FIFA World Cup Qualifier
Saturday, September 5th, 2009
Sandy, Utah (Rio Tinto Stadium)
8:00p.m. EST, ESPN Classic, ESPN360.com
USA Key Figures:
TIM HOWARD - Goalkeeper (New Jersey, Everton FC (EPL))
The former New York/New Jersey MetroStar (MLS) keeper turned Manchester United F.C. keeper turned now F.C.Everton (EPL) keeper is likely the most talented of the US internationals. With six caps this year for the national squad, Howard has conceded three goals and made 24 saves.
LANDON DONOVAN - Forward (California, L.A. Galaxy (MLS))
If the USA had a youth soccer program like many of the European countries, if the USA had a support system in place to mature and refine the skills of its soccer prodigies, Landon Donovan would be the poster child. While Donovan's athletic prowess resembles his balding patterns, he is, after all, the all-time leader in goals and assists for the national team. While he had an off-season bout of cattiness over the fame and practice habits/leadership abilities of fellow L.A. Galaxy member David Beckham, Donovan remains the leader (without actual captainship) of the USA squad.
BRIAN CHING - Forward (Hawaii, Houston Dynamo (MLS))
Ching is a bit of a wildcard for Saturday night's contest. The 31 year-old has clearly passed his prime, yet remains offensively potent; that is, when he plays. His lone international start this year came in the 2-1 loss at Mexico, but in 16 MLS starts this season he has seven goals and two assists. Ching will most likely try to facilitate and feed off the energy and explosiveness of the younger American strikers.
JOZY ALTIDORE - Forward (Florida, Hull City (EPL))
The 19-year-old Hull City man (currently on loan from La Liga's Villareal) is the young gem of American soccer. While he only has one goal in 6 international starts in 2009, he recently broke through in the English Carling Cup scoring a goal for Hull City -- he also has an assist in his only EPL appearance. While USA Coach Bradley hasn't announced who will start on Saturday night, Altidore will likely get the call although Charlie Davies may start.
CHARLIE DAVIES - Forward (New Hampshire, FC Sochaux (France))
Charlie Davies has broke through in international competition this year; with three goals in five appearances for the Americans, Davies is a pure scorer. Formerly of Hammarby Fotboll (Sweden), Davies recently moved to the Ligue 1 side F.C. Sochaux. On August 15, Davies, a substitute, scored two second-half goals against Bordeaux.
JONATHAN BORNSTEIN - Defender (California/ Chivas USA (MLS))
JONATHAN SPECTOR - Defender (Illinios/West Ham (EPL))
With the suspension of Oguchi Onyewu (AC Milan), either Bornstein or Spector will need to control the left-wing attack of El Salvador.
El Salvador Key Figures:
CRISTIAN CASTILLO - Midfielder (Leon (Mexico))
ELISEO QUINTANILLA - Midfielder (Ermis Aradippou (Cyprus))
ARTURO ALVAREZ - Midfielder (San Jose Earthquakes (MLS))
The Houston, Texas native, Alvarez grew up in the USA youth system; competing on the U-17, U-18, U-20, and U-23 team. Alvarez, however, of Salvadorian descent, made his debut for the El Salvador national side on August 12 in a World Cup Qualifier match against Trinidad and Tobago.
Rio Tinto Stadium (home of Real Salt Lake) couldn't be a worse place to host a critical World Cup Qualifying match: a) white Christian Americans don't like football, and nobody else lives in Utah besides them (95.20% reported white in 2000 Census), b) nobody likes going to Utah, and c) the stadium only hosts 20,000 people. Why not have the game HERE, or HERE (LIKE IT WAS THEN), or HERE, or HERE?
Recap of USA vs Honduras game from March 28, 2009 (HERE via ESPNSoccernet).
Preview of Saturday's game by Steve Davis of ESPN (HERE).
Just don't chant Honduras to El Salvador Futbol fans. (STORY HERE)