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U.S. U-23 MNT Drops Opening Game of Toulon International Tournament, 3-2, to Turkey

TOULON, France (May 21, 2008) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team fell to Turkey, 3-2, in their first game of the Toulon International Tournament in France, falling short in their comeback attempt despite second-half goals from Eric Brunner and Sammy Ochoa.

The U.S. was down by two goals for most of the match, cutting the lead to one on two occasions, but was ultimately unable to come back from the early deficit. The U.S. team went into halftime down, 2-0, and managed to pull one back in the 58th minute before immediately surrendering a third Turkish goal. Ochoa’s 72nd-minute blast past Turkish goalkeeper Ufuk Ceylan was not enough to earn a result from the team’s opening match of the tournament.

The U.S. U-23 Men finished the match without captain Benny Feilhaber, who left the game in the 67th minute with a knee injury and will be evaluated on Thursday, May 22, in England after he joins the Men's National Team.

The U.S. currently sits in third place in Group B behind Turkey and Italy, who beat the Ivory Coast, 2-0, in the second game of the night at Stade Mayol. The U.S. will face Ivory Coast on Friday, May 23, at 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. ET), while Italy and Turkey will meet in the second match of the double-header in La Seyne. Both games will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel.

With only one player in the starting lineup against Turkey part of the USA’s successful run through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying in March – goalkeeper Dominic Cervi – the U.S. team consisted of players looking to impress head coach Peter Nowak and his staff before the Olympic Games in Beijing. The Turkish squad, led by Feyenoord forward Nuri Sahin, brought all their top players to Toulon, and the difference showed early in the game.

“I thought in the first half we came out a little nervous, which is a natural thing,” said Nowak. “We were playing for the first time together. We came here to this tournament to gain experience and to have a look at different players. The group trained together for only five days, so for their first time it wasn’t a bad effort.”

The Americans had the first golden opportunity of the game in the 14th minute, when Ochoa pounced on a poor back pass from a Turkish defender, running onto a bouncing ball and getting a clear shot off, but his first-time volley from 12 yards out was wide right.

Minutes later, Turkey capitalized on their first dangerous chance of the game and took a lead that they would not relinquish. Turkey sent a ball into the box off a corner kick, which the U.S. defense was unable to clear. Orhan Sam took control of a deflection, touching it to Eren Gungor, who beat Cervi with a side volley to the near post.

Sahin took another corner in the 35th minute, finding Adem Buyuk in the box. Buyuk returned the pass to Sahin, who had gotten free inside the penalty area. All alone, he took a touch and doubled his team’s lead by shooting the ball around Cervi.

In the second half, the U.S. came out of the locker room with more confidence, controlling the game and moving the ball. In the 58th minute, the U.S. took advantage of a corner kick of their own. Second-half substitute Kamani Hill played the corner right to the foot of Eric Brunner, who volleyed the ball past Ufuk Ceylan and cut Turkey’s lead in half.

Just 30 seconds after the U.S. goal, Turkey came straight down the field on the restart and brought the lead back to two goals. Serdar Ozkan sprung Ilhan Parlak, who held off two U.S. defenders before sending the ball past Cervi.

The U.S. kept fighting, and in the 72nd minute, a loose ball squirted to the top of the penalty area for Ochoa. The forward hit a laser from just inside the box that gave Ceylan no chance, and cut the U.S. deficit back to just one.

The U.S. had one last dangerous chance late in the game. Julian Valentin sent a long ball forward for Brek Shea, who had come as a substitute for an injured Benny Feilhaber in the 67th minute. Shea brought the ball down with a defender on his back and carried it into the box. He wound up to shoot and had his jersey grabbed by a defender, but the referee allowed play to continue.

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

Participants: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team vs. Turkey
Competition: Toulon International Tournament
Location: Stade Mayol – Toulon, France
Date: May 21, 2008
Weather: Warm, Sunny

Scoring Summary:   1    2    F
USA                              0    2    2
TUR                              2    1   3

TUR – Eren Gungor (Orhan Sam)      18th minute
TUR – Nuri Sahin (Adem Buyuk)         35.
USA – Eric Brunner (Kamani Hill)        58.
TUR – Ilhan Parlak (Serdar Ozkan)     59.
USA – Sammy Ochoa (unassisted)    72.

USA: 18-Dominic Cervi; 13-Blake Wagner (7-Tony Beltran, 46), 3-Eric Brunner, 6-Julian Valentin, 25-Jonathon Leathers; 16-Corey Ashe; 10-Benny Feilhaber - capt. (21-Brek Shea, 67), 8-Greg Dalby, 17-Lee Nguyen (7-Kamani Hill, 46); 19-Sammy Ochoa, 9-Gabe Ferrari

Subs Not Used: 1-Chris Seitz, 2-Rob Valentino, 4-Kyle Davies, 5-Michael Gavin, 11-Ellis McLoughlin, 14-Bryan Arguez, 15-Bryan Jordan, 24-Quentin Westberg

Head Coach: Peter Nowak

TUR: 1-Ufuk Ceylan; 2-Durmus Bayram, 4-Eren Gungor, 5-Orhan Sam, 7-Erkin Caner; 6-Mehmet Guven (20-Zafer Yelen 57), 8-Ozer Hurmaci, 10-Nuri Sahin (capt.), 21-Serdar Ozkan (13-Bilal Cubukcu, 68); 17-Adem Buyuk, 9-Ilhan Parlak

Subs Not Used: 3-Alparslan Erdem, 11-Ozgurcan Ozkan, 12-Onur Recep Kivrak,14-Emre Balak, 15-Aydin Yilmaz, 19-Aykur Demir, 22-Tufan Tosunoglu, 23-Sinan Bolat

Head Coach: Umit Davala

Statistical Summary: USA / TUR
Shots                                   6 / 8
Saves                                   1 / 0
Fouls                                    9 / 15
Corner Kicks                       4 / 3
Offside                                  1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
TUR – Mehmet Guven (caution)       6th minute
USA – Blake Wagner (caution)         27.
TUR - Durmus Bayram (caution)      81.

Referee: Kenji Ogiya (JPN)
Asst.: Francis Andrews (SCO)
Asst.: Stuart Macaulay (SCO)
4th: Lain Brines (SCO)