SAN JOSE SWITCH: Earthquakes defender Ramiro Corrales has been excused from the U.S. team due to a death in the family, and will be replaced by 'Quakes teammate Manny Lagos. The 31-year old midfielder has two caps for the full national team, last appearing for the U.S. in the 2-1 win against Korea in the Gold Cup on January 19, 2001. Lagos will join the group for the team's final training session tonight at Spartan Stadium at 7 p.m. PT. The United States hosts the first-ever meeting against Wales on Monday, May 26 in San Jose. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the Radio Unica network, as well as same-day delay on Telemundo (11:30 p.m. ET/PT). Fans can also follow live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
BACK TO SPARTAN STADIUM: The U.S. MNT has made two previous trips to the campus of San Jose State University, on either side of the World Cup in 1998. Former MNT head coach Steve Sampson's side met FYR Macedonia in a World Cup tuneup on May 16, with Thomas Dooley captaining the side to a 0-0 draw before 23,861 fans. In November of that same year, Bruce Arena era debuted against Australia, with the teams battling to a scoreless draw.
WALES ON A ROLL: Wales has been one of the sport’s biggest stories in qualifying play for the 2004 European Championship. After four games, the small country of 2.9 million people has gone 4-0-0, outscoring Finland, Italy and Azerbaijan by a combined score of 10-1. On Oct. 16, 2002, Wales shocked three-time World Cup champion Italy with a 2-1 win in Euro qualifying that put them in control of their group. The Welsh are riding a ten-match unbeaten run, the longest in its 127 years of international competition, and have risen to #50 in the FIFA World Rankings.
OUTSIDE THE LINES: D.C. United midfielder Bobby Convey appeared live from San Jose on ESPN's Outside the Lines this morning, discussing his move as young high school star into Major League Soccer as part of a discussion on child prodigy athletes. The show featured an eight-minute segment on U.S. Under-17 national team midfielder Freddy Adu.
REYNA'S RANGERS ROMP: U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna followed the most anticipated final match day in SPL history, as his former club battled for their second trophy of the Scottish campaign. Rangers and Celtic were tied on both points and goal difference heading into Sunday's season finale, with Rangers hosting Dunfermline while the "Bhoyz" faced an away match at Kilmarnock. The afternoon turned into an absolute goal bonanza, as Celtic was ahead 3-0 and in command on goal difference after 53 minutes, while their cross-town rivals held a 3-1 advantage. Rangers came roaring back, scoring another three (including two goals in three minutes) to secure their world-record 50th league championship with a final score of 6-1 at Ibrox Stadium.
GOING BACK TO CALI: The U.S. MNT has played 61 times in the state of California, by far the most appearances in any state in the nation. Playing in 13 different venues, the USA holds a lifetime record of 29-15-17. The largest victory came in 1993, when the U.S. defeated the Cayman Islands 8-1 in Mission Viejo. The largest crowds ever to witness a U.S. match turned out in support of the host nation in the 1994 World Cup, as 93,869 fans packed into the Rose Bowl in Pasadena for the USA's group matches against Colombia and Romania.
NEW TO THE BOOTH: U.S. Soccer fans will welcome a familiar face to the broadcasters' booth, as ESPN International commentator Tommy Smyth joins the broadcast team. Smyth, one of the most recognizable voices in soccer during the 2002 World Cup and the host of a weekly soccer segment on ESPN News, will provide analysis alongside play-by-play man Rob Stone.
- Bobby Convey and Landon Donovan are the only players on the roster who have appeared in all of the USA's first five matches in 2003
- On this roster, C.J. Brown has spent the longest amount of time between appearances for the MNT, last playing for the U.S. in the 1-1 draw against Ireland in the Nike U.S. Cup on June 6, 2000
- Wales will become the 79th country to face the United States in the 90-year history of the U.S. Soccer Federation