CHICAGO - U.S. Men’s National Team head coach Bruce Arena has chosen a 27-man roster that will train in preparation for the international friendly against Canada on Saturday, January 18 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The first training camp of 2003 will be held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida from Jan. 4-16, before the team relocates to Ft. Lauderdale.
“The training camp in Florida provides an opportunity to begin to build the foundations of fitness and form that will help us compete throughout the year,” said Arena. “Since most of these players have experienced a long layoff, we will focus on improving their conditioning while continuing to evaluate their potential to compete at the international level.”
Six players from the U.S. World Cup side will participate in camp, led by the attacking trio of Brian McBride, Clint Mathis and Landon Donovan. Mathis led the USA in scoring in 2002, recording seven goals and two assists. Meantime, the 20-year old Donovan, who recently re-signed with MLS for two more seasons, was the only player to appear in all 20 of the USA’s matches in 2002, finishing first in starts and minutes played. Veteran defender Eddie Pope returns to national team duty after undergoing knee surgery on October 29 to remove scar tissue.
MLS players dominate the roster, with all 10 MLS teams represented for the two-week training camp. Six players from the 2002 MLS Best XI Wade Barrett, Carlos Bocanegra, Jeff Cunningham, Tim Howard, Steve Ralston, and Taylor Twellman make the roster. In addition, the league’s goalkeeper of the year, the San Jose Earthquakes Joe Cannon, looks to earn his first cap for the United States.
The Columbus Crew contributes the largest contingent to Arena’s side, with McBride leading five members of the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup champions to Bradenton. MLS Rookie of the Year Kyle Martino will look to get his second cap for the U.S. after appearing in the 2-0 victory against El Salvador on Nov. 17 in Washington, D.C. The West coast clubs commit eight players to the effort, with 2002 MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes sending four a piece. Earthquakes midfielder Richard Mulrooney returns to action after suffering a fractured ankle against the L.A. Galaxy on Sept. 14 of this year.
In addition to the 27-man roster, Chicago Fire midfielder Chris Armas and FC Nurnberg defender Tony Sanneh will join the team in Florida to continue rehabilitation from injuries. Armas suffered a torn ACL in the USA’s 2-0 win against Uruguay during the “Nike Road to Korea” on May 12 of this year. Sanneh has been playing through a back injury in Germany for the last two months, and will receive treatment while the German Bundesliga takes its annual winter break.
The match against Canada is a rematch of the team’s 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinal clash on January 30 in Pasadena, Calif., which was won by the U.S. in penalty kicks after a well-played 0-0 draw. In their history, the U.S. and Canada have squared off against each other 25 times in a rivalry dating all the way back to 1925, with the U.S. holding a slight 9-8-8 advantage. However, the United States has not lost to Canada in nine consecutive games, compiling a 5-4-0 mark in a stretch dating back more than 17 years to a 2-0 loss in Vancouver on April 2, 1985.