Feb. 22, 2006

SAS Soccer Park to host U.S. vs. Jamaica men's soccer "Friendly" on April 11 (From The News & Observer).

SAS Soccer Gets "Friendly" with U.S. men vs. Jamaica

by J.P. Giglio, Staff Writer

Before the U.S. men's soccer team comes to Cary to train in May, it will play Jamaica in an April 11 exhibition match at SAS Soccer Park.

"This is a major feather in our cap," said Chris Economides, managing partner of Triangle Professional Soccer, which owns the new, and not-yet-named, USL First Division franchise in Cary.

TPS arranged the 7 p.m. game with the U.S. Soccer Federation.

The event, which is what soccer folk like to call a "friendly," usually is reserved for venues bigger than the 7,000-seat stadium at SAS.

Economides' expansion team won't compete until April 2007, but to build interest and keep the publicly funded park busy, his group is working on scheduling "six or seven" exhibition matches.

"This is the first, and to be honest, the biggest. It doesn't get much bigger than the U.S. national team," Economides said.

The men's national team already was set to hold its final training camp in Cary from May 10-21 before the World Cup in Germany.

The team, which trained in Cary before its successful run in the 2002 World Cup, owns a 3-1-1 international record in the state of North Carolina.

This is the first international friendly in the state since 1994. In 2002, SAS Soccer Park hosted the U.S. men in an exhibition, but that was against a USL First Division team.

"With our World Cup training camp scheduled here in May and the great success that we had in Cary in advance of the 2002 World Cup, it is great to schedule an actual international game for the fans in the area," Bruce Arena, coach of the national team, said in a U.S. Soccer news release.

Tickets, priced at $20 to $125, go on sale March 3 but are available for purchase sooner with a $50 season-ticket deposit toward the new Carolina franchise. Franchise representatives can be contacted during office hours, 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., at Building A, SAS Soccer Park or by phone at (919) 859-5425.