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U.S. Soccer Wire: Crew Tie Galaxy 1-1, Freedom Down Courage 2-1, As MLS & WUSA Open 2003 Seasons


SATURDAY MARKS SUCCESSFUL 2003 DEBUT FOR BOTH LEAGUES: MLS opened its eighth season with a spirited 1-1 draw between the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champion Columbus Crew and the 2002 MLS Cup champion L.A. Galaxy in front of an almost sold-out crowd at Crew Stadium on Saturday. U.S. Under-23 Men's national Team forward Edson Buddle gave Columbus an early lead in the 36th minute, but 2002 MLS MVP Carlos Ruiz equalized in the 64th minute for the final result. In the WUSA, all eight teams got into the action with a full slate of games on Saturday. In a rematch of the Founders Cup II, U.S. WNT star Mia Hamm provided the game-winning goal and an assist in helping the Washington Freedom get revenge over the 2002 WUSA champion Carolina Courage in a 2-1 win at SAS Stadium in Cary, N.C.

MLS Results
L.A. Galaxy 1, Columbus Crew 1

WUSA Results
Washington 2, Carolina 1
San Jose CyberRays 1, Philadelphia Charge 0
Atlanta Beat 5, New York Power 0
Boston Breakers 2, San Diego Spirit 1

O'BRIEN SET TO MAKE HISTORY WITH CHAMPIONS LEAGUE QUARTERFINAL TOMORROW: With an expected start when Ajax hosts AC Milan tomorrow (April 8), U.S. international John O'Brien will become the first American player in history to play in the quarterfinal round of the prestigious UEFA Champions League. O'Brien, 25, made his debut in the Champions League earlier this season, making three appearances. Forward Jovan Kirovski was the first American to compete in the tournament as a member of the 1997 championship-winning side Borussia Dortmund. Kirovski also became the first American to score a Champions League goal, which he did in Dortmund's 3-0 win vs. Sparta Prague on Dec. 10, 1997. Fellow U.S. internationals Claudio Reyna, Frankie Hejduk and Tony Sanneh have also played in the tournament.

LEGENDARY U.S. MNT PERSONALITIES HARKES, BALBOA RETIRE FROM SOCCER: Two of the U.S. Men's National Team's most accomplished and recognizable players - midfielder John Harkes and defender Marcelo Balboa - announced their retirement from soccer last week. The 36-year-old Harkes, who was one of the first players to sign with MLS, captained D.C. United to the first two MLS Cup championships in 1996 and 1997 before going on to play for the New England Revolution (1999-2001), and closed his career last year with the Columbus Crew (2001-02). For the USA, Harkes made 90 appearances from 1987-2000, while serving as team captain for a three-year stretch from 1995-98. The 35-year-old Balboa was a five-time MLS All-Star with the Colorado Rapids, and stands as the all-time leader in games played, starts and minutes played after six solid seasons with the club. On the National Team level, the "Ironman" defender was a part of three World Cup teams (1990, 1994, and 1998) and racked up a whopping 128 caps, which places him third all-time for the U.S.

ASIAN WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP POSTPONED DUE TO S.A.R.S.: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) decided last week to postpone the AFC Women's Championship that was scheduled to take place from April 17-30 in Thailand due to the recent Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak. The SARS outbreak first resulted in the postponement of two Asian zone Olympic qualifiers and now, the postponement of the AFC Women's Championship, which is a qualifier for the FIFA Women's World Cup in China this year. Thailand is one of the affected countries as well as China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Vietnam. The winner and the runner-up of the AFC Women's Championship qualify automatically for the FIFA Women's World Cup and the third-placed team from AFC will have to play off with the third team from CONCACAF, which is Mexico. The home and away games for the play-off match are scheduled for May 10, which is Mexico's home match while May 17 will see the third AFC team hosting Mexico. The FIFA Women's World Cup in China will be held from Sept. 23 - Oct. 11, with the draw set for May 24.

- U.S. MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

TICKET COUNT HITS 31,000 FOR U.S.-MEXICO REMATCH ON MAY 8 IN HOUSTON: Tickets for the U.S. Men's National Team's 2002 World Cup rematch against Mexico on May 8 at Reliant Stadium in Houston are still selling at a blistering pace, with more than 31,000 tickets sold and all of the tickets in the $150, $75, and $60 range completely sold out since opening sales to the general public on March 15, making this one of the fastest selling games in U.S. Soccer history. Kickoff for the game, which is being staged in conjunction with Major League Soccer and Houston Texans Entertainment, is set for 7 p.m. CT and will be broadcast via tape delay on ESPN2 beginning at 10 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast live on Telemundo and the Radio Unica network, and fans can also follow live online via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Tickets for the biggest soccer game in Houston history, which is being presented by Budweiser, are still available in the $27-$50 range and can be purchased at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Texas (including Fiesta, Foley's and Wherehouse Music), by phone at 713-629-3700 and on-line at ussoccer.com. Groups of 30 or more can order tickets by calling toll free at 877-635-2002. Tickets are also available at the Reliant Stadium ticket office.

U.S. OPENS GOLD CUP ON JULY 12 AGAINST EL SALVADOR: The U.S. Men's National Team will take on El Salvador and either Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago when they begin play in the 2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup on July 12 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. The U.S. will learn their second Group C opponent when Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago travel to Martinique for a final Gold Cup playoff from April 23-27. The 2003 Gold Cup will run from July 12-27 and will also feature matches at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. This year's event marks the first time that the Gold Cup will be played outside the U.S. since the tournament held matches at Estadio Azteca in 1993. Twelve teams will again take part, including two guest teams from South America: 2002 FIFA World Cup champion Brazil and 2001 Copa America champion Colombia. If the U.S. qualifies for the quarterfinals they are assured to play in Foxboro on July 19, while the two semifinal games will take place at the Orange Bowl in Miami and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City on July 23. Estadio Azteca will host the third-place match on July 26 and the final on July 27.

U.S. Gold Cup Schedule - Group C - Opening Round
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff (ET)
July 12 El Salvador Gillette Stadium 6:30 p.m.
July 14 Interzone Qualifier Gillette Stadium 8:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals: July 19 in Foxboro at 3 p.m. ET
Semifinals: July 23 in Miami at 8 p.m. ET
Third Place: July 26 in Miami at 8 p.m. ET
Final: July 27 in Mexico City at 1 p.m. ET

2003 CONCACAF Gold Cup Groups
Group A (Mexico City): Mexico, Brazil, Interzone qualifier (Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago)
Group B (Miami): Colombia, Guatemala, Jamaica
Group C (Foxboro, Mass.): USA, El Salvador, Interzone qualifier (Honduras, Martinique or Trinidad & Tobago)
Group D (Foxboro, Mass.): Costa Rica, Canada, Cuba

- U.S. WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

OCEANIA WWC QUALIFYING KICKS OFF WITH BIG WINS FOR AUSSIES, KIWIS: The Oceania Women's World Cup qualifying tournament kicked off on Saturday with a big win for Australia, as the Matlidas downed Samoa, 19-0. The New York Power's Joanne Peters, the Washington Freedom's Kelly Golebiowski and April Mann scored four goals each to lead the Aussies. Former San Diego State University player Danielle Small had three goals, the first scores of her international career. In the other game on the first match day, Papua New Guinea defeated the Cook Islands, 5-1. Earlier today, Australia picked up its second big win, downing the Cook Islands 11-0 as seven different players scored, including two goals from San Jose CyberRays defender Diane Alagich. New Zealand also played its first match, defeating Samoa 15-0 as Rebecca Smith scored five goals, Maia Jackman scored four times and Simone Ferrara had a hat trick. New Zealand scored six goals in the first 12 minutes of the game. Australia and New Zealand are on the expected collision course for Oceania's lone berth in the 2003 Women's World Cup when they meet on the final match day on Sunday (April 13).

U.S. WOMEN TO MEET NIGERIA NEXT ON APRIL 26 AT RFK STADIUM IN D.C.: The U.S. Women's National Team will continue its 2003 Women's World Cup preparations with a match on Saturday, April 26, against African champion Nigeria at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. The U.S. match will be televised live on ESPN at Noon ET and is part of a WUSA doubleheader featuring the host Washington Freedom taking on the Atlanta Beat at 2:30 p.m. ET. Tickets for the doubleheader ranging in price levels from $20 to $40 are on sale at all Washington-Baltimore area Ticketmaster outlets, at the RFK Stadium box office, on-line at www.ussoccer.com, and by phone at 202-432-7328 (Washington), 410-481-7328 (Baltimore), 703-573-7328 (Northern Virginia) and 800-551-7328 (out-of-state). Washington Freedom full season ticket packages (which include a ticket for the doubleheader) and group discounts are available through the Freedom at 202-547-3137. Nigeria will bring a strong team to Washington, D.C., as the Super Falcons qualified for their fourth consecutive Women's World Cup this past December by winning the African Women's Championships convincingly at home.

- U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE -

U-21 WOMEN HEAD TO CHULA VISTA FOR 10-DAY TRAINING CAMP: The U.S. Under-21 Women's National Team will be heading to Chula Vista, Calif., for their upcoming training camp from April 11-20. During the camp, the team will play the WUSA's San Jose CyberRays and the San Diego Spirit. U.S. U-21 WNT head coach Chris Petrucelli has called in a 23-player roster full of college standouts, with the exception of a pair of teenagers in forward Heather O'Reilly and defender Kim Bingham.

Date Opponent
April 12 San Jose CyberRays
April 15 San Diego Spirit

Goalkeepers (3): Karen Bardsley (Cal State-Fullerton), Nicole Barnhart (Stanford), Kim Bingham (San Ramon, Calif.);
Defenders (8): Jenna Cooper (University of Nebraska), Keeley Dowling (University of Tennesse), Hayley Hunt (Stanford), Amy LePeilbet (Arizona State), Ally Marquand (Stanford), Kristin Moore (University of Portland), Nandi Pryce (UCLA), Natalie Spilger (Stanford);
Midfielders (8): Lori Chalupny (North Carolina), Lindsey Huie (University of Portland), Carli Lloyd (Rutgers University), Joanna Lohman (Penn State), Manya Makoski (Arizona State), Kati McBain (University of Texas), Leslie Osborne (Santa Clara), Kim Yokers (UC Berkley);
Forwards (4): Ali Andrzejewski (University of Maryland), Heather O'Reilly (East Brunswick, N.J.), Caroline Smith (University of Kansas), Marcie Ward (Stanford).

U.S. U-17s ROUT JAMAICA 5-0, WILL MEET TWO MORE TIMES THIS WEEK: The Under-17 Men's National Team posted a 2-0-1 record against three visiting teams across three days this weekend at the IMG Academy in Bradenton. On Friday, the U-17s topped the University of South Florida 1-0 on a goal from forward Jamie Watson in the 39th minute. In their second match, U.S. midfielder Eddie Gaven went on a tear, scoring one goal and dishing out three assists on the way to a 5-0 rout of Jamaica. Corey Ashe scored the team's first two goals in the 19th and 30th minutes, with Gaven providing the assist on both. The U.S. blew the game open early in the second half, as they struck twice in the 47th minute on goals from defender Brandon Owens and Gaven. Freddy Adu padded the lead with a strike in the 58th minute, again from Gaven. In the last match of the weekend, a younger U-17 squad tied St. Leo University 1-1. Forward Robbie Rogers scored in the 37th minute, but the team conceded the equalizer in the 78th. The U-17s will face Jamaica two more times this week before next week's Dallas Cup, with matches today and Wednesday (April 9) at 4 p.m. ET.

U.S. U-17, U-16 NATIONAL TEAMS TO COMPETE IN DALLAS CUP FROM APRIL 13-20: One month after qualifying for a record 10th consecutive FIFA World Youth (U-17) Championship, the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team will compete in Dallas Cup XXIV in Dallas, Texas from April 13-20. The U.S. Under-17s, who were placed in Bracket A of the U-19 Super Group, will kick off the tournament on Sunday (April 13) against the Cameroon Jr. National Team at Lake Highlands Stadium. The U-17s will then play a pair of club teams to finish group play, facing Promesas 2006 (of El Salvador) on April 14 and RS Futebol Clube (of Brazil) on April 16. The U.S. Under-16 Men's National Team, comprised primarily of players in the U.S. Soccer residency program in Bradenton, Fla., will compete in the Dallas Cup in Bracket G as part of the Under-17 Group.

U.S. Under-17 MNT Roster
Goalkeepers (2): Phil Marfuggi (West Windsor, N.J.), Quentin Westberg (Saint Cloud, France);
Defenders (5): Adrian Chevannes (Ft. Worth, Texas) , Kyle Helton (Alpharetta, Ga.), Brandon Owens (Murrieta, Calif.), Jonathan Spector (Arlington Heights, Ill.), Chris Germani (Yardley, Pa.);
Midfielders (5): John DiRaimondo (St. Louis, Mo.), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars), Jose Gomez (Inglewood, Calif.), Brian Grazier (Edwardsville, Ill.), Chase Wileman (Dallas, Texas);
Forwards (6): Freddy Adu (Potomac, Md.), Corey Ashe (Virginia Beach, Va.), Guillermo Gonzalez (L.A. Galaxy), Michael Harrington (Greenville, S.C.), Jacob Peterson (Portage, Mich.), Jamie Watson (Coppell, Texas).

U.S. Under-16 BNT Roster
Goalkeepers (2): Marcus Rein (Modesto, Calif.), Stephen Sandbo (Columbus, Ohio);
Defenders (5): Greg Folk (Woodland Hills, Calif.), Drew Harrison (Roanoke, Va.), Adam Sloustcher (Pleasanton, Calif.), Julian Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.), Tomiwa Ogunsola (Woodbridge, Va.);
Midfielders (7): Anthony Beltran (Claremont, Calif.), Michael Bradley (Palatine, Ill.), Steven Curfman (Raleigh, N.C.), Christian Jimenez (San Dimas, Calif.), Brian Mascarenhas (Marietta, Ga.), Dax McCarty (Maitland, Fla.), Jay Singh (San Bruena, Calif.);
Forwards (4): Rodrigo Hidalgo (Atlantis, Fla.), Robbie Rogers (Palos Verde, Calif.), Daniel Szetela (Clifton, N.J.), Tim Ward (Waukesha, Wisc.).

- AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD -

BALTIMORE BLAST TO FACE MILWAUKEE WAVE FOR 2002-03 MISL TITLE: The Baltimore Blast will travel the Bradley Center to face the Milwaukee Wave in the opener of the best-of-three series for the 2002-03 Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) Championship on Saturday (April 12). The second game of the series is set for Sunday (April 13) in Baltimore, Md. If necessary, the third and deciding match will once again be held at Milwaukee's Bradley Center on Apr. 18 or 19. The Wave are looking for the fourth indoor championship in the last six seasons, while the Blast will be aiming for the second title in franchise history (having won the 1983-84 MISL crown). Both teams advanced to the 2002-03 final series after posting victories in the MISL semifinals. Four goals by forward Brian Loftin paced the host Wave to a hard-fought 20-18 semifinal win over the Kansas City Comets yesterday. Three days earlier, the visiting Blast stunned the defending MISL champions Philadelphia Kixx 8-6, in the semifinals thanks to a game-winning goal by midfielder Allen Eller.

USL RE-LAUNCHES WEBSITE, OPENS 2003 SEASON WITH D3 PRO LEAGUE MATCH: United Soccer Leagues today announced the relaunch of the newly-designed USLsoccer.com, hosted by Demosphere International. The new site is designed with a home page for USL and each of its leagues. The main USL section covers all of USL's leagues and includes sections that cover USL in general. New additions to USLsoccer.com include the following sections: Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, Broadcast Center and Regional Cup. USLsoccer.com will also include a new interactive section where fans can voice their opinions about recent news through the site's Mailbag or through Q&A features. Meanwhile, the San Diego Gauchos stole a 3-2 win over the California Gold to open the 2003 USL season on Saturday.

CHIQUITA BECOMES SPONSOR OF U.S. MEN'S, WOMEN'S NATIONAL TEAMS: Chiquita Fresh North America announced its sponsorship of the U.S. Men's and Women's National Teams last week, becoming the official banana and fresh produce of the U.S. Soccer Federation. This sponsorship reinforces the company's ongoing commitment to support good nutrition and a healthy, active lifestyle for children and adults. Chiquita has also signed two of the sport's most visible and popular stars to serve as brand spokespersons. Landon Donovan, a forward on the U.S. Men's National Team and a member of the 2002 FIFA World Cup All-Star Team, and Shannon McMillan, a forward on the U.S. Women's National Team and U.S. Soccer's 2002 Chevrolet Female Athlete of the Year, will help promote Chiquita® bananas and other fresh fruit as part of the company's sponsorship. Chiquita's sponsorship will be communicated to consumers via signage and public address announcements at U.S. Soccer matches, soccer-themed in-store signage, and on the U.S. Soccer and Chiquita web sites. The sponsorship will also be featured in Chiquita's 2003 summer promotion, in which a trip to a U.S. Soccer match in the Caribbean will be the Grand Prize.

U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT

PEAK PERFORMER: Picking up where she left off in 2002, U.S. Women's National Team forward Mia Hamm was in top form in the WUSA 2003 season opener on Saturday. After providing a beautiful free kick for an assist on Abby Wambach's equalizer in the 44th minute, she gave her team the 2-1 win by floating a perfect chip from 25 yards out to beat Courage rookie 'keeper Meliza Burke in the 59th minute.

SOCCER SHOCKER: Bundesliga's Hannover 96, featuring U.S. World Cup defender Steve Cherundolo, could have put a little extra distance between them and the relegation zone, but remained within four points of the drop (albeit in a seemingly safe 10th place) after blowing a 2-0 lead in the final 14 minutes at home to league leader Bayern Munich. The late goals were the 15th and 16th allowed by Hannover in the final 15 minutes of their 27 league games in 2002-03, which works out to a horrendous 3.56 goal against average.

QUOTABLE:
"In the 22nd minute, (Columbus forward Edson) Buddle told me I was on fire and I said 'It's only the 22nd minute,' and then like three or four minutes later, he scored on me."
- L.A. Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who looked impressive in Saturday's MLS season opener, a 1-1 draw with the Crew

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