XT Post Number King
Teams: INTER & Tottenham Hotspur
Friday, January 17, 2003
Americans start gearing up for 2003 tourneys
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- U.S. coach Bruce Arena has turned to youth for his team's first game of the year.
Three players could make their national team debuts Saturday night against Canada, and 11 others on the U.S. roster have fewer than five international appearances.
"It's basically a starting point for evaluating new pool of players,'' Arena said. "You want to give some new players some opportunities and see how they respond. I imagine our average age on the team will be 23 years old.''
The United States was 13-6-1 last year, setting a national record for victories and advancing to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, the best showing by the Americans since the first tournament in 1930. Arena was rewarded with a new four-year contract in December.
To start preparations for the 2006 World Cup, Arena will use this year mostly to assess young talent. The highlights of the American schedule are the FIFA Confederations Cup in June and July's CONCACAF Gold Cup, the championship of North and Central America and the Caribbean.
The most experienced player on the roster for the Canada game is 20-year-old forward Landon Donovan, who has 29 international appearances.
"The reason I think that this team succeeded is that they had young people like us nipping at them all the time, trying to take their spots, and it makes them better players,'' Donovan said. "I hope they come up and give me a scare, too. It's good for us.''
Donovan joked that he was sporting new facial hair to appear older.
"That's why I'm growing the beard -- for maturity purposes,'' he laughed.
World Cup veteran Pablo Mastroeni feels like a grizzled veteran.
"For people of a certain age, like myself or Clint Mathis, it's a matter of what you have to take away from your lifestyle in order to better your professional life,'' Mastroeni said. "I'm 26 now, I've got to exercise every day and take care of what I eat. I can't go out like Donovan and eat a Big Mac every day.''
DaMarcus Beasley, 20, is happy to be gaining some seniority.
"Not being the youngest guy anymore feels pretty good,'' he said. "But it doesn't matter if you're a young player. What coach does is throw you in the pond and he'll see if you can swim.''
The U.S. won't be the only team featuring young players. Canada also will be without some of its players, who are with clubs in Europe.
Canada coach Holger Osiek called in four players from a youth camp in Mexico to fill in for injured players and for Paul Fenwick, who has food poisoning.
The Canadians, who haven't beaten the United States in 17 years, will try to erase memories of their last meeting with the United States -- a loss in penalty kicks in the semifinals of the 2002 CONCACAF Gold Cup.
My heart = INTER...No Matter Win or Lose...
Zanetti : I still remember my first day at Inter. I arrived with a plastic bag with my boots inside and I crossed the crowd of fans who were asking who I was. That's where it all started.....