U.S. Under-20 MNT Drawn Into Group C With Germany, Cameroon and Korea Republic for 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup
The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group C alongside Germany, Cameroon and Korea Republic for the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Egypt, which will take place from Sept. 24-Oct. 16.
April 5, 2009
The U.S. will open against Germany on Sept. 26 at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET), before facing Cameroon on Sept. 29 at 6:45 p.m. local time (12:45 p.m. ET) and rounding out group play against Korea Republic on Oct. 2 at 6:45 p.m. local time (12:45 p.m. ET). All three of the USA’s group matches will be played at the brand-new Mubarak Stadium in Suez. Every U.S. match at the FIFA U-20 World Cup can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
“We have definitely been drawn into a strong group, perhaps the strongest of the tournament, but that poses a great opportunity,” said U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen. “Anytime you have the chance to play against teams like Germany, Cameroon and Korea Republic, it is a chance to showcase American football.” (More Quotes)
The field of 24 teams is broken up into six groups of four teams each, with the top two finishers in each group, plus the four best third-place finishers, advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place across seven venues in five cities in northwestern Egypt: Alexandria, Cairo, Ismailia, Port Said and Suez. The 74,000-seat Cairo International Stadium will host both semifinals on October 13, and the third-place game and final on October 16.
The U.S. will face a tough road in their attempt to win their group at the FIFA U-20 World Cup for the fourth straight time, starting with their opening match against Germany, the reigning European champion and one of only three teams seeded for the draw. Germany opened its continental campaign with a surprising 2-1 win against Spain before dismantling Bulgaria and Hungary to seal their place in Egypt. A semifinal victory against hosts Czech Republic sent the Germans to the final, where they defeated Italy 2-1 to seal their first-ever European championship at this level.
Though eliminated in the semifinals of the 2008 U-19 Asian championships after booking their spot to Egypt, Korea Republic will be looking to advance out of the group after struggling to get to the Round of 16 as of late. The 11-time qualifiers went all the way to the semifinals of the U-20 World Cup in 1983, but have not advanced past the group stage since reaching the quarterfinals in 1991.
Germany and Korea Republic are two familiar foes for the U.S. at this age level, having faced each country twice in the group phase of the past three FIFA U-20 World Cups. At the 2003 FIFA U-20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, the Americans played both, falling 3-1 to the Germans in their second match, but bouncing back for a 2-0 victory against Korea Republic to secure the top spot in the group and eventually go on to finish in fifth place overall.
The U.S. also faced Germany in 2005 in the Netherlands, playing to a scoreless draw, and then opened the 2007 U-20 World Cup in Canada with a 1-1 draw against Korea Republic behind a goal from Danny Szetela and an impressive performance in the nets from Chris Seitz. The Koreans were the only team to earn a point against the U.S. in that tournament as the team went on to beat Poland and Brazil to win Group D.
Cameroon, which fell to Ghana in the final of the African Youth Championship to finish in second place, will be appearing in their fifth FIFA U-20 World Cup and their first since 1999. The U.S. faced the Young Lions in group play during their last appearance in 1999, coming away with a 3-1 victory behind a brace from Taylor Twellman and a single tally from Carlos Bocanegra.
“It’s going to be a challenge for sure, but we had the same mentality heading into the 2007 World Cup,” said U.S. goalkeeper Brian Perk, who also played in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. “We didn’t have too much pressure on us in that tournament because of the difficult draw and I think we’re in a similar situation this time. It’s definitely a tough group, but I’m excited and I think my teammates will be as well.”
The U.S. will be competing in its seventh-consecutive and 12th overall FIFA U-20 World Cup, previously known as the FIFA World Youth Championship. They will be looking to build upon a successful campaign under Rongen in 2007, where the Americans took the top place in what was widely considered to be the tournament’s “group of death” that included Brazil, Poland and Korea Republic before falling in overtime in the quarterfinals to Austria.
The U.S. qualified by posting a 2-1-2 record at the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship in March, collecting four straight shutouts before being downed by Costa Rica in the final. Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago will all join the U.S. to represent the region in Egypt.
Out of the 11 appearances in the FIFA U-20 World Cup, the USA’s best finish came during the tournament in 1989 in Saudi Arabia. With goalkeeper Kasey Keller leading the way, the U.S. advanced to the semifinals and finished in fourth place.
FIFA U-20 World Cup
Group C Schedule (Complete Draw Results)
|Sept. 26||USA vs. Germany||Mubarak Stadium; Suez||4 p.m. / 10 a.m.|
|Sept. 26||Korea Republic vs. Cameroon||Mubarak Stadium; Suez||6:45 p.m. / 12:45 p.m.|
|Sept. 29||Germany vs. Korea Republic||Mubarak Stadium; Suez||4 p.m. / 10 a.m.|
|Sept. 29||USA vs. Cameroon||Mubarak Stadium; Suez||6:45 p.m. / 12:45 p.m.|
|Oct. 2||USA vs. Korea Republic||Mubarak Stadium; Suez||6:45 p.m. / 12:45 p.m.|
|Oct. 2||Germany vs. Cameroon||Ismailia Stadium; Ismailia||6:45 p.m. / 12:45 p.m.|