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U.S. U-20 MNT Top Group A With 0-0 Tie Against Guatemala

PANAMA CITY, Panama (January 19, 2007) — The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team stayed atop Group A of the CONCACAF U-20 Final Round Qualifying Tournament with a 0-0 draw against Guatemala this evening in their second match at Rommel Fernandez Stadium in Panama City, Panama. The top two teams from the group advance to the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada.

Going into the final match, the U.S. is tied with Panama with four points, but ahead of the hosts with a better goal differential of plus-3 to plus-1. Guatemala is still alive with two points, but needs to win to have a chance of advancing to the World Cup. Haiti is eliminated after losing this evening, 3-2, to Panama in the second match of the night.

The U.S. can guarantee a spot in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a win or draw against Panama in their third and final match on Sunday, Jan. 21, at Rommel Fernandez Stadium. The U.S. could also still qualify with a loss, but only if Guatemala loses or ties Haiti. Going into their match against Panama, the U.S. will know what it needs to do as the Guatemala-Haiti match is the first of the doubleheader.

The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for their sixth straight U-20 World Cup, which would break the previous CONCACAF record that they and Mexico (1977, ’79, ’81, ’83, ’85) currently hold. Overall, the U.S. has qualified for 10 of the previous 15 FIFA U-20 World Cups. The 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup will take place in Canada from June 30-July 22 across six cities – Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria.

“We designed a game plan for us to be victorious and get three points, but we also knew that this would be a tough game against a very disciplined and well organized Guatemala team,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. “I think at the end of the day, us not being good in the final third, not great finishing touches for us, that's what let us down. Those missed opportunities are what disappoint us.” 

"Panama has a very good team and I respect (Julio) Dely Valdez and his players a lot. We know we will have a tough game on our hands and we will have to get a win or a tie in order to get to the World Cup, and that's something we realize. We will clearly go with the mentality to get a result and get us to our sixth consecutive World Cup. That was our aim before the first game and will continue to be our aim before the last game."  [More Quotes]

Rongen made just one change to his line-up from the team’s opening 4-1 victory against Haiti, replacing Tony Beltran for Quavas Kirk at right back. With Beltran getting the nod, all three of the players featured in Studio 90’s “Roster Spot” on started the match.

Beltran and the rest of the U.S. defense held Guatemala to zero shots on goal and just four shots total. The performance earned central defender Nathan Sturgis Sierra Mist Man of the Match honors. While the defense held strong, the U.S. struggled with finishing and couldn’t put away any of their 10 shots.

The first half was relatively quiet as both teams were only able to generate two shots, with the U.S. the only team getting one on target. The lone shot on goal in the 18th minute wasn’t dangerous as Andre Akpan got only a slight touch to the ball after Freddy Adu’s shot at the top of the box was blocked, and it dribbled straight into the arms of goalkeeper Carlos Daniel Reyes.

The best attempt came earlier, in the 11th minute, when Sturgis had a great opportunity to get his first goal with the Under-20s. Adu sent in a free kick from the left side of the penalty area and Sturgis got free from his defender at the six-yard box, but he couldn’t direct it on target.

The most dangerous attempt for Guatemala in the first half came in the 28th minute when Marco Ciani pushed the ball up towards the penalty area before pushing it to his left for a streaking Jonathan Lopez, but the forward’s shot on goal from inside the box was wide right.

Danny Szetela had an opportunity off a 25-yard free kick just before the halftime whistle, but his attempt was over the bar.

Similar to the first match, the U.S. came out on the attack. In the first 10 minutes, the majority of the attack was created on the left flank as defender Tim Ward served in three quality balls into the box. On the first, Adu slipped the ball out wide to Ward and he quickly hammered a cross towards the near post but Sal Zizzo couldn’t redirect the ball on frame with a diving header.

Two minutes later, the U.S. had its best chance of the match. The attack started with the same sequence moving from Adu to Ward and into the area, but this time it was Akpan who failed to bury the service as his header from 12 yards out went directly to the ‘keeper.

In the 55th minute, Ward knocked in an early cross towards the back post but a sprinting Zizzo couldn’t get a touch on it before going over the endline.

Guatemala finally got on the attack three minutes later as Ciani slipped the ball up for Minor Lopez near the left corner of the penalty area. Lopez was able to pull off a nifty turn to get past Beltran, but defender Julian Valentin did well to hold his ground in front of the forward and forced his shot wide left.

Akpan had another chance slip through his hands in the 73rd minute as he found himself nearly in the same position as his first header on goal, but this time his attempt from Anthony Wallace’s service was over the crossbar.

Amaechi Igwe came on for an injured Ward in the 80th minute and almost became the unlikely savior when he got his head to a free kick from Adu but could only send it wide.

In the final 10 minutes, Szetela and Adu unleashed shots from deep and substitute Preston Zimmerman got his head to a cross, but no one was able to test Reyes. The last chance came from the foot of Robbie Rogers in the 90th minute when the midfielder cut inside from the right sideline and unleashed a left-footed shot barely wide of the right post.

The other two of the four CONCACAF berths (not including Canada which gets an automatic berth as host) will come from Group B, which will occur a month later from Feb. 21-25 in Culiacan, Sinaloa, located on the west coast of Mexico. Competing with the hosts will be Costa Rica, St. Kitts & Nevis and Jamaica.

Along with the host, 10 teams from Europe and Asia have already booked a place in the World Cup. Japan, Jordan, Korea Republic and North Korea qualified from Asia, while Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Scotland and Spain are in from Europe.

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

Participants: USA vs. Guatemala
Competition: CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament (Final Round) – Game 3
Location: Rommel Fernandez Stadium; Panama City, Panama
Date: January 19, 2007
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees

Scoring Summary:     1      2      F
USA                                0      0      0
Guatemala                    0      0      0

USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 19-Tony Beltran, 16-Julian Valentin, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 2-Tim Ward (4-Amaechi Igwe, 80); 14-Anthony Wallace, 7-Danny Szetela, 11-Freddy Adu (capt.); 15-Sal Zizzo (12-Josmer Altidore, 61), 8-Robbie Rogers, 20-Andre Akpan (17-Preston Zimmerman, 78)
Subs not used: 3-Bryan Arguez, 6-Quavas Kirk, 9-Johann Smith, 10-Jonathan Villanueva, 13-Ofori Sarkodie, 18-Brian Perk
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen

GUA: 1-Carlos Daniel Reyes; 3-Ricardo Sandoval, 4-Cristian Noriega (capt.), 5-Jean Patrick Howell, 6-Jamie Dario Vides, 7-Julian Antonio Priego (15-Manuel Antonio Leon, 66), 9-Minor Lopez, 10-Marco Ciani (8-Marco Papa Ponce, 74), 14-Rafael Humberto Morales, 16-Jonathan Lopez (11-Edward Santeliz, 58), 21-Pablo Solorzano
Subs not used:2-Dor Yasur, 17-Cristian Anibal Mena, 18-Allan Alexander Secaida, 19-Abner Trigueros, 20-David Aroche, 22-Carlos Josue Rodriguez
Head Coach: Rodrigo Kenton

Statistical Summary:    USA     GUA
Shots                                  10          4
Shots on goal                      3          0
Saves                                    0          3
Fouls                                  18          15
Corner Kicks                        2          3
Offside                                   3          4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Freddy Adu (caution)               31st minute
USA – Tim Ward (caution)                  67.
USA – Josmer Altidore (caution)       77.
GUA – Rafael Humberto Morales      81.

Referee: Jose Pineda (HON)
1st Assistant: Lyndon Burton (TRI)
2nd Assistant: Roderick Rojer (TRI)
Fourth Official: Lee Davis (TRI)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Nathan Sturgis

2007 Final Round CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament  Results / Standings
Team   GP    W    L    T   GF  GA   GD   Pts.
USA       2       1    0    1     4     1     +3      4
PAN       2       1    0    1     4     3     +1      4
GUA       2       0    0    2     1     1       0      2
HAI         2       0    1    1     3     7      -4      0

Wednesday, Jan. 17
USA 4, Haiti 1
Panama 1, Guatemala 1

Friday, Jan. 19
USA 0, Guatemala 0
Panama 3, Haiti 2

Sunday, Jan. 21
Guatemala vs. Haiti    4 p.m. ET
USA vs. Panama         6 p.m. ET