The day before the Olympics officially begin with the opening ceremonies, what is really the U.S. Men’s Under-23 National Team (with three over-age players) plays at 2 a.m. our time on MSNBC against Japan in its Group B opener.
The U.S. roster:
goalkeepers Brad Guzan (Aston Villa) and Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake; defenders Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC); midfielders Freddy Adu (Monaco), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Benny Feilhaber (Derby County), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Danny Szetela (Brescia Calcio); forwards Jozy Altidore (Villarreal), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Brian McBride (Chicago Fire), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew).
The Japan roster:
goalkeepers Kaito Yamamoto (Shimizu S-Pulse), Shusaku Nishikawa (Oita Trinita); defenders Hiroki Miumoto (Kyoto Purple Sanga), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo), Masato Morishige (Oita Trinita), Michihiro Yasuda (Gamba Osaka), Atsuto Uchida (Kashima Antlers), Maya Yoshida (Magoya Grampus); midfielders Takuya Honda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Hiroyuki Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Yohei Kajiyama (FC Tokyo), Hajime Hosogai (Urawa Reds), Keisuke Honda (VVV Venlo – Holland), Shinji Kagawa (Cerezo Osake); forwards Yohei Toyoda (Montedio Yamagata), Tadanari Lee (Kashiwa Reysol), Shinji Okazaki (Shimizu S-Pulse), Takayuki Morimoto (Catania – Italy) .
*The U.S. is winless and hasn’t scored in its two tune-up games.
*Seven players were part of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Among the goalscorers: Jozy Altidore (4) and Freddy Adu (3).
*The U.S. team ranges in age from 18 (Altidore) to 36 (Brian McBride). The other two overage players – former Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan and Michael Parkhurst – are just 24.
*Parkhurst was named Major League Soccer’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 at just 23 years old, while Guzan was last year’s MLS Goalkeeper of the Year at the same age. Fontana’s Maurice Edu was also an award winner last year, as he was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.
*Electronic Arts, maker of video game FIFA Soccer, announced today that Edu will join Brazilian International Ronaldinho and Mexican national team goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa as the cover athletes for the latest version.
From the press release:
Edu will also become the first and only Major League Soccer player to appear as a customized Mii character exclusively for the Wii home video game system in FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play. EA SPORTS has created a unique version of Edu and his character will be playable alongside some of the world’s biggest soccer stars, including Ronaldinho, Wayne Rooney, Franck Ribry and others– all created as special Mii characters exclusively for FIFA Soccer 09 All-Play.
“I got a kick out of my Mii because it looks like he has a lot of fun on the pitch and he’s capable of pulling off some wild moves,” said Edu. “It’s fun to take control of my character and blast outrageous shots on goal with a flick of the wrist. I’ve never played soccer like this before.”
New for this version: up to 20 people playing fixed positions can play a single game at the same time.