ROCHESTER, N.Y. (May 15, 2007) — In a game that served as a warm-up for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, defending world champion Argentina held off a fierce United States attack on Tuesday night at PAETEC Park in Rochester, N.Y., and made a 55th minute goal stand for a 1-0 victory.
In a game that saw both teams earn several good scoring chances, the United States seemed to get the better of the offensive opportunities throughout the game, outshooting Argentina 15-8, but couldn’t break through goalkeeper Emiliano Centeno. A perfectly taken free kick by Alejandro Gomez from the right side of the box found Diego Braghieri, who timed his run perfectly to head the ball in the back of the net for the game’s only goal.
“In the end we didn't convert our chances and they converted the one they had,” said U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen. “I can't be prouder of the mentality of the team though. We put the reigning world champions on their heels. It's a great lesson to be learned at this point, that the little things make a difference. I'm not happy about the loss, don't get me wrong, but at the same time there are a lot of building blocks and positive things we can work on.”
The first chance for either team came in the fourth minute when Robbie Rogers beat his defender down the left side and played a square ball to Danny Szetela in the middle of the field. Szetela took a touch toward goal, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
Near the half-hour mark, Facundo Coria picked the ball off Szetela’s feet in the middle of the field and created Argentina’s best chance of the half, taking a touch toward goal from 25 yards out. He rifled a low, hard shot that forced U.S. goalkeeper Chris Seitz to fully extend to get a hand on the ball and get it over the end line for his best save of the night.
Josmer Altidore almost put the U.S. up in the 38th minute when he received a ball and touched it by defender Gabriel Mercado before dribbling in on goal. With a few step-overs as he moved inside the area, he put defender Braghieri off balance, before ripping a left-footed shot, but Centeno came up with the first of five big saves on the night.
The U.S. came out of the locker room for the second half with their eyes on the goal. Quick chances came when a ball was chipped into the box looking for Altidore, but Centeno was once again up to the task. Less than a minute later, Rogers again played a ball into the box that found Altidore, who brought the ball down with his chest around two defenders, but his shot went well over the crossbar. Staying on the attack, defender Tim Ward found Freddy Adu alone in the box, but his shot ended up right in the hands of the goalkeeper.
In another flurry of offense for the United States in the 59th minute, Adu took a free kick from 30 yards away that hit the crossbar and bounced almost straight down, only to be cleared by the Argentine defense. On the ensuing corner, the U.S. played it short and Johann Smith chipped a ball into the box for Altidore. Altidore was able to make something out of a half-chance and get a shot off as he was being surrounded by defenders, but again Centeno came up with a big save off of a point blank shot.
In stoppage time, Argentina was content to play the ball long and let their forwards run onto it to wind down the clock, but the U.S. kept the pressure on until the end. The last chance came on a free kick to the left of Argentina’s box, and everyone for the U.S., including Seitz, was pushed forward looking for the equalizer. The cross drifted to the far post and went just over Amaechi Igwe’s head as the final whistle blew.
Both teams will be taking part in the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will take place in Canada from June 30-July 22. The U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil. This is the sixth straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall. The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium
This will be the second team Rongen will take to a FIFA U-20 World Cup, having coached the U.S. Under-20s at the 2003 event in the United Arab Emirates (then named FIFA World Youth Championship), leading the team to an impressive fifth place finish.
In Canada, the U.S. will look to improve on its disappointing 12th place finish in the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, when they were knocked out of the Round of 16 by Italy after going undefeated in group play. In 2003, the U.S. led Argentina for most of the match until an equalizer in the final moments and a penalty kick in overtime ended their chances for their second appearance in the semifinals of a U-20 World Cup. The only appearance in the final four of a U-20 World Cup by a U.S. team was in Saudi Arabia in 1989 when current MNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller helped lead his team to a best-ever fourth place finish.
- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: USA vs. Argentina
Competition: International Friendly
Location: PAETEC Park; Rochester, N.Y.
Date: May 15, 2007
Weather: Warm, 70 degrees
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 0 0
Argentina 0 1 1
ARG – Diego Braghieri (Alejandro Gomez) 55th minute.
USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 3-Amaechi Igwe, 5-Nathan Sturgis, 14-Julian Valentin (15-Jalil Anibaba, 76), 2-Tim Ward; 11-Freddy Adu (capt.), 7-Danny Szetela, 4-Bryan Arguez (10-Rodrigo Lopez, 46); 8-Robbie Rogers (13-Sal Zizzo, 62), 12-Josmer Altidore, 9-Johann Smith
Subs not used: 19-Michael Stephens, 24-Alec Dufty
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
ARG: 1-Emiliano Centeno; 2-Gabriel Mercado, 3-Marcelo Cardozo, 4-Santiago Villafane, 5-Matias Sanchez, 6-Diego Braghieri (20-Jorge Sotomayor, 88), 11-Leonel Vangioni (16-Nicolas Dul, 64), 13-Fernando Meza, 17-Facundo Coria (15-Frederico Scoppa, 85), 18-Santiago Malano (9-Milton Joel Caraglio, 69); 19-Alejandro Gomez (21-Jonotan Chavez, 79)
Subs not used: 7-Diego Perotti,, 12-Agustin Marchesin
Head Coach: Hugo Tocalli
Statistical Summary: USA ARG
Shots 15 8
Shots on goal 5 5
Saves 4 5
Fouls 12 22
Corner Kicks 8 4
Offside 1 4
ARG – Matias Sanchez (caution) 11th minute.
USA – Freddy Adu (caution) 60.
ARG – Alejandro Gomez (caution) 69.
ARG – Diego Braghieri (caution) 84.
ARG – Jorge Sotomayor (caution) 90.
Referee: Steve DePiero
AR1: Amato DeLuca
AR2: Joe Fletcher
Fourth Official: Richard Sanchez