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U.S. U-23s Tie Portugal, Finish Second after 4-2 PK Shootout Loss

ABRANTES, Portugal (Thursday, January 23, 2003) - Playing in the final of the third edition of the Vale do Tejo International Tournament, the U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team fell to Portugal 4-2 in penalty kicks, after the match was tied 1-1 after 90 minutes, today in front of a packed house of approximately 5,000 fans at the Municipal Stadium in Abrantes, Portugal. With the penalty kick shootout loss, the U.S. finished second in the four-team tournament and ended the five-game trip with a 1-1-3 record.

"It was an excellent trip for us," said U.S. U-23 MNT head coach Glenn Myernick. "Given the high level of competition, this group far exceeded our expectations. We had a lot of young players who took a great opportunity, rose to the occasion to represent the U.S., and gave us a chance to win a very good tournament."

The U.S. had a reversal of fortune tonight from its 4-1 penalty kick shootout decision over Russia on Tuesday night. After converting all four of its chances in the shootout two nights ago, only D.C. United forward Alecko Eskandarian and Kansas City Wizards defender Jose Burciaga converted this time around, as subsequent shots by Chicago Fire defender Kelly Gray and University of Maryland midfielder Seth Stammler were saved by Portugal goalkeeper Miguel. After saving two of three attempts against Russia two nights ago, U.S. goalkeeper D.J. Countess (Dallas Burn) could not thwart any of Portugal's four chances for a 4-2 shootout loss.

Following the match, the U.S. was presented with a pair of awards, as forward and Chicago Fire rookie Nate Jaqua was honored as the tournament's Top Goal Scorer with two goals, and the team received the tournament Fair Play award.

Although Portugal owned much of the play in the first half, the U.S. battled back in the second half and took the lead in the 74th minute when D.C. United midfielder and team captain Brian Carroll sent a left-footed, inswinging corner kick to the far post, where #3 MLS SuperDraft pick Jaqua leaped to snap it back across the goal and into the side netting past Miguel.

Appearing in his first U-23 camp since breaking his foot before the team played its first match during a trip to Portugal last February, Jaqua's goal was his second in as many games in 2003 (he did not appear in the the team's three exhibition matches) and gave have him two goals in just two career U-23 caps.

Portugal equalized just three minutes later, with Joao Paulo converting in the 77th minute past Countess.

The result was similar to the last time the two teams met on the U-23 level, when the U.S. tied Portugal 1-1 in the final of the four-team Madeira International Tournament on Feb. 8, 2002, and again finished in second place.

The U.S. began it's five-game tour of Portugal with exhibitions against reserve teams from Portugal's First Division, posting a 1-1-1 record in three consecutive games last week. After dropping the first match 3-1 to the Sporting Lisbon reserves on Jan. 14, the U.S. rebounded to tie Benfica reserves 0-0 on Jan. 15 and shut out Santarem District 2-0 in the third match on Jan. 16.

The U.S. Under-23 MNT's trip abroad represents their first gathering in 2003. The U.S. will next travel to Ft. Lauderdale from Feb. 21-March 2 to compete against MLS teams, as well as the U.S. Under-20 MNT, as part of the league's preseason. The U.S. is preparing for this summer's 2003 PanAm Games, which takes place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from Aug. 1-17 and serves as a pre-cursor to the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece.

- U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants:  United States Under-23 Men's National Team vs. Portugal
Competition:  3rd Vale do Tejo International Tournament – Final
Venue: Estadio Municipal de Abrantes (Abrantes, Portugal)
Date: January 23, 2003 – 5 p.m. (local) / 12 p.m. ET
Weather: 50 degrees; cold, clear
Attendance: 5,000 (approx.)

Scoring Summary: 1 - 2 - F - PKs
Portugal 0 - 1 - 1 - 4
United States 0 - 1 - 1 - 2

USA – Nate Jaqua (Brian Carroll), 74.
POR – Joao Paulo (n/a), 77.

Penalty Kick Summary:
POR: Rui Miguel (goal), Rui Lima (goal), Miguel (goal), Joao Paulo (goal).
USA: Alecko Eskandarian (goal), Jose Burciaga (goal), Kelly Gray (saved), Seth Stammler (saved).

POR (4-5-1) -
 Miguel; Toni, Ricardo Silva (Ricardo Carvalho, 46), Rogério Matias, Areias; Flávio Meireles, Fangueiro (Rui Miguel, 79), Silas (13-Miguel, 46), Castanheira (Rui Lima, 46), Ricardo Sousa (Capt.); João Paulo.
Subs Not Used: Paulo Lopes, Bessa, Fredy, Nuno Assis, Tonel, Pedro Henriques.
Head Coach: Agostinho Oliveira.

USA (4-4-2) - 1-D.J. Countess; 22-Chris Wingert (14-Scot Thompson, 77), 6-Kelly Gray, 23-David Stokes, 16-Jose Burciaga; 2-Kyle Beckerman, 11-Brian Carroll (Capt.), 7-Adolfo Gregorio (8-Seth Stammler, 58), 15-Logan Pause; 6-Nate Jaqua, 5-Alecko Eskandarian.
Subs Not Used: 9-David Testo, 13-Andres Rota, 18-Doug Warren, 21-Seth Trembly.
Head Coach: Glenn “Mooch” Myernick.

Statistical Summary: POR / USA
Shots: 3 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 10 / 3
Fouls: 20 / 26
Offside: 0 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
POR – Areias (caution), 18.
USA – Kyle Beckerman (caution), 35.
USA – D.J. Countess (caution), 85.

Referee: Nikolay Ivanov (RUS)
Assistant Referee #1: Jose Manuel Cardinal (POR)
Assistant Referee #2: Kermit Quisenberry (UAE)
Fourth Official: Darko Ceferin (ESL)