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U.S. Gets Set to Take on Poland


ONE TO GO: The U.S. held its final training session this afternoon at the stadium of Polish first division side Legia Warsaw.  The team went through a crisp 75 minutes workout, now just over 24 hours away from kickoff against Poland.  The match will be broadcast live from Plock on ESPN2 at 1:30 p.m. ET.  Fans can follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.  The team will spend the night in Warsaw, then bus the approximately 90-minute ride to Plock tomorrow afternoon.

QUICK HITS:

  • Minus the loss of Cory Gibbs, who fell ill earlier this week, the full 18-man contingent will be available for selection tomorrow night as no major injuries have been reported.  The weather is expected to be chilly and clear, with game-time temperature around 40 degrees.
  • When he steps on the field tomorrow night, U.S. captain Claudio Reyna will record his 99th appearance for the national team.  The three-time World Cup veteran is the only U.S. player in history to be named to a FIFA World Cup All-Star First Team, having received that honor in 2002 in Korea/Japan.  Only six players in U.S. Soccer history have reached 100 caps.
  • The U.S. has played Poland more than any other European team in their history and currently hold a 4-7-1 record against the team, but the two sides have only met four times in the past 15 years, each coming away with two victories. Remarkably, the U.S. are an even 2-2-1 on Polish soil, winning the last encounter 3-2 on Oct. 10, 1990. That note was provided by ESPN analyst and former U.S. international Marcelo Balboa, who proudly admitted that he was on the field that day.
  • The teams will reconvene on July 11 at the newly renovated Soldier Field in Chicago (live on ESPN2 at 6 p.m. CT), the U.S. Men's first appearance in the Windy City in more than 11 years.  That match is part of a double-header with the host Chicago Fire, who take on New England Revolution in the second game of the evening at 8:30 p.m.
  • Six players on the current U.S. roster played in the USA's 3-1 loss to Poland in the final group match of the 2002 World Cup.  Five players - Brad Friedel, Clint Mathis, Brian McBride, Claudio Reyna, and Tony Sanneh - were named to the first XI, while DaMarcus Beasley replaced the injured Jeff Agoos in the 36th minute.  For a flashback on that unique night in which the United States advanced to the second round with a little help from their Korean friends, read ussoccer.com's Match Report.
  • Conor Casey is the only player in the current squad without a cap.  The 22-year-old striker is enjoying a stellar season for second division German side Karlsruher, having netted 12 goals in 23 matches.  Casey has found the scoring touch of late, recording three goals in his last two matches.
  • Colorado Rapids defender Pablo Mastroeni makes his return to the national team in 2004 after missing the first three matches.  The 27-year-old played 11 of 16 games for the senior team in 2003, including all five matches in their third-place finish in the 2003 Gold Cup.  The only player on the 2002 World Cup roster not having appeared in a qualifying match, Mastroeni performed admirably in three starts in central midfield.
  • Poland can enter their personal record books Wednesday night with a victory against the U.S.  The Polish are in the midst of a seven-match winning streak, tied for the longest in team history.  The streak includes a massive 3-1 victory against Italy last November.
  • The stadium in Plock is being re-dedicated tonight, named after legendary Polish coach Kazimierza Gorskiego.  Leading Poland to the gold medal in the 1972 Olympics in Germany, Gorskiego went on to guide the Poles to a third-place finish in the 1974 World Cup, defeating Brazil, Italy and Argentina along the way.  He was named Poland's Coach of the Century, and will be honored at tomorrow night's match.
  • In a scheduling coincidence, the United States will follow the match against Poland with a meeting against regional rivals Mexico, a schedule which mirrors the USA's progression during the 2002 World Cup.
  • The U.S. will debut their new Nike away strip against Poland, sporting the blue/white/blue combination from the previous cycle.
  • In the 437-game history of the U.S. MNT dating back to 1916, the team has never played a match on March 31.

SCOUTING REPORT: U.S. Assistant Coach Glenn Myernick breaks down the Polish side in this edition of the Scouting Report.  Check out Mooch's insight on the strengths and weaknesses of Poland and the keys to the U.S. getting a result.

THEY SAID IT:
"It's an important game because I have a chance to evaluate players.  With only three more matches before World Cup qualifying begins, we're getting down to crunch time."
-- U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, on the significance of this game

"It is always a little bit sad not to play with your country when games are going on, but at the same time it works to your benefit so when a game does come along you don’t get stale or anything of that nature because it seems a little bit like a new experience all over again."
-- U.S. goalkeeper Brad Friedel, on his feelings about returning to the national team

"After taking two months off, I find it incredibly rewarding and feel very appreciative to be back with the national team.  I felt like I needed some time to refocus and renew the passion and motivation I had to play the game of soccer.  Now I'm just looking forward to being a part of this team, and hopefully earning a place in this squad as World Cup qualifying approaches.  I didn't get a chance to participate in qualifying during the last cycle, and I know it's going to be a unique and challenging experience."
-- U.S. defender Pablo Mastroeni, on his break from the national team and his thoughts for the future

"I'm very excited to have the chance to get my first cap.  I've done well of late with my club team, and when you get a few goals, you gain some momentum and play with a bit more confidence.   For any player, the goal has to be to try and get into the pool for World Cup qualifying."
-- U.S. forward Conor Casey, on his participation with the senior team

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