AFTER 2-0 LOSS TO HOST NATION, U.S. NEEDS WIN AND CHINA TIE TO GRAB FIRST PLACE: The U.S. Women's National Team opened the 2003 Four Nations Women's Tournament last week with a rousing 3-1 victory over Norway on an icy cold night, defeating their arch-rival on goals from defender Thori Bryan, forward Tiffeny Milbrett and 18-year-old striker Heather O'Reilly and three assists by midfielder Aly Wagner. But in their second match, the U.S. ran into a confident and inspired China team on a frigid afternoon at the spectacular Wuhan Sports Center Stadium, falling 2-0 in front of 40,000 satisfied fans at the ultra-modern venue that will host eight matches of the 2003 Women's World Cup. The USA now sits in second place in the Four Nations Tournament and is still in good position to win the competition. The USA needs a win over Germany combined with a tie or loss by China against Norway in the last set of matches on Wednesday (Jan. 29) at Hongkou Stadium in Shanghai. China, which finished fourth in this tournament last year, opened the tournament with a 0-0 draw with Germany and can clinch the title with a win over Norway, who tied Germany 2-2 yesterday.
ARENA ANNOUNCES 23-MAN ROSTER FOR FLORIDA FRIENDLIES VS. ARGENTINA, JAMAICA: U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena has chosen a 23-man roster that will train in preparation for the pair of upcoming games against Argentina and Jamaica. The U.S. will host two-time World Cup champion Argentina on Feb. 8 at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., at 12 p.m. ET live on ESPN2 and Radio Unica, before traveling south to face Jamaica just four days later at the National Stadium in Kingston at 7 p.m. ET. Both games can be followed live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The roster mirrors the team that traveled to South Florida for the USA’s 4-0 win against Canada on Jan. 18 at Lockhart Stadium. Five players from the U.S. World Cup side will participate in the camp, led by the attacking duo of Clint Mathis and Landon Donovan. The MLS-based roster arrived in Bradenton, Fla., yesterday, where they will train before moving to Ft. Lauderdale on Feb. 6, and departing for Jamaica on Feb. 10. Advance tickets from $15 to $35 are on sale now 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. 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.
Goalkeepers (3): Kevin Hartman, Tim Howard, Nick Rimando;
Defenders (8): Carlos Bocanegra, Danny Califf, Brian Dunseth, Nick Garcia, Chad McCarty, Eddie Pope, Ryan Suarez, Sasha Victorine;
Midfielders (8): DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey, Chris Klein, Pablo Mastroeni, Richard Mulrooney, Ben Olsen, Steve Ralston, Pete Vagenas;
Forwards (4): Jeff Cunningham, Landon Donovan, Clint Mathis, Taylor Twellman.
2003 FIFA WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP DRAW TAKES PLACE ON WEDNESDAY IN UAE: The draw for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship will take place this Wednesday (January 29) in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Results of the draw, as well as reactions from coaches and players, will be available at ussoccer.com on Wed. afternoon. The 2003 World Youth Championship is to be held in the United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16. The U.S. will be participating in its record fourth straight World Youth Championship, having advanced to the second round in each of the last three tournaments. The following are 21 of the 24 finalists, with the last three teams to be finalized when CONMEBOL qualifying concludes tomorrow (Jan. 28):
AFC (5): Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, UAE (host)
CAF (4): Burkino Faso, Egypt, Ivory Coast, Mali
CONCACAF (4): Canada, Mexico, Panama, USA
CONMEBOL (4): Argentina (3 more teams will have qualified when CONMEBOL qualifying concludes on January 28, 2003)
OFC (1): Australia
UEFA (6): Czech Republic, England, Germany, Ireland, Slovakia, Spain
– U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE –
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 are on sale now 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 –
UNDER-23s EDGE RUSSIA, TIE PORTUGAL TO FINISH SECOND IN VALE DO TEJO TOURNEY: Playing in the final of the third edition of the Vale do Tejo International Tournament, the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team fell to Portugal 4-2 in penalty kicks, after the match was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, on Jan. 23 in front of a packed house of approximately 5,000 fans at the Municipal Stadium in Abrantes, Portugal. With the penalty kick shootout loss, the U.S. finished second in the four-team tournament and ended the five-game trip with a 1-1-3 record. "It was an excellent trip for us," said U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Glenn Myernick. "Given the high level of competition, this group far exceeded our expectations. We had a lot of young players who took a great opportunity, rose to the occasion to represent the U.S., and gave us a chance to win a very good tournament." The U.S. had a reversal of fortune in the final from its 4-1 penalty kick shootout decision over Russia on Jan. 21 after another 1-1- tie at the end of regulation. Appearing in his first U-23 camp since breaking his foot before the team played its first match during a trip to Portugal last February, Chicago Fire rookie forward Nate Jaqua provided the U.S. scoring in both matches, giving have him two goals in just two career U-23 international games. Jaqua was honored as the tournament's Top Goal Scorer, while the team received the tournament Fair Play award.
TEN-MAN U.S. UNDER-20 MNT FALL 3-1 TO MEXICO IN HOMESTEAD, FLA.: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team fell 3-1 to Mexico on Jan. 23 in front of a partisan crowd of 5,236 at Harris Stadium in Homestead, Fla. Down just 1-0 at halftime, the U.S. team played nearly the entire second half with only 10 men after the 48th-minute ejection of U.S. defender Heath Pearce. Midfielder Mike Magee, recently selected in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft by the MetroStars, scored the only goal for the U.S. in the 73rd minute to make it 2-1, but Mexico added a third strike in the 79th minute. The goal was Magee’s team-leading 16th at the U-20 level. The match concluded a 12-day training camp in South Florida for the U.S., where they played a total of seven matches, posting five wins, one draw and one loss. The U.S. team will regroup in South Florida in mid-February to continue preparations for the World Youth Championship that is scheduled to take place in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16.
U.S. UNDER-17 MNT TRAVEL TO COSTA RICA FOR TWO-GAME SET: John Ellinger will lead the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team to Costa Rica for a pair of games this week. The U.S. is scheduled to face Costa Rica on Wednesday (Jan. 29) and Friday (Jan. 31) before returning to the U.S. on Saturday (Feb. 1). The matches represent the Under-17s first international matches of 2003, as the team prepares for the Group A CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament in Guatemala, from March 5-9, where the U.S. will face El Salvador, Jamaica and the host Guatemala in a four-team round-robin tournament. The top team will clinch a spot in the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship, while the second-place squad will advance to a play-off with the second-place team from Group B. Costa Rica recently qualified for the Group B Qualifying Tournament, and they will travel to Victoria, British Columbia, to face Mexico, Cuba and the hosts Canada from March 16-20.
UNDER-15 BOYS RETURN TO U.S. AFTER SIX-GAME SERIES IN GUADALAJARA: The U.S. Under-15 Boys National Team returned from Guadalajara this weekend after posting a solid 3-2-1 record in three doubleheaders across five days. The U.S. team brought 32 players to Mexico and split into two teams, with each team playing three games in Mexico. Forward Jose Angrulo led the U.S., scoring three goals in his final two games, and Jonathon Villanueva added two goals in the opening U.S. 4-0 win over Cordica Select. The Under-15 squad is scheduled to regroup in March, when head coach Ken Lolla will hold a week-long training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
UNDER-21 WNT CONCLUDES FIRST TRAINING CAMP OF 2003 WITH 4-0 WIN OVER U-19s: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team completed their first training camp of 2003 on Sunday with a 4-0 win over the U.S. Under-19 WNT. Nandi Pryce, Kelly McDonald, Heidi Drummond and Carli Lloyd all scored for the older U.S. side in a convincing win. The nine-day training camp was the team's first under head coach Chris Petrucelli. Twenty-two players came into the U-21 camp, as Petrucelli evaluated players in anticipation of this summer's Nordic Cup in Denmark. The Under-21s' next training camp is scheduled for Chula Vista in early March.
Goalkeepers (3): Kim Bingham (San Ramon Illusion / California HS), Ashley Lindley (Univ. of Georgia), Megan Rivera (Auburn University);
Defenders (6): Haley Hunt (Stanford University), Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State University), Ally Marquand (Stanford University), Nandi Pryce (UCLA), Natalie Spilger (Stanford University), Lauren Zealer (San Juan Spirits / Nevada Union HS);
Midfielders (7): Lori Chalupny (University of North Carolina), Lindsey Huie (University of Portland), Carli Lloyd (Rutgers Univ.), Joanna Lohman (Penn State University), Leslie Osborne (University of North Carolina), Sara Randolph (University of North Carolina), Lisa Stoia (West Virginia University);
Forwards (6): Heidi Drummond (Penn State University), Jenny Farenbaugh (Stanford University), Kelly McDonald (University of Texas), Anne Morrell (University of North Carolina), Alyssa Ramsey (University of North Carolina), Marcie Ward (Stanford University).
– AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD –
FIFA TO UNVEIL FIRST EVER WOMEN’S WORLD RANKINGS IN MAY: On May 23, almost exactly four months to the day before the opening game of the fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, FIFA will lift the veil of secrecy over who is topping the first FIFA Women’s World Ranking and how the other contenders are placed. Ten years after the launch of the FIFA World Ranking for men’s national teams, women’s soccer will soon have an objective yardstick for measuring the sporting performance of a steadily expanding number of national teams. By launching the World Ranking, FIFA is hoping to give the popularity of women’s soccer a well-deserved boost. According to a survey published by FIFA two years ago, over 22 million women play soccer regularly in over 130 countries. Almost 100 teams are now contesting the preliminary competition of the fourth FIFA Women’s World Cup, to be staged in China from Sept. 23 to Oct. 11.
STOTT, STRICKLAND NAMED AS 2003 FIFA WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP OFFICIALS: U.S. Soccer referees Kevin Stott and Chris Strickland were named as two of the 45 FIFA Referees and Assistant Referees that will officiate the 2003 FIFA World Youth (Under-20) Championship that will be held at the United Arab Emirates in March. The 34-year-old Stott has been a FIFA International Referee since 1995 and will be officiating his second consecutive World Youth Championship (he also worked Argentina 2001). Assistant Referee Strickland will be making his first FIFA World Youth Championship appearance at UAE 2003.
MLS ANNOUNCES 2003 NATIONAL TV SCHEDULE: MLS, along with league broadcast partners ABC and ESPN2, recently announced that the national networks will combine to offer viewers 29 MLS telecasts in 2003. A total of 26 games will appear on ESPN2, while ABC will televise the League’s opening match (Saturday, April 5) in addition to the Pepsi MLS All-Star Game on Saturday, August 2, and MLS Cup 2003 on Sunday, November 23. In a continued effort to establish a destination viewing point for the League’s fans, the popular “Soccer Saturday” format returns for the League’s eighth season with 21 Saturday afternoon telecasts. Currently 26 of the 29 national telecasts will feature live games, with tape-delayed matches featured on May 24, July 26 and August 30. Bob Bradley’s revamped MetroStars lead the League with nine regular-season national telecasts (all on ESPN2), while defending champion Los Angeles are scheduled for seven ESPN2 appearances and one on ABC.
WUSA ANNOUNCES 2003 SCHEDULE: The WUSA schedule for 2003 was announced recently, with the leagues’ third season kicking off on Saturday, April 5. The WUSA's schedule will feature 80 percent of the league's matches on weekends or holidays. All eight teams will kick off their season opening day, highlighted by a rematch of WUSA Founders Cup II as Mia Hamm and the Washington Freedom travel to meet Birgit Prinz and the WUSA Champion Carolina Courage at SAS Stadium in Cary, NC. All games during the first 10 weeks of the 2003 season will be played on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. Each team will play a 21-game schedule, with Atlanta, Boston, Carolina and San Diego playing 11 home matches and 10 road games. The 2003 WUSA All-Star Game is tentatively scheduled for mid-June, while the WUSA Founder's Cup III will take place on the weekend of August 23, both at sites and times to be announced in the near future.
USL ANNOUNCES 2003 A-LEAGUE SCHEDULE: United Soccer Leagues released its 2003 A-League schedule last week, with the opener set for April 18 in Virginia Beach as the Mariners host the Cincinnati Riverhawks. The expansion Syracuse franchise will open its season on the road against the Charlotte Eagles on May 2 with their home opener on May 17 against the Toronto Lynx. The new Milwaukee Wave United will get a taste of the rivalry it inherits when it takes on the Minnesota Thunder at home on May 18 at Uihlein Park in its season opener. The league matches that double as part of the two-leg qualification series games for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup take place when the rival Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders go head-to-head on back-to-back nights May 1 in Portland and May 2 in Seattle. The schedule breakdown of weekday versus weekend / holiday matches weighed heavily on the latter with 222 games (83.5 percent) being played Friday-Sunday and on holidays. Division schedules, with the exception of the Central Division, are balanced with each club playing their division rivals four times.
MILWAUKEE WAVE UNITED REPLACES A-LEAGUE CHAMPION RAMPAGE: The Major Indoor Soccer League’s (MISL) Milwaukee Wave announced last week that it acquired an A-League franchise from the United Soccer Leagues to replace the now-defunct Milwaukee Rampage for the upcoming 2003 season. Dubbed the Milwaukee Wave United, the new team will take the Rampage's (2002 A-League Champions) place at the 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. U.S. Futsal National Team / Milwaukee Wave head coach Keith Tozer was named the team’s new general manager, while Art Kramer, Tozer’s Assistant Coach with the Wave, was named head coach. The St. Louis, Mo., native previously coached the 1996-97 season with the National Professional Soccer League's Toronto Shooting Stars, as well as nine seasons at the University of Milwaukee.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: After leading the U.S. Women’s National Team with 11 assists in 2002, midfielder Aly Wagner picked up where she left off last year by supplying the final pass on all three goals in the USA’s big 3-1 win over rival Norway in their opening game of the Four Nations Tournament in China.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: With this being a Women’s World Cup year, the USA’s order of finish in the Four Nations Tournament could set the tone for the entire year, and more specifically how successful they will be when they come back to China in September for their title defense in the REAL tournament. After finishing third in the Four Nations tourney last year despite a 1-1-1 record, the U.S. will be looking to claim the top prize with a win over Germany, coupled with a loss or tie by China, when they face off on Wednesday (Jan. 29).
SOCCER SHOCKER: Two shockers took place in Italy's Serie A this weekend, where leaders AC Milan lost 1-0 to 10-man Udinese, while Lazio's 17-match unbeaten run ended with a home loss to lowly Reggina.
“They have speed, quickness and athleticism to complement their team skill, and unlike 1999, they will be supported massively by their home crowd."
- U.S. WNT head coach April Heinrichs, sizing up China as a WWC competitor following a 2-0 loss on their turf this weekend