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U.S. Under-23 Men's National Team Falls to Ivory Coast at the Toulon International Tournament

TOULON, France (May 23, 2008) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team dropped its second game of the Toulon International Tournament to Ivory Coast, 1-0, this evening in La Seyne, France.

The lone goal came after defender Tony Beltran was called for a foul in the penalty box during what appeared to be a fair tackle against Nassa Niangbo. Djakpa, Ivory Coast’s captain, stepped up and converted from the spot for the eventual game-winner.

The U.S. is in fourth place in Group B, behind Italy (six points), Ivory Coast (three points) and Turkey (three points), and will look to rebound in its final game of the tournament on Sunday, May 25 against Italy. That match from Stade Vallis Laeta in La Valette, France, will be broadcast live on Fox Soccer Channel at 6 p.m. local time (12 p.m. ET).

U.S. Under-23 head coach Peter Nowak used an almost entirely different lineup from the team’s first match against Turkey, with Lee Nguyen the only returning starter. Tony Beltran, Kamani Hill and Brek Shea, who all came on as substitutes in the first match against Turkey, started against Ivory Coast and played major roles for the U.S.

“It was a new group that played today, and as I said before the last game we want to have a look at everybody,” said Nowak. “Today was another chance to see the players in action and to see how the new players have developed. We’re looking at what’s going to happen in July and August and this is one of the times that we’re going to look at all the players and make the right decisions.”

Though the Ivory Coast held much of the possession early in the game, the U.S. was able to create a handful of chances. In the 25th minute, after a buildup through the midfield, forward Bryan Jordan got the ball inside the box and held off shooting, instead laying the ball off for Nguyen. The midfielder took a touch around one defender, but by the time he looked up again, there were eight orange shirts in the box as Ivory Coast did well to get behind the ball defensively.

Shea was dangerous up front all night, and had the USA’s best chance of the night in the 61st minute. Beltran moved into the attack from his right back position and played a long cross for Shea inside the box. The FC Dallas rookie lunged forward and beat his defender to get a head on the ball, but his shot clanged off the far post.

On the other end of the field, U.S. goalkeeper Chris Seitz was active throughout the game, making big saves to help keep his team alive. It appeared a ball snuck under the 6-foot 4-inch ‘keeper in the 31st minute despite getting a glove on a powerful shot to the near post, but Seitz reached back and pulled the ball off the goal line. 

His biggest save of the night came in the second half after Ivory Coast capitalized with a U.S. player went down behind deep in their defensive half. The position of the injured player kept forward Nassa Niangbo onside as he ran onto a through ball and sped past the U.S. defenders, before firing a point blank shot that Seitz reached out and blocked to keep the game scoreless.

“I think we came out a little timid, but after we really started passing the ball and playing together, we stepped it up,” said Seitz. “I think defensively we did everything we could, and we saw a very good Ivory Coast team today. There are definitely some positives to take out of this game.”

Sitting in last place with zero points, the U.S. doesn’t have any opportunity to advance to the semifinals. Even with a victory against Italy in their final match to give them three points, the best position the U.S. can finish is in third place as Turkey and Ivory Coast both have three points and face each other in the final match, meaning one, or both, will end up with at least four points. Italy, which sits in first place heading into the final group game, is secured advancement to the semifinals with six points.

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

Participants: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team vs. Ivory Coast
Competition: Toulon International Tournament
Location: Stade Marquet - La Seyne, France
Date: May 23, 2008
Weather: Warm

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

CIV - Constant Djakpa (penalty)             71st minute

USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 20-Tony Beltran, 2-Rob Valentino, 4-Kyle Davies, 5-Michael Gavin; 7-Kamani Hill (9-Gabe Ferrari, 78), 14-Bryan Arguez, 17-Lee Nguyen (16-Corey Ashe, 59), 15-Blake Wagner; 21-Brek Shea, 15-Bryan Jordan (11-Ellis McLoughlin, 71)
Subs Not Used: 3-Eric Brunner, 6-Julian Valentin, 8-Greg Dalby, 19-Sammy Ochoa, 24-Quentin Westberg, 25-Jonathan Leathers
Head Coach: Peter Nowak

CIV: 1-Christian Fabrice Okoua, 15-Constant Djakpa, 4-Souleman Bamba, 10-Kouamantien Emmanuel Kone, 6-Moura-Komenan Anthony (3-Ousmane Viera Diarassouba, 60), 5-Serge Pascal Wawa, 17-Antoine Jean-Ettien N’Gossan, 9-Nassa Guy Roland Niangbo (12-Franck Dja-Djedje, 64), 7-Kafoumba Coulibaly, 13-Soilyho Ouattara
Subs Not Used: 2-Mamadou Bagayoko, 8-Ahmed Herve Diomande, 11-Beko Ismael Fofana, 14-Sekou Ouattara, 15-Constant Djakpa, 16-Badra Ali Sangare, 18-Sekou Cisse
Head Coach: Gerard Gili

Statistical Summary:
Shots 7 / 15
Shots on Goal 4 / 7
Saves 5 / 3
Fouls 18 / 16
Corner Kicks 1 / 11
Offside 1 / 6

Misconduct Summary
CIV – Franck Dja-Djedje (caution)                88th

Referee: Jorg Soussa (POR)
Asst.: Jose Ramalho (POR)
Asst.: Karl Santigli (FRA)
4th: Olivier Thual (FRA)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Chris Seitz

Toulon International Tournament Standings
Group B
Team              W   L   T    Pts.     GF     GA    GD
Italy                  2    0    0      6         4        1       +3
Turkey             1    1    0      3        4         4       --
Ivory Coast     1    1    0      3        1         2       -1
USA                 0    2    0      0        2         4       -2

Wednesday, March 21
Turkey 3, USA 2
Italy 2, Ivory Coast 0

Friday, March 23
Ivory Coast 1, USA 0
Italy 2, Turkey 1

Sunday, March 25
USA vs. Italy
Ivory Coast vs. Turkey