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U.S. Under-20 MNT World Youth Championship Notes - Dec. 10, 2003

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Dec. 10, 2003 -- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

A MEETING WITH THE CHAMPS: Two years ago, Argentina climbed to the top of the World Youth Championship. This year they’re looking to do the same, but standing in their path is a talented U.S. squad that isn’t about to shy away from the reigning champs when they meet in the quarterfinals. The U.S. Under-20s are looking for the upset and a trip to the Final Four when they meet Argentina on Friday, Dec. 12, at 9 p.m. at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match will be televised live by Galavision beginning at 11:55 a.m. ET (delayed on the West Coast at 11:55 a.m. PT) and can also be followed live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SECOND STAGE RESULTS/SCHEDULE: With another eight teams packing for home, the last eight are now looking forward to Friday night as the quarterfinal round will kickoff. Here is a breakdown of the second stage results and coming schedule up to the final in Abu Dhabi.
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Second Stage
Round of 16
Date Result
Dec. 8 Japan 2, South Korea 1 (OT)
Dec. 8 Canada 1, Burkina Faso 0
Dec. 8 Argentina 1, Egypt 0 (OT)
Dec. 8 USA 2, Ivory Coast 0
Dec. 9 Brazil 2, Slovakia 1 (OT)
Dec. 9 UAE 1, Australia 0
Dec. 9 Spain 1, Paraguay 0
Dec. 9 Colombia 3, Rep. of Ireland 2 (OT)
Date No. Match Time Location
Dec. 12 45 Canada vs Spain 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 46 USA vs Argentina 9 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 47 Colombia vs UAE 6 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 12 48 Japan vs Brazil 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 15 49 Winner 48 vs Winner 46 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 15 50 Winner 45 vs Winner 47 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Third Place Match
Dec. 19 51 Loser 49 vs Loser 50 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 19 52 Winner 49 vs Winner 50 8:45 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)


WORKING HARD: The U.S. went through another grueling practice this morning, pushing themselves through the heat as it gets prepared for its biggest game since coming together two years ago. Head coach Thomas Rongen had the team play a bit of possession, before pitting the offense against the defense and ‘keepers Steve Cronin and Ford Williams in the final third of the field. Rongen remarked that it was probably one of the best practices the players have conducted since arriving almost three weeks ago.

MAKING IT COUNT: There’s a sense of confidence running through the entire team as it gets prepared to face Argentina on Friday. The players know the reigning champs will be the biggest test of their young soccer careers, but everyone has commented on how excited they are for the chance to upset the defending champs and move on to the semifinals. Even while the players get out of the hotel and go shopping or sight-seeing, the concentration is zoned clearly on the South Americans and an understanding on what needs to be done in the next two days to give them the best opportunity to topple the soccer giants.

KEEPING AN EYE ON THE CHAMPS: The U.S. players and coaches are keeping their eye on Argentina at every available moment. Today on the bus ride to Dubai, the team watched the Argentina-Spain match from Group B play and then on the way back they plopped in the Argentina-Egypt tape form the Round of 16 match. Coaches Rongen, Dave Dir and Cle Kooiman, along with scout Roberto Carlos, were seen jotting down notes and discussing any subtleties they witnessed during the matches.

BACK TO DUBAI: The U.S. Under-20s traveled back to Dubai this afternoon, but it wasn’t for another meeting with Ivory Coast. This trip was purely entertainment as the players got a tour of the Burj Al Arab hotel, did some shopping at a local marketplace and stopped off for some McDonalds, before heading back to the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi.

WITH MOUTHS WIDE OPEN: While getting a tour of the Burj Al Arab hotel, the guide was strict about what the U.S. players could and couldn’t do. No pictures on the second floor, no sitting on the bed (that means you Quaranta!) and no using the toilet in the suite they were shown. They must have also told them the only phrases they could say during the tour were, "this is amazing" or "are you kidding me?" or "how much does this cost?" The Burj Al Arab hotel is easily one of the most, if not the most, lavish places to rest your head at night. Shaped like a sail, the all-suite hotel is located on a man-made island in the Persian Gulf, providing a jaw-dropping view of anywhere in Dubai. Stepping inside was even more astonishing, as the players encountered lavish 21st century Arabic style and the world’s largest interior atrium, drawing their eyes toward its peak 1,053 feet above. The players then got the chance to see what a $1,000 a night room (off-peak price) looks like on the 20th floor. The two story room included a bar, giant pool table, big screen television, kitchen, a office desk with a laptop computer, a exquisite bed with strategically-placed mirrors, and of course an amazing view of bright blue ocean for as far as the eye can see. And as assistant coach Dir said, "They must like the color gold," as the every inch of the hotel seemed to be glittering.

SCORING GOALS AND STOPPING GOALS: The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team goalkeeper Steve Cronin and forward Ed Johnson are lined up on opposite ends of the field, but the two have come together during the team's four games in the FIFA World Youth Championship to lead the U.S. to the quarterfinals. Johnson has put points up on the board with four goals, placing him tied for first in the tournament, while Cronin has kept points off the board by picking up clean sheets in the past two matches. The two U.S. leaders took a few minutes to talk about the Under-20s match-up with Argentina on Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. in Abu Dhabi, making one thing obvious: they will not be backing down when they take the field with the defending champions.