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U.S. U-17 MNT Notes From Minnesota - July 16, 2004


U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes
St. Paul, Minn.
July 16, 2004


READY FOR CANADA, CRUZ AZUL IN MINNESOTA

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team arrived in St. Paul, Minn., on Monday afternoon and have gone through three training sessions over the past three days as they get prepared to face Canada and a youth team from the famed Mexican club team Cruz Azul for three matches in four days. The U.S. will first go up against Canada tomorrow (Saturday) at the National Sports Center in Blaine at 7:35 p.m. CT. The following day, the U.S. will not play as Canada and Cruz Azul will go head-to-head, but will hold a training session in the morning. The U.S. will then face Cruz Azul on Monday (July 19) and Canada for the second time on Tuesday (July 20), with both games being played at the National Sports Center and starting at 7:35 p.m. Head coach John Ellinger brought a 20-player roster for the three-game event as he continues to solidify his roster for the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica in April 2005.
U.S. U-17 MNT Schedule
Date       Opponent     Venue                             Time (CT)
July 17    Canada        National Sports Center    7:35 p.m.           
July 19    Cruz Azul     National Sports Center    7:35 p.m.
July 20    Canada        National Sports Center    7:35 p.m.
U.S. U-17 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Marcus Rein (Modesto, Calif.), Bryant Rueckner (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.); DEFENDERS (7): Carlos Borja (Anaheim, Calif.), Richard Edgar (Mechanicsville, Md.), Jeremy Hall (Tampa, Fla.), Eric Lichaj (Downers Grove, Ill.), Ofori Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio), Julian Valentin (Lancaster, Pa.), Taylor Hoss (Vancouver, Wash.); MIDFIELDERS (8): Kevin Alston (Silver Spring, Md.), Nicolas Besagno (Maple Valley, Wash.), Michael Dal Pra (Bronxville, N.Y), Ryan Soroka (Langhorne, Pa.), Danny Szetela (MLS), Eric Avila (Encinitas, Calif.), Dax McCarty (Maitland, Fla.), Adam Sloustcher (Pleasanton, Calif.); FORWARDS (3): Eddie Ababio (Tampa, Fla.), Quavas Kirk (Aurora, Ill.), Michael Stephens (Woodridge, Ill.).

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE FOR “FIRE & ICE” SERIES: Tickets still are still available for the four-game series between the U.S., Canada and Cruz Azul, nicknamed “Fire & Ice” by the National Sports Center by calling the National Sports Center ticket hotline at 763-792-7346 or through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or (651) 989-5151. General admission tickets are $10, while VIP seating is $20. Tickets will also be available at the gate.

U.S. ROSTER GOING WITH YOUTH AGAINST CANADA, CRUZ AZUL: To help the U.S. Under-17 MNT prepare for the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament next April, the majority of players Ellinger called in for the series were born in 1988, as they will be eligible for the U-17s as the U.S. tries to qualify for its 11th consecutive World Championship. Out of the USA’s 20-player roster, 14 were born in 1988, while six were born in 1987. Canada has brought a bit more experienced team as all but two of their 18-player roster were born in 1987 (the other two were born in ’88). Cruz Azul has brought in their Under-19 youth team to the tournament, the majority of their players being born two to three years ahead of the players on the U.S. squad. The older, more experienced squads are just the type of tough competition Ellinger will is looking for as he continues to decipher what players he will choose for the U-17s final roster next April.

SZETELA JOINS CAMP AFTER SIGNING WITH MLS:
Danny Szetela, who recently graduated from Residency this past May, arrived into camp this afternoon with a smile from ear to ear. The reason? The 17-year old midfielder had just finalized a deal to sign with MLS a day earlier, and will find out his new team next Thursday (July 22) when the league holds a weighted lottery for his services. Szetela would have been with the Under-20s in Northern Ireland competing in the 2004 Milk Cup, but he was unable to leave before he completed his deal with MLS. With the deal done, the Clifton, N.J., native was available to participate in the Under-17s three-game camp in Minnesota and Ellinger called him in on Thursday night. Before finally signing with MLS, the hard-nosed midfielder was courted by a number of clubs of in England, including Everton, in what was a whirlwind few months. Now that he’s settled down though and made his decision, Szetela talked with ussoccer.com this afternoon after getting a bite to eat for lunch and explained why he chose MLS, what he hopes to accomplish and if there’s any bling-bling he may be purchasing after cashing his first check.

QUALIFYING FOR THE U-17s SET: The U.S. Under-17 MNT found out their what their path to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship will look like on June 6 when CONCACAF held the qualifying draws at the offices of the CONCACAF General Secretariat in New York. The final stage has the U.S. traveling to Costa Rica to play in Group A with the host, the Caribbean Zone Series 1 winner and the Central American Zone Series 1 winner (Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador) from April 12-16. In Group B, Canada will host with Mexico, Caribbean Zone Series 2 winner and Central American Zone Series 2 winner (Honduras, Belize or Panama). The group winners will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru, while the runners-up will compete in a home-and-away playoff, with the winner earning the third and final CONCACAF berth.
Group A – TBD, Costa Rica (April 12-16)
Costa Rica
USA
UNCAF 1
CFU 1
Group B – St. John, New Brunswick, Canada (May 19-23)

Canada
Mexico
UNCAF 2
CFU 2


FINDING DEALS AT THE MALL 
On Thursday afternoon, the players and staff ventured over to the largest mall in the United States, The Mall of America, located in Minneapolis (near the airport) about 20 minutes from where the U-17s are staying. The players enjoyed the chance to stroll the mall, while the staff took in Will Ferrel's new comedy, "Anchorman." Well, not the entire staff as trainer Michael White didn't see it and had to suffer through dinner as everyone repeated the numerous funny lines, basically ruining any chance for him to enjoy the movie when he does go see it. While not too many players put down any greenbacks to purchase any clothes, defender Julian Valentin decided he could part with one dollar (actually .97 cents) to buy the ugliest thing he could find, a soft, checkered-brown cap which he wore proudly for the rest of the day. After walking around aimlessly for a couple hours and going into both Gap, American Eagle and Foot Locker stores, the players and staff met for a dinner at Ruby Tuesday's.

A LITTLE ABOUT CANADA

Canada's U-17 team comes to Minnesota with the same vision as the U.S., using the competition as preparation for competitions down the road. The difference is while Ellinger has brought younger players to get them prepared for the U-17 qualifying next year, the players on Canada's team are looking to win a spot on their Under-20 squad that they would be involved with during their run toward the 2007 FIFA World Youth Championships. While that competition is still three years away, Canada's U-17 head coach Ray Clark, who is also the Director of Coaching and Player Development, said the matches will "provide them with a good measuring stick with which to compare the progress of our players."
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Asmir Begovic, 22-Adam Catley; DEFENDERS (5): 2-Masumi Turnbull, 3-Kyle Bartkus, 4-Kent O'Conner, 5-Robert Kerek, 17-Thomas McLean; MIDFIELDER (6): 6-Joey Loreth, 7-Kerr McLeod, 8-Hector Contreras, 12-Olivier Babineau, 14-Tosant Ricketts, 15-Mark Cuevas; FORWARDS (5): 9-Jason Devenish, 10-Mike D'Agostino, 11-Will Johnson, 13-Alex Elliott, 16-Massimo Di Ioia.

LAST TIME VS. CANADA

This will be the first match against Canada for this U.S. U-17 MNT, and the first for any U-17 squad since last year's team played Canada at the same stadium (National Sports Center) in Blaine on July 13 as it prepared for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland last August. In that meeting between the neighboring countries, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got goals in each half from Guillermo Gonzalez and one from Freddy Adu in the final minute of the game to topple Canada 3-1 in front of a sold-out crowd of 10,511 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. The festive crowd was the biggest ever to watch a domestic U.S. Under-17 match and the, at the time, the fourth largest to ever watch a soccer match in the National Sports Center.

U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Canada
National Sports Center; Blaine, Minn.
July 13, 2003


Scoring Summary:     
                                                  1st     2nd     Final
United States                             1        2          3
Canada                                       1        0          1

USA – Guillermo Gonzalez (penalty kick)             32nd minute
CAN – Derek Rios (Tyler Rosenlund)                  45th
USA – Guillermo Gonzalez (Eddie Gaven)            77th
USA – Freddy Adu                                                  90th

Lineups:
USA – 18-Quentin Westberg (1-Phil Marfuggi, 46); 3-Jonathan Spector, 5-Brandon Owens, 12-Steve Curfman, 2-Kyle Helton (16-Adrian Chevannes, 82); 8-John DiRaimondo, 15-Corey Ashe (13-Jamie Watson, 71), 7-Brian Grazier, 10-Guillermo Gonzalez, 11-Freddy Adu, 4-Eddie Gaven
Subs not used: 6-Jacob Peterson, 9-Michael Harrington, 6-Chris Germani, 20-Jose Gomez

CAN – 1-Robert Giacomi; 6-Myles Davis, 4-Andrew Hainault, 5-David Edgar, 2-Trevor Delpippo (15-Graham Ramalho, 82); 8-Rob Orefice (13-Gabriel Seguin-Gauthner, 57), 7-Tyler Rosenlund, 9-Derek Rios (16-Michael Luk, 83), 17-Vince Stewart; 10-Cam Wilson, 12-Andrea Lombardo (11-Marcel DeJong, 68)
Subs not used: 22-Dan Pelc, 3-Brad Peetoom, 14-Daniel Nileson


WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH FOLLOWS THE U-17s:
After the U-17 MNT leaves Minnesota, the U.S. Women’s National Team will take its place as it will face Australia on Wednesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. CT at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as the U.S. women play their penultimate match before leaving for the 2004 Olympics in Greece. The match marks the 13th time the U.S. women have played in Blaine, Minn., the most games that any city in the United States has ever hosted.  The USA played in Blaine seven times in the 1980s and three times in 1990, followed by an 11-year gap until a 1-0 win against Canada in July 2001. The match carries some extra intrigue as it will preview the Aug. 17 meeting at the Olympics that pits these two countries together in the final match of Group G opening round play in Thessaloniki.


QUICK HITS:
  • Quavas Kirk is the leading scorer for the U.S. U-17s in 2004, tallying seven goals and two assists for 16 points.

  • Kirk is also one of four players with the most appearances with the U-17s this year. Along with Kirk, defenders Eric Lichaj, Richard Edgar and Ofori Sarkodie have all played and started in 21 matches.
  • Since the beginning of Residency last September, the U-17 Men’s National Team has compiled a 23-15-6 record overall, outscoring their opponents almost two to one (82 goals for, 42 goals against). Early in its progression, the team has also compiled a 2-5-3 record in international competition. Despite being outscored (6-10) in its 10 international matches, the teams record is not an accurate depiction of the their success at the world level, as the U.S. has held its own against every opponent, dropping one-goal games to the likes of soccer powers Brazil and Argentina.
  • After the two close games with Brazil and Argentina in 2003, in April of this year the U-17s played Italy, England, Ivory Coast and Cameroon to close finishes in the Montaigu International Tournament in Montaigu, France, finishing in eighth place.
  • The experience of playing in an international tournament for the first time paid off though, as two weeks later the U.S. took second place in the Ballymena International Tournament in Northern Ireland. After winning their group with wins over Belgium (1-0), Scotland (2-0) and a draw with Austria (1-1), the U.S. battled Switzerland to a scoreless draw in regulation before falling 3-4 in penalty kicks. With two goals in the tournament – both against Scotland – and displaying a creative and dangerous threat to opposing defenses, U.S. forward Preston Zimmerman was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament. 
  • The majority of the players on the U.S. roster will be part of the 40 players in U.S. Soccer’s Residency Program this fall, with the exception of five players who graduated this past May and will be heading to their respective universities. Midfielder Dax McCarty and Adam Sloustcher will take their talents to the University of North Carolina, while defender Julian Valentin and goalkeeper Marcus Rein will be studying at ACC rival Wake Forest.
  • The original roster for the U.S. included forward Preston Zimmerman, who joined Residency last January, but he suffered an injury the week leading up to the camp and was unable to make the trip. To fill the hole, Ellinger called in Szetela.
  • Canada has six players that are currently playing in youth and reserve teams for clubs in England, Germany, Holland, and Trinidad & Tobago. Goalkeeper Asmir Begovic (Portsmouth) and forward Will Johnson (Blackburn Rovers) are with their respective clubs in England, while defender Robert Kerek is with SC Freiburg in Germany and midfielder Kerr McLeod is with BV Vitesse in Holland. Jason Devenish is with Queens Royal College in Trinidad & Tobago.

  • Begovic, forward Alex Elliot and midfielder Hector Contreras were were integral components for Canada's U-17 MNT squad that failed to qualify for the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship.

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