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U.S. Under-20 MNT World Youth Championship Notes - Dec. 6, 2003

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Dec. 6, 2003 -- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

ON TO THE ROUND OF 16: The U.S. is riding high. In its crucial third match of group play last night, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team defeated South Korea 2-0 at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Abu Dhabi to finish first in Group F and move onto the Round of 16. Ed Johnson provided both goals to give the U.S. a two-goal edge in the first half and the team kept that margin the rest of the way. The U.S. will face Ivory Coast, second place finisher in Group E, in the Round of 16 on Monday, Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. at Al-Maktourn Stadium in Dubai. The match will be televised live by Galavision beginning at 11:55 a.m. ET (delayed on the West Coast at 11:55 a.m. PT) and can also be followed live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will travel to Dubai tomorrow, Sunday, Dec. 7, check into their hotel and practice at the stadium that evening.  

SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE: While eight teams are currently sitting on an airplane and thinking of what could have been, 16 teams are now looking forward to Monday or Tuesday as the next round will be split with four games occurring on each day. Here is a breakdown of the second stage and how it will play out to the final in Abu Dhabi.

2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Second Stage
Round of 16
Date No. Match Time Location
Dec. 8 37 Japan vs. South Korea 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Al-Nahyan Stadium)
Dec. 8 38 Burkina Faso vs. Canada 9 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Al-Nahyan Stadium)
Dec. 8 39 Argentina vs. Egypt 6 p.m. Dubai (Al-Maktoum Stadium)
Dec. 8 40 USA vs. Ivory Coast 9 p.m. Dubai (Al-Maktoum Stadium)
Dec. 9 41 Brazil vs. Slovakia 6 p.m. Sharjah (Al-Sharjah Stadium)
Dec. 9 42 Australia vs. UAE 9 p.m. Sharjah Al-Sharjah Stadium)
Dec. 9 43 Paraguay vs. Spain 6 p.m. Al-Ain (Sheikh Khalifah Stadium)
Dec. 9 44 Rep. Ireland vs. Colombia 9 p.m. Al-Ain (Sheikh Khalifah Stadium)
Dec. 12 45 Winner 38 vs Winner 43 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 46 Winner 40 vs Winner 39 9 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 47 Winner 44 vs Winner 42 6 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 12 48 Winner 37 vs Winner 41 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 15 49 Winner 48 vs Winner 46 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 15 50 Winner 45 vs Winner 47 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Third Place Match
Dec. 19 51 Loser 49 vs Loser 50 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 19 52 Winner 49 vs Winner 50 8:45 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)

STUNNING CHECK OUTS: There were a number of teams that were seen checking out of their hotels on Saturday morning after their fate of not advancing to the Round of 16 was sealed after Friday night’s results. Some of the more surprising teams knocked out were Germany (4th in Group F), England (4th in Group D), Czech Republic (4th in Group C) and Mexico (4th in Group E).

OH, LUCKY CANADA: With two losses going into their final match against the Czech Republic on Thursday, Canada was sitting at zero points and only a slim chance of moving on. Ninety minutes later, they had increased their chances with a 1-0 victory over the Czechs, but they still needed some help, sitting in third place in Group C with three points and a –2 goal differential. On Friday, the Canadians got the help they needed from Group E as Mexico lost, keeping them at 1 point, and Saudi Arabia could only obtain a draw against Ivory Coast, boosting them to just two points. The USA’s northern neighbors were seen for the first time this afternoon as they checked into the team’s hotel. Canada had played their group matches in Dubai, but traveled their hour and a half bus ride to Abu Dhabi in preparation for its match-up with Burkina Faso on Monday night.

DOING JUST ENOUGH: One of the most intriguing stories of the 2003 WYC was Burkina Faso winning Group A with seven points, while only scoring two goals in three games. The fourth-place finishers in African qualifying defeated each of their first two opponents – Panama and Slovakia – by the score of 1-0, before snagging a 0-0 tie with host UAE in their final group match. With the three clean sheets, Burkina Faso is considered to have one of the stingiest defenses in the tournament.

WHITE RAPPER ALERT: On the bus ride back from the stadium after the USA’s 2-0 victory over South Korea, a couple of the players broke into some freestyle rap as they celebrated their advancement into the second round. Knox Cameron and Clint Dempsey took turns dishing out their verbal poetry, with Dempsey getting most of the praise form his teammates. Cameron’s effort wasn’t as stellar, but he was in no means booed off the bus. He was most likely saved by his use of the word "fried rice," which he worked into one of his verses (Exact verse: My flow so nice / you know I’m trying to eat that… fried rice). The music energy flowed from the back to the bus to the front as assistant coaches Dave Dir and Cle Kooiman coupled to turn their own rap. It might not have held a candle to the Dempsey/Cameron duo, but Dir’s beat box and Kooiman’s vocals were sure entertainment.

TOPS IN SCORING: The U.S. finished group play tied for first in goals scored with six. Argentina, Ireland Republic and Australia also scored six goals in their three first round games, but the U.S. had the best percentage as percentage with the least shots on goal at 24. U.S. forward Eddie Johnson is also tied for first for individual scorers after the first round with three. He is tied for first with Stephen Elliott (Rep. of Ireland), Leandro Fernandez (Argentina) and Arouna Kone (Ivory Coast).

2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Team Goals Scored in First Round
Team GP Goals Shots Shots on Goal Penalty Goals
Argentina 3 6 39 20 1
Ireland Republic 3 6 31 22 0
Australia 3 6 30 15 0
USA 3 6 24 15 2

MULTILINGUAL RONGEN: What do you want? German? English? Dutch? U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen can speak each fluently and has as journalists from all over the world have asked for his insight on the U.S. matches and the tournament as a whole. With Germany in Group F with the U.S., the German reporters were pleased to find out Rongen could speak their language, especially a Germany television crew, which did a couple of interview with Rongen in German.

DRAW, NIKE FRIENDLIES GET INTEREST: This morning at the breakfast table, the Under-20 players took some time to read up on what is going on with the other U.S. Soccer teams as Friday was one of the more active days in recent U.S. Soccer history. In the FIFA Preliminary Draw for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, it was determined that the U.S. Men’s National Team will open their quest to qualify for a fifth consecutive World Cup on June 12 or 13 with a home match against the winner of an opening-round series between Guyana and Grenada. The U.S. will play the away leg of their preliminary round series the following weekend, June 19 or 20. Check out more about the Preliminary Draw and what U.S. Men’s National Team manager Bruce Arena said about the qualifying outlook by clicking below:


Also, at U.S. Soccer’s third annual Nike Friendlies in Bradenton, Fla., the U.S. U-17 1987 MNT fell to Brazil U-17 2-1, while the U.S. U-17 1988 MNT topped the Colorado Rush U-17 by a 4-0 clip. Complete results from all 21 other games are also available by clicking below.



FROM THE GULF NEWS: While Emiraties are happy to see UAE advance to the second round, the local papers are harping on the fact that the hosts were lucky, claiming their final group opponent, Burkina Faso, settled for a draw because one point was enough for the Africans to secure the group. In the Gulf News, a local English paper, it stated that UAE’s performance has "not been satisfactory" and head coach Jodar, by claiming that UAE had not been expected to achieve more than the second round, is "trying to find early excuses" and "reducing the players faith in themselves." While the media may be unimpressed, rumor has it UAE President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan has compensated the players extremely well for their accomplishment to this point.

WIND CAUSES A SANDY PRACTICE: This morning’s practice was the first time the team experienced bad weather during their stay in UAE. With a strong wind blowing across the desert, a small sand storm made the hour practice a bit unpleasant. The sand made it difficult to see and was a nuisance to those with eye contacts. After the light practice, players were happy to jump back on the bus to the hotel and wash the thin film of sand off in the shower.

GROENING GOT THIS ONE RIGHT: Korea’s game plan of just keeping possession and not pushing forward after going down 2-0 to the U.S. in Friday’s match reminded some staff and players of a specific Simpson’s episode from a few years back. In the episode, called "The Cartridge Family," creator Matt Groening makes light of the supposed boringness of soccer when the Simpson’s go to a match between Mexico and Portugal. At the match, the referee blows his whistle and the game begins. The Mexican team has possession of the ball, kicking it among themselves with extreme caution around midfield as the crowd buzzes with excitement. At the same time, Portugal stands nearby, hesitantly guarding its side. As the situation continues, the crowd's excitement begins to level off, until everyone in the stands sits silent. While the crowd boos and whistles, the Mexican announcer excitedly recites the action: "Halfback passes to center, back to wing, back to center, center holds it! Holds it! Holds it!" Even the biggest soccer fan had to get a laugh from that scene.

HOPE THEY DON’T HAVE THAT GUY: As the U.S. coaching staff begins its scouting report of Ivory Coast, here’s hoping there isn’t a player similar to the #10 that played for them in FIFA ’95 for the Sega Genesis game system. Does anybody remember this guy? Ivory Coast was probably the worst team in the game, but their #10 was almost unstoppable. All you had to do was get it up to the forward and he’d be able to dribble through the entire defense, most times finishing it off with a goal.

NOT ACTING LIKE ROOKIES: To say the MetroStars had a good draft in 2003 is an understatement. Clark and Magee, the second and fourth picks overall, respectively, didn't keep the bench warm and learn from watching during their rookie campaigns. The two U.S. Under-20 MNT players got significant minutes (Clark led the team) and contributed on the scoreboard (Magee had seven goals). The two took the time to talk about their first-year experiences and what they’re looking forward to next year - besides not carrying the veteran's bags.


HOW DO YOU PUT THIS ON?: The Abu Dhabi Group presented each member of the U.S. team and staff with an authentic Arabian dress for partaking in the World Youth Championship this afternoon and some of the players jumped at the chance to put the garb on later this evening. The outfit consisted of a traditional white thobe, a headcloth or ghutra, a takiah (similar to a skull-cap), all topped off with an ogal. They even received a bisht, which is a gold-edged cloak thrown over the thobe, usually worn for formal occasions.

STAFF GAME: The U.S.-Ivory Coast clash in the Round of 16 will undoubtedly be one of the best match-ups in the tournament so far, but there’s another game going on in UAE tomorrow that isn’t as publicized, but is just as important for U.S. pride. On Sunday, before the U.S. makes its trip to Dubai, members of the U.S. staff will take on members of the UAE Local Organizing Committee that has been helping the U.S. team throughout the tournament. The 11v11 full-field match (will there be oxygen on the sidelines?) will take place at the U.S. training grounds in the Zayed Sports Complex. The USA’s team liaison "Prince" Salah has selected his LOC teammates, but it is a forgone conclusion the U.S. will come away with the victory with a line-up that includes: head coach Thomas Rongen, assistants Cle Kooiman and Dave Dir, trainer Sheldon Lo, equipment manager Bryan Rosenbaum, scout Roberto Lopez, doctor Mel Hayashi, team coordinator Erik Carlson, head of delegation Tom King and security officers Jerry Rawlings and Steve May.

ON TO THE FINAL FOUR: The U.S. Under-20 MNT has one entire bracket of the NCAA Div. I Men’s Soccer Championship covered, but only two of the four teams will move on after today. UCLA (Jordan Harvey), Indiana (Ned Grabavoy and Drew Moor), Santa Clara (Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane) and Michigan (Knox Cameron) are all battling it out to move on to the Final Four in Columbus, Ohio. With Indiana meeting UCLA and Santa Clara taking on Michigan, it is guaranteed that at least one Under-20 MNT player will see his team advance to the final at Crew Stadium on Dec. 14. Below is a list of the relevant team’s opponent in the Elite Eight.

2003 NCAA Div. 1 Men’s College Soccer Championship
Fourth Round (games to be played Dec. 6)
Jordan Harvey (UCLA -- 20-1-1) vs. Ned Grabavoy and Drew Moor (Indiana -- 14-3-5)
Knox Cameron (Michigan -- 14-6-1) vs. Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara -- 15-3-3)