San Jose Earthquakes forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan called into U.S. national team camp
SAN JOSE - San Jose Earthquakes forward Brian Ching and midfielder Brian Mullan have been called in to United States national team training camp to prepare for the United States next World Cup Qualifying matches, on March 27 against Mexico at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and against Guatemala on March 30 at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama. U.S. head coach Bruce Arena named 28 MLS players to participate in the initial training camp, which begins February 28 in Carson, Calif.
The U.S. team has a busy schedule ahead, as the squad will play Colombia in an exhibition game on March 9 in Fullerton, Calif. and then head to Colorado Springs for altitude training at the Air Force Academy on March 10. Bruce Arena's team faces Honduras in another exhibition match in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 19.
Ching, 26, was in training camp for the last World Cup Qualifier and was on the bench as the U.S. downed Trinidad & Tobago on Feb. 9. Ching is looking to build on a breakout 2004 with the national team that saw him appear in four games and score goals in his first two World Cup qualifying matches. After making his first appearance of the year on July 11 against Poland, Ching scored a goal against Jamaica on Aug. 18 in the 89th minute to tie the match at 1-1, and then he struck for the game-winning goal on Sept. 4 against El Salvador in a 2-0 U.S. win. He started his final match of the year against Panama on Sept. 8, before a quad strain kept him out of the final three U.S. games of the year. Ching has earned five caps in his career. In MLS last season, Ching led the league with 12 goals, while also notching four assists.
Mullan also made strides at the national team level in 2004, and was with the squad for the first training camp of 2005, but did not see action vs. Trinidad & Tobago. The 26-year old midfielder made his first appearance for the United States on July 11, 2004 against Poland at Soldier Field. He entered the match as a substitute in the second half. Mullan scored three goals and notched eight assists for the Quakes in 2004.
The U.S. will play 10 games in the final round of qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup from Feb. 9 - Oct. 13, 2005. The USA, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama and Trinidad & Tobago are competing for three automatic berths to the World Cup finals in Germany. The fourth-place finisher will face the fifth-place team from the Asian Football Confederation in a home-and-home series to determine the last entrant into the tournament.