30-PLUS: It's now on the sunny side of one month since the U.S. MNT kicked off its 2006 FIFA World Cup preparation, and the beat rolls on with the team’s next opponent just over the horizon. The U.S. will hold two more training sessions at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif., before U.S. Manager Bruce Arena names a travel roster that will head north to face fellow World Cup finalists Japan in San Francisco. More than 28,000 tickets have been sold for the Feb. 10 match at SBC Park, with kickoff set for 8 p.m. PT. Tickets starting at $22 are still available online at ussoccer.com. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN2, and fans can follow along on ussoccer.com’s brand new MatchTracker.
INJURY UPDATE: Nate Jaqua has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the MCL in his left knee and will be sidelined 4-6 weeks. The Fire forward will return to Chicago today to begin rehabilitation. Jaqua picked up the injury in a collision at training last Saturday. Columbus Crew midfielder Kyle Martino is experiencing tightness in his hamstring and sat out Monday’s training session. On the positive side, Eddie Johnson took part in a full session on Monday for the first time since suffering a bruised calf on Jan. 22 against Canada.
ALL_ACCESS VIDEO – SUPER SUNDAY: You saw it on MTV's 'Cribs'. Well, the players got their own tour when Landon Donovan hosted a Super Bowl party at his home in Manhattan Beach. There wasn't too much loyalty for either team in Super Bowl XL, but there was a whole lot of interest in the commercials. See how the U.S. MNT enjoyed a day off watching the Super Bowl in this exclusive all_access video.
And in case you missed it, go back and see the highlights of the USA's training session with the Korea Republic last Sunday. Chris Rolfe starts and finishes as pretty a combination as you'll see in soccer, and there are a host of other worthy scenes you won't want to miss.
EJ AND GOOCH 'NEXT' IN ESPN THE MAGAZINE: ESPN The Magazine's annual 'Next' issue hit the newsstands last week, with U.S National Team upstarts Eddie Johnson and Oguchi Onyewu amongst the featured athletes. Photographers traveled to Brussels to shoot Gooch in the new Nike gear, while EJ took time out from training to travel to Venice Beach for his layout. The 'Next' issue annually features up and coming athletes across the sporting spectrum, with Bobby Convey counted amongst the alumni. This year's cast also includes Heisman Trophy winner Reggie Bush, University of Texas quarterback Vince Young, golfer Michelle Wie, and others.
JAPAN ROSTER: Former Brazilian National Team star and Japan head coach Zico has called a 22-man squad to face the United States. The domestic-based group is backstopped by veteran goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, who has amassed 80 caps for Japan. Experience permeates throughout the group, from the skillful left back Alessandro Santos (a naturalized Japanese) and team captain Tsuneyasu Miyamoto to Takashi Fukunishi in the midfield. There is promise in the attack as well, with striker Tatsuhiko Kubo already netting eight goals in 26 international matches. Currently ranked #15 in the world, Japan qualified for the 2006 FIFA World Cup finishing on top of Group B in AFC qualifying, going 5-1-0 over six matches and finishing with the best record in either group.
Japan Roster vs. United States
GOALKEEPERS (3):Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi, Takashi Shimoda, Ryota, Tsuzuki
DEFENDERS (9): Akira Kaji, Yuichi Komano, Tsuneyasu Miyamoto, Teruyuki Moniwa, Shinji Murai, Yuji Nakazawa, Alessandro Santos, Makoto Tanaka, Keisuke Tsuboi
MIDFIELDERS (7): Yuki Abe, Yasuhito Endo, Takashi Fukunishi, Makoto Hasebe, Masashi Motoyama, Mistuo Ogasawara, Shinjo Ono
FORWARDS (3):Tatsuhiko Kubo, Seiichiro Maki, Hisato Sato
TICKETS ON SALE FOR FIRST-EVER MNT MATCH AT PIZZA HUT PARK: For the first time since 1994, the U.S. Men’s National Team will play a World Cup preparation match in Texas when the U.S. hosts Guatemala on February 19 at 1 p.m. CT at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. This will be the first U.S. National Team appearance at FC Dallas’ new home, which opened six months ago on Aug. 6, 2005, and will be the fourth match of the year for the team. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and Telemundo, and will be available to fans online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Tickets are available online at ussoccer.com, at all Dallas-Ft. Worth area Ticketmaster outlets (including Foley’s, Fiesta Stores, and Tower Records) and by phone at 214-373-8000. Groups of 15 or more can purchase tickets through FC Dallas by calling 888-FCD-GOAL.
PHOTO GALLERY: If you haven't been following along, ussoccer.com has gotten hold of a pretty swanky camera and is now posting daily pictures from training camp. From tight action shots to the beautiful sunsets that coincide with afternoon training, see the best pics we have to offer in the photo galleries on ussoccer.com.
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