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US Under-23 Soccer Team Advances in Quest for Olympics Qualification - 2003-11-18

The United States men's under-age 23 national soccer team is on the verge of reaching the final round of regional qualifying for next year's Athens Olympics.

The U.S. team had a bye into the second round where it is facing the tiny Caribbean island nation of Saint Kitts and Nevis. In the opening leg of the home-and-home series last Saturday in Saint Kitts the Americans dominated, scoring a six to nothing victory.

The second leg match here in the United States is set for Wednesday night in the Washington suburb of Germantown, Maryland. While U.S. coach Glenn Myernick knows his side is virtually assured of advancing, the mission for this game is to improve.

"We get together so infrequently, yet have a big task which is trying to qualify for the Olympics, that we need to maximize every opportunity whether it's training or the return match with Saint Kitts," he said. "And my message to our guys is, get your game face back on because our goal is to play better and improve over the six-zero victory in Saint Kitts."

The winner of this second round series will be determined by aggregate goals for both matches. Unless they fall apart, the Americans will advance to the final round of regional qualifying. That competition will be held in February among the seven second-round winners and host Mexico.

The eight teams there will compete in two groups of four for round-robin play. The top two teams in each group play in the semifinals, with the winners receiving the two regional men's soccer berths for next year's Athens Olympics.