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U.S. Under-20s Fall to Argentina 2-1 in UAE


- Fernando Cavenaghi Scores Winning Penalty Kick in First Overtime Period To Give Defending Champs
- U.S. Just Seconds Away from Victory Before Argentina Equalizes with Seconds Remaining 
- U.S. Will Finish in Fifth Place, its Best Finish at the World Youth Championship Since 1989

ABU DHABI, UAE (Friday, December 12, 2003) – The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team was just seconds away from an appearance in the semifinals until a second-half stoppage time goal and a golden goal PK sunk their championship aspirations today in the FIFA World Youth Championships as they fell to Argentina 2-1.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we played tonight. We came out and played one of the best teams in the world down to the wire,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen, whose team will finish fifth in the final standings. “Unfortunately, we got a bit unlucky as they scored with just seconds left.

“I just like to say that this has been on of the most enjoyable tournaments I have ever been involved in. From to the venues to the accommodations to the matches themselves the UAE Local Organizing Committee was top notch.”

In the 59th minute the U.S broke the deadlock as Freddy Adu connected with Bobby Convey on a well-executed two v. two counterattack that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. After an Argentina corner, the ball was played out of the area to Adu, who carried the ball 60 yards until when he passed the ball ahead to Convey’s left. The U.S. captain then blasted a left-footed shot from 18-yards out that went through the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added, and Argentina needed every second of that time to even the score. From the top left side of the attack, Franco Cangele played the ball with the outside of his left foot and placed a perfect ball to Javier Mascherano who found space between U.S. defenders Zach Whitbread and Steve Cochrane and headed the ball home. Just seconds later the full time whistle blew.

Nearly 10 minutes into the extra period, Cangele dribbled in the left side of the box and seemed to be closed off of the play by Drew Moor. Moor swung at a ball to try to clear it off the feet of Franco Cangele, but apparently the ball and chopped down his opponent, and the Spanish referee awarded a penalty. Forward Fernando Cavenaghi drove the ball inside the left post past a diving Steve Cronin to send the U.S packing.

Winners of three of the last four World Youth Championships, Argentina will face Brazil, who topped Japan 5-1 at Rashid Stadium this evening, on Monday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

“I just want to say that I'm really proud to be the captain of this team,” Convey said. “We played one of the best team here to the final seconds. I think this will only help us down the road.”

In the first half, Argentina carried most of the possession, but neither side was able to create many chances on goal. Despite some early attacks ignited by Osmar Ferreyra from the left flank, which caused some havoc for the U.S. defense, Argentina was only able to get two shots on goal, both off of free kicks. The U.S. backline, along with help from midfielder Ricardo Clark, did an excellent job of collapsing on forwards Fernando Cavenaghi and German Herrera whenever they touched the ball in the final third.

On the other end, the U.S. did well to string passes together in midfield, but struggled in near the Argentina goal as their defenders were able to stop any scoring threats.

In the third minute, Argentina got the first opportunity of the game when Ferreyra ran onto a cross from the right side, but his header went wide left of the U.S. goal.

The U.S. had its first opportunity on goal in the ninth minute. Right midfielder Justin Mapp found some room and served in a low cross near the top of the 18-yard box, which Ed Johnson dummied, allowing the ball to slip through to Convey. The U.S. captain stretched out to hit a left-footed shot on frame, but ‘keeper Gustavo Eberto dove to his right to knock it away. With the ball bounding free in the six-yard box, defender Mauricio Romero was able to clear it before an onrushing Adu could get to it.

Argentina came close to taking an early lead in the 29th minute when Cavenaghi drove a free kick that was curling into the upper 90. Cronin shuffled to his right to get his right hand up and parry the ball over the bar.

Argentina came out in the second half blazing as they put the U.S. under high pressure and garnered a number of shots on goal in the first five minutes. In the 48th minute, Colace feed Cavenaghi on a counterattack for a chip that had to be punched over the crossbar by Cronin. Argentina kept up the pressure as a minute later Walter Montillo the ball to crossed in to Gonzalo Rodriguez who sent a sliding shot high over the bar.

The U.S. took the lead in the 59th minute on the Convey goal, but Argentina’s attack pressured even harder. Herrera got free inside the box and took a hard shot that was deflected wide by Chad Marshall pushed out further by Cronin for good measure. In the 68th Cronin was called upon again as he stoped a shot from 14-yards out by Cavenaghi.

It looked as though Argentina had found the equalizer in the 71st minute, when a poor clearance by Cronin provided Herrera with an easy finish, but the forward was called offside. Johnson, looking for an open teammate, pushed the ball through a crowd near the penalty area back to Cronin, who was a bit surprised by the feed. Under a bit of pressure, Cronin’s clearance went directly to an Argentine player, who quickly pushed it ahead to Herrera for the finish.

In the 75th minute, the U.S. came close to doubling their lead off a free kick by Convey from the left side. The captain’s service found Johnson unmarked from eight yards out, but the forward’s diving header went clear over the frame.

Cronin came up with his biggest save of the night in the 80th minute off a Cavenaghi free kick from 25-yards out. Cavenaghi’s curling shot looked destined for the back post, but Cronin was able to leave his feet and push it wide. Cronin pulled in another close chance off an Argentina corner in the 86th minute, despite falling to the turf. Seated on the he was able to snag the ball on his thigh as it fell to him after deflecting off Jonathan Bottinelli’s head.

Early into extra time, Mascherano had a point blank shot right of the goal from eight yards out, but Cronin came up big again, stonewalling the forward, but Argentina was able to get the equalizer.

Note: Johnson, who tallied four goals during the finals to tie Taylor Twellman as the top scorer for the U.S. at any FIFA World Youth Championship,

- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team ,vs. Argentina
Competition: 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Location: Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium; Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: December 12, 2003
Weather: Warm; 75 degrees

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

Lineups:
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-Ed Johnson.
Subs not used: 6-Jordan Stone, 13-Mike Magee, 14-Clint Dempsey, 15-David Johnson, 17-Knox Cameron, 18-Ford Williams, 20-Jordan Harvey.

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
Subs not used: 6-Leandro Fernandez, 12-Mariano Barbosa, 13-Joel Barbosa, 15-Walter Garcia, 16-Cardozo
Players not present: Carlos Tevez

Statistical Summary:
USA ARG
Shots   6 18
Shots on goal  2 10
Saves   8 1
Corner Kick  6 11
Fouls   14 18
Offside   4 2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Ricardo Clark (caution) 24th minute
USA – Ed Johnson (caution) 43rd
ARG – Gonzalo Rodriguez (caution) 47th
USA – Bobby Convey (caution) 70th
ARG – Javier Mascherano (caution) 77th
ARG – Franco Cangele (caution) 84th

Referees
Referee: Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez (ESP)
Assistant Referee: Clemente Ayete Plou (ESP)
Assistant Referee: Rafael Guerrero (ESP)
Fourth Official: Benito Archundia (MEX)

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