CHICAGO (Tuesday, October 22, 2002) - With less than three weeks remaining before the U.S. Under-20 Menâ€™s National Team attempts to qualify for their fourth consecutive World Youth Championship, U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen has selected a squad of 18 players to represent the U.S. at the CONCACAF Group B qualifying tournament in Charleston, S.C. The tournament, which marks the first time U.S. Soccer has hosted an Under-20 qualifying tournament since 1980, will take place at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., with doubleheaders on Nov. 13, 15 and 17. The U.S. will be joined by Haiti, El Salvador and Canada in Group B, with the top two teams advancing to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 â€“ April 16, 2003.
Eleven members of Rongenâ€™s qualifying team came through U.S. Soccerâ€™s full-time residency program, including goalkeeper Steve Cronin and Bobby Convey, who were both members of the U.S. squad that placed fourth at the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 14-7-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (55 to 27). At the C.O.T.I.F. XIX Torneig Internactional Tournament last month in Spain, the U.S. surprised many by topping Italy, Ukraine and Uruguay to advance to the final, where they fell 1-0 to an older Brazil team.
â€œThis team has put in a lot of hard work over the last 10 months, and they are ready to step out onto the field and fight for a spot in the world championship,â€ said Rongen. â€œThis group is a very challenging one that will give us three quality matches against three very different opponents, but we are excited and looking forward to meeting these challenges and growing as a team.â€
Rongen will have more professional players â€“ eight â€“ on his qualifying roster than any previous U.S. Under-20 MNT. Six of those players compete in Major League Soccer â€“ Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn) â€“ while Frank Simek (Arsenal â€“ England) and David Johnson (Willem II â€“ Holland) represent the USAâ€™s young yanks abroad.
The majority of the offense will likely come from the MLS contingent, with Ed Johnson and Quaranta expected to reunite the strike partnership that saw them combine for 98 goals at the Under-17 level. Due to injuries and club commitments Quaranta has yet to play an Under-20 match, while Johnsonâ€™s play with the Under-20s has been limited to 13 matches and four goals. Joining the duo up top will be Devin Barclay and Knox Cameron, both of whom saw extensive time with the U.S. Under-18s in recent years.
Bobby Convey, who was a mainstay with the Under-20 team in 2000 and 2001, has only played two games with the Under-20s in 2002. In qualifying for the 2001 World Youth Championship, Convey scored three goals in the USAâ€™s first two games to secure a spot for the American side in Argentina â€™01. The youngest player on a U.S. Under-20 team that included Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley last year, Convey was one of the teamâ€™s most consistent performers and started all four matches at the World Youth Championship in Argentina and led the U.S. with two assists in that tournament.
The midfield will be led by the experienced Convey and the gritty play of defensive midfielder Ricardo Clark. Clark, who has added three goals this year from his holding midfield spot, is a ball-winner in the middle of the field and serves as the link between the defense and the attack. Jordan Stone and Ned Grabavoy give Rongen flexibility in the middle, and Mapp will provide width to the attack from his left midfield spot. David Johnson and Devin Barclay will battle for duties on the right side.
The defense is expected to be led by the center back pairing of Chad Marshall and Ryan Cochrane, and the consistent play of right back C.J. Klaas. Chris Lancos and Frank Simek provide depth in the defense, and Jordan Harvey is expected to move into the starting lineup as a left back. The goalkeeping duties will be handled by Ford Williams and Steve Cronin, who have both posted goals against averages under 1.00 this year. Cronin, who began with the U.S. Under-17s in 1998, has posted a GAA of less than 1.00 for five straight years (1998-2002).
Just two weeks ago the U.S. team was dealt a tragic blow when defender Chefik Simo, a likely starter for the U.S. who has appeared in 15 matches this year, was injured in an auto accident that killed former U.S. Under-17 MNT captain Gray Griffin. The U.S. team will wear commemorative patches on their jerseys in honor of Griffin at the qualifying tournament.
Nine of the U.S. players â€“ in addition to Simo and Griffin - were part of the U.S. team that advanced to the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Trinidad & Tobago. That U.S. Under-17 Menâ€™s National Team qualified for the world championship by placing first at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament that U.S. Soccer hosted in St. Louis in April 2001.
The four-team qualifying group in Charleston greatly resembles the group that participated at that Under-17 qualifying tournament in St. Louis. There, the U.S. topped Jamaica, El Salvador and Canada to advance to the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. Ed Johnson led the way for the U.S., scoring five goals in the final two games to secure the USAâ€™s spot in the world championship.
In Charleston, the U.S. will open against an impressive Haiti team that topped Jamaica earlier this year. Haiti took the longest road to Charleston, beginning in June with a 3-2 aggregate win against the Dominican Republic to qualify for the Caribbean Group B tournament. In Caribbean group play, Haiti topped the Bahamas and St. Kitts & Nevis by a combined 13-1 to advance to the two-legged playoff with the Group C champion, favored Jamaica. Haiti qualified for Charleston after fighting to a scoreless draw against Jamaica on Sept. 29 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, just two weeks after shocking Jamaica 2-1 in Kingston, Jamaica.
El Salvador finished second in the Under-20 Central American qualifying tournament in Guatemala with just one loss in four games and finished ahead of traditional Central American powers Costa Rica and Honduras.
Canada and the United States automatically qualified for the final round of qualifying as members of CONCACAFâ€™s North Zone. Canada and the U.S. have met twice in 2002, splitting a pair of one-goal wins. The U.S. topped Canada 1-0 on January 9 in their first international under Rongen. Canada got revenge on their southern neighbor with a 2-1 win at the U.S. Soccer Festival in Houston, Texas, on August 2.
Rongen has selected goalkeeper Clint Baumstark and the Chicago Fire pairing of Miguel Saavedra and Craig Capano as alternates. Capano and Saavedra will train with the U.S. prior to the tournament, while Baumstark will remain on call as he continues to play with the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
This past weekend Panama and Mexico qualified for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship by finishing at the top of the CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament in Panama. Panama shocked Mexico 2-1 to win the group and advance to a World Championship for the countryâ€™s first time. Cuba topped Guatemala to finish in third-place in the group.
Tickets for the qualifying tournament are currently available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Catâ€™s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, on-line at ussoccer.com and at Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). Series and group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625 or U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249. Click here for complete ticket information.
U.S. UNDER-20 QUALIFIERS AVAILABLE ON PAY-PER-VIEW: U.S. Soccer and Innovative Sports Marketing have partnered to make the U.S. Under-20 Menâ€™s National Teamâ€™s three matches at the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament available on pay-per-view. The three U.S. qualifying matches will be shown live and are available for $19.95 each through DirectTV and Time-Warner cable (in New York City). Additional outlets are expected to be announced soon. For more information on the pay-per-view broadcasts, contact ISM at 201-610-0200 or ismsports.com.
U.S. Under-20 Menâ€™s National Team
|Barclay, Devin||F||5'9"||165||04/09/83||Annapolis, Md.||San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)|
|Cameron, Knox||F||6'3"||210||09/17/83||Bronx, N.Y.||University of Michigan|
|Clark, Ricardo||M||5'10"||165||05/21/83||Jonesboro, Ga.||Furman University|
|Cochrane, Ryan||D||6'1"||170||08/08/83||Portland, Ore.||Santa Clara University|
|Convey, Bobby||M||5'8"||150||05/27/83||Philadelphia, Pa.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Cronin, Steve||GK||6'2"||195||05/28/83||Fair Oaks, Calif.||Santa Clara University|
|Grabavoy, Ned||M||5'7"||155||07/01/83||New Lenox, Ill.||Indiana University|
|Harvey, Jordan||D||5'11"||170||01/28/84||Mission Viejo, Calif.||UCLA|
|Johnson, David||M||5'11"||160||01/16/84||Venice, Calif.||Willem II (Holland)|
|Johnson, Ed||F||6'0"||170||03/31/84||Palm Coast, Fla.||Dallas Burn (MLS)|
|Klaas, Craig Jared||D||5'7"||160||08/23/83||Cherry Valley, Ill.||University of Washington|
|Lancos, Chris||D||6'1"||175||07/12/84||Belford, N.J.||University of Maryland|
|Mapp, Justin||M||5'10"||160||10/18/84||Brandon, Miss.||D.C. United (MLS)|
|Marshall, Chad||D||6'3"||185||08/22/84||Riverside, Calif.||Stanford University|
|Quaranta, Santino||F||6'1"||185||10/14/84||Baltimore, Md.||D.C. United|
|Simek, Frank||D||6'0"||175||10/13/84||Millstadt, Ill.||Arsenal|
|Stone, Jordan||M||6'1"||170||03/16/83||Allen, Texas||Dallas Burn (MLS)|
|Williams, Ford||GK||6'3"||190||02/20/84||Raleigh, N.C.||University of North Carolina|
|Baumstark, Clint||GK||6'1"||200||01/09/83||Thornton, Colo.||University of Alabamaâ€“Birmingham|
|Capano, Craig||M||5'6"||140||07/07/85||Hyde Park, N.Y.||Chicago Fire (MLS)|
|Saavedra, Miguel||M||5'11"||160||07/03/83||Dallas, Texas||Chicago Fire (MLS)|
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
Assistant Coach: Cle Kooiman
Goalkeeper Coach: Dave Dir
Team Coordinator: Erik Carlson
Doctor: Mel Hayashi
Trainer: Sheldon Lo
Equipment Manager: Bryan Rosenbaum
Press Officer: Forrest Eber