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U-17 World Championship Kicks Off with Croatia Win; U.S. to Face Japan on Friday

BACOLET, Tobago (Thursday, September 13, 2001) -

TOURNAMENT OPENS WITH CROATIA WIN: The World Championship officially kicked off Thursday afternoon, with Croatia using two penalty kick goals from captain Niko Kranjar to top Trinidad & Tobago, 2-1, in pouring rain at Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad. T & T forward Nkosi Blackman scored his country's first-ever goal in a World Championship at any level with a wonderful 60-yard solo run to temporarily equalize the match 1-1 in the second half. Prior to the match, a moment of silence was observed to honor the lives lost in the tragic events that recently took place in the United States.

LOOKING AHEAD TO FRIDAY’S OPPONENT: Japan entered the 2000 Asian qualifying tournament as favorites, and three early qualifying matches confirmed that status. Japan flew past the Philipines, Singapore and Indonesia by a combined 33-1 to reach the 2000 Asian Championship in Vietnam. From there, Japan continued to look like the cream of the Asian crop, allowing only one goal while scoring 14 in their four Group A matches to advance to the semifinals. Japan jumped out to an early lead in the semifinals against eventual champion Oman, but allowed three goals in the final half-hour to lose, 2-3. With a spot in the World Championship on the line in the third-place match, Japan overwhelmed Vietnam with a 4-2 win and clinched a spot in the Under-17 World Championship for the first time in six years.

BLACK ARMBANDS TO COMMERORATE AMERICAN LIVES LOST: The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will wear black armbands on the sleeves of their jerseys in Friday’s opening match against Japan. The armbands will be worn to honor the people who lost their lives in the tragic incidents that took place earlier this week in the United States.

U.S. IN MINDS OF OTHERS: The U.S. delegation received faxes from FIFA and the Under-17 Australian team, expressing their deep sorrows over the tragic events that have taken place in the United States this week. The Australia Under-17 Men’s National Team sent the U.S. side a heartwarming note Wednesday morning. The Aussies, who drew 0-0 with the U.S. on Sept. 6, in Bradenton, Fla., wrote that while the teams may be competitors on the field, they are all the same off the field. The note was signed by the entire Australian team and was passed around the U.S. delegation at breakfast on Wednesday. The U.S. also received a letter from FIFA on Wednesday morning, with the sport’s worldwide governing body offering their help in any possible way.

HEALTHY U.S. SQUAD WILL LINE-UP ON FRIDAY: A healthy U.S. squad will take the field Friday evening, as Chad Marshall will make the return to the U.S. line-up after suffering an avulsion fracture on his left hip on August 13 in a match against the San Diego Flash reserves. Marshall has trained with the U.S. all week and showed no ill effects. Also returning to the lineup will be Santino Quaranta, who came off early in the Sept. 6 match against Australia, and Jordan Stone, who sat out the Australia match with a bum ankle.

ALL THREE U-17 FIRST ROUND GAMES ON GALAVISION: When the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team takes on its three highly-regarded Group B opponents in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship beginning tomorrow, fans in the United States will be able to watch the games on the Spanish-language network Galavision. Galavision is scheduled to show all three of the USA's first round matches, including a live showing of the anticipated Sunday, Sept. 16 match against France at 6:15 p.m. ET. The USA's opener against Japan on Friday (Sept. 14) will be shown on a same-day delay, airing on Galavision at 9 p.m. ET & PT. The United States will wrap up group play on Sept. 19 with Galavision showing the match on same-day delay at 7 p.m. ET & PT. Following is the television schedule for the USA's opening three matches:

  • U.S. vs. Japan: Friday, Sept. 14 - Galavision
    DELAYED: 9 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. CT / 7 p.m. MT / 9 p.m. PT
  • U.S. vs. France: Sunday Sept. 16 - Galavision
    LIVE: 6:15 p.m. ET / 5:15 p.m. CT / 4:15 p.m. MT / 3:15 p.m. PT
  • U.S. vs. Nigeria: Wednesday, Sept. 19 - Galavision
    DELAYED: 7 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. CT / 5 p.m. MT / 7 p.m. PT TO FEATURE MATCHTRACKER ON U.S. U-17s: Fans of U.S. Soccer and the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team will be able to follow all the team's action from Trinidad & Tobago via U.S. Soccer's website and the "MatchTracker" system. In addition to being the home for daily notes, "Postcards from Tobago" and digital images of the team, will provide up-to-the-minute in-game coverage of all the U.S. action, beginning with the team's showdown with Japan on Sept. 14 beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

STAT OF THE DAY: The U.S. is an even 4-4 in tournament opening matches. The Americans used two second-half goals to top the hosts New Zealand, 2-1, in the 1999 opening game. Following are the USA's results in the team's opening match at each of the previous Under-17 World Championships:

  • China 1985: July 31 - Guinea, 0-1 L
  • Canada 1987: July 12 - Ecuador, 1-0 W
  • Scotland 1989: June 10 - Brazil, 1-0 W
  • Italy 1991: Aug. 16 - Italy, 1-0 W
  • Japan 1993: Aug. 24 - Colombia, 1-2 L
  • Ecuador 1995: Aug. 3 - Ecuador, 0-2 L
  • Egypt 1997: Sept. 6 - Oman, 0-4 L
  • New Zealand 1999: Oct. 10 - New Zealand, 2-1 W