Loyola Hall Of Famer Gets National Team Nod In Friendly Versus Poland

July 8, 2004

Baltimore, Md. - Former Loyola College soccer star and Hall of Fame inductee Zach Thornton was one of 18 players selected by U.S. Men's National Team manager Bruce Arena for Sunday's national team match with Poland. Thornton, along with the Team USA, kickoff at the newly renovated Soldier Field in Chicago at 7 p.m. in a game that will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Thornton, a former Major League Soccer (MLS) Goalkeeper of the Year, returns to Chicago, where he played with the Fire from 1998 to 2003. He moved on to Benfica in the Portuguese Leauge, where he signed a six-month contract replacing backup keeper Carlos Bossio.

The U.S. National Team selection is nothing new to Thornton, who emerged as a serious contender for the third goalkeeper spot after two fine performances to close out 2001. That year, he backstopped the U.S. in their final 2002 World Cup qualifier, making several key saves to earn a 0-0 shutout against Trinidad and Tobago, capturing Chevrolet Man of the Match honors in the process.

Sunday's friendly is the U.S. National Team's final tune-up prior to the semifinal round of FIFA World Cup qualifying. In their history, 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.

The United States will be 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. World Cup Qualifying begins on August 18 in Jamaica.