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USA Continues 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup Preparations Tuesday vs. Argentina

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
Notes from Rochester, N.Y.
May 14, 2007

COUNTDOWN TO ARGENTINA: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team is just a day away from facing reigning world champion Argentina (tickets) on Tuesday, May 15, at PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. ET and fans can watch the match live on’s MatchACCESS streaming video.

ALL ON DECK: Sal Zizzo arrived late on Saturday night, while the majority of players trickled in throughout the day on Sunday, but the full contingent wasn’t in Rochester until defender Amaechi Igwe filled out the 16-player roster when he touched down Monday morning. Out of the 16 players invited in by U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen, 11 are professionals, four are in college and one is a senior in high school. Ten of 11 professionals play in Major League Soccer, with Johann Smith of Carlisle United (currently on loan from Bolton) the lone European player. UCLA midfielders Michael Stephens and Zizzo make up half of the collegiate crew, along with defender Julian Valentin of Wake Forest and goalkeeper Alec Dufty of the University of Evansville. This is the first U-20 camp for both Dufty and Stephens. Midfielder Jalil Anibaba of Davis, Calif., is the lone high school player on the roster, making his second appearance in a U-20 camp. Twelve of the 16 players on the roster were part of the USA’s qualifying campaign in January.

U.S. U-20 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Alec Dufty (University of Evansville), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (4): Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest University), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake), Jalil Anibaba (Davis, Calif.), Bryan Arguez (D.C. United), Rodrigo Lopez (Chivas USA), Michael Stephens (UCLA), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew)
FORWARDS (4): Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Johann Smith (Carlisle United [on loan from Bolton]), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)


• Since 2006, this group of U.S. U-20s holds a 7-4-3 record in international play. So far in 2007, the U.S. is undefeated at 3-0-1
• The U-20s’ last match was an impressive 2-1 victory over Haiti’s full team on March 28 at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas. Freddy Adu and Gabriel Ferrari, who was in for his first-ever camp, scored the goals for the U.S.
• So far in 2007, the U.S. has outscored their opponents, 11-2. Both goals were scored by Haiti national teams, one by their U-20 squad and one by their full team. The goal allowed against the full team came from the run of play, while the goal allowed against the U-20 squad was a penalty kick
• The other three games all came during the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Panama City, Panama. The U.S. defeated Haiti, 4-1, drew, 0-0, with Guatemala and then cruised past Panama, 5-0
• Of the 16 players on the U.S. roster, Dufty and Stephens are the only players without a U-20 cap. This is their first time in with the Under-20s
• Along with the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama all qualified from CONCACAF for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. With Canada as host, CONCACAF has five teams in the tournament
• This is Rongen’s second stint as the head coach of the U.S. Under-20s. Rongen also coached the team to the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, guiding them to an impressive fifth place finish
• Adu is the most experienced player on the roster for the U.S. Adu is actually second on the team in career U-20 international caps with 23 (Tim Ward has 25), but he is the only player to participate in the two previous FIFA U-20 World Cups (2003 and 2005)
• Nathan Sturgis and Danny Szetela played in the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup
• Adu and goalkeeper Chris Seitz have played every minute of every game for the U.S. this year for a total of 360 minutes
• Adu leads the team in points with seven from three goals and one assist in four games. Forward Andre Akpan, who is not on this roster, is tied with Adu for most goals in 2007, as the Harvard product scored a hat trick in the opening match of qualifying against Haiti
• Robbie Rogers leads the team with three assists, while Danny Szetela is second with two assists

PODCAST – RONGEN ON ARGENTINA AND WHAT LIES AHEAD: With Tuesday's match-up against Argentina in Rochester looming, Rongen took time to talk to about the 16-player roster he invited in, what he expects from the reigning world champs and how this will be the first of a number of World Cup preparation games the team will play on artificial turf (listen). [More: Rongen and Adu Quotes]

WARM WELCOME: The U.S. team was welcomed by the people of Rochester as they bounced around the city on Sunday evening. First, the staff and players were the guests of honor, along with the Argentina U-20s, for a dinner and meet-and-greet at the Italian American Community Center. The players signed autographs and took pictures with a number of local youth players before diving into an authentic Italian meal. The team then headed straight for PAETEC Park where they held the first of two open practices (the second open practice is Monday night). About 60 people were on hand at the 70-minute session where Rongen put the players through a short warm-up and light ball work, before providing the fans with some entertainment as they worked on finishing.

CLUB TO COUNTRY: A handful of the U-20 players will have a short turnaround after playing with their MLS teams this weekend. Adu, Josmer Altidore and Sturgis all started for their respective clubs this week, while Igwe, Rodrigo Lopez, Rogers and Ward saw action in their teams’ reserve games. Adu had a couple more days rest as Real Salt Lake battled the Colorado Rapids to a 1-1 draw on ESPN’s Thursday Night match, the U-20 captain sending in a cross that led to RSL’s lone goal as it deflected off defender Pablo Mastroeni and into the net. Sturgis played 77 minutes in the Galaxy’s 3-2 loss to New England, while Altidore came on as a reserve for the final 13 minutes in their 1-0 loss to Colorado.

MASKED MAN: Tim Ward could be a masked man for Tuesday’s match as the Columbus Crew defender suffered a broken nose playing in the reserve match on Sunday morning. With a bruised and battered snout, Ward didn’t seem affected too much by the break as he participated in the entire training session, but there was one incident that did give him some pain: sneezing. Trainer Ben Black said there is a chance Ward will need to wear a protective mask during Tuesday’s match.

DON’T FORGET MOM: With the players and staff heading to Rochester on Sunday, most were unable to spend quality time with their mother on her special day. Although out of sight, no one’s mom was out of mind as they all either did something before they left or have something planned when they got back later this week. Some players let us know what those plans included, while others let us know just how great their mom is in this Center Circle exclusive.

FAMILIAR FOES: The U.S. and Argentina are no strangers as the two countries met twice in 2006, with each team earning a victory. In the first meeting, the U.S. fell, 4-0, in Argentina during their tour of the country in April. Five months later, the U.S. defeated Argentina, 3-1, in their final match of the Busan Four Nations International Tournament in Busan, South Korea.

ARGENTINA STING: Rongen has faced Argentina a number of times at the U-20 level, but it’s the meeting during the quarterfinals of the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship that he’ll never forget. In that match, the U.S. took a 1-0 lead late in the second half when Bobby Convey finished off a pass from Freddy Adu, but Argentina scored the equalizer in injury time to force the match to overtime. In the extra period, Argentina scored on a penalty kick to advance to the semifinals.

WORLD CUP AWAITS: The match for the U.S. and Argentina begins the final preparations for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held from June 30-July 22 in Canada. The U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil. Argentina is in Group E with the Czech Republic, Korea DPR and Panama. This is the sixth straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall. The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium (full schedule). Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup can be followed live via’s MatchTracker. The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria. The U.S. will play all their group matches in Montreal and Ottawa on artificial turf.

USA’s FIFA U-20 World Cup Schedule – Group D




Kickoff (ET)

June 30 

Korea Republic vs. USA 


2:15 p.m.  

July 3

USA vs. Poland


7:45 p.m.  

July 6

Brazil vs. USA


7:45 p.m.  


ARGENTINA 1-FOR-1: Tuesday’s match will be the second for Argentina, who faced off against World Cup host Canada in a friendly on Friday (May 11) that served as the official opening of the National Soccer Stadium in Toronto. Argentina’s Alejandro Gomez opened the scoring in the 14th minute, but Canada’s David Edgar answered back four minutes later. The 1-1 tie held up until the 88th minute when Gabriel Mercado scored to give Argentina a 2-1 victory. FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter was on hand to help unveil the stadium as were numerous local governmental officials and CONCACAF president Jack Warner.