ONE TO GO: The U.S. Men's National Team conducts their final training session this afternoon at Columbus Crew Stadium, just over 24 hours in advance of their World Cup qualifying showdown against Mexico. Kickoff for MatchDay 7 of final round qualifying is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN Classic (7:25 p.m.) and Telemundo. As always, fans can also follow along on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. starting lineup against Mexico will be posted at ussoccer.com approximately one hour before kickoff.
QUALIFYING SCENARIOS: There has been much discussion and much reported, but here are the facts on the how's and when's the U.S. Men's National Team can qualify this Saturday for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany.
1. WIN: The U.S. advances outright with a win.
2. TIE: Should the U.S. tie, they will need Trinidad & Tobago to either tie or defeat Guatemala at home AND will need Panama to win or tie at home to Costa Rica
3. LOSE: Should the U.S. lose, they will need the TRI-GUA game to end in a draw AND will need Panama to beat Costa Rica
Additionally, it should be noted that neither the USA or Mexico can clinch a spot in the World Cup based solely on the result of the TRI-GUA match which is set to kick off three hours before USA-Mexico.
INJURIES/CARDS: No injuries have been reported from the U.S. camp. Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Eddie Lewis and Claudio Reyna are all carrying yellow cards. Per CONCACAF rules, yellow cards have been accumulating for the U.S. since the second round of qualifying began against Grenada in June of 2004. A second caution will result in an automatic one-game suspension. Mexico has an equal number of players on guard: Duilio Davino, Gerardo Galindo, Antonio Naelson and Gonzalo Pineda.
ONALFO BREAKS DOWN MEXICO: U.S. assistant coach Curt Onalfo has tracked a Mexican side that had an excellent summer in international competition. Ricardo LaVolpe has led El Tri to the top of the table in final round qualifying, employing a typically attack-minded approach. From the finishing of Jared Borgetti to the backstopping of goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez, the Mexicans are fluid, organized and aggressive. Find out the strengths of the Mexican side in this exclusive podcast on ussoccer.com.
PRE-MATCH VIDEOS: With a undefeated 3-0-3 record at Columbus Crew Stadium, the U.S. Men will be heading into their match against Mexico beaming with confidence. In today's all_access video, U.S. manager Bruce Arena and players talk about the advantage of playing in Columbus and what it would mean to them to qualify for the World Cup on the turf at Crew Stadium. Also, you’ve got to check out the compilation of U.S. goals vs. Mexico over the past years put to music, a sure way to get you pumped up before Saturday night.
CORNER PICKS RETURNS: What's better than watching the intense rivalry of a U.S.-Mexico game? Watching it on a Philips FlatTV! You could be doing just that the next time the two countries face off against each other as long as your prognastication skills are of the highest level. Corner Picks, the popular interactive prediction game, is back at ussoccer.com for MatchDay 7, giving you another chance to earn points toward great prizes from U.S. Soccer and Philips. Don't remember how to play? No worries, just click here and follow the directions, and soon enough you'll have a Philips FlatTV remote in your hand!
THE TALK BEFORE THE STORM: With the U.S.-Mexico qualifier at Columbus Crew Stadium almost 24 hours away, players continue to talk to the media about the upcoming match. Read the most recent quotes from Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan, Chris Armas, Eddie Lewis and Pablo Maestroeni, or check out yesterday's quotes from players on both squads.
MOMENT OF SILENCE: Prior to kickoff of Saturday's match, both the United States and Mexico will honor the victims and families of those affected by the tragedy along the Gulf Coast earlier this week with a moment of silence. The U.S. MNT will also wear black armbands and the Red Cross will be on-site conducting a collection drive to benefit those in need. In addition, members of the U.S. and Mexican National Teams are contributing autographed game-worn jerseys that will be auctioned to raise funds for the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
REYNA TOPS IN EPL: U.S. captain Claudio Reyna is currently rated the English Premier League’s top player according to the Actim Index, the official rating system of the English Premier League that was introduced last year. Actim’s ratings are based on complex mathematical formulae to determine the value of each player’s contribution, match by match. Reyna’s Actim rating is 1.07 ahead of Frank Lampard (Chelsea) and Darren Bent (Charlton Athletic) who are both at 1.05 and are the only other players above a 1.0 rating.
BY THE NUMBERS IN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING:
1 - losses at home in qualifying under Bruce Arena
2 - players on this roster without an appearance in World Cup qualifying (Conrad, Cunningham)
7 - goals for Landon Donovan in 2006 World Cup qualifying, the team leader
8- shutouts for the U.S. in 14 games of 2006 qualifying
10 - goals for Brian McBride in World Cup qualifying history, the all-time leader
13 - victories at home in qualifying under Bruce Arena. His home record is 13-1-2
30 - career World Cup qualifying appearances for Kasey Keller, tied for the all time U.S. record with Cobi Jones, Eddie Pope and Earnie Stewart
38 - players with at least one appearance in 2006 qualifying
NO PLACE LIKE HOME: The U.S. has worked hard to establish a dominating presence on their turf, and they've got the numbers to back it up. The U.S. MNT has not ...
- suffered a shutout loss at home in 31 overall matches (2/8/03 v. Argentina, 0-1 L)
- lost at home v. CONCACAF opponent in 31 matches (9/1/01 v. Honduras, 2-3 L)
- been shutout at home in World Cup qualifying in 12 qualifiers (10/11/00 v. Costa Rica, 0-0 T)
- suffered a shutout loss at home in World Cup qualifying in 29 qualifiers (5/31/85 v. Costa Rica, 0-1 L)
- suffered a shutout loss in 28 overall matches (2/18/04 @ Holland, 0-1 L)
- lost by more than one goal in 34 matches (5/19/02 v. Holland, 0-2 L)
MAKING THEIR CASE: Much has been made of the announcement that the U.S. Men's National Team has jumped to their highest-ever position in the FIFA World Rankings. Coming on the heels of a two-month stretch in which the U.S. has won three World Cup qualifiers in convincing fashion and captured the 2005 Gold Cup, the team is now positioned sixth in the world. While the rankings have certainly become a hot topic around the water cooler, since their top-eight finish in the 2002 World Cup, the U.S. has demonstrated that their position is well deserved. Consider:
- The U.S. is 29-7-10 since the 2002 World Cup (.744 winning percentage). Those seven losses have all beanked in the top 7 in the FIFA Rankings (the rankings published in the month the game was played):
Feb 13, 2003: vs. Argentina (4)
June 19, 2003: n. Turkey (7) [Confederations Cup]
June 21, 2003: n. Brazil (1) [Confederations Cup]
July 23, 2003: vs. Brazil (1) [Gold Cup]
Feb 18, 2004: at Holland (4)
March 27, 2005: at Mexico (6) [World Cup qualifier]
May 28, 2005: vs. England (6)
- The last time the U.S. lost to a team with a ranking outside the top 10 was June 21, 2002, n. Germany (11).
- The last time the U.S. lost a match to a team with a worse ranking was June 14, 2002, n. Poland (38)
- The U.S. called 26 players into the Columbus camp that began Aug. 28
- Five players have been returned to their MLS clubs for this weekend’s action: Chad Marshall (Columbus), Clint Dempsey (New England), Justin Mapp (Chicago), Matt Reis (New England), Greg Vanney (FC Dallas)
- Nine players from the 2002 World Cup roster will be in uniform tonight, including seven players who appeared in the 2-0 win against Mexico in the Round of 16. The WC veterans: DaMarcus Beasley, Gregg Berhalter, Landon Donovan (1), Frankie Hejduk, Kasey Keller, Eddie Lewis, Pablo Mastroeni, Brian McBride (1), Claudio Reyna (capt.)
- Twelve players appeared in the team’s March 27 match in Mexico City: DaMarcus Beasley, Gregg Berhalter, Carlos Bocanegra, Landon Donovan, Eddie Johnson, Kasey Keller, Eddie Lewis (1), Pablo Mastroeni, Brian McBride Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Ralston, Claudio Reyna (Capt.)
- The United States has not lost at home to Mexico in a World Cup qualifier since 1972
- Since 2000, the U.S. has collected a 5-0-1 home record against Mexico, netting nine goals while conceding zero
- Five players on the U.S. roster have recorded goals against Mexico: Landon Donovan (2), Frankie Hejduk (2), Eddie Lewis (1), Brian McBride (2), Claudio Reyna (1)
- U.S. captain Claudio Reyna is the leading capwinner on the squad with 107 international appearances
- The only player to appear in all 14 of the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup, Donovan has recorded a goal or an assist in 12 of 14 matches. He has seven goals and eight assists for 22 points
- Donovan leads the team in scoring with 18 points (six goals, six assists) in 2005. With 21 career assists, he is one behind Cobi Jones on the all-time U.S. list
- With his game-winning goal against Trinidad on Aug. 17, Brian McBride became the USA's all-time leader in World Cup qualifying goals (10), and second overall (29) behind Eric Wynalda. He’ll be making his 12th career appearance against Mexico this weekend in front of his former home fans in Columbus
- At the other end of the park, Kasey Keller is currently riding a 417-minute shutout streak in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying action. With four straight shutouts in qualifying, the streak dates back to the USA’s 2-1 loss in Mexico on March 27. Keller has 18 career World Cup qualifying shutouts to his credit, a team record
- The U.S. Men’s National Team has only allowed six goals in the 12 qualifying games they’ve played during World Cup semifinal and final round qualifying, and has not allowed a goal in four straight matches
- Steve Ralston is having a banner year with the MNT, his 12 appearances by far a personal best. He's tied for second on the team along with Kasey Keller, and has registered his first-ever World Cup qualifying points, tallying a goal (5/30 v. Guatemala) and an assist
Jeff Cunningham and Taylor Twellman are tied for No. 2 on the MLS goalscoring charts with the Colorado Rapids forward and Revs striker each tallying 11 goals
- U.S. Assistant Curt Onalfo played two seasons for Tampico in the Mexican Second Division. Fluent in Spanish, his wife is from Tampico and they maintain a house there
- Outside of California and Mexico, the U.S. has an 8-2-4 record vs. the Tricolores
LAST TIME ...
On the field for the USA
August 17, 2005 – Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Conn. –2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
USA 1 Brian McBride 2’
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 4-Chris Albright, 22-Oguchi Onyewu, 3-Gregg Berhalter, 7-Eddie Lewis; 19-Steve Ralston (9-Santino Quaranta, 72), 10-Claudio Reyna (capt.), 5-John O’Brien (14-Chris Armas, 46), 15-Bobby Convey; 21-Landon Donovan, 20-Brian McBride (13-Taylor Twellman, 83)
TRI: 21-Kelvin Jack; 3-Avery John, 4-Marvin Andrews, 2-Atiba Charles (8-Scott Sealy, 46+), 6-Dennis Lawrence; 9-Aurtis Whitley, 16-Silvio Spann, 7-Christopher Birchall, 20-Collin Samuel (5-Brent Sancho, 46+); 19-Dwight Yorke (capt.), 14-Stern John (15-Kenwyne Jones, 55)
On the field for Mexico
August 17, 2005 – Estadio Azteca, Mexico D.F., Mexico – 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Mexico 2 Jared Borguetti 63’, Francisco Fonseca 85’
Costa Rica 0
MEX: Oswaldo Sánchez, Ricardo Osorio, Carlos Salcido, Rafael Márquez (Gonzalo Pineda, 60), Francisco Rodríguez, Aarón Galindo, Pavel Pardo, Gerardo Torrado (Ramón Morales, 46), Antonio Naelson 'Sinha' (Omar Bravo, 63), Jared Borguetti, Francisco Fonseca.
CRC: José Francisco Porras, Gilberto Martínez, Michael Umaña, Jervis Drummond, Leonardo González, Víctor Cordero (Jafet Soto, 68), Cristian Badilla (Óscar Rojas, 75), Danny Fonseca, Wálter Centeno, Ronald Gómez, Paulo César Wanchope.
March 27, 2005 – Estadio Azteca, Mexico D.F., Mexico – 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier
Mexico 2 Jared Borguetti 30’, Antonio Naelson 33’
USA 1 Eddie Lewis 59’
MEX: 1-Oswaldo Sanchez; 18-Salvador Carmona, 4-Rafael Marquez (Capt.), 5-Ricardo Osorio, 6-Carlos Salcido; 19-Jaime Lozano (23-Luis Perez, 68), 8-Pavel Pardo, 7-Antonio Naelson; 17-Jose Francisco Fonseca, 10-Cuahutemoc Blanco (11-Ramon Morales, 68), 9-Jared Borguetti (16-Alberto Medina, 65).
USA: 18-Kasey Keller; 4-Carlos Bocanegra (13-Pat Noonan, 75), 3-Gregg Berhalter, 22-Oguchi Onyewo, 6-Steve Cherundolo (20-Brian McBride, 83); 25 Pablo Mastroeni (14-Steve Ralston, 70), 10-Claudio Reyna (Capt.), 7-Eddie Lewis, 17-DaMarcus Beasley, 21-Landon Donovan; 9-Eddie Johnson.
ussoccer.com is the official site of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.