CHICAGO (Wednesday, November 19, 2003) — Pending official FIFA approval, U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen announced today that 14-year-old Freddy Adu will replace injured San Jose Earthquake Arturo Alvarez on the 20-player roster that will compete in the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from Nov. 27-Dec. 19. The U.S. submitted their official tournament roster to FIFA on Nov. 14, but any listed player can be substituted with FIFA approval in the event of injury up to 24 hours in advance of a team's first match.
Alvarez has been suffering with a groin injury for the past two weeks and underwent a physical today with the San Jose medical staff that ruled him out of the tournament.
"This is a great disappoint for myself and the team, and obviously for Arturo," said U.S. U-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. "After looking closely at the situation, though, it became apparent that Arturo was not going to be able to go to the UAE at 100%. He has been a big part of this team and we know that we will miss his contribution greatly."
Alvarez played in 13 games over the past two years with the U.S. Under-20s, nine of which were international matches. The 18-year-old forward became an integral part of the team during 2003, being named to the roster for all three of the international tournaments the Under-20s competed in across the U.S., Portugal and Spain. This year, Alvarez notched his first goal with the U-20s when he scored the game-winner against Norway in the Madeira International Tournament in Spain this March.
"We are fortunate to be able to bring a player like Freddy into the team as it is a natural fit for us and he has similar qualities to Arturo," added Rongen. "I think he can provide us with the same type of play in terms of ball handling and effectiveness as a weapon off the bench."
Adu, who is currently in Residency with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team, announced today that he has signed a multi-year contract with Major League Soccer. He has been designated as a Nike Project-40 player and will be eligible for the 2004 SuperDraft, which will be held on Jan. 16, 2004, in Charlotte, N.C.
"I am extremely, extremely excited to be able to represent my country again in a world championship," said Adu. "When I represented the U.S. at the U-17 World Championship, I always thought, 'you never know when you will get another chance, it may never come.' And now, I am getting another chance, right away. I am very grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to it."
Adu’s only cap with the U.S. Under-20 MNT was against Japan on Oct. 8, in a friendly at a training field at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Adu came on as a substitute in the 74th minute as the U.S. fell to Japan 2-1.
Adu joined U.S. Soccer's full-time Residency Program in January, 2002, and made an immediate impact with the U.S. Under-17 National Team. He finished second on the team in scoring with 22 goals in 2002 and followed that up the following year with a team leading 19 goals and 14 assists leading up to the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship. In the World Championship, Adu opened up the tournament with a stunning hat trick in a 6-1 win over South Korea. Three days later, Adu nailed the winning goal in the 89th minute for a 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone to send the U.S. into the quarterfinals, where they lost to eventual champions Brazil.
The team will travel to UAE on Saturday, Nov. 22 and conduct a week of training before the tournament, which will include a friendly against Panama on Tuesday, Nov. 25 in Abu Dhabi. The U.S. was drawn into Group F and will play all three of its games at Al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The Under-20s will open the tournament on Nov. 29 against Paraguay, before meeting Germany on Dec. 2, and finishing group play against South Korea on Dec. 5. Every U.S. match at the World Youth Championship can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. All three matches will also be televised by Galavision (see schedule below).
U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
FIFA Youth World Championship Schedule
Date Opponent Venue Kickoff Television (Galavison)
November 29 Paraguay Abu Dhabi 5:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET 8:30 a.m. ET (live), PT (delayed)
December 2 Germany Abu Dhabi 5:45 p.m. local / 8:45 a.m. ET 8:30 a.m. ET (live), PT (delayed)
December 5 South Korea Abu Dhabi 8:30 p.m. local / 11:30 a.m. ET 1:30 p.m. ET & PT (delayed)
December 8,9 Round of 16* TBD TBD TBD
December 12 Quarterfinals* TBD TBD TBD
December 15 Semifinals* TBD TBD TBD
December 19 Third Place Match* TBD TBD TBD
December 19 Final* TBD TBD TBD
* If necessary