u.s. soccer  soccerU.S. soccer

feedback

ESPN

U.S. men's schedule, results

U.S. men's roster

U.S. heads into qualifying on positive note after drubbing Honduras.

McBride's two goals spark 4-0 romp over Honduras as Reyna reaches 100-cap milestone.

Pope knocks home rebound in stoppage time to defeat Mexico 1-0.

U.S. put in impressive effort against Mexico, even before Pope won it.

Beasley goal defeats Poland 1-0, hands Arena first win over host Europeans.

Gritty American effort defeats Poland for first win of 2004.

Califf's tally late in stoppage time salvages 1-1 draw with Haiti.

Outplayed by Haiti, Americans are fortunate to gain 1-1 draw.

Goal by teen Robben sends Netherlands past U.S. 1-0.

Netherlands was clearly superior in victory over Americans.

U.S. men

Long World Cup qualifying road begins with Grenada.

By Robert Wagman
SoccerTimes

COLUMBUS, Ohio (Friday, June 11, 2004) - The United States men begin what they hope will be a very long road to the 2006 World Cup in Germany Sunday when it hosts Grenada in the opener of a two-match, total-goals CONCACAF second-round qualifying series at Columbus Crew Stadium.

The 1 p.m. (ET) match will be broadcast by ESPN2. The return leg of the series will be Sunday, June 20 when the two teams will meet in Saint George, Grenada, in a 4 p.m. game broadcast by ESPN2. It is the first time the nations will play against each other.

"We're finally beginning World Cup qualifying and we're all excited about it," U.S. coach Bruce Arena said. "We remember the last time around how difficult it was and experienced the highs and lows and we're just excited about getting it going again. Our goal is certainly to qualify for Germany in 2006. It all starts on Sunday and I'm very confident that our team will be ready to play."

On paper, the U.S. looks to be a prohibitive favorite against a team comprised mainly of semi-professionals and amateurs with only four Grenadians playing professionally soccer. The U.S. is currently ranked first in the CONCACAF region and eighth in the world by world governing body FIFA, while Grenada is 15th in the region and 145th in the world. Still, Arena repeatedly reminds people that he is not taking Grenada lightly.

"Our players are well aware of the obstacles you face in these types of rounds and against these types of opponents," Arena said. "Our team will be prepared to play and they will be motivated to play."

In March, in its most recent match with a small Caribbean nation, a U.S. team stocked mostly with Major League Soccer players needed a second-half injury time goal from defender Danny Califf to gain a 1-1 draw with lowly Haiti, ranked 86th. "It was a lesson well learned and hopefully that will not occur on Sunday," Arena said. "Grenada will come in here with the dream of knocking off what they perceive as a powerhouse."

After some juggling since originally picking 22 players for this week's training camp, Arena takes 18 players into Sunday's match with eight based with overseas clubs.

Captain Claudio Reyna will lead the Americans after earning his 100th cap in the 4-0 victory over Honduras June 2 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. He is joined by 14-year international veteran attacker Earnie Stewart, who holds the U.S. record for most World Cup qualifying matches played (27) and goals scored (9). Stewart is two games shy of becoming the eighth player in U.S. history to play in 100 international games.

Scheduled to start in goal is three-time World Cup veteran Kasey Keller, the all-time U.S. leader in shutouts who has posted 33 clean sheets in 68 international appearances. Keller is also tied for the record for most victories (37) with Tony Meola. Jonny Walker, who plays in MLS with the MetroStars will back up Keller.

Forward Brian McBride scored two goals against Honduras to move him into second place on the all-time U.S. scoring chart with 25. He could be joined up top by 22-year-old Conor Casey who has come on strong recently.

Midfielder\striker Landon Donovan, 22, has tallied 15 goals in 49 appearances and is slated to become the youngest American ever to achieve 50 caps.

MetroStars captain Eddie Pope returns to anchor the U.S. back line, and is no stranger to the World Cup qualifying process. The 30-year old defender started six of the 10 matches in final round qualifying for the 2002 tournament. He will be joined by Carlos Bocanegra who, in 2003, became the first defender since 1994 to score four goals in a calendar year.

However, defender Tony Sanneh, who was a revelation in the Americans' advance to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals, had to be dropped from the roster after spraining his right ankle. Sanneh recently returned to club and national action after a 15-month rehabilitation from a nerve injury in his back.

The week-long U.S. training camp was not without controversy. After the Colorado Rapids refused to release defender Pablo Mastroeni until after Wednesday's 1-0 loss to the Kansas City Wizards, Arena took three Wizards -- Meola, striker Josh Wolff and midfielder Kerry Zavagnin -- off the U.S. roster so neither MLS team would have an advantage.

"I have no problem in a situation if an MLS coach chooses to go by the letter of the law with the FIFA regulations on call-ups. It is very appropriate and (Colorado coach) Tim (Hankinson) chose to do that," Arena said. "I think the only confusion is that it was a last minute issue. . . In the future we just need to make sure the timing is right. When these coaches express a desire to hold back a player, they do it in a more timely matter. . . In the particular game, it is hard for us to bring in players from one club and not the other, and I don't want to be in a position where I'm handicapping games. I just felt that that was the right thing to do."

The U.S. posted an 8-4-4 record during the 2002 World Cup qualifying process, booking its ticket to South Korea on October 7, 2001, with a 2-1 triumph over Jamaica in Foxborough. For the first time, the U.S. is entering the qualifying process in the second round, adding two games to the overall campaign.

Grenada's two best players -- at least the pair playing at the highest professional level -- are striker Jason Roberts, a nine-year veteran of English soccer who scored eight league goals last season for Wigan Athletic in England's First Division, and St. George's-born midfielder Shalrie Joseph of MLS's New England Revolution.

Another player that worries Arena is Ricky Charles, a player with speed and ability who had 18 goals and 16 assists last year for the University of South Carolina-Spartanburg.

"They have two competent forwards that we need to keep our eye on," Arena said. "Jason Roberts, who has a pedigree in England and has played in the English First Division, and is a big strong forward, and a young player by the name of Ricky Charles who is a very mobile forward and probably their most important player when they get out on the break. He's got good speed and is very active."

Grenada received a recent boost when it came back from a two-match tour of Cuba with a win and a draw thanks to goals by Roberts and a surprisingly stout defense. It also beat higher ranked St. Lucia in a friendly last week.

Joseph is considered the key player for Grenada in this weekend's first leg. He will partner with Patrick Modeste, who plays for semi-professionally for QPR in Grenada, Byron Bubb of Aylesbury United in England; and amateur Ricky Morris, a member of the Grenada national youth team.

"If we can keep them from scoring in the first 10 or 15 minutes, then I think we can look for a tie," Joseph said. "Our goal is to get a tie or keep the score close -- 1-0 or 2-0."


Rosters

United States

Goalkeepers (2): Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur, England), Jonny Walker (MetroStars, Major League Soccer).
Defenders (7): Carlos Bocanegra (Fulham FC, England), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, Germany), Bobby Convey (D.C. United, MLS), Cory Gibbs (Dallas Burn, MLS), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew, MLS), Eddie Pope (MetroStars), MLS, Greg Vanney (FC Bastia, France).
Midfielders (6): Chris Armas (Chicago Fire, MLS), DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago Fire, MLS), Landon Donovan (San Jose Earthquakes, MLS), Eddie Lewis (Preston North End, England), Claudio Reyna (Manchester City, England), Earnie Stewart (D.C. United, MLS).
Forwards (3): Conor Casey (FSV Mainz, Germany), Jovan Kirovski (Los Angeles Galaxy, MLS), Brian McBride (Fulham FC, England).

Grenada
(all teams are from the domestic league unless otherwise noted)

Goalkeepers: Kellon Baptiste (GBSS), Desmond Noel (QPR).
Defenders: Anthony Modeste (QPR), Brian Benjamin (GBSS), Franklyn Baptiste (ESS), Kennedy Phillip (Fontenoy FC), Ricky Charles (University of South Carolina-Spantanburg), Eric George (Springs) Anthony Bedeau (Torquay United, England).
Midfielders Patrick Modeste (QPR), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution, MLS), Byron Bubb (Aylesbury United, England), Ricky Morris (Hurricanes FC), Arkenson Neckles (QPR).
Forwards:Jason Roberts (Wigan Athletic FC, England), Nigel Bishop (GBSS), Kithson Bain (Ball Dogs), Everetts Watts.

Robert Wagman is a SoccerTimes senior correspondent. E-mail Robert Wagman.

©Copyright 2004 SoccerTimes.com. All Rights Reserved