The Toulon Festival, an eight-team tournament this year, is generally regarded as one of the top annual youth tournaments anywhere in the world. The U.S. will be making their seventh appearance at the Festival, and will be joined in Group A by Italy, Colombia and the Netherlands. Group B is made up of Japan, Poland, Portugal and France.
"I know the team can't wait to get back on the field and play some meaningful games, and I'm excited to get to Toulon where I think we will learn a lot about our team," Suhnholz said. "Playing three great teams in Italy, Colombia and the Netherlands will definitely help us get ready for what we will face in Argentina."
The U.S. will bring four professional players to Toulon, including Conor Casey (Borussia Dortmund - Germany), Edson Buddle (Columbus Crew) and Seth Trembly (Colorado Rapids), who will be making their first appearances with the team since the CONCACAF qualifying tournament. The Kansas City Wizards Jose Burciaga, Creighton University's David Wagenfuhr, North Carolina's Logan Pause and Virginia's Alecko Eskandarian did not travel to Trinidad with the team in March, but are on the Toulon roster and looking to squeeze into Suhnholz's Argentina plans.
As the most internationally experienced professional on the squad, Casey will be looking to provide offensive punch for the U.S. Casey is experienced on the Under-23 level, playing in 15 career international games and starting all six games in the Sydney Olympics for the U.S. Team that advanced to the Olympic semifinals for the first time in U.S. history. Casey has spent less time with the Under-20s, playing just 166 minutes in three international games. In that short period, Casey has managed to tally one goal and one assist, including the gamewinner in the USA's qualifying tournament opener against Guatemala on March 18.
Edson Buddle and Kelly Gray should provide support in the U.S. attack for Casey. Buddle has scored six times in his first 15 matches with the Under-20s this year and was the team's leading scorer before he left to join the Columbus Crew. Buddle has seen time in three of the Crew's first six MLS matches, and the Nike Project-40 player recently scored both goals for the P-40 team in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps.
One of the USA's most versatile players, Gray has spent time in the back, midfield and frontline for Suhnholz, but has found his scoring touch of late. The University of Portland striker has tallied three times in the last two games, including the equalizer against Costa Rica on May 12 when the teams played to a 1-1 draw in an exhibition.
Suhnholz will have the luxury of having his first-choice backline available for action in France. Experienced goalkeeper D.J. Countess will lead the U.S. from the back, where he has allowed just two goals in four 2001 internationals. Countess is no stranger to big tournaments, as he helped guide the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team to the semifinals of the 1999 U-17 World Championship. Also members of the starting backline on that Under-17 team were Alex Yi, Oguchi Onyewu and captain Nelson Akwari, who all should figure prominently in Suhnholz's plans in Toulon and Argentina.
The U.S. appears in the first game of the 2001 Toulon Festival, opening against Italy on Thursday, May 24 at the Stade Mayol in Toulon. The match will be shown live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol at 12 p.m. (noon) ET. Italy finished third in last year's Toulon Festival and are the 2000 UEFA Under-21 Champions.
The USA's second match will be played on May 26 against two-time defending Festival champions Colombia at the Stade Fargues in Le Pontet, and will be shown live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol at 10 a.m. ET. Colombia topped Portugal in the 2000 final and bested Argentina in the 1999 final.
The U.S. will wrap up group play in the Stade De Lattre in Aubagne against the Netherlands on May 28. The match will also be shown live on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol at 1 p.m. ET.
The top two teams in each group will advance to the tournament semifinals on May 31 at the Stade Mayol in Toulon. The third-place match and the final will take place on June 2. Toulon, which lies near the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, is located less than 50 miles to the southeast of Marseille.
The United States last competed in Toulon in 1997, when the team finished fifth out of ten teams. U.S. Men's National Team striker Josh Wolff finished that tournament tied for top scoring honors after netting three goals. In the United States' six previous appearances at the Toulon Festival, the USA's best finish was third place in 1989. That squad was led by future Men's National Team players Kasey Keller, Jeff Agoos, Marcelo Balboa and Eric Wynalda.
The Toulon Festival regularly attracts the best youth players and youth teams in the world. From 1989-1997, all five eventual World Youth Championship winners played in the Toulon Festival. The list of players that have stepped up to the international stage at this tournament is no less staggering and includes Zinedine Zidane (1991), David Beckham (1995, 1996), Thierry Henry (1997), Pablo Aimar (1996), Alan Shearer (1991), Fabien Barthez (1991) and many more.
Seventeen of the first 22 Toulon Festival champions were from Europe, but the trend has changed as five of the last six tournaments have been won by South American squads, including the last two by Colombia.
The U.S. Under-20s are scheduled to return from France on June 3, and will have one week off before traveling to Argentina to begin preparations for the World Youth Championship. The U.S. opens its tournament against China in Mendoza on June 17, before playing Chile (June 20) and Ukraine (June 23). The top two teams in each four-team group as well as the top four third place teams advance to the round of 16. The final will be played on July 8 in Buenos Aires.
|United States Under-20 Men's National Team Roster|
29th Festival International Espoirs of Toulon (Toulon, France)
May 20 - June 3, 2001
|Akwari, Nelson||D||6'0"||180||02/04/82||Houston, Tex.||UCLA|
|Arena, Kenny||M||6'1"||180||02/06/81||Fairfax, Va.||University of Virginia|
|Buddle, Edson||F||6'1"||170||05/02/81||New Rochelle, N.Y.||Columbus Crew (MLS)|
|Burciaga, Jose||D||6'1"||160||11/16/81||Duncanville, Tex.||K.C. Wizards (MLS)|
|Carroll, Brian||M||5'10"||145||07/20/81||Springfield, Va.||Wake Forest University|
|Casey, Conor||F||6'1"||170||07/25/81||Gilpin, Colo.||Borussia Dortmund (Germany)|
|Countess, Delvin||GK||6'1"||180||01/09/82||Sacramento, Calif.||UCLA|
|Davis, Brad||F||5'11"||165||11/08/81||St. Charles, Mo.||St. Louis University|
|Eskandarian, Alecko||M||5'8"||155||07/09/82||Montvale, N.J.||University of Virginia|
|Gray, Kelly||D||6'2"||170||04/07/81||San Jose, Calif.||University of Portland|
|Martino, Kyle||M||5'10"||145||02/19/81||Westport, Conn.||University of Virginia|
|Onyewu, Oguchi||D||6'2"||190||05/13/82||Olney, Md.||Clemson University|
|Pause, Logan||M||5'10"||160||08/22/81||Hillsborough, N.C.||University of North Carolina|
|Salyer, Philip||M||5'10"||150||10/30/81||Trophy Club, Tex.||University of Maryland|
|Trembly, Seth||D||5'6"||145||03/21/82||Littleton, Colo.||Colorado Rapids (MLS)|
|Wagenfuhr, David||D||5'9"||155||06/22/82||Colorado Springs, Colo.||Creighton University|
|Warren, Doug||GK||6'0"||185||06/27/81||Hoffman Estates, Ill.||Clemson University|
|Yi, Alexander||D||6'3"||180||02/27/82||Easton, Md.||UCLA|
|Head Coach||Wolfgang Suhnholz||Austin, Tex.|
|Assistant Coach||Erik Visser||San Francisco, Calif.|
|Goalkeeper Coach||Bill Irwin||Portland, Ore.|
|Team Coordinator||Craig Blazer||Chicago, Ill.|
|Doctor||Mel Hayashi||Los Angeles, Calif.|
|Trainer||Anthony Garcia||Burbank, Calif.|
|Equipment Manager||Joe Ahearn||Chicago, Ill.|
|Press Officer||Forrest Eber||Chicago, Ill.|