U.S. Men’s National Team Manager Bruce Arena has selected 19 players to face 2006 FIFA World Cup host Germany on March 22 in Dortmund, one of 12 cities hosting matches in the tournament this summer. Kickoff at the Westfalenstadion is set for 8:25 p.m. local time (2:25 p.m. ET), and the match will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Fans can also follow live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
The U.S., which moved to their best-ever fifth place position in the latest FIFA World Rankings, will be looking to stay unbeaten during their 2006 World Cup preparations vs. Germany. The U.S. announced on Monday their final plans before the FIFA World Cup, which will include the three-game Send-Off Series vs. Morocco, Venezuela and Latvia.
The match does not fall on an international fixture date as set by FIFA prior to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, limiting the players available for selection by Arena. The governing body for soccer in Germany, the Deutscher Fussball Bund (DFB), has an agreement with all the clubs in Germany to release their players for the match in Dortmund, which will allow Germany to call on a nearly full-strength squad. At the same time, the U.S. will also be able to call on their players based in Germany.
“We look forward to the game versus Germany. The German team will be prepared to play their best against us and this will be an incredible challenge for our players,” said U.S. Manager Bruce Arena, who has a 2-2-0 lifetime record against Germany, including his first-ever victory as coach of the MNT, a 3-0 win on Feb. 6, 1999 in Jacksonville, Fla. “Although we will be playing with a less than full roster, this game will provide an outstanding opportunity for some of our players to show they deserve strong consideration for the World Cup roster. As a coach, you can’t ask for more.”
For the U.S. goalkeeper Kasey Keller headlines the German-based contingent, having collected an amazing 45 shutouts in 90 career matches, an average of one shutout for every two games played. Also coming from Germany are 2002 World Cup veterans Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus) and Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), who serve as captain and vice-captain of their squads, respectively. Bobby Convey and Marcus Hahnemann from English League Championship leaders Reading FC have been cleared to play.
Landon Donovan heads the domestic-based contingent, who along with Real Salt Lake defender Eddie Pope holds the second most caps on the U.S. roster with 77 appearances. The two-time U.S. Soccer Player of the Year is now tied with Cobi Jones for the all-time U.S. assist lead (22) after getting a point in the 5-0 win against Norway on Jan. 29. The 2005 MLS MVP, Taylor Twellman, has scored four goals and tallied three assists in his last three matches for the U.S. The Kansas City Wizards duo of Josh Wolff and Kerry Zavagnin and Real Salt Lake midfielder Chris Klein are the only players on the roster to appear in all five of the USA’s matches in 2006 as either a starter or a reserve.
Making his first appearance in 2006 is ADO Den Haagbased defender Cory Gibbs, who was sidelined with a knee injury for the second half of the 2005 campaign.
The U.S. has played Germany seven times dating back to 1993, with the Germans holding a 5-2-0 lifetime advantage. Most recently, Germany ended the USA’s historic run through the 2002 FIFA World Cup with a 1-0 quarterfinal victory on June 21, 2002, in Jeonju, Korea. The teams met once before on German soil, a 4-2 loss for the U.S. on March 27, 2002, in Rostock in the USA’s penultimate match prior to selecting their World Cup roster.
Three-time FIFA World Cup champions, the Germans have qualified successfully for every World Cup finals they have entered. With 16 overall appearances, they are second only to Brazil (18). The first team to advance to the championship game in three consecutive World Cups, Germany is now led by manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
The U.S. has kicked off the year in solid form, going 4-0-1 and netting 13 goals while only surrendering two. After drawing with Canada on Jan. 22 in San Diego in their opening game of 2006, the U.S. has produced four straight victories against Norway, FIFA World Cup finalists Japan and Poland, and Guatemala, three by shutout.
The USA was drawn into Group E for the 2006 FIFA World Cup along with the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. The U.S. plays their opening match against the Czechs on June 12 in Gelsenkirchen before meeting Italy in Kaiserslautern on June 17 and then finishing off group play against Ghana on June 22 in Nuremberg.