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U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team Ready for a Rematch

U.S. Under-20 MNT vs. Canada
Richardson Stadium; Kingston, Ontario
Wednesday, June 6, 2007

READY FOR CANADA (AGAIN): The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team is ready for a rematch with World Cup host Canada, three days after the two teams met in Ottawa’s Frank-Clair Stadium. The team traveled to Kingston, Ontario on Tuesday to train before Wednesday’s game in Richardson Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and fans can follow the action on’s MatchTracker. 

ONE WIN DOWN, ONE TO GO:  On Sunday, the U.S. beat Canada 4-1, with four different players finding the back of the net. Andre Akpan opened the scoring in the ninth minute, but Canada answered back six minutes later to even the score. The U.S. would take the lead for good in the 25th minute on a goal from Preston Zimmerman. Sal Zizzo and Johann Smith added second half tallies for the final score of 4-1. 

OH,CANADA: Kingston is the third stop for the team on their mini-tour of the provinces of Quebec and Ontario. The players and staff flew into Montreal on Wednesday, May 30 and stayed in the same hotel that will host Group D during the World Cup. The team also took an opportunity to take a tour of Olympic Stadium, host of the first two games of the group stages for the U.S. Though the turf hasn’t been laid down yet, the players and staff got a sneak peek at the locker room they will be using, and imagined what the massive dome would look and sound like with a sold-out crowd. On Saturday afternoon the team walked across the street from the hotel to the train station and hopped on a luxurious train (with internet!) that took them to Ottawa in less than two hours. After two days of training and a solid victory over Canada in Frank-Clair Stadium, it was a two-hour bus ride to Kingston, Ontario for a day of training and a match at Richardson Stadium.

HOCKEY NIGHT IN OTTAWA: During the team’s stay in Ottawa, the NHL’s Senators played in games three and four of the Stanley Cup Finals. While no one in the contingent was willing to pay the $500 for a ticket, most of the team took the opportunity to make the short walk over to Confederation Park to watch the games with thousands of fans on a giant screen. Though game four didn’t bode well for the Senators, game three’s result filled the city with the sound of screaming fans, honking horns and chants of “Go Sens Go!”

FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD:  Of the 16 players invited to the training camp by U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen, eight are professionals representing five different countries.  Three players from Major League Soccer are joined by four who play abroad in four different countries:  Mitchell van den Beld of FC Utrecht in Holland, Johann Smith of the English Premier League’s Bolton FC, Preston Zimmerman, who plays for Hamburg SV in the Bundesliga, and forward Gabriel Ferrari of Italy’s Sampdoria. 

AND ALL OVER THE USA:  Seven players are currently part of a strong collegiate contingent, representing Harvard (Andre Akpan), South Florida (Diego Restrepo), SMU (Steve Sandbo), UCLA (Sal Zizzo and Tony Beltran), Wake Forest (Jules Valentin) and Indiana (Ofori Sarkodie).  There are also two representatives of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. in Sheanon Williams and Dane Shea. Nine different states are represented by players on the roster, including four from California, three from Florida, two each from Ohio and Texas, and one each from New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Washington.

Under-20 MNT Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Diego Restrepo (University of South Florida), Steve Sandbo (SMU)
DEFENDERS (5): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Ofori Sarkodie (Indiana University), Sheanon Williams (Boston, Mass.), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest)
MIDFIELDERS (4): Bryan Arguez (DC United), Dane Shea (College Station, Texas), Anthony Wallace (FC Dallas), Mitchell van den Beld (FC Utrecht)
FORWARDS (5): Andre Akpan (Harvard), Gabriel Ferrari (Sampdoria), Johann Smith (Bolton FC), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)

UNEXPECTED ENTERTAINMENT: Before a spirited practice session at Richardson Stadium on the campus of Queens University, the team bus was stopped next to a softball field where a co-ed recreational game was being played. The team took the opportunity to heckle dropped balls and strikes and cheer big hits. While waiting for Canada’s training session to end, the bus was stopped at the softball game for 10 minutes while players banged on the windows and yelled loudly enough to be heard by the batting team and the pitcher. The softball players appreciated the enthusiastic audience, and the soccer players appreciated the opportunity to bang on the windows.

HOTEL LIFE: Though the hotel in Kingston doesn’t have the world’s best wireless internet, it does have two things most other hotels don’t: an arcade and an indoor water park. Calling it an indoor water park is a bit of an overstatement, but there is a giant water slide that falls into the pool. Players and staff alike have been figuring out where the water slide fits into the remainder of the training schedule and challenging each other to billiards. The other unique aspect of the hotel is that room keys double as swipe cards for the vending machines, which means Gatorade and soda won’t come out of the per diem money.

WORLD CUP AWAITS: The match for the U.S. and Canada begins the final preparations for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup, which will be held from June 30-July 22 in Canada. The U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil. Argentina is in Group E with the Czech Republic, Korea DPR and Panama. This is the sixth straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall. The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium. Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup can be followed live via's MatchTracker. The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria. The U.S. will play all their group matches in Montreal and Ottawa on artificial turf.

USA's FIFA U-20 World Cup Schedule - Group D
Date                 Match-up                                 Venue           Kickoff (ET)
June 30            Korea Republic vs. USA          Montreal       5:00 p.m. 
July 3               USA vs. Poland                        Montreal       7:45 p.m. 
July 6               Brazil vs. USA                          Ottawa          7:45 p.m. 

• Since 2006, this group of U.S. U-20s holds an 8-5-3 record in international play. So far in 2007, the U.S. is 4-1-1 
• So far in 2007, the U.S. has outscored their opponents, 15-4. Two goals were scored by Haiti national teams (U-20 and full team), one by Argentina and one by Canada on Sunday.
• The other three games on the year all came during the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Panama City, Panama. The U.S. defeated Haiti, 4-1, drew, 0-0, with Guatemala and then cruised past Panama, 5-0 to finish at the top of their group.
• Of the 16 players on the U.S. roster, five have no caps with the U-20s this year: Diego Restrepo, Steve Sandbo, Brek Shea, Sheanon Williams and Mitchell van den Beld. This is the first ever U-20 camp for van den Beld, Shea and Williams.
• Along with the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama all qualified from CONCACAF for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. With Canada as host, CONCACAF has five teams in the tournament
• This is Rongen's second stint as the head coach of the U.S. Under-20s. Rongen also coached the team to the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, guiding them to an impressive fifth place finish
• Andre Akpan now leads the team in goals scored in 2007 by scoring his fourth of the year in Sunday’s match.