The U.S. U-17s will enter the Mali match riding an 18-match unbeaten streak that began in Aug. 1998. Over a span of 14 months the U-17s have outscored their international opponents 66 to 14, which includes 10 shutouts, and have gone 1,620 minutes without a loss. The unbeaten streak is the longest in U.S. Soccer's U-17 history.
Earlier in the week U.S. forward Abe Thompson (Fairfax Station, VA) scored the game-winning goal in the 54th minute to down Bayer Leverkusen's U-19 team, 1-0, on Oct. 5, in Leverkusen. The U.S. then drew 2-2 on Oct. 7 against Borussia Dortmund's youth team, with goals from Kyle Beckerman (Crofton, MD) and Raul Palomares (Inglewood, CA).
The USA will return to Bradenton, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 11 to begin preparations for their last two domestic international matches against two-time U-17 world champion Ghana. The USA will play Ghana on Oct. 15 at Stratford Soccer Complex (kickoff 8:00 p.m.) in Macon, Georgia, and again on Sunday, Oct. 17, at Memorial Stadium (kickoff 4:00 p.m.) in Atlanta.
Ghana are currently ranked second in the FIFA U-17 rankings and are the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship pre-tournament favorites after finishing runners-up in 1997 and 1993 and winning the world title in 1991 and 1995. Heading into New Zealand, Ghana will be looking to earn themselves a unique place in the history of the tournament by becoming the first country to win three U-17 world championship titles.
U.S. U-17 scoring sensation Landon Donovan is scheduled to make his first appearance on home soil, against Ghana, since his departure to Germany over the summer to train with German Bundesliga powerhouse Bayer Leverkusen. The 17-year old Northern California native became one of the youngest players to sign an overseas contract when he signed with Leverkusen in March, 1999. Donovan is the U.S. U-17s all-time leading scorer with 31 international goals in 34 matches.
The U.S. U-17s will depart for San Diego, Calif., on Oct. 30 for a three-day training camp at the ARCO Olympic Training Center, in Chula Vista, before departing for New Zealand on Nov. 3, from Los Angeles.
The USA will open the world youth championship against host nation New Zealand on Nov. 10 followed by a Nov. 13 showdown against '99 European qualifying runners-up Poland. The U.S. will conclude group play against South American powerhouse Uruguay on Nov. 16.