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U-17s to Play New Zealand, Uruguay and Poland in '99 FIFA U-17 World Championship

CHICAGO (Monday, June 14, 1999) - At the final draw today in Auckland, New Zealand for the 5th FIFA U-17 World Championship, the U.S. Men's Under-17 National Team was drawn into Group A were the USA will face host New Zealand (Nov. 10), Uruguay (Nov. 13) and Poland (Nov.16). The USA will play all three matches in Auckland, New Zealand at North Harbour Stadium. The top two teams from each of the four groups will advance to the quarterfinals to be played Nov. 20-21. The semifinals will be played Nov. 24 and the final is set for Nov. 27 in Auckland, New Zealand.

"We were drawn into a very competitive group which will present some challenges for our team," said U-17 head coach John Ellinger. "It will be very difficult to play New Zealand in the opening match of the tournament, with the home fans obviously behind them. However, New Zealand is a team we are familiar with so we will be prepared."

The USA-New Zealand match on Nov. 10 is the opening match of the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship. Of the USA's three, first-round opponents, New Zealand is the only country the USA has played in the last two years. The U-17s beat New Zealand 3-2 on April 9, 1998 in Montaigue, France and also tied New Zealand 1-1 on Dec. 12, 1998 in Christchurch, New Zealand. In 1993 the U.S. U-17s lost 3-0 to European champion Poland, bowing out in the quarterfinals of the '93 U-17 World Championship in Hiroshima, Japan. As for Uruguay, the USA's final group match opponent, they finished third at the CONMEBOL Youth Championship to qualify for the U-17 finals.

The USA is the only country to have qualified for every FIFA U-17 World Championship since the first youth tournament in 1985. The best finish for a USA team at the world championship was a fifth place finish in 1991. The U.S. U-17s finished 11th at the 1997 FIFA U-17 World Championship hosted by Egypt after falling to Oman (4-0), Brazil (3-0) and beating Austria (4-0).

The U.S. Under-17s were forced into a home-and-away playoff series against El Salvador after finishing second in the CONCACAF Group A qualifying tournament in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The winner of the playoff series was determined by total goals scored during the two matches, where the U.S. dominated El Salvador by a combined score of 10-1. In the first match the USA stunned El Salvador with a 6-1 victory in San Salvador on May 9. That win was followed by a 4-0 triumph on May 22 in Columbus, Ohio.

The USA will begin their preparations for the World Youth Championship with an international friendly against England on June 27 in Tampa, Fla. (3:30 p.m. ET) in the second match of an MLS doubleheader featuring the Tampa Bay Mutiny against the Los Angeles Galaxy (1 p.m. ET). For ticket information please contact the offices of the Tampa Mutiny at 813/289-6811.

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