U.S. WNT SIT AT TOP OF ALGARVE CUP GROUP WITH WIN, DRAW; NEXT UP SWEDEN: The U.S. Women's National Team opened play in the 10th Algarve Cup in Portugal with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Canada and a 1-0 win over Norway, putting themselves at the top of Group A, with one group match remaining (Tuesday vs. Sweden). In yesterday’s 1-0 win over Norway, Shannon MacMillan celebrated her 150th cap for the USA, scoring in just the 4th minute of the match. The U.S. found the scoreboard much later against Canada in the opener on Friday, equaling Canada’s 7th-minute strike with a goal from Aly Wagner in the game’s 85th minute. The U.S. finishes first-round play against Sweden on March 18 in Vila Real San Antonio. With a win the U.S. can secure a place in the final, which will take place on March 20 in Faro, along with the other placement games. Fans will be able to follow the U.S. games online at via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. has won the annual eight-team tournament just once in seven previous attempts, capturing the title in 2000 with a 1-0 win over four-time Algarve champ Norway.
ARENA TO ANNOUNCE ROSTER v. JAPAN TOMORROW EXCLUSIVELY ON ussoccer.com: U.S. Manager Bruce Arena will announce the roster for the upcoming friendly against Japan tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET exclusively on ussoccer.com. Arena is expected to name a mix of domestic and foreign-based players to the side that will face their fellow World Cup finalists in the first international soccer match hosted by the newly minted Seattle Seahawks Stadium on March 29 in Seattle. 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.
SIXTEEN MEMBERS OF JAPANESE WORLD CUP SQUAD TO FACE U.S. IN SEATTLE: Japanese head coach and Brazilian World Cup legend Zico announced a 23-man travel roster to compete in two upcoming friendlies in the United States. Led by the midfield trio of Junichi Inamoto, Hidetoshi Nakata, and Shinji Ono, sixteen players from the team that helped Japan advance to the knockout phase of the 2002 World Cup, where they fell to eventual third-place finishers Turkey in the Round of 16, will participate in the friendly against the United States in Seattle on March 29. Three days prior, Japan will face Uruguay as part of a doubleheader, which includes Mexico v. Paraguay, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The defending Asian Football Confederation champions will join the United States in competing in the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup this summer in France. The complete travel roster:
Goalkeepers: Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, Seigo Narazaki, Takashi Shimoda
Defenders: Yukata Akita, Toshihiro Hattori, Naoki Matsuda, Ryuzo Morioka, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, Akira Narahashi, Keisuke Tsuboi, Nobuhisa Yamada
Midfielders: Takashi Fukunishi, Junichi Inamoto, Shunsuke Nakamura, Hidetoshi Nakata, Koji Nakata, Mitsuo Ogasawara, Shinji Ono, Alessandro Santos
Forward: Masashi Nakayama, Teruaki Kurobe, Takayuki Suzuki, Naohiro Takahara
U.S. MEN SET TO FACE PARAGUAY ON JULY 6 AT CREW STADIUM: The United States Men’s National Team will face fellow 2002 World Cup participants Paraguay in an international friendly on Sunday, July 6 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Kickoff for the match is set for 3 p.m. ET, and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. The game will also be broadcast on Telemundo and the Radio Unica network, and fans can follow the match live online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. “The match against Paraguay provides an important link between the completion of the Confederations Cup and our team’s participation in the Gold Cup,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. The U.S. and Paraguay have meet three times in their history, with the U.S. holding an unbeaten 1-0-2 record, including a 3-0 victory in the inaugural World Cup on July 17, 1930 in Uruguay. The teams last met in San Diego on March 14, 1998, resulting in a 2-2 draw. Led by flamboyant goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert, Paraguay has advanced to the second round in the last two World Cup finals. After the most successful year in U.S. Soccer history, the U.S. has amassed a 2-1-0 record in 2003, collecting shutout victories against Canada and Jamaica. The U.S. Men’s National Team is undefeated and unscored upon at Columbus Crew Stadium, boasting a 1-0-2 record. Tickets ranging in price levels from $20 to $44 go on sale to the general public starting Saturday, April 12, at 10 a.m. ET through Ticketmaster.
-- U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --
U.S. MEN TO RENEW RIVALRY WITH MEXICO ON MAY 8 AT HOUSTON’S RELIANT STADIUM: The U.S. Men’s National Team will resume one of the best rivalries in the world when they face arch rival and fellow World Cup participant Mexico on Thursday, May 8 at Reliant Stadium in the biggest match in Houston 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. The United States has dominated the series of late, winning five of the last six meetings, with all of the victories coming by shutout. This will be the first meeting between the two countries since the Round of 16 of the World Cup, where the United States captured an historic 2-0 victory and a place in the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 72 years. Tickets ranging from $27 to $150 are on sale at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout Texas (including Fiesta, Foley’s and Wherehouse Music) and by phone at 713-629-3700. Groups of 30 or more can pre-order through Reliant Stadium at 832-667-2210 starting today. Tickets go on sale at the Reliant Stadium box office tomorrow (March 18).
U.S. TO FACE TWO WORLD CUP SEMIFINALISTS IN 2003 CONFEDERATIONS CUP IN JUNE: The U.S. Men’s National Team was drawn into Group B for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cups and will face Brazil, Cameroon and Turkey at the sixth edition of the prestigious tournament, which will be played from June 18-29 in France. The U.S. opens the tournament against two World Cup semifinalists, facing Turkey on June 19 in St. Etienne at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET), and then taking on Brazil on June 21 in Lyon at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). The U.S. concludes group play against Cameroon on June 23 in Lyon at 9 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). The top two teams from each group advance to the semifinals on June 26. The third-place match is scheduled for June 28, and the final takes place on June 29 in Paris. “We are arguably in the toughest group in the Confederations Cup, and it will be a great challenge for the team,” said U.S. head coach Bruce Arena. The U.S. has played in two previous Confederations Cup Tournaments, finishing third at both the inaugural event in 1992 and again in 1999 in Mexico. The field at the Confederations Cup is comprised of the six confederation champions (Cameroon, Colombia, France, Japan, New Zealand and the USA), the World Cup Champions (Brazil) and a guest team (Turkey).
CONCACAF ANNOUNCES GROUPS, MATCH SCHEDULE FOR 2003 GOLD CUP: The group formations and match schedule for the CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship for national teams of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, were announced last week. The U.S. is in Group C, along with El Salvador and a still-to-be-determined opponent from the Interzone playoff qualifiers. The tournament takes place July 12-27 at three venues: Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass., the Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, with the U.S. based in Foxboro for group play. This year is the first time Gold Cup matches will be played outside the U.S. since the tournament held matches at the Estadio Azteca in 1993. Twelve teams will again take part, including two guest teams from CONMEBOL: 2002 FIFA World Cup champion Brazil, and 2001 Copa America champion Colombia. The tournament begins on July 12, with first-round matches played over six successive days. Quarterfinal matches will be played on July 19 and 20, with the semifinals set for July 23 and 24. 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. The third-place match will be held on July 26 and the final is scheduled for July 27, at Estadio Azteca, the only stadium in the world to have played host to two FIFA World Cup finals. The format for the tournament will be similar to the 2002 event, won by the USA in a 2-0 victory against Costa Rica in the final.
-- U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM UPDATE --
U.S. WOMEN CONTINUE PREPARATIONS FOR WWC 03 WITH MATCH AGAINST NIGERIA: 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 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 --
UNDER-17 STRUCTURED MEDIA AVAILABILITY SET: Coming on the heels of qualification for their 10th straight FIFA Under-17 World Championship, U.S. Soccer has implemented a structured media availability program for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team. The policy begins today (March 17) and will allow outlets access to the team and coaches once a week on a pre-determined day at a training session at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. With the team scheduled to take a week off beginning March 20, a second day of availability will be set for Tuesday (March 18). The practice session will be open to the media requesting advanced access, and players and coaches will conduct scheduled interviews after the session. Media who do not make prior arrangements will not be allowed access to practice, nor will they be allowed to conduct post-practice interviews. All Under-17 practices will be closed to the media, except for the designated open practice once each week. To arrange for access or to schedule an interview, please contact the U.S. Soccer Communications Department.
FIFA POSTPONES 2003 UNDER-20 WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: In view of the current world political climate and having carefully weighed all options, the FIFA Executive Committee approved Sepp Blatter’s proposal to postpone the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship to a later date. The tournament was to be played in the United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16. “FIFA regrets having to make this decision, because the team of local organizers, who have worked tremendously hard, were more than ready to host this tournament,” said Blatter. “But FIFA must take into account its responsibilities towards the players, officials and other parties, as well as towards the media and spectators.”
U-17 AND U-16 WNT WRAP UP CAMP: The U-17 and U-16 Women's National teams completed a week-long training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, after playing several scrimmages against visiting teams. Jamie Gilbert had three goals in as many matches to lead the U17's to a perfect 3-0-0 record.
– AROUND THE SOCCER WORLD --
MLS TEAMS OFF TO SLOW START IN 2003 CONCACAF CHAMPIONS CUP: Three of the four MLS teams involved in the 2003 CONCACAF Champions Cup got their series underway last Sunday, with only the Los Angeles Galaxy able to take a point from the road battles. Carlos Ruiz and Alexi Lalas netted one each for the Galaxy, but CD Motagua were able to answer back twice and earn a 2-2 draw at the Estadio Nacional Tiburcio Carias in Tegulcigalpa, Honduras. In Guatemala City, CD Comunicaciones raced out to a four-goal lead, including three in the first 45 minutes, en route to a 4-2 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes. The hotly contested affair saw two 'Quakes players and one of the "rojos" ejected before the matter was decided. U.S. international Manny Lagos recorded both goals for San Jose in the losing effort. Meantime, the Columbus Crew were forced to a play a man down for nearly the entire second half, yielding 2-1 to Deportivo Arabe Unido of Panama. U.S. Under-23 international Edson Buddle tallied the lone goal for Columbus, after Jeff Cunningham was sent off in the 54th minute. The New England Revolution will be the last MLS team to open Round of 16 play, traveling to face LD Alajuelense of Costa Rica on March 23. Columbus and Los Angeles are slated to play the return legs of their series on that day, with New England and San Jose to conclude their matchups on March 26. The quarterfinalists will be determined by aggregate goals scored in each series. If teams are tied, two 15-minutes golden goal extra times will be played, followed by penalties.
FIFA ANNOUNCES REFEREE RADIO EXPERIMENT: FIFA announced this weekend that it is planning an experiment in which all officials will be able to communicate with each other by radio throughout the course of a match. FIFA was granted permission for the experiment by the International Football Association Board, which met this weekend in Belfast. FIFA said the system would “improve the coordination of actions between the match officials in a more efficient manner.” The first use of the radios may take place at the Confederations Cup in France on June 18-29. The board also decided against goal-line assistants and the temporary expulsion of players. Two other decisions from the board stated that soccer jerseys must have sleeves, and that in penalty-kick shootouts the team that wins the toss will now have the choice to take the first or second kick.
HAMPTON ROADS TO HOST 2003 W-LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP: The Hampton Roads Piranhas will play host to the 2003 W-League Championship tournament from August 8-10 in Virginia Beach. Preliminary games will be played Friday, August 8 at 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm. The Third Place and championship matches will kick off at 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm Sunday, August 10. The championship match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports World. The Piranhas played host to the 2001 W-1 Championship, which saw the Boston Renegades win the first of their two straight W-League championships on a night in which the third place match was cancelled during a severe three-hour thunder storm, which delayed the final between Boston and Vancouver. The 2003 Championship will include numerous off-field events. The Piranhas, along with United Soccer Leagues, will host a youth soccer celebration on the beach August 9th.
2003 SOCCER HALL OF FAME NOMINEES ANNOUNCED: The 2003 class for the National Soccer Hall of Fame will be littered with players who dominated the North American Soccer League. The Hall of Fame is dedicating this year's class to the former league and 27 of its greatest players. Among some of the players up for induction include Dutch international Johan Neeskens, Brazil World Cup veteran Carlos Alberto, Peruvian great Nene Cubillas, and Northern Ireland international George Best. DC United head coach Ray Hudson is also nominated for his seven years of service with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (1977-1984). Numerous former U.S. National Team players are up for induction including Arnie Mausser (30 caps), Bobby Smith (18), two-time Hermann Trophy winner Al Trost (14), Bob Rigby (6), Kyle Rote Jr. (5) and Carlos Metidieri (2).
CONFEDERATION BERTHS ALLOCATED FOR FIFTH FUTSAL WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: With the announcement of Fifth Futsal World Championship slated for Chinese Taipei in late 2004, FIFA allocated the remaining 15 tournament berths to the six confederations (AFC, CAF, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, Oceania, UEFA). As done in previous tournaments, each confederation will have a respective qualifying competition for the teams to advance to the 2004 event. Guatemala will host the CONCACAF qualifying competition, which must be played by June 30, 2004, and will produce two berths for the world championship. The last time the futsal qualifying stage was held in Guatemala, the U.S. captured the gold medal and a berth to the 1996 World Championship in Spain. The USA is also the only CONCACAF team to earn two top-three finishes at a FIFA futsal competition, earning a bronze medal in Holland 1989 and then obtaining the silver in Hong Kong 1992.
U.S. SOCCER SPOTLIGHT
PEAK PERFORMER: U.S. Women's National Team forward Shannon Macmillan marked her 150th appearance for the U.S. in style, scoring the lone goal in the USA's 1-0 win against Norway in the Algarve Cup. MacMillan's 53rd career goal moves her into a tie with Carin Gabarra for sixth place on the all-time U.S. scoring charts. The U.S. Soccer 2002 Chevy Female Athlete of the Year became the ninth player in U.S. WNT history to reach the 150 cap plateau.
MARQUEE MATCH-UP: The U.S. women face Sweden in their final Group A match on Tuesday, March 18, in Vila Real de San Antonio, with a chance to advance to the Algarve Cup championship for just the fourth time in eight trips to this tournament. The U.S. has four points from two games thus far, and a win would guarantee a place in the final. The U.S. could advance with a tie against Sweden if Norway wins or ties against Canada. Kickoff is at 4:30 p.m. local / 11:30 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the game online at ussoccer.com's MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.
SOCCER SHOCKER: Brad Friedel led Blackburn to a 2-0 win against league leaders Arsenal on Saturday, matching the shutout victory against the Gunners from earlier this season. Friedel's 11th league shutout of the season handed Arsenal their first defeat in league play since December 7, and marks the first time in three years the Gunners have been beaten twice by a team in the same year. Rovers have not "done the double" against Arsenal since the inaugural season of the English Premier League in 1992-93.
"The U.S. will be a big power for the future. And, of course, I believe that even though I am here in Germany, the U.S. should have won against Germany in the quarterfinals of the last World Cup.''
- Brazilian World Cup legend Pele (New York Times, 3/13/03)