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U.S. MNT Set for South Africa on Saturday in Johannesburg


READY FOR GAME DAY: The U.S. Men’s National team is less than 24 hours away from completing its 2007 schedule when they take on 2010 FIFA World Cup hosts South Africa in the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup. All 17 players are fit and available for selection for the showdown at Ellis Park, which kicks off at 4 p.m. local time (9 a.m. ET) and will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel and Galavision. Fans can also follow along live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The team’s final training session of the week got interrupted by an impressive hail storm, but the weather is expected to clear up before kickoff.

U.S. SOCCER VIEWING PARTIES: Looking for a place to watch the game? Well, three of the best soccer bars in the United States are hosting U.S. Soccer Viewing Parties this Saturday, Nov. 17 when the U.S. Men’s National Team takes on South Africa in Johannesburg, and we want to see you there! Ginger’s Ale House in Chicago, Nevada Smith’s in New York and Summers Bar & Grill in Arlington, Va., will each host a viewing party as fans are invited to join in the fun. Each bar has been provided an allotment of U.S. Soccer merchandise for a contest giveaway during the match, including t-shirts, hats and MNT Yearbooks. For a closer look at these establishments, check out U.S. Soccer’s Viewing Parties blog site where you can find their locations, directions on how to get there, a video segment and information on what they have to offer while you sit back and relax with other U.S. fans. You can also leave comments about each bar and let us know why you’ll be heading there to catch the U.S. Men take on South Africa. All three bars have been consistently nominated as a “Best Soccer Bar” candidate in U.S. Soccer’s Best of Series since its inaugural contest in 2002. Summers won the award in 2002, while Ginger’s has gone on an amazing run by taking home the honors for the last four years.

QUICK HITS
• Seventeen players will dress for the United States, with a maximum of six substitutions
• The USA is 11-5-1 heading into their 18th match in 2007, scoring 31 goals while surrendering 19. The team has posted six shutouts, three by Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who now has 10 clean sheets in 25 international appearances
• The match will be played at Ellis Park in Johannesburg, which will host a quarterfinal match in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected on Saturday afternoon. The elevation in Johannesburg is 5,751 feet above sea level, which puts it 471 feet above the "Mile High" city of Denver
• Glasgow Rangers midfielder DaMarcus Beasley is the leading capwinner on the roster with 71 international appearances. The 25-year-old has three goals in 2007, and his nine total points are second-highest for the U.S. this year. All three of Beasley's goals came during the USA's Gold Cup championship run. He now has 15 career goals with the full team
• There are five players heading to South Africa with five caps or less, including two 2007 MLS season award winners. Brad Guzan was voted Goalkeeper of the Year in only his second season with Chivas USA, while Maurice Edu – who earned his first cap in the win against Switzerland – has been honored as the Rookie of the Year. Fellow U-20 World Cup teammates Freddy Adu and Josmer Altidore will be reunited for the first time since Canada this summer, with the New York Red Bulls striker seeking his first-ever cap with the full team. Sacha Kljestan has three appearances for the full team, all in 2007
• Carlos Bocanegra earned his 50th appearance for the United States in the Aug. 22 match against Sweden. The Fulham-based defender has seven career goals at the international level, including the game-winner in the 2-1 victory against Panama in the 2007 Gold Cup quarterfinal and two goals against Brazil. Bocanegra is now serving as captain for both club and country, having worn the captain’s armband seven times for the USA in 2007
• Twelve of the 17 players on the roster ply their trade in seven different countries in Europe (Belgium, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Portugal and Scotland).
• A total of six players on the current roster are age-eligible for the 2008 Olympic Games : Freddy Adu, Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber and Jonathan Spector
• SC Heerenveen midfielder Michael Bradley, 20, is the only player to have appeared in both the 2007 Gold Cup for the full team and then the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada. Bradley tallied the game-winner in the USA’s 1-0 victory against Switzerland on Oct. 17 in Basel
• The United States will make a rare trip to Africa, playing on the continent for just the third time in their history. Their last visit came nine years to the day before the November match, a 2-1 loss to Morocco on Nov. 17, 1998 in Marrakech. The only other trip to Africa was also against Morocco in 1992, when the U.S. suffered a 3-1 loss in Casablanca. As the 2007 Gold Cup Champions, the U.S. will represent CONCACAF in the 2009 Confederations Cup to be held in South Africa one year prior the World Cup
• When the sides last met on June 3, 2000 in Washington, D.C., the 4-0 win for the United States represented the largest margin of victory. The margin of defeat also ties the biggest loss for South Africa, who have lost by four goals four times in their history
• Though the U.S. team has nobody in the squad from the last meeting between the two teams, the South African team features two players who saw time during the game in 2000: Delron Buckley and Benni McCarthy
• The referee for the USA-RSA game in 2000 was Antonio Marrufo, the father of current USSF referee Jair Marrufo


U.S. ROSTER BREAKDOWN
Average Age: 23
Play professionally in: England (5), MLS (5), Germany (2), Portugal (1), Scotland (1), Holland (1), Denmark (1), Belgium (1)
Average Caps: 19.5 (Avg. Caps without highest and lowest: 17)
Most Caps: 71 (DaMarcus Beasley)
Least Caps: 0 (Josmer Altidore)
Oldest: 28 (Steve Cherundolo)
Youngest: 18 (Josmer Altidore)
By state: California (8), Maryland (2), New Jersey (2), Illinois (2), Florida (1), Indiana (1), Texas (1)

ROSTER CHANGES: The U.S. roster has undergone some slight reconstruction since the initial announcement, swapping two for two as Eddie Lewis and Landon Donovan did not travel to South Africa while Heath Pearce and Jonathan Spector were summoned to South Africa. As a result, the U.S. will dress 17 players on Saturday.

United States roster vs. South Africa
GOALKEEPERS (2) – Brad Guzan (Chivas USA), Tim Howard (Everton FC)
DEFENDERS (7) –Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC), Jonathan Bornstein (Chivas USA), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Dan Califf (Aalborg BK), Oguchi Onyewu (Standard de Liege), Heath Pearce (Hansa Rostock), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United)
MIDFIELDERS (6) – Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), DaMarcus Beasley (Glasgow Rangers), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA)
FORWARDS (2) – Josmer Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Clint Dempsey (Fulham FC)
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ALL_ACCESS VIDEO – AT THE LION PARK: The U.S. group spent Wednesday afternoon with the big cats when they toured The Lion Park in the Four Ways section of Johannesburg. The sanctuary is home to a variety of wildlife including zebras, giraffes, gazelles, hyenas and ostriches. But the main attraction is clearly the lions, and for good reason – they are truly magnificent animals. The final stop of the tour is the cub cages, where you can literally go in and pet the lions – albeit the baby variety. Watch the video here or just scroll through some remarkable photos.

MATCH #499: The Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup will mark the 499th official match for the U.S. Men’s National Team dating back to 1916. The U.S. holds a lifetime record of 192-194-112. Coincidentally, the U.S. will hit the mark 500 game mark against the team that it played in game number one – Sweden. On Aug. 20, 1916, the United States Football Association’s Men’s National Team played its first-ever official match under the banner of FIFA after gaining full membership just over two years earlier. In Stockholm, the U.S. earned a 3-2 win against Sweden on goals by Charles Ellis, C.H. Spalding and Harry Cooper. Just over 91 years later, the teams will meet on Jan. 19 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The match will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.

DRAW IN DURBAN: Eight days after the Nov. 17 match, South Africa will host the Preliminary Draw for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The event, held in Durban, will determine the qualifying schedule for 156 countries spanning five confederations. The South American qualifying competition began Oct. 13 with all ten teams in action. The U.S. will learn on Nov. 25 its potential opponents for the second round of CONCACAF Qualifying. To ramp up the hype, the domestic league’s biggest derby between Jo’Burg based Kaizer Chiefs and the Orlando Pirates has been moved to Durban to coincide with the weekend’s festivities.

FAMILIAR FACES: The USA’s Tim Howard and South Africa’s Steven Pienaar have become accustomed to each other’s style at Everton FC, where the two share the same locker room. Pienaar battled against DaMarcus Beasley when the diminutive South African played at Ajax against Beasley’s PSV Eindhoven. Beasley also faced Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy during his time at Manchester City, and McCarthy continues to duel with Carlos Bocanegra and Clint Dempsey at Fulham. Steve Cherundolo has gone up against a host of the South African players playing in the Bundesliga, including Arminia Bielefeld striker Sibusiso Zuma.

GETTING MORE THAN THEY GAVE: The team got a welcome opportunity to get out into the community when they conducted a clinic for 40 school-age kids as part of the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR), a $440 million dollar program to provide education on AIDS prevention in South Africa. In conjunction with Hope WorldWide and HIVSA, two groups of kids from local schools gathered in Soweto for an hour-long session of soccer exercises, taking photos, and getting autographs from the players. "It really was a special experience to see the joy these kids get out of playing football," said Tim Howard. "To see kids who have so little and yet smile so much, it was truly a blessing to spend time with them. I'm so glad we were able to be a part of it.” Watch video of that special experience in this exclusive all_access video.

PARREIRA PREPARES BAFANA BAFANA FOR AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS: Led by Brazilian national Carlos Alberto Parreira, who coached Brazil to the 1994 World Cup championship in the United States, the Bafana Bafana will call upon a full strength side for the U.S. match that serves as final preparation for the 2008 African Cup of Nations to be held from January 20 - February 10, 2008 in Ghana. South Africa has been drawn into Group D along with Tunisia, Angola, and Senegal. For the Nelson Mandela Challenge Cup, the Bafana Bafana will rely on Blackburn Rovers striker Benni McCarthy, who is South Africa’s all-time leading scorer having posted 24 goals in 50 international appearances. South Africa are the current holders of the COSAFA Cup, having defeated Zambia on penalties in the 2007 edition of the tournament.

ABOUT SOUTH AFRICAN SOCCER: Soccer in South Africa has been subject of a long and tortuous journey, from the introduction of the game in the 19th century to being awarded the 2010 FIFA World Cup. As with all sporting institutions in apartheid-era South Africa, soccer in the country was shaped by racial segregation, and different soccer federations were created with different exclusionary policies. When major international soccer tournaments were created in the mid 20th century, South Africa, as a result of their segregated teams, were banned from both FIFA and CAF (Confederation of African Football) until 1990 and 1992 respectively.

However, with the end of apartheid in the early 1990s, a new, multi-racial South African Football Association was created. The first major tournament for the men’s team, newly christened as “Bafana Bafana,” was the 1996 African Cup of Nations. The tournament was a resounding success for Bafana, as they took home the championship trophy to a jubilant public in South Africa. The team qualified for its first FIFA World Cup in 1998, and placed in the top three in the 1998 and 2000 African championships.

Bafana again qualified for the FIFA World Cup in 2002, but later missed out on the 2006 tournament in Germany. Back-to-back first round exits from the African Cup of Nations in 2004 and 2006 lowered the profile of the Bafana both at home and abroad. However, since the country was given the 2010 FIFA World Cup, expectations and hopes have been climbing. The hiring of Carlos Alberto Parreira and the prospect of a successful run in the 2008 African championship have reinvigorated the players, and the fans in South Africa are again dreaming of Bafana holding another trophy aloft for this soccer-crazy country.

South Africa Roster vs. USA
GOALKEEPERS (2): Rowen Fernandez (Arminia Bielefeld), Moeneeb Josephs (Wits University)
DEFENDERS (7): Bradley Carnell (Karlsruhe), Tsepo Masilela (Maccabi Haifa), Vuyo Mere (Mamelodi Sundowns), Benson Mhlongo (Mamelodi Sundowns), Aaron Mokoena (Blackburn Rovers), Bryce Moon (Ajax Cape Town), Nasief Morris (Panathinaikos)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Delron Buckley (Borussia Dortmund), Brent Carelse (Mamelodi Sundowns), Lance Davids (Djurgardens), Kagisho Dikgacoi (Lamontville Golden Arrows), Teko Modise (Orlando Pirates), Siyabonga Nkosi (Arminia Bielefeld), Steven Pienaar (Everton), Macbeth Sibaya (Rubin Kazan), Siphiwe Tshabalala (Kaizer Chiefs)
FORWARDS (4): Lerato Chabangu (Mameodi Sundowns), Thembinkosi Fanteni (Ajax Cape Town), Benedict McCarthy (Blackburn Rovers), Sibusiso Zuma (Arminia Bielefeld)

SNEAKING UP ON SPECTOR: The MNT Blog had so much success with bum-rushing Dan Califf in Switzerland, we decided to give it a go here in Jo’Burg. And who would the latest unsuspecting victim be? Mr. Jonathan Spector. After tricking him into entering the U.S. Soccer Mobile Communications Center, we started winging questions at him. You can read the transcript as well as catch up on all the latest news from South Africa by clicking here.

EXPANDING THE POOL…: With qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup now less than a year away, the process of developing a deep player pool is in full swing, and U.S. head coach Bob Bradley has wasted no time getting a grip on the available talent. Through 17 games in 2007, he has already handed a cap to 60 different players. Of those 60, a total of 35 are based in MLS and 21 on clubs overseas. Additionally, he has given 21 players their first cap. The list of debutants includes Davy Arnaud, Kyle Beckerman, Jonathan Bornstein, Kenny Cooper, Charlie Davies, Jay DeMerit, Maurice Edu, Benny Feilhaber, Robbie Findley, Herculez Gomez, Josh Gros, Kamani Hill, Sacha Kljestan, Drew Moor, Brian Namoff, Lee Nguyen, Michael Parkhurst, Frank Simek, Danny Szetela, Marvell Wynne and Sal Zizzo.

AND SEEING THE WORLD: While the post-World Cup year is typically quiet, the U.S. has been extraordinarily active this time around. By year’s end, the team will have played in 18 matches, two major international tournaments (Gold Cup and Copa America), against three teams in the top ten of the FIFA Rankings (No. 1 Brazil, No. 2 Argentina, and No. 10 Mexico), and made four overseas trips (Venezuela, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland).

LAST TIME…

On the field for the USA

October 17, 2007 – St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland – International Friendly
Switzerland  0
USA               1 Michael Bradley 86’

SUI: 1-Pascal Zuberbühler; 2-Johan Djourou (25-Steve Von Bergen, 17), 3-Ludovic Magnin (Capt.), 5-Xavier Margairaz (22-Hakan Yakin, 46); 11-Marco Streller (31-Blaise Nkufo, 46), 13-Stephane Grichting, 14-David Degen, 16-Tranquillo Barnetta (17-Christoph Spycher, 75), 27-Gokhan Inler, 29-Stephan Lichtsteiner, 35-Fabio Celestini (33-Gelson Fernandes, 46)
Subs not used: 12-Diego Benaglio, 37-Germano Vailati

USA: 24-Marcus Hahnemann (18-Brad Guzan, 46); 6-Steve Cherundolo, 22-Oguchi Onyewu (2-Dan Califf, 46), 3-Carlos Bocanegra (Capt.), 7-Eddie Lewis (9-Danny Szetela, 84); 5-Benny Feilhaber, 13-Maurice Edu, 4-Michael Bradley,17-DaMarcus Beasley (11-Heath Pearce, 31); 20-Taylor Twellman (25-Freddy Adu, 77), 8-Clint Dempsey (29-Robbie Findley, 90)
Subs not used: 23-Jay DeMerit

On the field for South Africa

October 24, 2007 - Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein, South Africa – COSAFA Cup, FInal
South Africa    0
Zambia           0
(South Africa wins 4-3 in penalties)

RSA: Moeneeb Josephs; Vuyo Mere, Bevan Fransman, Benson Mhlongo, Brett Evans; Kagisho Dikgacoi, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Bamuza Sono (Norman Smith 70’), Bernard Parker (Bennet Chenene 70’); Teko Modise, Thembinkosi Fanteni.

ZAM: Kennedy Mweene; William Chinyama, Kennedy Nketani, Joseph Musonda, Billy Mwanza; Ian Bakala, Noah Chivuta (Kampamba Chintu 69’), Felix Katongo, Rainford Kalaba; Benny Mwanza (Allan Mukuka 53’ [Kennedy Mudenda 89’]), James Chamanga.

Vs. South Africa

June 3, 2000 – RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C. – U.S. Cup
USA               4   Cobi Jones 46’, Cobi Jones 43’, Reyna 65’, Stewart 68’
South Africa  0

USA: Kasey Keller; Tony Sanneh, Carlos Llamosa, Jeff Agoos, David Regis, Earnie Stewart (Steve Ralston, 82), Chris Armas, Claudio Reyna (capt), Eddie Lewis (Ben Olsen, 66), Brian McBride (Ante Razov, 70), Cobi Jones (Jason Kreis, 84);

RSA: Andre Arendse; Cyril Nzama, Pierre Issa, Andrew Rabutla, David Kannemeyer (Jacob Lekgetho, 73); Helman Mkhalele, Dumisi Ngobe, Thabo Mngomeni, Ivan McKinley (Delron Buckley, 33); Benedict McCarthy (George Koumantarakis, 73), Shaun Bartlett (capt)

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