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U.S. Men to Face Costa Rica for 2002 Gold Cup Title

CHICAGO (Friday, February 1, 2002) - The U.S. Men's National Team is currently training in Pasadena, California in preparation for the championship match of  the 2002 Gold Cup being staged from Jan. 18 to Feb. 2 in Miami and Pasadena, Calif.  The U.S. will play Costa Rica in the final match Saturday, Feb. 2 at the Rose Bowl at 12 p.m. PT. The match will be broadcast live on Univision.

PREVIEW:  The United States and Costa Rica meet for the third time in the last 12 months and the fourth time in Gold Cup history.  The U.S. has now reached their third final in Gold Cup history, winning the inaugural tournament in 1991 and losing to Mexico in the finals in 1998.  Now in day 28 of a training camp which began Jan. 5 in Claremont, Calif., the USA has continued to build confidence throughout the event, improving the team's defensive organization and creating scoring chances through a varied attack.  Brian McBride has been in stellar form, leading Gold Cup scorers with four goals in as many matches.  On the defensive end, Kasey Keller has spearheaded a backline that has produced three consecutive shutouts.  Keller turned in an inspired performance in the penalty kick shootout against Canada in the semifinal, making two key saves.  Bruce Arena will not make changes to the 18-man roster; however, midfielder Eddie Lewis and defender Carlos Bocanegra both suffered injuries in Wednesday's night semifinal and and are continuing to recover.  Costa Rica coach Alex Guimaeres has the luxury of carrying a full-strength side to the competition, his lineup virtually identical to the team that defeated the U.S. 2-0 on Matchday 8 of 2002 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Led by Manchester City-based forward Paulo Wanchope, the Ticos have netted eight goals en route to the final, tops in the tournament.  The Costa Ricans have the reached the Gold Cup final for the first time in their history, and with a large contingent of supporters expected to turn out Saturday, they hope to collect their country's first continental honors.

VS. COSTA RICA: The U.S. and Costa Rica have met three times in Gold Cup play, with the U.S. winning each match (once in each of Costa Rica's three previous Gold Cup appearances).  In the inaugural tournament, the teams met in their final first round game, with the U.S. winning 3-2 at the L.A. Coliseum on July 3, 1991.  Two years later, the teams met in the semifinals, with the U.S. winning 2-1 on a golden goal from defender Cle Kooiman at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.  In 1998, the U.S. and Costa Rica again squared off in group play, with the U.S. using a brilliant 25-yard strike from Preki Radosavljevic late in the match to secure a 2-1 victory and the group title. Despite the USA's 3-0 record against Costa Rica, the U.S. has an overall losing record against the Ticos with an 8-9-4 mark in 21 all-time meetings.  In final round World Cup qualifying play in 2002, both teams traded home victories, and the year before that they were paired in the semifinal round, with the Costa Ricans winning at home and earning a hard fought tie in Columbus, Ohio on Oct. 11, 2000.  In 12 all-time World Cup qualifying games, the U.S. is just 4-6-2 against Costa Rica.

THEY SAID IT: "I've had a few good tournaments in the Gold Cup.  This is my third time.  The first time I finished third, the second time I finished second, now I think it's time for first." U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller, on his Gold Cup history

ETC:  The team conducted its final training session today, working on possession and finishing ... Tony Meola was the starting goalkeeper for the USA's Gold Cup-winning side in 1991 ... Cobi Jones is one cap away from the 150 mark, which will place him in a tie for fourth place with Lothar Matthaus on the all-time capwinners list ... The USA holds a lifetime record of 20-3-2 in Gold Cup play, posting 15 shutouts.

U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bruce Arena talks about the U.S. lineup heading into the 2002 Gold Cup championship match against Costa Rica on February 2, 2002: Listen to audio

Arena assesses Costa Rica's team prior to the 2002 Gold Cup championship match on February 2, 2002: Listen to audio

Arena discusses the progress of the team since training camp began nearly one month ago: Listen to audio