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U-17 MNT Tops Poland 5-0, Finishes Second in Busan

BUSAN, South Korea (June 4, 2003) – Freddy Adu and Jamie Watson each notched two goals in the second half as the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team overpowered Poland 5-0 in their final match of the Busan International Youth Tournament on Wednesday evening at Busan Asiad Main Stadium. With the win the U.S. finished in second place, behind tournament champions Argentina.

The U.S. finished the tournament with a record of 1-1-1, good enough for four points. The offensive outburst against Poland catapulted the U.S. into second place by giving them a better goal differential (+2) than South Korea (+1). Korea lost to Argentina in the last match of the tournament 2-0. 

"We struggled in the first half, but then the guys started playing better and put together a number of excellent goals,” U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger said. “The second half was the best we’ve played during all three games and it was a great way to finish off the tournament. We’ve had an amazing time here in Korea. Besides the World Championship, this was by far the best tournament we’ve competed in. From the games to the accommodations to the overall presentation it has just been first class all the way.”

The U.S. struggled in the first half, but got an astonishing goal from left defender Steven Curfman in the 37th minute, providing them with a 1-0 lead at halftime. Poland thought it had safely cleared a U.S. free kick to midfield, but Curfman ran onto the ball and blasted a 40-yard shot that swerved into the upper-right hand corner. The shot was the only shot the U.S. had on goal in the entire first half and was Curfman’s first international goal.

In the second half, the U.S. put away Poland with four goals after Ellinger made two changes, sending substitute Jacob Peterson up front and bringing Adu back into the midfield. The slight alteration did wonders as it eliminated Poland’s ability to man-mark Adu and allowed him more freedom to cause havoc inside Poland’s defense.

Adu started the offensive explosion early, getting his first goal in the first minute of the second half. After collecting the ball, Adu dribbled through four defenders near the top of the 18-yard box, defeating two with a nifty spin move. About 10-yards from the goal, Adu beat his final defender, pulling the ball to his left allowing him to knock the ball past the keeper with his left foot into the left side of the goal.

In the 55th minute, Adu set up the next goal, curling in a through ball to Watson from midfield. Watson did well to hold off his defender, bring the ball down and bury it past the keeper for his first goal of the tournament.

Adu got his second goal ten minutes later, after some great teamwork to give him a wide-open opportunity. Curfman curled in a cross from the left flank and Peterson made a great play by ducking to let the ball go by him and find Adu at the top of the 18-yard box. With no one around him, Adu took one touch to trap the ball and then, with his left foot, coolly placed the ball passed the keeper.

Watson ended the route in the 82nd minute with another nice finish off of a give-and-go with Adu. Watson dropped the ball back to Adu in the midfield then made a run upfield through the Poland defense. Adu chipped the ball ahead to Watson who chested it down and slipped it into the net.

The game almost started off horribly for the U.S. as Poland had a great opportunity in the 18th minute, getting a point-blank shot off a cross from the right flank, but goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi came up with a world-class save to keep it out of the net. Midfielder Konrad Romanczyk pounced on the cross at the far post, striking it across towards the right side of the goal. Marfuggi reacted incredibly quick, stretching out to knock the shot clear of the goal.

Poland never really threatened in the second half as the U.S. didn’t allow a single shot on goal in the second half. The shutout was the sixth for Marfuggi in international matches this year.

The tournament served as preparation for the U.S. before it plays in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland this August 13-30 as both Korea and Argentina will also be competing.

The Korean Football Association invited the U.S. to play in the tournament, which is in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. The KFA invited all three teams from Group D at the 2002 World Cup, which included Poland, Portugal and the U.S. Portugal was unable to participate, leaving Argentina to take their place as the fourth and final team.

Notes: A crowd of at least 40,000 piled into Busan Asiad Main Stadium to watch the final game between Korea and Argentina … Back-up keeper Stephen Sandbo was the only player on the roster not to see action during the tournament…Thousands of Korean girls lined the streets outside the stadium after the game to wave goodbye to the U.S. players as they left in their bus back to the hotel.

- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Poland
Competition: Busan International Youth Tournament
Location: Busan Asiad Main Stadium; Busan, Korea
Date: June 4, 2003
Weather: Warm; 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:
                                                1st     2nd     Final
United States                            1        4           5
Poland                                       0        0           0

USA – Steven Curfman                                37th minute
USA – Freddy Adu                                        46th
USA – Jamie Watson (Freddy Adu)            55th
USA – Freddy Adu (Steven Curfman)         65th
USA – Jamie Watson (Freddy Adu)            82nd 

USA – 1-Phil Marfuggi; 14-Julian Valentin, 5-Brandon Owens (20-Jose Gomez, 84), 12-Steve Curfman; 4-Eddie Gaven, 8-John DiRaimondo, 15-Corey Ashe (2-Kyle Helton, 77), 7-Brian Grazier (23-Jacob Peterson, 46), 17-Danny Szetela; 11-Freddy Adu (16-Tim Ward, 84), 10-Guillermo Gonzalez (13-Jamie Watson, 28)
Subs not used: 18-Stephen Sandbo, 19-Jay Denny

POL – 1-Piotr Dmuchowski (12-Tomasz Grabowski, 78), 2-Marcin Pietron, 4-Tomasz Kotwica, 6-Radoslaw Majewski, 7-Marcin Dopierala, 8-Daruisz Frankiewicz, 9-Konrad Romanczyk (13-Mariusz Pawelec, 69), 10-Lukasz Szary (3-Dariusz Zjawinski, 73), 11-Rafal Wawrzynczok, 16-Jakub Rzezniczak (14-Pawel Pytlarz, 40), 17-Witold Cichy.

Statistical Summary:

                        USA      POL
Shots                  7           1
Saves                 1           1
Corner Kick       3           3
Fouls                  19        11
Offside                3          1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Brian Grazier        (caution)    22nd minute
USA – Jamie Watson        (caution)    57th
USA – Brandon Owens        (caution)    69th    
POL – Rafal Wawrzynczok     (caution)     71st

Tournament Final Standings
Team            GP  W     L     T   GF   GA Pts
Argentina       3     2     0      1     6     3    7
USA                3     1     1      1     7     5    4
Korea             3     1     1      1     3     2    4
Poland            3     0    1       2    1      7    1

May 31
Korea 3 USA 0
Argentina 2 Poland 1

June 2
Korea 0 Poland 0
USA 2 Argentina 2

June 4
USA 5 Poland 0
Argentina 2 Korea 0