U.S. WNT NEXT HEADS TO CHINA AS PART OF ELITE FIELD FOR FOUR NATIONS TOURNEY: The U.S. Women's National Team opened their 2003 campaign with a hard-fought 0-0 draw against a much-improved Japan team in front of 5,099 fans yesterday at Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif. The match, the team’s first since winning the 2002 Women’s Gold Cup on Nov. 9, served as a warm-up for the Four Nations Tournament in China taking place from Jan. 23-29 and featuring the top four teams in the world in the USA, Norway, Germany and China. "When you've have some time off, the last thing that comes back is the finishing touch," said U.S. head coach April Heinrichs, whose team hasn't played in two months following its successful qualification for the Women's World Cup last November. "You are a step off, or your shots are a few inches wide, but overall it was a great start for us heading into the Four Nations Tournament.” The USA leaves Thursday (Jan. 16) for China, which will host the 2003 Women's World Cup from September 23-October 11, 2003. The Four Nations Tournament begins on Jan. 23 in Yiwu, as China faces Germany and the USA takes on Norway. The teams will move to Women’s World Cup venue Wuhan for the Jan. 26 matches that feature Germany vs. Norway and the USA vs. China. The blockbuster tournament will finish on Jan. 29 in Shanghai.
MacMILLAN WINS TOP 2002 CHEVY AWARD, TARPLEY EARNS YOUNG ATHLETE HONOR: U.S. Soccer announced the winners of its 2002 Chevy Female and Youth Female Athlete of the Year awards at a Jan. 10 press conference in San Diego, Calif. The top annual award went to U.S. Women’s National Team forward Shannon MacMillan, who was named 2002 Chevy Female Athlete of the Year. As it has done since 1998, U.S. Soccer and Chevy also announced the Young Female Athlete of the Year award, which went to former U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team forward and team captain Lindsay Tarpley. MacMillan had a breakout scoring year for the U.S. in 2002, leading the high-scoring U.S. team with an impressive 17 goals and three assists for a team-best 37 points. Tarpley served as team captain of the U.S. Under-19 Women’s National Team that won the first-ever FIFA U-19 World Championship, scoring the historic “golden goal” in sudden death overtime to defeat Canada 1-0 in front of a highly partisan crowd on Sept. 1 at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. Part of the U-19 version of the “Triple-Edged Sword,” she led the team in scoring with an incredible 27 goals and 13 assists for 67 points in 23 games.
JAN. 18 MATCH VS. CANADA AVAILABLE ON LIMITED PAY-PER-VIEW: Setanta Sports will be broadcasting the USA vs. Canada friendly on Jan. 18, live at 7:30 p.m. ET on a pay-per-view basis. DirecTV subscribers can order the match, which will be played at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for $19.95. Fans can also follow the action live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The match against Canada is a rematch of the team’s 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal clash on January 30 in Pasadena, Calif., which was won by the U.S. in penalty kicks after a well-played 0-0 draw. In their history, the U.S. and Canada have squared off against each other 25 times in a rivalry dating all the way back to 1925, with the U.S. holding a slight 9-8-8 advantage. However, the United States has not lost to Canada in nine consecutive games, compiling a 5-0-4 mark in a stretch dating back more than 17 years to a 2-0 loss in Vancouver on April 2, 1985. Tickets ranging in price levels from $17 to $40 are on sale now at all South Florida Ticketmaster outlets (including FYE, Spec’s Music and Ricky’s Records) or by phone (Ft. Lauderdale: 954-523-3309; Miami: 305-358-5885; West Palm Beach: 561-966-3309).
– U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
MATHIS CHAT LIVE ON JAN. 15 EXCLUSIVELY ON USSOCCERFAN.COM: U.S. forward Clint Mathis will be available to answer questions live during a Live Chat event on ussoccerfan.com on Wednesday, January 15 at 2 p.m. ET. Mathis, 26, led the United States in scoring in 2002, recording seven goals and two assists for 16 points, including one of the finest goals in the World Cup to give the USA a 1-1 draw against Korea. Fans can access the chat by logging onto ussoccerfan.com and selecting "Interact -> Live Chat" from the menu.
McBRIDE SCORES IN PREMIER LEAGUE DEBUT: U.S. World Cup star Brian McBride opened the scoring in his debut for Everton in the English Premier League on Sunday, scoring just 10 minutes into his first Premier League match. McBride, who joined Everton last week on a three-month loan from the Columbus Crew, put the visitors ahead with the game’s first goal, beating Tottenham goalkeeper and fellow U.S. international Kasey Keller. Keller's side would overcome the early deficit to post a 4-3 victory behind a hat-trick by Irish international Robbie Keane. After Sunday's action, Everton (36 pts.) sits at sixth place in the league while Tottenham (35 pts.) is one point back in seventh place - just two points ahead of Brad Friedel's Blackburn Rovers (33 pts.) side, now in tenth place.
U.S. MEN TO PLAY ARGENTINA IN MIAMI ON FEB. 8, JAMAICA IN KINGSTON ON FEB. 12: The U.S. Men's National Team will host two-time World Cup champion Argentina in an international friendly on Feb. 8 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., at 12 p.m. ET live on ESPN2 before travelling south to face Jamaica just four days later at the National Stadium in Kingston at 2:30 p.m. ET. Fans can follow both matches live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The Feb. 8 meeting marks just the third time the two teams have met on U.S. soil, with the U.S. holding a 2-4-0 all-time record against the world power. Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $15 to $35 went on sale last week at all South Florida Ticketmaster outlets (including FYE, Spec’s Music and Ricky’s Records), by phone (Ft. Lauderdale 954-523-3309; Miami 305-358-5885; West Palm Beach 561-966-3309) and online at www.ussoccer.com. Groups of 20 or more can order immediately through U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249. The United States has never lost to Jamaica, holding a 7-0-5 record against the Reggae Boyz. Despite the unbeaten record, the USA has only one victory in five matches at "The Office" in Kingston.
U.S. MNT TO RETURN TO SEATTLE TO MEET ASIAN CHAMPIONS JAPAN ON MARCH 29: The U.S. Men's National Team will host fellow World Cup finalists Japan at Seattle Seahawks Stadium on March 29 in Seattle (live on ESPN2 at 1 p.m. PT). Fans can also follow the action live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The USA and Japan have met only one time at the senior international level, with Japan capturing a 3-1 victory on March 14, 1993 in Tokyo. The clash with Japan will be the first international soccer match hosted by the newly minted Seattle Seahawks Stadium. Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $70 went on sale last week at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, at the Seahawks Stadium ticket office, by phone (Seattle 206-628-0888; Tacoma 253-627-8497), and online at www.ussoccer.com. Groups of 20 or more can order through U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.
– YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
U-23 MNT BEGINS 2003 THIS WEEK WITH FOREIGN TOUR IN PORTUGAL: The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National will begin 2003 with a five-game series in Portugal that begins with a match tomorrow versus a reserve team from famed Portuguese pro club Sporting Lisbon. The U.S. will then meet the reserve squads from Benfica (Jan. 15) and Santarem (Jan. 16) before taking a four-day break. The U-23’s will conclude their foreign tour with a pair of friendlies against European teams, with a match against Russia on Jan. 21 and another friendly versus Slovenia or Portugal on Jan. 23. This first camp of 2003 will provide further preparation for the 2003 Pan Am Games, which take place in the Dominican Republic from August 1-17 and will act as the team’s first major international competition since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. In 2002, the U-23s posted a 6-2-2 overall record, including a second place finish in the Maderia International Tournament, but were just 1-2-2 in international games.
PETRUCELLI CALLS IN 23 PLAYERS FOR FIRST UNDER-21 WNT CAMP OF 2003 IN SAN DIEGO: New U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team head coach Chris Petrucelli will conduct his first training camp next week as 23 players come to the ARCO U.S. Olympic Training Center from January 18-26. The U.S. U-21s have won five out of the last six Nordic Cups, the top competition in the world for U-21 women, and enter 2003 with a talented group, bolstered by four members of the U.S. U-19 World Championship Team: goalkeeper Megan Rivera (Auburn), defender Jessica Ballweg (Santa Clara) and midfielders Leslie Osborne (Santa Clara) and Lori Chalupny (UNC). Chalupny was a member of the 2001 Nordic Cup Team, scoring two goals in the tournament, including one in the championship game. Three forwards -- Heather O'Reilly, Lindsay Tarpley and Kelly Wilson -- who together combined for 19 goals and 13 assists to lead the USA to the U-19 World Championship, will all be a part of the U-21 program this year, but the trio is in with the full national team this week in San Diego. In addition to the U-19 stars, Petrucelli called in six members of last year's Nordic Cup championship team in defenders Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State), Nandi Pryce (UCLA) and Ally Marquand (Stanford), midfielders Joanna Lohman (Penn State) and Carli Lloyd (Rutgers) and forward Alyssa Ramsey (UNC). Five Stanford University players were named after helping lead the Cardinal to a top ranking for most of the year while four UNC Tar Heels got the call-up. The following is a complete roster by position:
Goalkeepers (3): Kim Bingham (San Ramon Illusion), Ashley Lindley (Georgia), Megan Rivera (Auburn);
Defenders (8): Jessica Ballweg (Santa Clara), Haley Hunt (Stanford), Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State), Ally Marquand (Stanford), Nandi Pryce (UCLA), Natalie Spilger (Stanford),
Lauren Zealer (San Juan Spirits);
Midfielders (7): Lori Chalupny (UNC), Lindsey Huie (Portland), Carli Lloyd (Rutgers), Joanna Lohman (Penn State), Leslie Osborne (Santa Clara), Sara Randolph (UNC), Lisa Stoia (West Virginia);
Forwards (5): Heidi Drummond (Penn State), Jenny Farenbaugh (Stanford), Kelly McDonald (Texas), Anne Morrell (UNC), Alyssa Ramsey (UNC), Marcie Ward (Stanford).
U.S. UNDER-20s TO TAKE PART IN MLS COMBINE THIS WEEK: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will kick off their 2003 preparation for March’s World Youth Championship with a 13-day training camp in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., that begins today and runs through Jan. 24. The Under-20s, who qualified for a U.S. Soccer record fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship in November, will play three matches against MLS Combine teams and then conclude their camp with a January 23 game against Mexico’s Under-20 side. The combine teams will be made up of the best senior college players in the nation, as well as MLS’ recent Nike Project-40 signings. Mexico has also qualified for the 2003 World Youth Championship, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 13. U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen is expected to announce his roster for these matches next week.
Goalkeepers (3): Clint Baumstark (UAB), Steve Cronin (Santa Clara), Ford Williams (North Carolina);
Defenders (8): Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara), Jordan Harvey (UCLA), C.J. Klaus (Washington), Chris Lancos (Maryland), Chad Marshall (Stanford), Drew Moor (Furman), Heath Pearce (Portland), Troy Roberts (Cal-Berkeley);
Midfielders (5): Ricardo Clark (MLS), Justin Mapp (MLS), Justin Moose (Wake Forest), Stephen Shirley (Univ. of Mobile), Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn);
Forwards (4): Knox Cameron (Michigan), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Mike Magee (Chicago Fire), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United).
U.S. U-17 MNT KICKS OFF YEAR FIVE OF RESIDENCY PROGRAM AT IMG ACADEMY: The fifth year of U.S. Soccer’s Full-Time Residency Program kicked off last week, as 30 players returned from their winter break to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., less than two months before the Under-17s are scheduled to kick off CONCACAF qualifying in Guatemala on March 5. Started in 1999, the U.S. Soccer full-time residency program has become a symbol of U.S. Soccer’s dedication to producing development opportunities for players and the success of the Youth National Teams. U.S. Soccer added an additional 10 spaces to the residency program last fall, upping the total to 30 players in residency. In the four years since the implementation of the Under-17 Full-Time Residency Program, the Under-17s have compiled an unprecedented 118-52-41 record, including a fourth-place finish at the 1999 U-17 World Championship.
– AROUND THE SOCCER NATION --
RADIO UNICA SECURES SPANISH LANGUAGE RIGHTS FOR U.S. SOCCER MATCHES: Radio Unica, America’s premier Spanish language talk and sports radio network, has acquired the exclusive Spanish language radio broadcast rights to all of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s national team matches through 2006. As part of Radio Unica’s agreement with U.S. Soccer, the network will deliver comprehensive live, play-by-play coverage of U.S. Men’s National Team action, as well as select U.S. Women’s National Team games. The coverage will be augmented with exclusive behind-the-scenes interviews with top players and coaches, and in-depth sports news and commentary. A team of internationally renowned sports-talk personalities, headed by Radio Unica sports director Jorge Ramos, will handle the coast-to-coast broadcasts. As part of the partnership, Radio Unica and U.S. Soccer will participate in exclusive cross-promotional programs designed to create a co-branded identity between soccer fans of the U.S. National Teams and Radio Unica network listeners. The two organizations will also offer unique marketing solutions to advertisers seeking to reach the U.S. Hispanic market.
DYNAMIC DOZEN SIGNS TO PROJECT-40 WITH MLS DRAFT APPROACHING ON FRIDAY: Major League Soccer unveiled 12 Nike Project-40 signings last week, completing the program's largest class since its inception in 1997. All 12 players will be available for selection in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft on Friday (Jan. 17) at 3:30 p.m. (ET) in Kansas City, Mo. The stellar new Nike Project-40 class includes MAC Hermann Trophy winner Alecko Eskandarian of Virginia, who departs the storied Cavalier program after his junior season. Joining Eskandarian are U.S. Under-17 standouts Eddie Gaven and Guillermo "Memo" Gonzalez. Gaven, who turned 16 less than three months ago, becomes the youngest player ever to sign with MLS, surpassing the mark set by D.C. United's Santino Quaranta, who joined MLS four months after his 16th birthday.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: Brian McBride couldn’t have started his three-month loan to English Premier League club Everton any better. The U.S. World Cup star scored just 10 minutes in his first match with the mid-table club, finishing past fellow U.S. Men’s National Team veteran Kasey Keller to put his team ahead 1-0. Keller’s Tottenham squad would walk out with a 4-3 decision, but it would be safe to say that McBride made a magnificent first impression.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: It’s a rematch of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals when the youthful U.S. Men’s National Team faces an equally young Canada team to kick off 2003 in a friendly on Saturday (Jan. 18) at 7:30 p.m. ET at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
SOCCER SHOCKER: The truth of the matter is, that Japan's sharp skill and improvement over the last few years, no longer makes a draw against the U.S. a true soccer shocker. However, considering the U.S. Women had won 14 consecutive home games, outscoring their opposition 64-4 along the way, the goalless draw in which the USA had only one shot on goal was a surprise, even coming after just two days of practice after a substantial winter break. And the last time the U.S. failed to win a domestic match? It was back on Dec. 17, 2000 ... against Japan.
"On any given day, there are now a dozen teams in the world, and maybe more, that can win any game," U.S. defender Brandi Chastain said. "And that's a great challenge. Yeah, we want to win all the time, but before, when it was three or four teams, it wasn't quite as fun."
- U.S. WNT defender Brandi Chastain in the San Diego Union-Tribune after yesterday's surprising goalless draw with Japan.