With a full-international match versus CONCACAF foe Jamaica set for Sept. 8, U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena today named the 18-player roster that will travel to Kingston for the match.
The roster features several of the top young MLS players, and includes four members of the U.S. U-23 national team, which in April will compete in CONCACAF Qualifying for the right to play in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia.
The USA-Jamaica match in Kingston will actually be part of a unique doubleheader, featuring the two nations' Under-17 National Teams in the preliminary match. The USA and Jamaican U-17s are scheduled to kick off at 5:30 p.m. ET, with the senior teams playing at 7:30 p.m. ET.
"Rebuilding the national team is a long-term process," said Arena. "And in order to ensure success down the road, our younger, talented players need to be exposed to the international game. The Jamaica game will give me the opportunity to look at some new faces, as well as bring back some players with previous national team experience."
With 34 and 28 appearances, respectively, for the United States, 27-year-old forward Brian McBride and 25-year old defender Eddie Pope are easily the most experienced members of the squad. After Eddie Lewis, who has earned 12 of his 13 appearances in the last 10 months, the remaining 15 players all have less than eight appearances total. Eight players will be searching for their first appearance for the U.S.
The U.S. U-23 contingent includes Steve Cherundolo and Chad McCarty, as well as midfielder Chris Albright and forward Josh Wolff. Cherundolo, who is a starting defender for Hannover 96 in the German second division, is the only member of the squad who is not affiliated with an MLS club. Albright, 20, has already appeared for both the U-20 and U-23 National Teams this year.
The roster also includes several of MLS' statistical leaders. The most notable is Dallas Burn forward Jason Kreis, who with 14 goals and 12 assists is currently tied for the league scoring lead. Following closely behind Kreis are Chicago's Ante Razov (12 goals, six assists) and Wolff (10 goals, two assists), Miami's Henry Gutierrez (four goals, 13 assists), and Tampa Bay midfielder Steve Ralston (four goals, 13 assists).
The U.S. goal will be guarded by Zach Thornton and Kevin Hartman. Thornton's consistent play has helped Chicago challenge Colorado for the lead in MLS' Western Conference, while Hartman is the MLS leader with a 15-9 record and a 0.84 goals against average for the L.A. Galaxy.
"Playing Jamaica in Kingston will be a tremendous challenge," added Arena. This experience will only help to build our team towards qualification next year."
Here's a look at the U.S. roster:
Goalkeepers -- Kevin Hartman (Los Angeles Galaxy), Zach Thornton (Chicago Fire).
Defenders -- Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, Germany), Leo Cullen (Miami Fusion), Chad McCarty (Tampa Bay Mutiny), Eddie Pope (D.C. United), Greg Vanney (Los Angeles Galaxy).
Midfielders -- Henry Gutierrez (Miami Fusion), Jay Heaps (Miami Fusion), Jason Kreis (Dallas Burn), Eddie Lewis (San Jose Clash), Steve Ralston (Tampa Bay Mutiny), Billy Walsh (MetroStars), Richie Williams (D.C. United).
Forwards -- Chris Albright (D.C. United), Brian McBride (Columbus Crew), Ante Razov (Chicago Fire), Josh Wolff (Chicago Fire).
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