BALLYMONEY, Northern Ireland (Aug. 2, 2006) - The U.S. Under-20 Men's National team will get the chance to defend their crown as they advanced to the final of the 2006 Milk Cup Tournament with a 2-2 draw against Denmark this evening at Riada Stadium in Ballymoney, Northern Ireland.
The U.S. will face Paraguay in the Elite Group final on Friday, Aug. 4 at the Colerain Showgrounds. Paraguay finished atop the six-team group undefeated with six points after two games, defeating Northern Ireland, 3-1, in their opening match before disposing of Wales, 3-2, this evening. The U.S. finished second in the group with four points as they defeated Wales, 3-0, in their opening match on Monday.
The final will be played at 8 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast live online at bbc.co.uk.
The U.S. will be looking for back-to-back Milk Cup titles after taking home the trophy in 2005. There are five players on this year's roster that helped the U.S. win the title last year - Tony Beltran, Rodrigo Lopez, Dax McCarty, Chris Seitz and Sal Zizzo.
Against Denmark, the U.S. went up 2-0 by the 15th minute, but a goal just before halftime brought Denmark back into the contest before they made the comeback complete with the equalizer in the 78th minute.
"The second half wasn’t pretty and it was disappointing that having totally dominated the game we failed to go three or four up and we then conceded a silly goal," said U.S. Under-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen. "The key things that cost us today was a lack of concentration and an inability, as against Wales, to take our chances and kill the game off. But still, I’m satisfied that we are in the final and will be defending our cup on Friday.”
Rongen made six changes to his starting line-up from Monday's match against Wales. Along with Mike Gustavson starting in goal, Carlos Borja and Amaechi Igwe got the nod on the backline while the three-forward lineup of Josmer Altidore, Preston Zimmerman and Robbie Rogers were seeing their first start of the tournament.
The U.S. was on the offensive early and Rogers and Zimmerman connected in the 10th minute. Rogers sliced and diced his way up the right flank before serving the ball into the box where Zimmerman was waiting for the six-yard header that beat 'keeper Thomas Seidelin.
Three minutes later, Rogers continued his assault on the Denmark backline, who had no answers for the University of Maryland product, as he served in another tempting cross that was cleared out for a corner. On the ensuing set piece, Dax McCarty sent the ball to the far post where Rogers was waiting. With a deft touch from the head, Rogers flicked the ball over his marker and then blasted a left-footed half volley from 17 yards out into the back of the net.
The fantastic start was tempered a bit just before halftime, as Denmark was able to get on the scoreboard after hardly causing a problem for the U.S. defense. Defender Chance Myers was dispossessed and in an attempt to win the ball back, the UCLA defender provided Denmark with a dangerous free kick. Thomas Enevoldsen dropped the ball into the center of the penalty area where an unmarked Nikolaj Steen Hansen snapped his header past Gustavson.
The second half was more even as both teams looked to attack, but it was only the Danes that found pay dirt when Andreas Bak and Danny Mirabel, both second half substitutions, joined forces for the equalizer in the 78th minute. Mirabel dribbled up the left flank before cutting it back to Bak who hit the ball first-time to beat Gustavson.
Fans can see highlights of the goals from this match at BBC online. Click on Wednesday's "Goal Roundup" in the BBC player.
For a behind-the-scenes look at the U-20s while in Northern Ireland for the 2006 Milk Cup, check out defender Jules Valentin's journal in Center Circle.
U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report
Participants: USA vs. Denmark
Competition: 2006 Milk Cup
Location: Riada Stadium; Ballymoney, Northern Ireland
Date: Aug. 2, 2006
Weather: Windy, 60 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
DEN 1 1 2
USA – Preston Zimmerman (Robbie Rogers) 11th minute
USA – Robbie Rogers (unassisted) 14.
DEN – Nikolaj Steen Hansen (Brian Neilson) 44.
DEN – Andreas Bak (Danny Mirabel) 78.
USA: 24-Mike Gustavson; 2-Tony Beltran, 14-Carlos Borja, 16-Chance Myers, 3-Amaechi Igwe; 15-Brad Ring, 8-Rodrigo Lopez (5-Jonathan Villanueva, 82), 10-Dax McCarty (4-Julian Valentin, 82); 12-Josmer Altidore, 17-Preston Zimmerman (9-Johann Smith, 68), 7-Robbie Rogers
Subs not used: 1-Chris Seitz, 6-Ofori Sarkodie, 11-Sal Zizzo, 13-Blake Wagner
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
DEN: 16-Thomas Seidelin; 12-Thomas Enevoldsen (3-Cheik Tidiane Sarr, 46), 2-Anders Bjerring Qvist, 5-Nikolaj Steen Hansen, 6-Timmi Johansen; 17-Patrick Kristensen, 8-Bo Storm (7-Andreas Bak, 77), 10-Martin Spelmann, 14-Jens Serensen (9-Danny Mirabel, 70); 11-Mikkel Vendelbo, 13-Brian Nielson (18-Seren Verstergaard, 46)
Shots 13 6
Saves 1 3
Fouls 9 10
Corner Kicks 8 4
Offside 3 2
DEN – Brian Neilson (caution) 17th minute
DEN – Patrick Kristensen (caution) 55.
DEN – Jens Serensen (caution) 59.
DEN – Danny Mirabel (caution) 88.
2006 Milk Cup
RESULTS / STANDINGS
Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
PAR 2 2 0 0 6 3 +3 6
USA 2 1 0 1 5 2 +3 4
NIR 2 1 1 0 3 3 0 3
DEN 2 0 0 2 4 4 0 2
TUR 2 0 1 1 2 4 0 1
WAL 2 0 2 0 2 6 -4 0
Monday, July 31
USA 3, Wales 0
Denmark 2, Turkey 2
Paraguay 3, Northern Ireland 1
Wednesday, Aug. 2
USA 2, Denmark 2
Paraguay 3, Wales 2
Northern Ireland 2, Turkey 0
Friday, Aug. 4
5th Place Match - Turkey vs. Wales
3rd Place Match – Northern Ireland vs. Denmark
Final – USA vs. Paraguay