feb. 12 trip to Jamaica, which kicks off at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on a same-day delay on Telemundo at 11:30 p.m. ET & PT. Both games can be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
While still in the embryonic stage, U.S. Manager Bruce Arena is progressively developing a group that is cohesive in defense and potent on the counterattack. Intriguing possibilities abound, beginning with the potentially explosive attacking duo of 2002 World Cup veterans Landon Donovan and Clint Mathis. At the other end, the U.S. is looking at new combinations to anchor the backline, with center backs Carlos Bocanegra and Danny Califf getting the most action.
The U.S. lines up against a talented Argentine side that is likewise in the process of retooling with an eye towards World Cup qualifying in 2004. Young and hungry, the domestic-based roster of neophytes chosen by head coach Marcelo Bielsa has already demonstrated its ability at the international level with a pair of victories against Honduras and Mexico. While the memory of the USA’s historic season in 2002 remains in the minds of the soccer world, the team must quickly regroup as two major tournaments await on the summer calendar, leaving the stars of tomorrow with precious little time to emerge as capable performers at the international level.
ESPN2 TRIVIA ON THIS MATCH: Who scored the game-winner the last time the U.S. and Argentina Men's National Teams faced off (June 13, 1999)? In the 88th minute, U.S. forward Joe-Max Moore took a pass from Earnie Stewart at the top of the penalty area and blasted it into the net for the lone goal of the match and his 19th career goal, sending a crowd of 40,119 fans at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. home satisfied. Moore, a member of the U.S. World Cup squads in 1994, 1998 & 2002, is among the U.S. Men's National Team's all-time leaders with 24 career goals in 100 international appearances.
- The match represents the third time Bruce Arena will have managed a U.S. team against Argentina, having served as head coach of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 when the USA fell 3-1 in their opening match before 83,183 fans in Birmingham, Alabama.
- Netting his 11th career goal against Canada, forward Clint Mathis has collected more points than caps for the United States. Along with his eight career assists, the 26-year old striker has amassed an impressive 30 points in 27 appearances while moving into the top ten all-time scorers in U.S. history.
- In the USA’s two matches since the World Cup, already five players (Barrett, Garcia, Martino, Rimando, Twellman) have received their first international appearance.
- In the 4-0 win against Canada, Carlos Bocanegra, Chris Klein and Steve Ralston all scored their first international goal while earning their 8th cap for the United States.
- The USA has played eight times at the Orange Bowl in Miami, compiling a 2-4-2 lifetime record. Over 49,000 fans witnessed the U.S. defeat Haiti 3-0 in the CONCACAF Gold Cup on February 12, 2000. The U.S. men last visited Miami in February of last year, falling to Colombia by a score of 1-0.
- Since Bruce Arena took the reins of the U.S. MNT in 1998, he has never lost the opening match of the new year, collecting a 3-0-2 record during that span. Incidentally, he has only lost once in the second game of the year, falling 1-0 to Colombia on Feb. 2, 2001 here at the Orange Bowl.
- The U.S. MNT will remain in Ft. Lauderdale prior to departing for Jamaica on Feb. 10.
FITNESS REPORT: MetroStars defender Eddie Pope made his first appearance in a full-sided scrimmage Tuesday, playing 45 minutes in central defense against the U.S. Under-17 national team. Pope has been participating in full training sessions for the last several days after nearly three months of rehabilitation following knee surgery. DaMarcus Beasley suffered a contusion in his right shin, but is likely to be available Saturday. Meantime, Columbus Crew defender Chad McCarty suffered a sprained ankle and returns to Columbus for treatment, and L.A. Galaxy midfielder Sasha Victorine has recovered from a right quad contusion and is available for selection.
WHO WILL BE NUMBER 600? When Kansas City Wizards defender Nick Garcia entered in the 77th minute against Canada on Jan. 18, he became the 599th player to make at least one appearance for the United States Men’s National Team since their inaugural match, a 3-2 win against Sweden on August 20, 1916. The U.S. has played 417 matches in the 87 years since, compiling a 145-178-94 lifetime record.
ALL-TIME: The United States holds a 2-4-0 lifetime record against Argentina in a series dating back to 1928. After losing the first four games of its all-time series with Argentina, the United States has now won two-in-a-row against the two-time World Cup champions. The countries last met June 13, 1999 in Washington, D.C., when a Joe-Max Moore goal lifted the U.S. to a 1-0 victory. The previous win came four years earlier, when the United States shocked Argentina 3-0 on July 14, 1995 en route to a fourth place finish at the Copa America in Uruguay. The Feb. 8 match in Miami will be the third-ever on U.S. soil, with the first matchup held in Palo Alto, Calif. in 1991.
CASH ONLY ON GAMEDAY: Advance tickets ($35 reserved, $20 adult general admission and $15 general admission and youth 18-and-under) for the USA-Argentina game are are available through Friday at all Ticketmaster outlets and other local establishments, at the Orange Bowl administrative offices, by calling Ticketmaster at 305-358-5885 (Miami-Dade), 954-523-3309 (Broward), 561-966-3309 (West Palm Beach), or on-line at ussoccer.com. On gameday, tickets at the door can be purchased with cash only (no credit cards) and will be $40 reserved and $25 general admission.
THEY SAID IT:
“We begin by evaluating the pool of players that we have, and determining if these are the kind of players that can help us be successful. If not, what are our alternatives? It’s a somewhat logical, yet somewhat un-scientific, method. It’s about getting good games and good competition, and giving these players the opportunity to show what they can do at the international level. Who knows if there is a player out there we haven’t thought of? In 1998, I wasn’t thinking DaMarcus Beasley would be starting for us in the World Cup. There could be another Pablo Mastroeni hanging out in MLS waiting to be discovered. The lesson here is: you have to keep an open mind about it.”
- U.S. head coach Bruce Arena, on his plans for 2003 and the team building process.