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U.S. MNT Closing in on Kickoff Against Sweden

U.S. Men's National Team
Notes from Carson, Calif.
Thursday, January 17, 2008

CLOSING IN ON KICKOFF AGAINST SWEDEN: The 2008 campaign for the U.S. Men’s National Team is just over 48 hours from getting underway, with the match against Sweden providing the test after two weeks of concentrated preparations. With less than six months before the start of World Cup qualifying, Bob Bradley’s men will take the field for the first time in more than two months hoping to start off this all-important year on the right foot against a Swedish side with equally important matches on the horizon. Kickoff against Sweden on Jan. 19 at The Home Depot Center is set for 5:30 p.m. PT, and the match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow the game live via’s MatchTracker.


  • Of the 25 players in camp, the U.S. will dress 18 players, including two goalkeepers, with a maximum of six substitutions
  • Danny Califf suffered a mild hamstring strain in training last Saturday but continues to improve and his status for the match will be determined on gameday. No other injuries have been reported
  • Matt Pickens and Eddie Johnson were given permission to depart camp early. Steve Cronin replaced Pickens, leaving the final training roster at 25 players
  • Landon Donovan is the leading capwinner on the roster, the 25-year-old having 96 international appearances and 34 goals to his credit (more on Donovan’s records later). At the other end of the spectrum, five players on the roster are looking to get their first cap with the full team: Steve Cronin, Clarence Goodson, Will Hesmer, Eddie Robinson, and Jeremiah White. All told, there are 20 players on the U.S. roster with 10 caps or less
  • The U.S. and Sweden have met only five times previously, with the Swedes holding a slight edge with a 3-2-0 record. The teams crossed paths five months ago in Göteborg, Kim Kallstrom bagging the game’s only goal. Their most recent meeting on U.S. soil came nearly 10 years ago, with the U.S. grabbing a 1-0 victory on Jan. 24, 1998, in Orlando, Fla., on the strength of a Roy Wegerle finish
  • Donovan is the only U.S. holdover from the match last August
  • This is the USA’s fifth trip to The Home Depot Center, and the venue has been a kind host indicated by the unbeaten 4-0-1 record in Carson. After the debut against Denmark in January of 2004, a Taylor Twellman hat trick led the charge in the USA’s 5-0 win against Norway on Jan. 29, 2006, marking the largest margin of victory for the U.S. against a European team and tying the largest margin of victory ever against a non-CONCACAF team (5-0 vs. China on April 4, 1992). The U.S. nabbed a trio of victories at the HDC last year, opening the year with a 3-1 win against Denmark before recording consecutive wins against Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago in the first two group matches of the 2007 Gold Cup
  • Two players on the roster got new addresses during the off season. Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Zach Wells packed his two MLS Cup rings and headed to four-time MLS champion D.C. United, while former FC Dallas defender Clarence Goodson was selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the expansion draft before choosing to head overseas and sign with IK Start in Norway. Goodson will report to his new squad on Jan. 28
  • All but four of the 25 players in camp are plying their trade in MLS. Along with Goodson, Aalborg BK captain Danny Califf leads the four players based in Scandinavia with the most MNT caps, the six-year international having appeared in the USA’s victories against Switzerland and South Africa earlier this year. Ramiro Corrales returns to the U.S. fold for the first time since 2004, while AGF Aarhus striker Jeremiah White gets his first-ever call-up to a senior national team camp
  • MLS has 12 of 14 clubs represented on the roster. Two-time MLS Cup defending champions Houston Dynamo are one of three clubs to send a trio of players, along with MLS Cup runners up New England Revolution and Toronto FC
  • The roster boasts several year-end award winners, including MLS Goalkeeper of the Year (Brad Guzan), Defender of the Year (Michael Parkhurst) and Rookie of the Year (Maurice Edu). In addition, New England Revolution forward Taylor Twellman finished third on the league goalscoring chart with 16 goals, the fourth time in his six-year career he has tallied 15 goals or more

Average Age: 24.8

Play professionally in: USA (21), Denmark (2), Norway (2)

Average Caps: 8.7

Most Caps: 96 (Landon Donovan)

By state: California (9), Missouri (3), North Carolina (2), Colorado (1), Florida (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Mississippi (1), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (1), Virginia (1), Washington, D.C. (1)

Least Caps: 0 (five players)

Oldest: 30 (Jimmy Conrad)

Youngest: 18 (Jozy Altidore)

LANDON TAKING OVER THE RECORD BOOKS: The stat book has penciled in the name Landon Donovan penciled in as the 25-year-old two-time U.S. Soccer Male Athlete of the Year is one goal away from the all-time scoring record. Already the USA’s all-time leader in assists (26), his game-tying goal in the 2007 Gold Cup final against Mexico put him level in first place for three separate records. In addition to tying Eric Wynalda for most goals all-time (34) for the national team, he has equaled the mark for most goals in a single year (9) set by Wynalda in 1996, and most points in a year (21) sharing the record with Cobi Jones. The USA’s all-time capwinner with 164 appearances, Jones recorded six goals and nine assists in 2000.

.500 IN THE 500TH?: With the match against Sweden marking the 500th international for the U.S. Men's National Team, a quick look at history reveals two very interesting facts:

1) The U.S. holds a lifetime record of 193-194-112, which means a win on Saturday would put the USA at .500 in the 500th international match

2) The USA's first-ever international match? A 3-2 road victory against Sweden on Aug. 20, 1916, in Stockholm

For the past two weeks, the MNT blog has been soliciting your input on the top moments in U.S. Soccer history. We’re on to the Top Three games of all-time, so enter your thoughts here. Meantime, went back through the history books to chronicle some of the big moments in the first 92 years of U.S. national team action.

ALL_ACCESS – SIMPLY SOCCER: The U.S. Soccer video department has focused its camera lens on the field for the last two weeks, determined to show you footage that you can’t find anywhere else. The latest All_Access feature breaks down an exercise that seems simple enough, yet has more thought to it than you might expect – playing 11 v. 11. U.S. head coach Bob Bradley explains what he looks for, while several players talk about what it means to get the chance to roll the ball out and play. Scroll through the Sights and Sounds section to watch A View From the Sidelines and Anatomy of a Training Session to see more of the MNT at work in training.

COMPARING CYCLES: Four years ago, the U.S. held a January camp with an eye towards qualifying for the 2006 World Cup. Now in 2008, the team stands at the same point as when Bruce Arena’s squad that faced Denmark in January of 2004. Beginning the Cycle examines the 2004 team that convened in camp, and looks at where they would eventually fit in to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The article also compares the squad then to the team that Bob Bradley has assembled for 2008’s January Camp and highlights the fact that the road to 2010 is already well underway. For a primer, take a look at the breakdown by the numbers:

  2004 2008
No. of Players 27 25
Average Age 26.7 24.8
Average Caps 12.4 8.7
Fewest Caps 0 (Nine players) 9 (Five players)
Most Caps 72 (Brian McBride) 96 (Landon Donovan)
Most Goals 23 (Brian McBride) 34 (Landon Donovan)
From MLS 24 21
World Cup Exp. 4 (3 w/2 World Cups) 2 (1 w/2 World Cups)

PODCAST FROM PRACTICE: Following training Tuesday, the media continued to churn out stories in advance of Saturday’s match. To get the team’s insight, they spoke with Landon Donovan, Jimmy Conrad and Bob Bradley to get their perspective on what the game against Sweden means and where it fits into the big picture of getting ready for World Cup qualifying. In case you missed it, also sat down with 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Brad Guzan to hear his thoughts on the progress of his national team career.

2007 IN BRIEF: The past year served as a testing ground for players and coaches alike. It began with a changing of the guard as Bob Bradley took the helm of the United States team, and immediately set about to fill the void in leadership left with the departure of long time veterans Claudio Reyna, Brian McBride and Eddie Pope. Knowing the schedule provided the opportunity to build the nucleus of the team for qualifying, the coaching staff gave more than 60 different players a sniff, many of them managing to seize the moment. Two wins against regional rivals Mexico – including in the Gold Cup final – reiterated the USA’s place at the top in CONCACAF, while road victories in Switzerland and South Africa indicated an increasing measure of maturity. And who could forget that magnificent match against Brazil, where the No. 1 team in the world was pushed to their limits in Chicago. In the end, it wasn’t the 12-5-1 record, or the back-to-back Gold Cup titles, or even advancing for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa that left the U.S. Soccer world feeling gratified. It’s the sense that whatever was lost in 2006 – call it chemistry, optimism, resolve, or some combination—is making its way back.

WORLD CUP QUALIFYING KICKS OFF IN JUNE: It’s hard to remember that less than 20 years ago the words “World Cup” and “U.S. National Team” didn’t go hand in hand. Now that the U.S. has competed in five consecutive World Cup finals, the world seems to assume that the team reaching South Africa is all but a given. There’s certainly one group of men that don’t take that approach, and they will be the ones beginning the competition of 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign come June. For the United States, the process could include as many as 20 games spanning 18 months. It all starts with a second round pairing with either Barbados or Dominica in the middle of June. The U.S. has never faced Dominica and only played Barbados twice in the team’s 92-year history. Should the U.S. advance, they face a potentially intriguing semifinal round grouping with Cuba, Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago the likely opponents. There are six games scheduled between August and November, including two ‘double dates’ in September and October, where matches are played just four days apart. This makes the planning of venues, travel and logistics all the more critical. Playing a six-game round robin format, the top two finishers from the group will advance to the final round hexagonal that will be played in 2009.

SWEDEN GEARING UP FOR 2008 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS: Having finished in second place of Group F qualifying, Sweden enters 2008 in full preparation mode for the 2008 European Championship that will be co-hosted by Switzerland and Austria this coming June. They have been drawn into a difficult Group D along with defending champions Greece, Spain, and Russia. Sweden head coach Lars Lagerbäck, who has been at the helm of the side since 2000 and will remain at least through the 2010 World Cup, has called upon a relatively untested domestic-based side for this two-match tour, looking to fill out his roster for this summer’s main event. “We have a squad of 16 or so players that are more or less certain. That means that there are about six places that are still for grabs," he said. "But then again anything can happen with regards to injuries and so on, so anyone who does well here will increase their chances of getting selected." Sweden defeated Costa Rica, 1-0, in their first match Jan. 13 at the Estadio Ricardo Saprissa in San Jose. Sweden has competed in 11 World Cup finals, highlighted by a second-place finish in the 1958 tournament and a third-place finish in USA ’94. In 2006, they advanced out of Group B along with England before falling in the Round of 16 to hosts Germany.

UP NEXT – MEXICO: Remember the “Revancha en la Cancha” in Houston in 2003? The Mexico team sought to avenge a 2-0 loss to the U.S. in the Round of 16 at the 2002 FIFA World Cup that sent Mexico packing. U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard saw to it that the U.S. didn’t surrender any goals with his five saves and DaMarcus Beasley earned Man of the Match honors as the teams played to a 0-0 tie. The series resumes on Feb. 6 with a return to Reliant Stadium, where more than 40,000 fans have already bought tickets to see if El Tri can put an end to the USA’s current nine-game unbeaten streak at home against Mexico, the longest such streak in the history of the rivalry. Kickoff for is set for 8 p.m. CT, and the match will be shown live on ESPN2 and Univision at 8 p.m. CT, and fans can follow online via’s MatchTracker.

THE BREEDING GROUND OF SUCCESS: The roster lays claim to several players with success at the youth national team level. Kyle Beckerman, an inaugural member of the U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., played in all six games of the USA’s fourth-place finish at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand and competed in qualifying for the 2004 Olympics. Justin Mapp, another Residency graduate and veteran of two World Youth Championships, started and played in all five matches with the U.S. U-20’s at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates, scoring the game-winning goal against Ivory Coast to help the squad advance to the quarterfinals of the tournament. Current MLS Cup champion Ricardo Clark has been a member of the U-20 and U-23 national teams, appearing on the USA’s 2003 World Youth Championship roster that reached the quarterfinals in UAE. Sacha Kljestan, who is currently serving as captain of the U-23 Men’s National Team, was a member of the U-20 side that advanced to the knockout phase of the 2005 World Youth Championship in Holland after defeating Argentina in their opening game. Jozy Altidore was the fourth-leading scorer at the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada with four goals, including both U.S. goals in a 2-1 victory against Brazil in group play, and the lone goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to Austria in the quarterfinals.


On the field for the USA

November 17, 2007 – Ellis Park - Johannesburg, South Africa – Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup
USA               1   Steve Cherundolo 27’
South Africa  0

USA: 1-Tim Howard (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo (21-Jonathan Spector, 46), 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.) (2-Dan Califf, 46), 14-Heath Pearce; 5-Benny Feilhaber (13-Jonathan Bornstein, 86), 13-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley,7-DaMarcus Beasley; 25-Freddy Adu (26-Sacha Kljestan, 73) , 8-Clint Dempsey (17-Jozy Altidore, 65)

RSA: 1-Rowen Fernandez; 2-Vuyo Mere, 4-Aaron Mokeona (capt.), 5-Nasief Morris, 3-Ricardo Katza (8-Siphiwe Tshabalala, 71); 10-Steven Pienaar, 12-Teko Modise, 6-MacBeth Sibaya, 18-Delron Buckley; 15-Subusiso Zuma, 17-Benni McCarthy

On the field for Sweden

January 13, 2008 – Estadio Ricardo Saprissa – San José, Costa Rica– International Friendly
Sweden        1     Samuel Hozmen 48’
Costa Rica   0

SWE: John Wiland, Frederick Stoor, Mattias Bjärsmyr, Suleyman Sleyman (Peter Larsson, 71), Behrang Safari (Oskar Ronnenberg, 46), Louay Chanko (Daniel Andersson, 67), Stefan Ishizaki (Niclas Alexandersson, 67), Anders Svensson, Samuel Hozmen, Rade Puica (Johan Orem, 67), Dasen Djric

CRC: Ricardo González, Víctor Cordero, Jervis Drummond, Gabriel Badilla, Roy Myrie (Marvin Angulo, 70), Junior Díaz, José Luis López, Wálter Centeno, Alonso Solís (Allan Alemán, 80), Rónald Gómez (Alejandro Alpízar, 55), Paulo César Wanchope (Víctor Núñez, 32)

Vs. Sweden

August 22, 2007 –Ullevi Stadium – Göteborg, Sweden – International Friendly
USA          0
Sweden   1     Kim Källström 56’

USA: 1-Tim Howard; 6-Steve Cherundolo, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.) (12-Jay Demerit, 76), 13-Jonathan Bornstein (17-Jonathan Spector, 64); 5-Benny Feilhaber, 4-Michael Bradley, 25-Pablo Mastroeni (15-Bobby Convey, 46), 7-DaMarcus Beasley (21-Sal Zizzo, 76); 10-Landon Donovan (20-Kamani Hill, 64), 8-Clint Dempsey (9-Charlie Davies, 85)

SWE: 1-Rami Shaaban; 2-Mikael Nilsson (13-Matías Concha, 46), 3-Olof Mellberg, 4-Petter Hansson (14-Daniel Majstorovic, 46), 5-Erik Edman; 6-Daniel Andersson (Capt.); 9-Kennedy Bakircioglü, 8-Kim Källström, 7-Christian Wilhelmsson (15-Niclas Alexandersson, 46); 10-Zlatan Ibrahimovic (19-Markus Rosenberg, 66), 11-Johan Elmander (16-Dusan Djuric, 76)