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U.S. to Face World Cup Finalists Japan on Feb. 10 at SBC Park in San Francisco


ESPN2 To Broadcast Second Meeting vs. Japan in U.S. History at 8 p.m. PT;
MNT Returns to San Francisco For First Time in 26 Years

CHICAGO (December 1, 2005) — The U.S. Men’s National Team will face fellow FIFA World Cup finalists Japan on Feb. 10, 2006 at SBC Park in San Francisco, as both teams continue preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m. PT, and the match will be televised live on ESPN2 and available online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

“This will be a great opportunity for our domestic players to show what they can do against a team that is headed for the World Cup,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena.  “We believe Japan will field a number of first team players, so it will be a great game to evaluate players and continue to formulate the roster that we will take to Germany.”
  
This will be the first appearance for the U.S. MNT in San Francisco in 26 years and will feature two teams that qualified for the FIFA World Cup Germany 2006 from their respective regions. Likewise, the matchup pits two regional champions, as the USA captured the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July and Japan has won each of the last two Asian Nations Cup titles (2004 and 2000).

Tickets will go on sale starting Tuesday, December 20, at 10 a.m. PT on-line at ussoccer.com, at all San Francisco area Tickets.Com outlets (including Giants Dugout Stores, Raley’s, and Sportsmart) and by phone at 1-800-225-2277.  Groups of 20 or more can purchase tickets through SBC Park by calling 415-972-2000 (Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) beginning Tuesday, December 20. 

Both the U.S. and Japan boast impressive performances from the FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan 2002 with eighth and ninth place finishes, respectively. In 2002, the U.S. made the quarterfinals before falling to eventual second-place finisher Germany, while Japan won their group before falling in the Round of 16 to third-place Turkey. Next summer will be the fifth consecutive trip to the World Cup for the U.S. and seventh overall, while this will be the third consecutive appearance for Japan in the World Cup Finals.

Each team continued its 2002 momentum into FIFA World Cup 2006 qualifying as the first teams from their respective regions to book a ticket to Germany. Both the U.S. and Japan won their respective qualifying groups in both the final and semifinal rounds of qualifying, with Japan not suffering a single loss with an 11-0-1 record, allowing just five goals. The U.S. meanwhile, finished 2006 World Cup qualifying with a 12-2-4 record, allowing 11 goals in 18 games.

The match will be just the second meeting between the nations, and the first in the U.S. The only previous meeting came in 1993 when the U.S. fell 3-1 in Tokyo. Overall, the U.S. has an all-time 7-7-5 record vs. Asian Zone teams, including a 2-1-2 record under Arena.

The U.S. has a 1-2-0 all-time record in San Francisco, with the last appearance there coming in a 4-1 loss to the Soviet Union on February 11, 1979. The team has played in the Bay Area 14 times since then in Oakland, San Jose and Palo Alto. Overall, the U.S. has posted an 8-6-3 record in the Bay Area.

The U.S. is one of 32 finalists that will compete in the 2006 FIFA World Cup, qualifying first from CONCACAF and finishing atop the group in CONCACAF for the first time. The World Cup Draw, which will determine group pairings, will take place Dec. 9 in Leipzig, Germany. The USA has chosen the northern port city of Hamburg as its base of operations in Germany.

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