U.S. SOCCER: Venezuela replaces Japan in March 29 friendly vs. USA

Venezuela will replace Japan as the USA's opponent in the March 29 friendly at Seattle Seahawks Stadium in Seattle, Wash.

Japan, which was also scheduled to play Uruguay March 26 in San Diego, canceled its U.S. tour because of concerns by Japanese clubs about security risks following the United States' military attack on Iraq.

The decision was made by the Japan Football Association (JFA) at a meeting Friday in Tokyo.

The USA-Venezuela game kicks off at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT and will be broadcast live on ESPN2 Saturday, March 29.

''We are certainly disappointed by the decision of the Japanese Football Association,'' said U.S. Soccer President Robert Contiguglia. ''We provided their federation with ample evidence of the extensive security measures in place.

''We continue to have every confidence that Seattle will provide a safe environment for the players and fans to enjoy an outstanding display of soccer. Sporting events around the country remain on schedule, and we look forward to welcoming Venezuela to Seattle.''

The United States and Venezuela have met onceá -- a 3-3 draw at the 1993 Copa America.

Venezuela, which has never qualified for the World Cup, experienced its most successful qualifying run during its attempt to reach the 2002 tournament. The Venezuelans won five games, including four of their last five matches when they downed Uruguay, Chile, Peru and Paraguay.

''We're excited that Venezuela has accepted the invitation to play us,'' said U.S. coach Bruce Arena, who called in 10 players from the 2002 World Cup team for training camp beginning Monday in Portland. ''Over the past two or three years, the Venezuelan national team has made great strides, and I think they are perhaps the most improved team in South America.á We are certainly looking forward to the challenge.''

Tickets for the USA-Japan match will be valid for the game against Venezuela. U.S. Soccer says that fans who want a refund must make their cancellation by Friday, March 28, at 5 p.m. PT by returning tickets to their original point of purchase. Fans who ordered through Ticketmaster via phone or the Internet should call Ticketmaster directly or visit www.ticketmaster.com for further details.

U.S. ROSTER for March 29 friendly vs. Venezuela

Tim Howard (MetroStars) 5 caps/0 goals
Kasey Keller (Tottenham Hotspur) 60/0

Carlos Bocanegra (Chicago) 10/2
Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96) 11/0
Nick Garcia (Kansas City) 3/0
Frankie Hejduk (Columbus) 44/5
Eddie Pope (MetroStars) 55/5

DaMarcus Beasley (Chicago) 18/3
Bobby Convey (D.C. United) 6/0
Chris Klein (Kansas City) 10/2
Kyle Martino (Columbus) 1/0
Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado) 17/0
John O'Brien (Ajax Amsterdam) 20/2
Earnie Stewart (D.C. United) 84/15

Edson Buddle (Columbus) 0/0
Landon Donovan (San Jose) 32/7
Jovan Kirovski (Birmingham City) 54/7
Brian McBride (Columbus) 65/20

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