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U.S. U-20 MNT Opens Suwon Tournament vs. Argentina

U.S. Under-20 MNT Notes
Suwon, South Korea
March 20, 2005

ARGENTINA TO OPEN: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will open the Suwon International Youth Tournament tomorrow against Argentina at Suwon World Cup Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET). The match will be the first of three matches over five days for the U-20s, as they will also face Egypt and South Korea. The U.S. will be looking to garner some of the good fortune the full MNT had when they played in the Suwon World Cup Stadium in the opening of the 2002 World Cup, scoring three early goals before holding off Portugal for a 3-2 upset. The following match between South Korea and Egypt will kickoff at 7 p.m.

Suwon International Youth Football Tournament
March 22
USA vs. Argentina    4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET)
South Korea vs. Egypt    7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET)

March 24
Argentina vs. Egypt    4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET)
USA vs. South Korea    7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET)    

March 26
USA vs. Egypt        12:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on March 25)
South Korea vs. Argentina     3 p.m. local time (1 a.m. ET)

ARRIVAL NOTED: The U.S. arrived in Korea after the long flight from LAX, and checked into their hotel complete with nine-hole golf course that is hosting all of the teams at the tournament. Complete notes of the team gathering, some new hairstyles, some new faces to the roster and the coach's birthday celebration, check out Sunday's notes.

MORNING MADNESS: The U.S. Under-20s woke up on Monday morning to a nice surprise: the NCAA tournament coming live into their hotel room via the American Forces Network Prime (channel 36), a stateside programming channel for American military personnel working overseas. Waking up about 8 a.m., the players got to see CBS’s halftime presentation of Sunday’s second round games and then the second half of Duke-Mississippi State. Breakfast cut into part of the second half, but players raced back to their rooms after being dismissed from their eggs, OJ and cereal to catch the final minute of Duke’s victory.

STATE OF FOG: A thick fog also greeted the U-20s this morning, engulfing the entire resort hotel, providing a scene similar to something seen at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The fog was so thick you could barely see the entire hotel from your room balcony. The fog partially lifted after breakfast providing the team, once-again, with the scenic view of the surrounding mountains.

SUWON, THE CITY: Suwon is the capital of Gyonggi-Do Province and is the home to many of Korea’s high-tech companies such as Samsung Electronics and SK, as well as a number of research institutes and universities. Since ancient times, Suwon is a city that has been known for its breathtaking scenery and abundant streams and mountains. The city of Suwon has a population of about one million and is located 29 miles directly south of Seoul.

SUWON, THE WORLD CUP STADIUM: The Suwon World Cup Stadium, the location for all six matches in the tournament, holds a special place in U.S. history. The stadium, which was completed in May 2001, was the location of the U.S. Men’s remarkable 3-2 upset over Portugal in their opening round match of the 2002 World Cup. The stadium has a capacity of 44,047 and features a design harmonizing the history of the ancient city with high-tech architecture. Suwon is known for having some of the most passionate soccer fans in the country and is the home of the Samsung Blue Wings, who won back-to-back league titles in 1998 and 1999.

ARENA COACHED SENEGAL TOO?: The U.S. got a tour of Suwon World Cup Stadium after their practice outside the stadium this afternoon, getting the chance to walk on the field and see some of the mementos from the 2002 World Cup. The players took pictures on the end of the field the U.S. scored their three first half goals against Portugal, discussed how the goals were scored (and who scored them) and reminisced where they were watching the game on that historical day. In the main tunnel there were billboards commemorating each match played at the stadium during the tournament, including the names of the coach and players in the starting lineup for both teams. While U.S. MNT head coach Bruce Arena’s name was correctly displayed on the U.S.-Portugal billboard, in a big mix-up, Arena was also listed as Senegal’s coach for their Group A 3-3 draw with Uruguay, instead of Bruno Metsu. According to the team’s liaison, even though Arena’s name is listed in English, the Korean spelling to the right of it is correct, naming Metsu as the coach.

BEEN HERE BEFORE: Half of the 20 players on the roster aren’t experiencing too much culture shock, as this isn’t their first trip to South Korea with a youth national team. Eight players (Ward, Hill, John, Kartunen, Phelan, Sturgis, Szetela and Westberg) were with the Under-20s when they participated in the Busan International Youth Tournament ten months ago in June in Busan, South Korea. With Thomas Rongen the head coach at the time, the U.S. finished third in the tournament, falling to South Korea 1-0 in the opening match in front of 30,000 fans, before dropping a tough 2-1 decision to Brazil and then drawing with Poland in their final match. Four players (Ward, Gaven, Szetela and Peterson) were with the Under-17s in May 2003 when they also competed in a four-team tournament in Busan. In that tournament, the U.S. fell 3-0 to Korea in their opening match before drawing 2-2 with Argentina and finishing with a 5-0 victory over Poland.
LAYING IT ON THE LINE: Head coach Sigi Schmid goes into the match against Argentina with a flawless international record, standing at 7-0-0 since taking over the Under-20s for the departed Thomas Rongen in late October of 2004. Schmid started his streak with victories over Honduras (2-0) and Mexico (2-1) in Fort Lauderdale last November, despite having to use a extremely young roster due to a number of the college players competing in the NCAA College Cup. He then grabbed two 1-0 victories over Canada a month later during the team’s final preparations for world championship qualifying in Carson, Calif.  Schmid stayed undefeated when it mattered in January as he led the U-20s onto the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship with three straight victories over Trinidad & Tobago, Panama and Costa Rica, scoring 10 goals while only allowing one against.

ARGENTINA UP FIRST: Argentina, who the U.S. will meet in their opening match of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland on June 12, qualified for the world championship by finishing third in the South American qualifying tournament behind Colombia and Brazil. While only five of the 18 players they used in qualifying are with the team in Korea, the U.S. players understand the match on Tuesday (March 22) will be a tough encounter and one that will gauge where they are as they continue with world championship presentations. Argentina has won three out of the last five FIFA World Youth Championships (2001, 1997 and 1995).

Last USA-Argentina meeting…
The U.S. Under-20s last met Argentina in the quarterfinals of the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates, taking a one-goal lead on a counter-attack goal by Bobby Convey, but eventually falling 2-1 as the U.S. gave up an equalizer in injury time and then a golden-goal penalty in overtime.

U.S. Under-20 MNT vs. Argentina
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium; Abu Dhabi, UAE
December 12, 2003

Scoring Summary:
                          1st   2nd   OT1    Final
United States      0      1      0           1
Argentina           0      1       1          2

USA – Bobby Convey (Freddy Adu)               59th
ARG – Javier Mascherano (Franco Cangele)   94+
ARG – Fernando Cavenaghi (PK)                    100th

USA – 1-Steve Cronin; 2-Zak Whitbread, 4-Chad Marshall, 5-Ryan Cochrane, 16-Drew Moor; 19-Ned Grabavoy, 3-Justin Mapp (9-Santino Quaranta, 73), 10-Bobby Convey (Capt.), 11-Ricardo Clark, 12-Freddy Adu (8-C.J. Klass, 78); 7-Eddie Johnson.
ARG – 1-Gustavo Eberto; 2-Gonzalo Rodriguez, 3-Osmar Ferreyra, 4-Mauricio Romero, 14-Jonathan Bottinelli; 5-Javier Mascherano, 7-Pablo Zabaleta (11-Marcelo Carrusca, 59), 8-Hugo Colace (17-Jose Sosa, 73), 18-Walter Montillo (20-Franco Cangele, 60’); 9-Fernando Cavenaghi (Capt.), 19-German Herrera