Thursday, March 16, 2006

ATH: National Team News

News from the National Team Players Association:

U.S. Moves Up in FIFA Rankings

ZURICH, Switzerland (March 15, 2006) AP -- The U.S. national team improved to fifth in FIFA's monthly rankings -- the highest it's ever been placed by world soccer's governing body.

The Americans, who broke out of a three-way tie for sixth with Spain and Mexico despite dropping a point to 764 in Wednesday's latest poll, also moved ahead of France, which dropped to eighth.

The United States reached the quarterfinals at the 2002 World Cup finals and won the 2005 Gold Cup.

At the other end of the top 20, World Cup host Germany and European champion Greece dropped out.

Greece, which failed to qualify for this year's World Cup, dropped from 19th place to 21st with 704 points. Germany, which reached the final at the last World Cup and will host the next edition, had been tied with the Greeks but dropped to 22nd with 700 points.

Brazil remained at the top of the list with 835 points, two less than it had in February's rankings. The Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Argentina continue to occupy the next three spots.

The Czechs remain a distant second with 789 points, but that's only one more than the Netherlands. The Argentines also lead the United States by only one point.

Spain remained in sixth place, while Mexico dropped to seventh and France to eighth.

England stayed ninth and Portugal remained in 10th.

Iran and Croatia were the teams that benefited from the drop at the bottom of the top 20, sharing 19th in place of Greece and Germany.

Also, Palestine moved up 17 places to 121st, its best-ever ranking.

FIFA's monthly world rankings for March (last month's rankings in parentheses):
1. (1) Brazil, 835 points.
2. (2) Czech Republic, 789.
3. (3) Netherlands, 788.
4. (4) Argentina, 765.
5. (6) United States, 764.
6. (6) Spain, 763.
7. (6) Mexico, 762.
8. (5) France, 760.
9. (9) England, 756.
10. (10) Portugal, 755.
11. (11) Turkey, 743.
12. (12) Nigeria, 738.
(tie) (12) Italy, 738.
14. (14) Denmark, 736.
15. (16) Cameroon, 726.
16. (15) Sweden, 725.
17. (17) Egypt, 714.
18. (18) Japan, 712.
19. (22) Iran, 705.
(tie) (23) Croatia, 705.

Dempsey Left Off U.S. Roster

NEW YORK (March 15, 2006) -- Clint Dempsey was left off the U.S. roster for next week's friendly at Germany after the midfielder was suspended by the New England Revolution following a practice-field fight with a teammate.

The decision by coach Bruce Arena was due to the suspension announced Wednesday by the Major League Soccer team, U.S. Soccer Federation spokesman Jim Moorhouse said.

Dempsey, who fought with Revolution captain Joe Franchino, scored in the 1-0 win over Poland on March 1 and is trying to earn one of the last spots on the 23-man World Cup roster. He was suspended by the club through March 26.

ADO The Hague defender Cory Gibbs was among the 19 players selected for the March 22 game at Dortmund. He hasn't played for the national team since May 28, when he injured a knee in an exhibition game against England.

The U.S. roster was comprised of 12 players from MLS clubs.

Because the game against Germany isn't on an international fixture date, the Americans won't have several of their Europe-based players available, including midfielders Claudio Reyna and DaMarcus Beasley, forward Brian McBride and defenders Oguchi Onyewu and Eddie Lewis.

German clubs were required to release their players for the game, so goalkeeper Kasey Keller and defenders Gregg Berhalter and Steve Cherundolo were selected.

Reading, which has a large lead in the English League Championship, allowed Arena to pick goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann and midfielder Bobby Convey.

"Although we will be playing with a less than full roster, this game will provide an outstanding opportunity for some of our players to show they deserve strong consideration for the World Cup roster," Arena said.

The Americans, who moved up to an all-time high fifth in Wednesday's FIFA world rankings, will be playing their last game in Europe before the World Cup. After meeting Germany, they have friendies at home against Jamaica (April 11), Morocco (May 23), Venezuela (May 26) and Latvia (May 28).

Germany, ranked 22nd, is coming off a 4-1 loss to Italy. Bayern Munich midfielder Sebastian Deisler was dropped from the German roster Wednesday after hurting his right knee in practice and will go to the United States for arthroscopic surgery.

U.S. roster:
Goalkeepers: Marcus Hahnemann (Reading, England), Kasey Keller (Borussia Moenchengladbach, Germany).

Defenders: Gregg Berhalter (Energie Cottbus, Germany), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96, Germany), Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City), Cory Gibbs (ADO Den Haag, Netherlands), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus), Heath Pearce (FC Nordsjaelland, Denmark), Eddie Pope (Salt Lake).

Midfielders: Bobby Convey (Reading, England), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles), Chris Klein (Salt Lake), Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado), Ben Olsen (D.C. United), Kerry Zavagnin (Kansas City).

Forwards: Brian Ching (Houston), Eddie Johnson (Kansas City), Taylor Twellman (New England), Josh Wolff (Kansas City).

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