Team Begins Preparations for a Trio of California Friendlies in January and February
U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena has named 30 players to the training camp roster that will begin workouts Jan. 4 at the National Training Center in Carson, Calif. The group will prepare for a series of friend-lies to take place in January and February.
The U.S. will open 2006 action against Canada on Jan. 22 in San Diego, then host Norway on Jan. 29 at The Home Depot Center. The U.S. will play Japan for only the second time in history when they meet at SBC Park on Feb. 10 in San Francisco. The USA’s first match in the city in 26 years will be broadcast live on ESPN2.
“We eagerly look forward to seeing our domestic players,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena. “We want to do the best job we can of making the roster as competitive as possible over the next six months so we can position our team to be successful in the World Cup. We view this camp and the games in January and February as critical towards our preparation for Germany.”
2005 U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year finalist Landon Donovan headlines the group that has 29 of 30 players based in MLS. With 73 international appearances, he is the most capped player on the roster alongside Real Salt Lake defender Eddie Pope. Pope and Columbus Crew defender Frankie Hejduk are the only two players in the group who have played in two World Cups.
The two MLS Cup finalists contribute the most players, with league champion Los Angeles Galaxy and the New England Revolution sending five men apiece. In addition to Donovan, defender Chris Albright returns to the fold after making seven appearances in 2005, the most of his international career. Meantime, the Revolution send their regular quartet of attacking players, led by midfielder Steve Ralston. The 31-year old tied Donovan for most appearances for the USA (15) while collecting three assists, good for third best on the U.S. list.
FC Dallas striker Eddie Johnson returns to the fold after missing five months of action with a toe injury. John-son, who had three goals and one assist in six games played in ’05, became the first player in MNT history to score in his first four games when he scored the opening goal in the USA’s 2-1 qualifying win against Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9 in Port of Spain. FC Nordsjælland defender Heath Pearce, who made his debut for the senior team in the 1-1 draw against Scotland on Nov. 12 in Glasgow, is the only European-based player on the roster and is available because the Danish Super League is shut down for the winter break.
Arena has called four goalkeepers into camp, including both starters from MLS Cup ’05 in Kevin Hartman and Matt Reis. Brad Guzan becomes the first player called from Chivas USA to a U.S. camp, and is one of five players making their debut. Freddy Adu, Todd Dunivant, Ugo Ihemelu and Nate Jaqua round out the rookie class.
The USA was drawn into Group E for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with the Czech Republic, Ghana, and Italy. The U.S. plays their opening match against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsen-kirchen. Five days later, the USA faces Italy in Kaiserslautern, and then finishes off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg. The U.S. has chosen the northern port city of Hamburg as their base of operations throughout the tournament.
Ticket Info: The U.S. will kick off at Torero Stadium at 5 p.m. PT, and the match will be available online via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. Tickets ranging in price levels from $25 to $90. Tickets are also available at USD’s Jenny Craig Pavilion Box Office (Monday Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and by phone at 619-260-7550 (Monday Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.).