U.S. U-23s Ready for All-Important Semifinal Match Up With Canada
With a berth to the 2008 Beijing Olympics on the line, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will face Canada in the all-important CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying semifinal match on Thursday, March 20 at 8 p.m. CT.
March 19, 2008
Olympic Qualifying Notes
March 19, 2008
ON STAGE IN THE MUSIC CITY: With a berth to the 2008 Beijing Olympics on the line, the U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team will face Canada in the all-important CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying semifinal match on Thursday, March 20 at 8 p.m. CT. Fans can catch the match live on Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN Deportes, or following on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker. The U.S. traveled to Nashville on Sunday, a day after capturing first place in Group A in Tampa, Fla., and has had three days of training to prepare for Canada.
• With no injuries or card-related suspensions, all 20 players on the U.S. roster will be available for Thursday’s match. The Canadians also enter the contest uninhibited by suspensions or injuries.
• U.S. defender Jonathan Spector was not with the team during the group phase, joining the group from England on Sunday following a win for West Ham United against Blackburn. Spector went 90 minutes in the 2-1 victory and flew to Nashville the next day.
• Midfielder Sacha Kljestan leads the team in minutes played (225) throughout the first three games, coming on as a second-half substitute against Cuba and going the full 90 against Panama and Honduras.
• Kljestan, Eddie Gaven, Charlie Davies, Dax McCarty and Robbie Findley are the only players on the U.S. roster to have played in all three games.
• Michael Orozco made his first appearance with the U-23 team against Panama, starting and playing the whole 90 minutes and then doing the same against Honduras. Against Honduras, goalkeeper Dominic Cervi made his first appearance ever at the national team level, picking up the shutout and the victory.
• Canadian forward Will Johnson leads the tournament with three goals, including two in their crucial 5-0 win against Guatemala, and a goal in the opening draw with Mexico.
• Canada has scored seven goals through its three games of the group phase, and will be matched up against a U.S. defense that has kept two shutouts and allowed only one goal.
• The U.S. has previously faced Canada six times in Olympic qualifying, holding a 3-2-1 record. The last meeting came in group play of the 2004 qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, with the U.S. getting two goals from Bobby Convey en route to a 2-0 victory.
• The U.S. arrived in Nashville on Sunday and are practicing at the Tennessee Titans training facility leading up to the game.
• Thursday’s semifinal is the most important soccer game to be played in Tennessee. The Men’s National Team played Morocco in a World Cup tune-up on May 3, 2006, falling 1-0 in front of over 26,000 people at LP Field (then known simply as the Coliseum). The U.S. women also played Canada there in 2004, winning 1-0 on a goal by Heather Mitts.
• LP Field is the home of the Tennessee Titans, and also hosts Tennessee State football games and the Music City Bowl Game.
• Canada last qualified for the Olympics in 1984, when the games were held in Los Angeles. They also took part in Montréal 1976 as tournament hosts and won gold in St. Louis in 1904.
STUDIO 90 IN NASHVILLE: In an abbreviated show on Wednesday, the Studio 90 crew sat down with forward Jozy Altidore in Nashville, and put together a stranger (than normal) Extra Time. Stay tuned on Thursday for a full episode featuring a first-time guest who has spent time in a new position and in a new role on the U.S. team.
SPECTOR VECTOR: The newest arrival into the team, Jonathan Spector, sat down with ussoccer.com to talk about his travel, getting to know his teammates and preparing for an important one-off game with everything on the line. The 22-year-old defender is no stranger to pressure situations, having competed in two World Youth Championships. Spector played for the team that finished in fifth place in the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland, and then participated in the 2005 U-20 World Youth Championship in the Netherlands two years later. Listen to Jonathan’s insights here in this exclusive ussoccer.com podcast.
NOWAK AND HIS PLAYERS SPEAK: U.S. head coach Peter Nowak and a handful of players met with local and national media the day before their key game against Canada, dealing with everything from weather to their familiarity with the neighbors from the north. For the full quote sheet, click here.
GUATEMALA AND HONDURAS TO FIGHT FOR OLYMPIC BERTH: Prior to the USA’s clash with Canada, the first entrant into the 2008 Olympic Games from CONCACAF will be determined when Group B winners Guatemala take on Honduras. The first match kicks off at 5 p.m. CT with Guatemala taking on Honduras, and the USA meeting Canada at 8 p.m. CT.
Thursday, March 20
Semifinal Matchup Time Location
Guatemala vs. Honduras 5 p.m. CT LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.)
USA vs. Canada 8 p.m. CT LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.)
Sunday, March 23
Matchup Time Location
Third Place Game 1 p.m. CT LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.)
Final 4 p.m. CT LP Field (Nashville, Tenn.)
2008 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying
Group A Final Results/Standings
Team GP W L T Pts. GF GA GD
USA 3 2 0 1 7 3 1 +2
HON 3 2 1 0 6 3 1 +2
PAN 3 1 2 0 3 4 2 +2
CUB 3 0 2 1 1 2 7 -5
Tuesday, March 11
Honduras 1, Panama 0
USA 1, Cuba 1
Wednesday, March 13
Honduras 2, Cuba 0
USA 1, Panama 0
Friday, March 15
Panama 4, Cuba 1
USA 1, Honduras 0
Group B Final Results/Standings
Team GP W L T Pts. GF GA GD
GUA 3 2 1 0 6 3 6 -3
CAN 3 1 1 1 4 7 3 +4
MEX 3 1 1 1 4 7 4 +3
HAI 3 1 2 0 3 3 7 -4
Wednesday, March 12
Guatemala 1, Haiti 0
Mexico 1, Canada 1
Friday, March 14
Haiti 2, Canada 1
Guatemala 2, Mexico 1
Sunday, March 16
Canada 5, Guatemala 0
Mexico 5, Haiti 1
CATCH THE SEMIFINALS LIVE ON FSC AND ESPN DEPORTES: Live coverage of the USA’s path towards an Olympic berth continues on Fox Soccer Channel and ESPN Deportes as the English-language and Spanish-language exclusive rights holders, respectively. Along with ESPN Deportes, ESPN360.com is also showing the full schedule of games live online, and the online provider will have a replay of each game available on demand for 48-hours following its completion.
Final Stage (Nashville, Tennessee; LP Field)
Date Matchup Kickoff (CT) Television
March 20 Semifinal 1 * 5 p.m. FSC/ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
March 20 Semifinal 2 * 8 p.m. FSC/ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
March 23 Third-Place Match 1 p.m. ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com (Delayed on FSC at 2 p.m.)
March 23 Final 4 p.m. FSC/ESPN Deportes/ESPN360.com
* Winner advances to 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing
LINEUP ROTATION: Peter Nowak used three different starting lineups through its three group games, with no one starting each match and only five players taking the field in all three games – Sacha Kljestan, Eddie Gaven, Robbie Findley, Charlie Davies and Dax McCarty. Both goalkeepers have seen time, as Chris Seitz played the first two games, while Dominic Cervi earned his first-ever cap for the U.S. at any national team level when he earned a shutout and Man of the Match honors against Honduras. The only player who did not see the field was Jonathan Spector, who did not arrive until the team advanced to the semifinals.
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Dominic Cervi (not under contract), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (7): Hunter Freeman (New York Red Bulls), Kamani Hill (Vfl Wolfsburg), Patrick Ianni (Houston Dynamo), Michael Orozco (San Luis), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Nathan Sturgis (Real Salt Lake), Marvell Wynne (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Freddy Adu (SL Benfica), Maurice Edu (Toronto FC), Eddie Gaven (Columbus Crew), Stuart Holden (Houston Dynamo), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Sal Zizzo (Hannover 96)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (New York Red Bulls), Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Charlie Davies (Hammarby IF), Robbie Findley (Real Salt Lake)
CANADIAN ROAD TO SEMIS: After opening its campaign with a draw against Mexico and a surprise loss to Haiti, Canada needed to win its final game against Guatemala to have a chance to advance. Will Johnson scored a pair of goals in leading his team to a 5-0 win while assuming the lead as the tournament’s top scorer through the group phase with three finishes.
AMERICAN CONNECTIONS: Two players on the Canadian roster are in college in the United States – Jehan Jakovic at the University of Alabama and Kyle Hall at Syracuse. Two others, Tyler Hemming and Andrea Lombardo, join a pair of American players, Maurice Edu and Marvell Wynne, on the roster of Major League Soccer’s Toronto FC.
A CLOSER LOOK: In addition to those who play in the United States, the Canadian roster features 10 players who earn their living abroad. Four players – Marcus Haber, Graham Ramalho, Jacob Lensky and Will Johnson – ply their trade in the Netherlands. Nikolas Ledgerwood and Ryan Gyaki play in Germany, while England, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Scotland are represented by Portsmouth’s Asmir Begovic, Sparta Prague’s Andrew Hainault, Esbjerg FB’s Andrazes Ornoch and the Berwick Rangers’ Keegan Ayre, respectively.
Canada Under-23 Men’s National Team Olympic Qualifying Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Asmir Begovic (Portsmouth FC), Joshua Wagenaar (no club), David Monslave (no club)
DEFENDERS (7): Graham Ramalho (FC Groningen), Andrew Hainault (Sparta Prague), Nikolas Ledgerwood (1860 Munich), Andrazes Ornoch (Esbjerg FB), Ryan Gyaki (Hansa Rostock), Diaz Kambere (Vancouver Whitecaps), Tyler Hemming (Toronto FC)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Jacob Lensky (Feyenoord), Jehan Jakovic (University of Alabama), Tyler Roselund (no club), Keegan Ayre (Berwick Rangers), Isidro Sanchez (no club)
FORWARDS (5): Andrea Lombardo (Toronto FC), Will Johnson (de Graafschap), Tosaint Ricketts (UW-Green Bay), Kyle Hall (Syracuse University), Marcus Haber (FC Gronengen)
TICKETS STILL ON SALE: Tickets are still available for the remaining four matches of 2008 Olympic Qualifying. Tickets priced from $18 to $65 for each doubleheader ($25 to $70 on day of game) and are now on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 615-255-9600 and at all Nashville Ticketmaster ticket centers.
INSIDE STUFF: Despite all the attention being focused on this qualifying tournament, no source can provide an inside look at the team like the YNT Blog can. Check out the information you can’t get anywhere else, including behind-the-scenes videos, laughs and inside scoop at http://ynt-ussoccer.blogspot.com/