CHICAGO (Tuesday, October 1, 2002) — The United States Under-20 Men’s National Team will face Haiti, El Salvador and Canada in the CONCACAF Under-20 Group B Qualifying Tournament at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., from November 13-17, 2002. Haiti was the final team to qualify for the six-game round-robin tournament when they topped Jamaica in a two-legged playoff that finished this weekend.
The U.S. Under-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history, play the second match on each day and open on November 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET against Haiti before facing El Salvador on November 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET and then wrapping up the tournament against Canada on November 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The top two finishers in Charleston will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 – April 16, 2003.
Haiti took the longest road to Charleston, beginning in June with a 3-2 aggregate win against the Dominican Republic to qualify for the Caribbean Group B tournament. In Caribbean group play Haiti topped the Bahamas and St. Kitts & Nevis by a combined 13-1 to advance to the two-legged playoff with the Group C champion, favored Jamaica. Haiti qualified for Charleston after fighting to a scoreless draw against Jamaica on Sept. 29 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, just two weeks after shocking Jamaica 2-1 in Kingston, Jamaica.
El Salvador finished second in the Under-20 Central American qualifying tournament in Guatemala with just one loss in four games and finished ahead of traditional Central American powers Costa Rica and Honduras. Canada and the United States automatically qualified for the final round of qualifying as members of CONCACAF’s North Zone. The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 14-7-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (55-27).
Canada and the U.S. have met twice in 2002, splitting a pair of one-goal wins. The U.S. topped Canada 1-0 on January 9 in their first international under Rongen, as U.S. forward Mike Magee scored the game’s only goal. Canada got revenge on their southern neighbor with a 2-1 win at the U.S. Soccer Festival in Houston, Texas, on August 2.
Just last year, Canada and El Salvador joined the U.S. in a CONCACAF Under-17 qualifying tournament. In St. Louis, the U.S. topped Jamaica, Canada and El Salvador by a combined 10-3 to qualify for the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. Many of the same players who starred in St. Louis are expected to appear in Charleston, including the USA’s Ed Johnson, Santino Quaranta and Chad Marshall.
This tournament marks the first time since 1980 that U.S. Soccer has hosted an Under-20 qualifying tournament. Tickets for the qualifying tournament are currently available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Cat’s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, on-line at ussoccer.com and at Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). Series and group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625 or U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249.
While a roster will not be released until mid-October, the pool of Under-20s includes European professionals, MLS and college players. The MLS players eligible for selection include Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Miguel Saavedra (Chicago) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn).
CONCACAF’s other final round qualifying tournament – Group A – will run from October 16-20 in Panama and includes the hosts, Guatemala, Cuba and Mexico.