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U.S. U-17 Men's National Team Looks to Second Group Match Against Italy


U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes
Chiclayo, Peru
Sept. 19, 2005

ITCHING FOR ITALY: The U.S. Under-17 MNT had their final training session this morning in Elias Aguirre Romero Stadium as they get set to face Italy on Tuesday, Sept. 20 in their second Group C match of the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship here in Chiclayo, Peru. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. CT and the match will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel and delayed on Galavision at 9:15 p.m. ET/PT. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

GROUP C STANDINGS: The U.S. will be looking to take sole possession of first place in Group C when they face Italy on Tuesday. The two countries are currently tied atop the group with three points after each came away with close one-goal victories in their opening match. If the U.S. draws with Italy, the Italians would still win the tie-breaker to hold steady at the top of the group as they have the greater number of goals scored (first tie-breaker if goal difference is even).
FIFA U-17 World Championship - Group C

AUDIO DIARY TWO: In their first audio diary installment, Quavas and Blake enlightened U.S. Soccer fans about their 31-hour trip from Bradenton, Fla., to Chiclayo, Peru. The duo is happy to have put the delayed flights and long layovers behind them in their second chapter as they talk about their victory against North Korea, what they're doing to kill time while cooped up in the hotel and what they're expecting from their next match against Italy.

OPENING GAME BREAKDOWN: The U.S. defeated North Korea 3-2 in their opening game, that you know. What you don't know is exactly how the U.S. coaching staff chartered the victory from the sidelines. In this new, exclusive, ussoccer.com podcast segment, U-17 head coach John Hackworth and assistant Keith Fulk take a look back at the opening match of the World Championship for a critical observation. The coaches explain what their tactics were going into the game, how it played out in the match, what adjustments were made to help get the victory and much, much more. This initial 16-minute CoachCast may not be for everyone, but for those of you want to know exactly how coaches at the highest level break down games, analyze opponents and react to game situations, this audio podcast is for you.

CARDS AND INJURIES: The U.S. doesn't have any major injuries to report as the players are all healthy moving into their match against Italy. Two U.S. players - Michael Farfan and Blake Wagner - are holding yellow cards, but aren't in too much danger yet during group play in this tournament as a player has to amass three cautions, and not the usual two, before facing a one-game suspension. Italy also has two players holding cards as Lorenzo De Silvestri and Salvatore Foti received yellow cards against Ivory Coast.

PACKING THE HOUSE: The 15,200 fans that attended the USA's first match against North Korea was the biggest the U-17s have played in front of during the first round of a FIFA World Championship since the 1997 tournament in Egypt, which had a high of 22,000. Since then, the only match that had a bigger crowd was the third place match of the 1999 tournament in New Zealand, which had 15,675 in attendance.

REPEAT OF QUALIFYING: The three goalscorers for the U.S. in their opening match against North Korea (Ryan Soroka, Kyle Nakazawa and Preston Zimmerman) were the exact same three players that tallied in the USA's 3-0 victory against El Salvador in the first match of qualifying. In fact, the sequence of the goals was exactly the same as Soroka opened the scoring, Nakazawa doubled the lead and Zimmerman scored the final strike.

GETTING THE WORD OUT: In an effort to increase cancer awareness, the U.S. Under-17s are presenting each team they play in the World Championship with Lance Armstong's Livestrong bracelets. Assistant coach Keith Fulk, who overcame cancer a year ago, came up with the idea and the players are handing out the bracelets during the pre-game handshake on the field.

HOT VICUNA: Not only did U.S. head coach John Hackworth nab a win in his first match of a FIFA World Championship, he also performed a good deed while on his way to the locker room after the game. On his way through the tunnel, Hack noticed Vicky the Vicuna, the tournament mascot, weaving and struggling to rip off the head of the costume. Along with some volunteers, the U.S. coach caught Vicky before she passed out (OK, technically there's a guy in the suit) and helped her take a seat on the stairwell nearby the locker rooms. It seems he got a bit hot entertaining the crowd during the match, but due to the help from Hack he was able to catch his breath and get re-hydrated.

PING-PONG: In an effort to keep themselves entertained and maintain their competitiveness during their downtime in the hotel, the U.S. players hauled a ping-pong table up to their floor and placed it at one end of the hallway. Over the course of the past few days the players have had tournaments with Brian Perk and Blake Wagner coming away victorious more times than anyone, including Josmer Altidore, who will tell you, even if you don't ask, that he's the best table tennis player on the team. With the table barely fitting in the hallway (there are about 10 inches left on one side players can slip by sideways to get to the training room) the wall comes into play, making tighter angled shots a sure point.

PARENTS ARRIVED: While watching the USA's match against North Korea you might have seen the large contingent of U.S. fans stationed in one section of the stadium. A total of 40 of the players family and friends made the trip to Chiclayo to cheer on the U.S. as they compete in the World Championship.

U.S. SOCCER REFEREES IN ACTION: The U-17 MNT won't be the only U.S. team in action in a big game on Tuesday, as the U.S. Soccer refereeing crew working games in Peru will be calling arguably the biggest match of the first round. The U.S. Soccer referee trio of Kevin Stott and assistants Greg Barkey and Chris Strickland will be officiating the Holland-Brazil match that is suddenly a must result for both sides. With Brazil losing their opening match 3-1 to Gambia and Holland cruising past Qatar 5-3, the match between the two traditional world powers could go a long way to deciding who will get out of Group D (especially if Gambia keeps rolling and beats Qatar). Stott (Calif.) has been a FIFA sanctioned official since 1995, and is currently among the finalist for a position at the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Barkey (N.J.) and Strickland (Calif.) have been sanctioned officials since 1995 and 2002, respectively.

GOALS GALORE: After the playing the second day of the opening matches (Group C and D), the tournament goal average jumped significantly from the 1.75 goals a game that were tallied during Group A and B play. Both Group C and D registered a total of 12 goals in four games, increasing the overall tournament average to almost four goals a game. The 31 goals in the first eight games (for a 3.75 goals a game average) marked the highest amount ever for the first round of games in a FIFA U-17 World Championship.

LOS CINCO LATINOS: The five Spanish-speaking U.Sing the majority of attention from the Peruvian press. So much so, they have nicknamed the players "Los Cinco Latinos," after a well-known singing group from Peru that was at its peak during the 1960s and after a 12-year hiatus performed together during the 1982 World Cup. Asked who of the group is the J.T. (initials for Justin Timberlake, the most recognizable member of N'Sync for those not up on their boy band knowledge), Diego Restrepo gave a sly wink and pointed to himself.

QUICK HITS:

  • The U.S. has played Italy once before during a FIFA U-17 World Championship, coming away with a 1-0 victory in their opening match of the 1991 competition, which was played in Italy
  • Overall, the U.S. has a 2-4-2 record against UEFA teams in World Championship play, with 13 goals for and 18 goals against
  • The U.S. faced Italy once before during this two-year cycle, playing them to a 1-1 draw in the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee Tournament in Montaigu, France
  • There were seven players who played in that match that are on the World Championship roster: Bryant Rueckner, Ofori Sarkodie, Gabriel Farfan, Preston Zimmerman, Ryan Soroka, Blake Wagner and Quavas Kirk
  • The U.S. has now played 11 of the 15 teams competing in the World Championship over the past two years (the four teams the U.S. has not played are Qatar, Turkey, Ghana and the Netherlands)
  • Against those 11 teams, the U.S. holds a 8-6-1 record
  • Kyle Nakazawa scored his fourth international goal of his career when he buried an indirect free kick against North Korea (all four of his goals have come this year, with two of his previous tallies coming in qualifying)
  • Preston Zimmerman now has 12 international goalsand eight assists, increasing his team lead to 32 points
  • When the U.S. steps out onto the field against Italy it will mark their 38th appearance in a U-17 World Championship match, putting them tied for second all-time with Argentina
  • The U.S. record in World Championship play now stands at 14-18-5, with 53 goals scored and 65 goals against
  • U.S. head coach John Hackworth increased his international record to 13-3-1 after defeating North Korea
  • This will be the third match for the U.S. in Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero after playing their opening match against North Korea on Saturday and facing Colombia at the venue during the Copa Telefonica Tournament in 2004.

ALL ABOUT ITALY
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Italy returns to the FIFA Under-17 World Championship after a 12-year hiatus, pulling out a dramatic victory in the third place match of the European U-17 Championship. Playing on home soil, Italy kicked off the tournament with a 1-0 victory against Turkey, but the pleasant beginning turned cloudy when they succumbed to a shocking defeat at the hands of Belarus by the same score line two days later. With Peru still in their sights, Italy rebounded with a 1-0 victory over England to reach the semifinals against the Netherlands. A victory against the Oranje would have guaranteed them one of the three spots in the World Championship, but the Netherlands were too much and forced Italy into a must-win third place match with a 1-0 victory. In the third place match against Croatia, Italy showed it deserved the last spot in Peru with quality play and eventually pulled out the 2-1 victory in extra time.
2005 UEFA Under-17 Championship
Group A Matches
Italy 1, Turkey 0
Italy 0, Belarus 1
Italy 1, England 0
Semifinals
Italy 0, Netherlands 1
Third Place Match
Italy 2, Croatia 1 (OT)
Finals
Turkey 2, Netherlands 0

OUT FOR REVENGE: The U-17s can enact a bit of revenge if they beat Italy as the U.S. Under-20s were bounced out of the quarterfinals of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands this past June by the Italians. In that match, the U.S. struggled to contain Graziano Pello, as the towering striker frustrated the U.S. defenders and scored the game-winner in the second half. Interestingly enough, the U.S. U-17s will also have to deal with a height disparity as the average height of Italy's starters against Ivory Coast was just over six-foot, including both of their starting forwards (Christian Foti and Slavatore Tiboni) who are 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-2, respectively. The two proved their scoring capabilities in their opening match against Ivory Coast as Tiboni scored Italy's first two goals before Foti scored the game-winner in the 89th minute. The U.S. will also have to account for forward Andrea Russotto, probably Italy's most talented player, but also a bit of a wild card for head coach Francesco Rocca. In the first match the diminutive creator started on the bench behind Foti and Tiboni, coming on to start the second half only to be pulled by Rocca in the 76th minute for "failing to get to grips with the match." Russotto was noticeably upset with only 31 minutes of action and made no effort to hide his anger when returning to the bench.

U.S.-ITALY HISTORY: This will be the second match against Italy for the U.S. Under-17s as the two countries faced off a year-and-a-half earlier in the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee Tournament in Montaigu, France. The match, which was the opening game of the tournament, ended in a 1-1 draw as Quavas Kirk responded with an equalizing goal in the 38th minute after Andrea Russotto had put Italy up three minutes earlier. For the full match report, click here. The U.S. and Italy also have a history in the FIFA U-17 World Championship as they have faced off once before during the 1991 tournament, which was hosted by the Italians. The U.S. pulled out a 1-0 victory over Italy as Mike Dunne scored the game-winning goal in the 18th minute.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: Italy has competed in four past Under-17 World Championships, their best being finish a fourth-place effort in Canada 1987. That year, Italy won Group A with two wins and a draw before defeating South Korea 2-0 in the quarterfinals and then falling 1-0 to Nigeria in the semifinals. In the third place match, Italy fell to Ivory Coast 2-1 in extra time. In the other three tournaments the Italians have played in (1985, 1991 and 1993) they failed to make it past the group stage.

LAST TIME OUT: Italy's opening match against Ivory Coast qualified as an instant classic as there were goals aplenty (seven total), and back-and-forth drama including three tallies in the final five minutes. Italy took the lead three times, but Ivory Coast responded with an equalizer each time only to see Salvatore Foti secure the three points with an 89th minute strike, leaving the Elephants with no time to respond a final time.

Italy vs. Ivory Coast
September 17, 2005 - Elias Aguirre Romero Stadium ; Chiclayo, Peru - 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship
Italy                    4        Tiboni (21, 32), Mandorlini (86), Foti (89)
Ivory Coast      3       Diomande (27), Fofana (53), Kouassi (87)

ITA: 1-Enrico Alfonso; 2-Davide Brivio, 3-Lorenzo De Silvestri (capt.), 5-Michele Cremonesi; 6-Daniele Greco, 7-Tommaso D'Attoma (10-Andrea Russotto, 46 ; 19-Marco Dalla Costa, 76)), 8-Simone Palmero, 15-Matteo Mandorlini, 19-Marco Mancosu; 9-Cristian Tiboni (4-Manuel Angelucci, 56), 11-Salvatore Foti.

CIV: 1-Ikossie Tahourou; 2-Ali Keita, 4-Romaric Bosson (capt.), 6-Jules Agoussi, 18-Siaka Bamba; 3-Irenee Kouakou, 7-Martial Yao (11-Ismael Fofana, 46), 8-Pacome Kouassi (15-Diarra Vamara, 46); 9-Koffi Kouassi, 10-Alassane Diomande, 12-Serge Kouandio (14-Moustapha Abdul, 92+).

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