- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

After a bland scoreless tie with Canada on Sunday notable only for Freddy Adu’s team debut, the seventh-ranked U.S. team takes on Norway tomorrow in Carson, Calif., as it prepares for the World Cup in June.

The Americans are slated to play up to 10 games in the run-up to the finals in Germany, where they will face a tough first round against the Czech Republic, Italy and Ghana. The warm-up matches will include homes games against Guatemala and Japan, but more importantly, road games against Poland and Germany — two teams that beat the U.S. team at the 2002 finals held in Korea and Japan.

It’s likely a game will be scheduled against an African nation in order to prepare for Ghana, which lost its opening game of the African Cup of Nations to Nigeria 1-0 on Monday.

Fairfax-based coach Bruce Arena will use the games to decide on his 23-man roster for the big event, and to toughen his squad up against European opponents.

With a squad made up predominantly of Major League Soccer-based players, the U.S. team could only put two shots on goal against the 84th-ranked Canadians. The 37th-ranked Norwegians should prove a tougher task for the Americans, who in the past have not done well against European teams. In its last four World Cup appearances the U.S. team has played 10 European nations [-] losing eight games, drawing one and earning a win against Portugal in the 2002 World Cup.

In Arena’s seven years on the job, the Americans are 5-10-4 against European teams. Last year the United States lost to England 2-1 in Chicago and tied Scotland 0-0 in Glasgow in the team’s last game of the year.

The match against Poland on March 1 will be played in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which will be the venue for the U.S. team’s crucial World Cup game June 17 against Italy. The game also will mark the first time Arena will have all his overseas-based players available.

“The game against Poland accomplishes a number of goals for our preparation for the World Cup,” Arena said. “We get the opportunity to play a European opponent, and we have a chance to play in the stadium where we will face Italy in the World Cup in June.”

New England boss — Now that England’s national team coach Sven-Goran Eriksson will be leaving the post after the World Cup, many are clamoring for an Englishman to replace the Swede.

But what English coach has won anything recently? Since the inception of the English Premier League in 1993, no English coach has won the title. Two Scotsman have won the EPL — Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) and Kenny Dalglish (Blackburn Rovers). Frenchman Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) and Portuguese coach Jose Mourinho (Chelsea) also have won titles.

Two English teams have won Europe’s Champions League in the last 20 years: Manchester United coached by Ferguson, and Liverpool coached by Spanish coach Rafael Benitez. Liverpool won the UEFA Cup in 2001 with Gerard Houllier, a French coach, at the helm.

The top candidates for the England job, are Dutchman Guus Hiddink, Houllier, Mourinho, and Scotsman Martin O’Neil. After that, Wigan’s Paul Jewell and Middlesbrough’s Steve McClaren, appear to be the best Englishmen for the job.

Big trades in MLS — There were a number of big moves in MLS this week:

Real Salt Lake acquired eight-year MLS veteran midfielder Chris Klein, 30, from the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for a portion of an allocation.

Chivas USA landed Chicago Fire midfielder Jesse Marsch in exchange for draft picks. A 10-year veteran of MLS, Marsch was one of the founding members of D.C. United in 1996 before leaving the team in 1998. Marsch joins his old college coach, Bob Bradley, with Chivas. Bradley coached him at Princeton, D.C. United and Chicago.

New footwear — Today, Adidas will reveal its new soccer cleat called the TUNIT. Apparently a player is able to customize the shoe to match turf and weather conditions by interchanging different parts of the shoe, such as the upper, the chassis and the studs. U.S. team players Pablo Mastroeni, Pat Noonan, Steve Ralston, Klein and John O’Brien will be wearing the new cleats this year.

United on TV — Comcast SportsNet will launch “Brunch With D.C. United: A Decade Of Passion.” tomorrow at 10 a.m. For the next 10 weeks, the two-hour program will highlight 10 great United games from the past decade.

Roundup — U.S. team defender Cory Gibbs, 26, was handed a free transfer by third-place Dutch club Feyenoord on Tuesday, five days after he returned from a career-threatening injury. Gibbs has been out of action since injuring his left knee against England on May 28.

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