CHICAGO (May 25, 2007) – The United States Men’s National Team will play a pair of friendlies in Europe in October, traveling to face Catalonia and Switzerland for the second and third matches for the team in Europe in 2007.
The United States will first meet Catalonia on Sunday, Oct. 14, at the famed Nou Camp in Barcelona (time TBD), marking the debut match between the teams. Three days later, the U.S. will take on 2008 European Championship co-hosts Switzerland for the first game between the two sides in nearly 13 years, and the first since the 1-1 draw in the 1994 FIFA World Cup hosted by the United States. Kickoff for the Oct. 17 match is set for 8:30 p.m. local time (2:30 p.m. ET), with the venue still to be determined. Both games will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision, and fans can follow both matches live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
"We are always seeking opportunities to challenge our group by playing in different environments and against quality opposition," said U.S. head coach Bob Bradley, who is 3-0-1 since taking the reigns in December. "With the matches falling on an international fixture date and a full schedule of European qualifiers on those days, we are fortunate to get the chance to play two high-caliber opponents. It should be a great challenge and a fantastic experience for our team.”
Catalonia is one of 17 autonomous communities within the Kingdom of Spain. Catalonia has a population of more than 7 million, with Barcelona serving as the capital. It is bordered by France on the north and stretches along the east coast of Spain to the Mediterranean Sea. The Catalans have played nearly 200 international matches since 1904, taking on some of the top teams in the world. They have hosted Brazil twice in the last five years, including an important tune-up match in the month leading up to Brazil’s championship run in the 2002 World Cup, and have also faced teams like Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Paraguay in this decade. Beginning in 1997, Catalonia established a tradition of playing a match every year at Christmas time, and promptly went on a five-match unbeaten run that included victories against Nigeria, Yugoslavia, Lithuania and Chile.
Able to draw on players from their region that are also eligible to play for Spain, the Catalonians have fielded several current or former members of the Spanish national team including Barcelona captain Carles Puyol, 2006 World Cup midfielders Xavi and Andres Iniesta, Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina and midfielder Luis Garcia, and legendary Real Madrid striker Di Stefano. Overall, 38 players from Catalonia have represented Spain at a World Cup finals tournament.
In their third match in Europe in 2007 – the U.S. faces Sweden on Aug. 22 in Goteborg - the United States will be searching for their first-ever victory against Switzerland, currently holding a lifetime record of 0-3-3. This is the USA’s third visit to the country, the most recent trip a 2-1 loss on June 2, 1990 in St. Gallen. The most memorable meeting took place in the teams’ opening match of USA ’94 on June 18 in Detroit, when Eric Wynalda’s free-kick goal just before halftime secured a crucial point that would eventually help the U.S. advance to the knockout phase before being eliminated by Brazil.
Switzerland, currently ranked No. 21 in the world, finished in first place in Group G of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, ahead of eventual runners up France. Falling to Ukraine in the Round of 16 in penalties after a 0-0 draw in regulation time, the Swiss became the first team in World Cup history to be eliminated from the tournament without surrendering a single goal.
Switzerland and Austria are co-hosting the 2008 European Championships that will take place from
June 7-29 in eight venues across the two countries. The Swiss are scheduled to play a friendly against Argentina – the USA’s first opponent in Copa America this summer – on June 2 in Basel.
The U.S. is gearing up for a busy summer, beginning with a tune-up match against China on June 2 at Spartan Stadium in San Jose (tickets). Five days later, the three-time champions will try to defend their title against 11 other teams at the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup, scheduled from June 6-24 in several cities across the United States. The region’s signature event will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and the Univision networks. Just a few days later, the U.S. will participate in the 2007 Copa America, the regional championship of South America. The 12-team tournament will run from June 26 to July 15 in nine cities across Venezuela. For the United States, the appearance will mark their third entrance into CONMEBOL’s signature event, and the first since a third place finish in 1995.