MetroStars defender Eddie Pope and midfielder Eddie Gaven were called to the U.S. national team by U.S. manager Bruce Arena for the team's July 11 international friendly against Poland at Soldier Field in Chicago, Ill. The match will serve as a final tune-up for the team in preparation for its semifinal round of FIFA World Cup Qualifying. Taking place at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2, fans can also follow the game live online at ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
The squad includes nine players who were on the National side for their recent 3-2 victory in a June 20 second-leg World Cup Qualifier against Grenada and 13 of the 18 players selected play for MLS teams.
Gaven (17 years, 260 days old) could be one of the youngest Americans to make an appearance for the senior national team -- fourth behind Mike Slivinski (16 years, 318 days old -- 9/14/1991 vs. Jamaica), Mark Jonas (16 years, 332 days old -- 9/14/1991 vs. Jamaica) and Bobby Convey (17 years, 151 days old -- 10/25/2000 vs. Mexico). He has earned several appearances and starts on other U.S. national teams, most notably playing for the Under-17 national squad that took fifth place at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. Gaven most recently appeared for the United States on the Under-23 national team during Olympic Qualifying. During the 2004 Olympic Qualifying, he became the youngest player ever to appear on a U.S. Olympic Qualifying Team (at 17 years and 89 days), passing fellow New Jersey native Claudio Reyna. Reyna was 17 years and 336 days when he made his appearance in the tournament. Third on the list is current U.S. national team and Chicago Fire star DaMarcus Beasley, who appeared at 17 years and 362 days.
The Hamilton, N.J., midfielder has also started in each of the MetroStars' 13 games this season, scoring two goals and adding four assists, tying him for second on the team in points. Gaven's most notable performance came on June 23 in a 3-0 victory over Western Conference rivals, the L.A. Galaxy, when his two goals and all-around play also earned him Man-of-the-Match honors.
While Gaven is a new face on the U.S. National Team, Pope has earned 61 caps for his country, wearing the captain's armband on several occasions during international matches this year. The defender last appeared in a 3-0 first-leg World Cup Qualifier victory over Grenada on June 13, 2004. Although he has missed time with the MetroStars due to international duty, Pope has started in 10 of the team's 13 games and helped the "Red and Black" to their Eastern Conference-leading record of 5-4-4. He has scored six goals for his national team.
The U.S. has played Poland more times than any other European opponent (13, dating all the way back to 1924). Poland leads the all-time series with a 7-5-1 record, including a 3-1 victory in the final Group D match in the 2002 World Cup. However the United States is looking for its second consecutive win against the side this year. The USA took the spoils in the last meeting on U.S. soil, a 3-1 victory on May 9, 1990 in Hershey, Pa. The team will report to training in Chicago on July 5, with players from the Dallas Burn and San Jose Earthquakes arriving July 8 after their league game Wednesday night in San Jose.
Poland will be the final opponent the United States will face before the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying begins on Aug. 18 in Jamaica. The six-game, round robin group continues with the U.S. at home on Sept. 4 in Foxborough, Mass., against El Salvador, and on the road on September 8th in Panama. The four-team group concludes with a road game on Oct. 0 in El Salvador and then consecutive home games on Oct. 13 against Panama in Washington, D.C., and Nov. 17 in Columbus, Ohio against Jamaica.