CHICAGO - United States men's national team manager Bruce Arena today named Chicago Fire midfielders Chris Armas and DaMarcus Beasley to the 18-man roster that will represent the U.S. in their first match in Chicago in over a decade when the side takes on Poland in the first match of a Fire-U.S. Soccer doubleheader on Sunday, July 11 at Soldier Field. Kickoff for the U.S.-Poland match is set for 6 p.m. CT, with the Fire hosting the New England Revolution in a rematch of last year's MLS Eastern Conference final in the second match, beginning at 8:30 p.m. CT.
Soccer fans - over 25,000 of which have already purchased tickets for the historic night of soccer on the lakefront - can watch the U.S.-Poland match live on ESPN2, while the Fire-Revolution contest will be carried live on Fox Sports Net. Fans can also follow the U.S. match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
Advance tickets for the doubleheader, ranging in price levels from $28 to $80, can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 312-559-1212 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Chicago Fire Offices, located at 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 (corner of Oak/Michigan) in Chicago. Group discounts are also available and can be arranged by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
The U.S. will be making its first appearance in the Windy City since June 13, 1993, a 4-3 loss to Germany. Overall, the U.S. holds a 1-2-1 record in Chicago, including a 1-0 loss to the Poles in 1973. The friendly against Poland will mark the U.S.A.'s final tune-up before the semifinal round of CONCACAF qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany begins in August.
After leading the Fire as the team's captain during the past two seasons, Armas has been called upon by Arena to help solidify the U.S. midfield during its run towards Germany 2006. The 31-year-old Armas has now made 57 appearances for the U.S. national team, including seven caps already in 2004. The Brentwood, N.Y. native recently started in both of the U.S.A.'s wins over Grenada earlier this month during the opening round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the Germany 2006 World Cup, helping the "Stars-and-Stripes" advance to the semifinal group stage with a 6-2 aggregate score.
Beasley has been busy with both club and country in 2004, collecting eight of his 35 career appearances for Arena this year. The 22-year-old midfielder has taken his game to a new level for the U.S., scoring four goals in those eight games, including the game-winning goal in three of the U.S.'s five wins this year. Beasley scored three times in the U.S. side's two matches against Grenada in the opening round of CONCACAF qualifying, including both game winners in a 3-0 victory on June 13 and a 3-2 win on June 20. Beasley has been named the U.S.A.'s Chevrolet Man of the Match on three occasions this year.
While Armas and Beasley will get the first chance to play in front of the Fire faithful in the Red, White and Blue of the U.S. national team, a pair of former Fire stalwarts and Chicago fan favorites - defender Carlos Bocanegra and goalkeeper Zach Thornton - have earned the chance to roam the Soldier Field grounds once again after being named to the U.S. squad for the July 11 contest.
Bocanegra, who has earned 25 caps for the U.S., played for the Fire from 2000-2003 and established himself as one of MLS's most talented and tenacious defenders, proven by his back-to-back MLS ADT Defender of the Year awards in 2002 and 2003. Thornton was a "Fire Original" and served Chicago's MLS side for six seasons from 1998-2003. The 29-year-old 'keeper amassed the most wins in MLS history (91) and posted a stellar 1.23 GAA, good for the second best in League history, during his time with the "Men in Red." The game will also serve as a homecoming for Chicago-area native and U.S. star Brian McBride, who has also been called upon by Arena for the match.