- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 16, 2002

A young and inexperienced American team will face El Salvador in an international exhibition game at RFK Stadium tomorrow.
The American team is so untested at the international level that 20-year-old Landon Donovan, who has played 28 national games, is the most experienced player. The average age on coach Bruce Arena's team is 24, and 10 players have yet to make their national team debuts.
This is a far cry from the World Cup team this summer, when the American team had one of the older rosters with an average age of 28 and was the most experienced (10 players had played in more than 50 games ).
The Americans will be the home team in name only at RFK; thousands of Salvadorans are expected to attend. El Salvador is bringing an 18-man roster with many new players.
Arena, whose contract has yet to be renewed by U.S. Soccer, has called up a crop of new players culled from Major League Soccer's 10 clubs as he looks toward next summer's Confederation's Cup in France and the beginning of World Cup qualifying in 2004.
"The greatest thing is that he gives young players a chance and provides an atmosphere to develop their skills," said Kyle Martino, a talented playmaker and the MLS Rookie of the Year with the Columbus Crew who could see action tomorrow.
Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Pablo Mastroeni and Clint Mathis are the only players from the squad that helped the United States reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup in South Korea in June. The game also features former D.C. United midfielder Ben Olsen, who missed nearly two years of national team service with an ankle injury.
"The challenge of building a team capable of qualifying for the World Cup begins again," said Arena, who welcomed guest players Jaime Moreno, Richie Williams and John Harkes in practice Wednesday.
The Fairfax-based coach never has been reluctant to look at new talent. In the four years leading to the 2002 World Cup, Arena gave 93 players a taste of international soccer. This time around, Arena decided to leave his veteran overseas stars with their clubs. The game will be the U.S. team's first international competition since its 1-0 loss to Germany at the World Cup.
Many eyes will be on New England Revolution striker Taylor Twellman, who scored 23 goals in his first MLS season. The 22-year old former University of Maryland star will be out to show Arena he can score at the highest level.
"I don't think I'll realize I was called into camp until after it's over," Twellman said.
D.C. United goalie Nick Rimando will make his debut in an American jersey. There's still some question whether Rimando, who is listed at 5-foot-10, can make it on the international scene, where goalies are as tall as 6-6. America's No.1 goalie, Brad Friedel, is 6-4.
While the Americans have played 20 games this year, including the MLS All-Star Game, El Salvador has not played since the Gold Cup in January, where it lost to the Americans 4-0 at the Rose Bowl.
Super Friedel Goalie Brad Friedel, who plays for England's Blackburn Rovers, will have knee surgery tomorrow to fix cartilage damage. "Hopefully, he will just miss a couple of games," Blackburn coach Graeme Souness said. "We don't want to delay it as we have a busy program over Christmas."
Friedel held off the surgery until after his club's vital clash with Glasgow Celtic in the UEFA Cup on Thursday, which the Rovers lost 2-0. Friedel, who is currently the hottest goalie in the Premier League, was so good for Blackburn in last week's 1-1 tie at Southampton that opposing coach Gordon Strachan called him Superman.
"If you take Brad Friedel's jersey off, then he'll have a leotard underneath with a big 'S' on it," Strachan said. "He must have changed in a telephone box before this game. Some of the guy's saves were unbelievable."
Before the Celtic game, a highlight package of Friedel's saves was shown on the big screen.
Meanwhile, Joe-Max Moore, now in his last days in England, earned an assist as Everton's reserve team downed Bolton's reserves 2-1.
Future hope D.C. United's young forward, Santino Quaranta, is listed among World Soccer magazine's 100 Rising Stars.



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