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  • DateFriday, March 22, 2013
  • VenueDick's Sporting Goods Park; Commerce City, Colo.
  • Attendance19,374
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U-23 MNT Falls to Host France in Toulon Tournament Opener

TOULON, France (May 27, 2015) – Despite a strong second half, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team fell to host-France 3-1 on Wednesday in their opening group match of the 2015 Toulon Tournament.

France came out on the attack and a pair of U.S. mistakes resulted in two goals for the tournament hosts in the game’s first 11 minutes. In the 21st minute France extended its lead to three off of a Stephane Sparagna free kick.

The U.S. battled for the remaining minutes of the first half and controlled the ball on France’s side of the pitch, but could not turn possession into any chances. The U-23s carried the momentum from the end of the first half into the second and got on the board in the 65th minute when Marco Pelosi fed Jordan Morris for the USA’S first goal of the tournament.

The U-23s applied the pressure for the remaining minutes, but were unable to earn a result.

Goal Scoring Rundown:
FRA- Fares Bahlouli, 10th minute: 
Cody Cropper made a diving save and parried the ball away, but the deflected ball was not cleared. Fares Bahlouli picked it up for France and promptly smashed it past a still-recovering Cropper and into the bottom right corner. USA 0, FRA 1

FRA- Enzo Cervelli, 11th minute: After intercepting off the kickoff following the first goal, France got the ball out to Lemar Thomas, who brought it down and got forward with pace on the left side. Thomas sent a hard shot at Cropper who dove and knocked it away. Off the rebound Enzo Cervelli jumped and headed it in to give France an early 2-0 lead. USA 0, FRA 2

FRA- Stephane Sparagna, 21st minute: A USA foul set up France with a free kick from 20 yards out, above the top corner of the box. The France captain Sparagna sent in a low, hard ball that threaded a number of players and ended in the lower right corner of the goal. USA 0, FRA 3

USA- Jordan Morris (Marc Pelosi) 65th Minute: Marc Pelosi played a square ball to Jordan Morris in the center of the park 45 yards from goal. Morris spun and burst past a pair of French defenders. With just the ‘keeper to beat, the U.S. forward calmly slipped a shot past and into the lower right corner. USA 1, FRA 3 (FINAL)

Milestone Watch:

  • Jordan Morris has now scored in back-to-back games with the U-23s and three straight for the U.S. overall counting his goal with the senior team in their 2-0 win against Mexico on April 15.
  • Marc Pelosi made his first appearance in a U.S. uniform in more than two years, having recovered from a series of injuries. He earned his first cap with the U-23 MNT and tallied an assist.
  • Sam Strong earned his first cap with the U-23 MNT

Next on the Schedule:
The U-23 MNT faces the Netherlands on May 29 at Stade Perruc in Hyeres, France
Broadcast information: 11 a.m. ET BeIN SPORTS 
Social: Twitter @ussoccer

Additional Notes:

  • This match was the first between France and the USA at the U-23 age level.
  • Benji Joya, who scored the lone goal for the U.S. in the match against France in the 2013 Toulon Tournament (when the teams met as U-20 opponents), made the start tonight as the captain.
  • Joya and Shane O’Neill are the only players on the roster that have started in all four games this year for the U-23s.
  • Jordan Morris, who earned ussoccer.com Man of the Match honors, recorded his third goal in 2015 with the U-23s and the fourth of his five-game career with the team.

- U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team Match Report -

Match: U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team vs. France
Date: May 27, 2015
Competition: 2015 Toulon Tournament
Venue: Stade Leo Lagrange; Toulon, France
Kickoff: 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET)
Attendance: 812
Weather: 70 degrees, sunny

Scoring Summary:           1              2              F
USA                                   0              1              1
FRA                                   3              0              3

FRA – Fares Bahlouli                                 10th minute
FRA- Enzo Crivelli                                     11
FRA- Stephane Sparagna                            21
USA- Jordan Morris (Marc Pelosi)             65 

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 3-Boyd Okwuonu,  5-Will Packwood (6-Sam Strong, 73), 4-Shane O’Neill, 2-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (7-Dillon Serna, 62); 8-Benji Joya (capt.), 16-Daniel Metzger, 10-Marc Pelosi; 17-Jerome Keisewetter (11-Alonso Hernandez ,73), 9-Jordan Morris, 16-Julian Green (15-Alfred Koroma Shams, 62)
Subs Not Used:, 12-Charlie Horton, 13-Fatai Alashe, 18-Jalen Robinson, 20-Tyler Turner, 22-Tyler Miller
Head coach: Andreas Herzog

FRA: 1-Thomas Didillon; 15 Raphael Diarra, 5-Stephane Sparagna, 4-Presnel Kimpembe, 2-Damien Dussau, 13-Baptiste Santamaria (8-Adrien Hunou, 61), 6-Yann Bodiger, 11-Lemar Thomas, 20-Romain Habran (19- Aristote Madiani, 51), 9-Enzo Crivelli (14-Ulrich Nnomo, 65), 18-Fares Bahlouli (10-Younes Kaabouni, 61)
Subs Not Used: 3-Louis Nganinoni,  7-Jean-Luc Diarra-Dompe, 12-Marco Ilamaharita, 16-Louis Souchad, 17-Jordan Diakiese
Head coach: Francis Smerecki 

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 5 / 9
Shots on Goal: 4 /5
Saves: 2 / 1
Corner Kicks: 4 / 3
Fouls: 10 / 8
Offside: 1 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Jerome Kiesewetter (caution)                      19th minute
FRA- Presnel Kimpembe (caution)                          38
FRA- Stephane Sparagn (caution)                            49
FRA- Yann Badiger (caution)                                  54

Officials
Referee: Adi Zourak (MAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Hacham  Ait Abbou (MAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Yahya Nouali (MAR)
4th Official: Romo Macias (MEX)

ussocer.com Man of the Match: Jordan Morris 

U.S. Soccer Federation Statement

The United States Soccer Federation firmly believes there is no higher priority, and nothing more important, than protecting the integrity of our game. We are committed to the highest ethical standards and business practices, and we will continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to promote the same values. Out of respect for the ongoing investigation, we will not speculate or comment further on this matter at this time. 

Chula Vista FC Aiming to Continue Upstart Beginning to 2015 USOC

As 2015 U.S. Open Cup Cinderella side Harpo’s FC was in Colorado Springs trying to extend an unthinkable run to the Third Round last Wednesday night, USASA side Chula Vista FC looked ready to take the glass slipper.

As the final whistle blew on Harpo’s 2-1 defeat at the Colorado Springs Switchbacks, Chula Vista FC was in the midst of a 3-0 shellacking of USL side Arizona United SC. The Second Round win came on the heels of a 2-1 extra time victory over PDL side FC Tucson in First Round play a week before, and anointed the tournament debutantes as the new amateur darlings heading into round three on Wednesday.

“I wouldn’t say we’re surprised with our success,” said Chula Vista FC head coach Hector Diaz. “It’s a little overwhelming that it happened in our first U.S. Open Cup trip but a lot of these guys have had pressure before and been successful under that pressure. I think we rise to the challenge -- there aren’t any egos, they’re trying to take advantage of the opportunity they’ve been afforded and I like that. Hopefully we continue with the same attitude.”

Perhaps what’s most amazing about the team’s run is that the side is made up entirely of players 23 years old and under. Half the team that started the match against the pros at Arizona United were under the age of 21. Even Diaz, a former airman in the Air National Guard, is one of the youngest coaches in the tournament at just 28.

Chula Vista FC
Chula Vista FC celebrates earning a berth in the Third Round of the 2015 U.S. Open Cup after defeating Arizona United on May 20.

The holder of a USSF “B” Coaching License, Diaz began his managerial career at the age of 15, working with his father, Hector, Sr. as coach of his brother Alberto’s youth squad. Keeping the core of the team together over the past 13 years, Hector has taken over the reins, culminating in their first Open Cup qualification earlier this year.

Alberto, a slight but technical former U.S. youth international and 2010 Cal South Player of the Year, shined in the team’s Second Round match against Arizona United, scoring the first and third goals and setting up teammate Angel Pinal for the second in the 3-0 rout.

“I had a big smile when he scored the first goal,” said Alberto’s big brother Hector. “I watched and saw Francisco Ramirez, who started on this team with ‘Berto when they were both six or seven years old, set him up for the goal. They’ve always been the top two players in whatever league they’ve played in and now they’re big things against a pro team in the U.S. Open Cup – it’s incredible.”

The win sets the club up for its biggest match yet, a visit north to reigning USL champions Sacramento Republic who beat Sonoma County Sol 4-2 in Second Round play last week, a team Diaz says he’s followed closely since they began last year.

“It’s hard not to notice the buzz they’ve generated,” he said. “We have a great group of guys and the same night we beat Arizona, our captain Luis Alvarado watched their game against Sonoma Sol and took notes, three hours after our game, our captain had already analyzed our opponent. He said, ‘I did half the job for you, I’m going to give you these notes. They’re real good, real dangerous on the attack. I think we can counterattack them this way, go at them that way.”

“They’re very good offensively,” Diaz continued. “The good thing is our defense I think has been the strongest. Both first halves against Tucson and Arizona were unbelievably difficult. They both pressed us and our defense was able to hold in both cases. In the second half of both games we were more offensive and released a little pressure.”

Chula Vista FC
Chula Vista FC's next challenge comes in the Open Cup Third Round against reigning USL champs Sacramento Republic FC.

With just five amateur teams left in the tournament, Chula Vista FC know that if they can get past Sacramento on Wednesday, they’ll have a good chance at the tournament’s $15,000 prize for the Amateur Division team that advances the furthest.

And while Diaz admits he didn’t think his team would get this far in its first appearance, he’s also sure to point out that, despite two wins, they haven’t reached their goal in the tournament just yet.

“I keep telling the guys that we have nothing to lose and everything to win. They’re responding and starting to believe a little more and as we go the confidence is growing. We always saw the goal as being able to go up against an MLS team. I thought it would take a couple more tries to have a chance at that we’re not at our goal yet, but were hoping to get there on Wednesday.”

The winner of the match will advance to a Fourth Round date away to the San Jose Earthquakes at Avaya Stadium on June 16.

FIFA U-20 World Cup a Chance for Redemption

For several members of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup represents another chance. Many have been part of the U.S. Soccer national team programs for various cycles, but only three have ever been part of a youth World Cup, and only two have played in one. Nine others came close and are now getting their opportunity on the world stage.

Jeff Caldwell, Joel Sonora, Conor Donovan, Rubio Rubin, John Requejo and Shaq Moore were all on the 2013 team that was upset by Honduras at the CONCACAF U-17 Championship and missed out of that U-17 World Cup. Bradford Jamieson IV was left off that roster altogether after spending four semesters in Residency.

“Obviously that was a tough moment, not only for me but the rest of the team who experienced that,” said Moore, who was captain of the 2013 U-17 World Cup qualifying team. “I think having another chance – not even here at the World Cup, but at Qualifying in January with this group - was a big hurdle that I crossed to finally qualify for a World Cup.”

It wasn’t easy qualifying this time around, either. After tying the first and losing the second match, the U-20s won the final four matches in Jamaica – all by shutout – in order to qualify for New Zealand. One player who had to sit out was Sonora, who was injured weeks before. Thankful that the group qualified, he’s now looking forward for his chance at redemption.

“It was a big disappointment at the time because we were all expecting to qualify,” said Sonora of the 2013 team. “We didn’t see it as too difficult, and maybe we let our guard down. It was a very hard hit to take because it was the first time a U-17 team didn’t qualify for a World Cup. We were crushed. So we’re excited that we’ve now given ourselves another chance to show what we can do and what this group of players and this team is about in New Zealand.”

Two years earlier, Kellyn Acosta and Paul Arriola were the youngest members of the 2011 U-17 FIFA World Cup team in Mexico that bowed out in the Round of 16 with a loss to Germany. Acosta played in all four matches and Arriola in three. During that cycle, Marky Delgado did not make the qualifying roster, and while Jordan Allen was on the team that qualified, he was left off the final World Cup squad.

“There was disappointment, but at the time I hadn’t been playing well, so it was kind of expected,” Allen said. “I made sure once that happened, that the next time I had a chance to make a World Cup team I would have been doing everything I could to be in good form and put myself in the right position. So I’m happy that I’ve been able to do that this time.”

Allen and Delgado were also returning from injuries in January and not fit to go to Jamaica. But Allen seemed to be a longer shot. He suffered a knee injury last year that kept him out the picture for months. The Real Salt Lake forward made his first appearance with the U-20s in a camp in Austria in April, and got the call that he made the World Cup team a few weeks later.

“This means a lot,” he said. “I’ve put a lot of work in - being out of close to 10 months with my knee injury. As soon as I got healthy I circled when the World Cup was going to be and I made sure that by that time I was getting close to my best form. I put a lot of work in, and luckily it worked out.”

Arriola doesn’t take the opportunity to play in a second youth World Cup for granted.

“I know it’s unique, and I know I’m very blessed to be able to do this again,” he said. “Obviously when I started the cycle, this was my goal – to have us qualify for the World Cup and to make the team. But you never know what can happen, so I’m thankful to be here and looking to do whatever I can to help us win.”

Zack Steffen is the other player on this roster to have been on a World Cup team. The Freiburg goalkeeper, along with Acosta, returns from the 2013 U-20 World Cup team, although neither played in the tournament.

It’s obviously not easy making it to a World Cup, and it’s with that in mind that this group relishes the experience in New Zealand.

“We’ve had a very sour taste in our mouth,” Moore said. “We’ve just wanted to work hard and give ourselves another shot. We wanted to get rid of that taste and we’re not taking anything for granted. We’re excited to be here now, but we also want to make the most of this opportunity.”

U-23 MNT Begins Toulon Journey against France

TOULON, France (May 27, 2015) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will participate in the 2015 Toulon Tournament from May 27 to June 7 in six venues in the south of France.

The USA has been drawn into Group A with host France, Netherlands, Costa Rica and Qatar. The U.S. opens against France (May 27, 1 p.m. ET), followed by Netherlands (May 29, 11 a.m. ET), Costa Rica (May 31, 11 a.m. ET), and Qatar (June 2, 12 p.m. ET). The top team from the group will advance to the final, while the second-place finisher will move on to play for third. The advancing pair from Group A will match up with the top two finishers from Group B, which includes China PR, England, Ivory Coast, Mexico and Morocco. The placement matches will be played on June 7.

All of the U.S.’s group-stage tournament games will be broadcast on BeIN SPORTS. Fans can also follow the U.S. games on Twitter @ussoccer.

U.S. U-23 MNT ROSTER BY POSITION:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Cody Cropper (Unattached; Maple Grove, Minn.), Charlie Horton (Unattached; Cleveland, Ohio), Tyler Miller (Zweibrücken; Woodbury, N.J.)
DEFENDERS (8): Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Alebrijes de Oaxaca; Riverside, Calif.), Boyd Okwuonu (Real Salt Lake; Edmund, Okla.), Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), William Packwood (Unattached; Concord, Mass.), Jalen Robinson (D.C. United; Catonsville, Md.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids; Brighton, Colo.), Sam Strong (UC Santa Barbara; Santa Barbara, Calif.), Tyler Turner, (Orlando City SC; West Haven, Conn.)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Fatai Alashe (San Jose Earthquakes; Northville, Mich.), Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), Daniel Metzger (New York Red Bulls II; Holmdel, N.J.), Marc Pelosi (Liverpool; Sunnyvale, Calif.)
FORWARDS (5): Julian Green (Bayern Munich; Tampa, Fla.); Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Tex.), Jerome Kiesewetter (Stuttgart; Berlin, Germany), Alfred Koroma Shams (Unattached; Southlake Carol, Texas), Jordan Morris (Stanford; Mercer Island, Wash.)

Roster Notes:

  • A total of 17 players gathered in the countryside outside of Toulon on May 24. San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Fatai Alashe and goalkeeper Cody Cropper arrived on May 25, while Orlando City SC defender Tyler Turner arrived shortly before tournament kickoff May 27.
  • Eight players from this roster were a part of the U-20 MNT that competed in the 2013 Toulon Tournament: Cropper, Juan Pablo Ocegueda, Shane O’Neill, Benji Joya, Dillon Serna, Alonso Hernandez, Alfred Koroma Shams, and Jordan Morris.
  • Eleven players from this roster were a part of the group that most recently defeated Mexico 3-0 in Carson.Cropper made seven saves to earn the shutout in that game, while Morris scored a goal, and Serna and O’Neill both recorded assists.
  • Five players were a part of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team: Cropper, Hernandez, Joya, Ocegueda and O’Neill.
  • Ocegueda, Hernandez, and Joya are the most experienced players at the U-23 level, each having earned five caps.
  • Six players on this roster come from MLS, four from European clubs, three are from Mexico-based clubs, one plays in the USL, three are unattached and two compete at the collegiate level.
  • Cropper, Green, Morris, O’Neill and Serna have all been part of a U.S. MNT senior camp this year.
  • Morris is the leading goalscorer on this roster. In two matches in 2015, he has scored two goals, and overall in his four-game career with the U-23’s he has scored three times.
  • Morris made his first start and scored his first international goal with the senior MNT during the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-0 win against Mexico on April 15.
  • Julian Green, Marc Pelosi, Jalen Robinson and Turner are the only four players making their first appearance on a U-23 roster.
  • Green played in the U.S. MNT’s Round of 16 match against Belgium in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and scored a goal, becoming the youngest player to score in a World Cup game since 2006. 

EYES ON RIO: The Toulon Tournament serves as a part of the U-23s’ continued preparation for the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship, where the team will seek  to earn a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. The U.S. hopes to return to the Olympics for the first time since the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where it posted a 1-1-1 record but could not advance past the group stage. The USA’s best showing in the Olympics came during the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, when the team advanced past Japan in the quarterfinals and finished fourth in the event. The 2015 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying championship will be played in the United States from Oct.1-13.

MOVING ON FROM TOULON: Over the years the Toulon Tournament has proven to be a springboard for success for a host of young players, as some of the biggest names in world soccer having made a name for themselves at le lieu où naissent les étoiles, the place where stars are born. Over the years, the Toulon Tournament has proven to be a springboard for success for a host of young players, as some of the biggest names in world soccer having made a name for themselves at  le lieu où naissent les étoiles, the place where stars are born.  Luminaries like Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo, Alan Shearer, Javier Mascherano, and James Rodriguez have their names recorded in the record books here, along with others close to home. In 1997, Josh Wolff earned honors as the tournament’s top goal scorer alongside France’s Thierry Henry and Colombia’s Gustavo Victoria. Wolff went on to play in a pair of World Cups for the United States, assisting on the game-winning goal against Mexico in the Round of 16 in Korea. The French legend Henry also earned Player of the Tournament honors that year, going to on to be France’s all-time leading goalscorer and a legendary figure at Arsenal and Barcelona before heading state side to play for New York Red Bulls from 2010-2014.

USA VS. FRANCE (May 27, 1 p.m. ET; Stade Léo Lagrange; Toulon, France)

  • The U-23 MNT has not competed against France since Olympic soccer was designated as an Under-23 competition (1992).
  • Eight players on this roster were a part of the U.S. U-20 team that faced off with France in the 2013 Toulon Tournament: Cropper, Ocegueda, O’Neill, Joya, Serna, Hernandez, Koroma Shams, and Morris. France, which was playing with a roster of U-23 players, won that matchup 4-1.
  •  Five players were part of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team: Cropper, Alonso Hernandez, Benji Joya, Juan Pablo Ocegueda and O’Neill. That team tied France in 1-1 in group play. France went on to win the World Cup that year.
  • Benji Joya was the lone goalscorer for the U.S. in the 2013 matchup with France
  • France and the U.S. have been grouped together in four Toulon Tournaments. The U.S. is 0-0-4 in those matches.
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