CHICAGO (Wednesday, March 26, 2003) — The U.S. Men’s National Team will face Wales on Memorial Day, May 26, at Spartan Stadium in San Jose in a historic first-ever meeting between the two countries. Kickoff for the match is set for 7 p.m. PT and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and the Radio Unica network. Fans can also follow live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The game will serve as continued preparation for the U.S. before it plays in the FIFA Confederations Cup in France in June.
Wales has been one of the sport’s biggest stories in qualifying play for the 2004 European Championship. After three games, the small country of 2.9 million people has gone 3-0, outscoring Finland, Italy and Azerbaijan by a combined score of 6-1. 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. On the field, the Welsh are led by legendary Manchester United midfielder Ryan Giggs, who has amassed 39 caps and 7 international goals for Wales.
In their current run, the Welsh have gone unbeaten in their last nine games, compiling a 5-0-4 record dating back to a 3-2 defeat to Norway on Sept. 5, 2001. In addition to their perfect qualifying record, their unbeaten streak also includes a 1-1 draw with Argentina on Feb. 13, 2002, and a 1-0 victory over Germany on May 14, 2002, just prior to the 2002 World Cup. Before facing the U.S., Wales will put their undefeated start in Euro qualifying on the line with a March 29 match against Azerbaijan and an April 2 game against Serbia and Montenegro.
"The match against Wales represents an important opportunity to help finalize our team prior to the Confederations Cup," said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. "Wales are traditionally a strong side with some great individual talent, and will provide a great challenge as we prepare for the difficult matches ahead."
The U.S.-Wales contest will mark just the third-ever match for the U.S. Men in San Jose, where the team will be looking for their first goal at the 26,000-seat Spartan Stadium. In their two previous matches, the U.S. has played to two 0-0 draws, one against FYR Macedonia just prior to the 1998 World Cup and one against Australia on Nov. 16, 1998, in Arena’s head-coaching debut with the MNT.
Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $25 to $70 go on sale starting Monday, April 7, at 10 a.m. PT at all Ticketmaster outlets (including Tower Records and Rite-Aid), by phone (San Jose 408-998-8497; San Francisco 415-421-8497; Oakland 510-625-8497), and on-line at www.ussoccer.com.
After the most successful year in U.S. Soccer history in 2002, the U.S. MNT has opened 2003 with a 2-1-0 record, collecting shutout victories against Canada and Jamaica. In June the U.S. will square off against Brazil, Cameroon and Turkey in the FIFA Confederations Cup from June 18-29 in France, and the USA will defend its regional championship in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup to be held from July 12-23 in Boston, Miami and Mexico City.
In addition to a game this Saturday against Venezuela in Seattle (1 p.m. PT, live on ESPN2), the U.S. is also slated to face Mexico on May 8 at Reliant Field in Houston, and will host Paraguay in a preparation match for the Gold Cup on July 6 at Columbus Crew Stadium.