U.S. to Face France on Sunday in Second Match of FIFA Under-17 World Championship
BACOLET, Tobago (Saturday, September 15, 2001) -
U.S. AND FRANCE MEET FOR FIRST TIME AT A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: When Sunday’s match kicks off at Dwight Yorke Stadium, it will be the first time that France and the U.S. have ever met a FIFA World Championship. The two have never played at a World Cup, Olympics, World Youth Championship (Under-20) or an Under-17 World Championship.
LIGHT TRAINING TODAY: The United States went through a light training session Saturday afternoon in the sweltering Tobago heat. The players did some light ballwork at the training field adjacent to Dwight Yorke Stadium during a training session that lasted just over an hour. After training, the team’s trainer, Brian Goodstein, led the players through a light workout in the hotel pool.
LOOKING AHEAD TO FRANCE: The French squad barreled through the UEFA Under-16 Championship earlier this year, notching six straight shutouts to advance to the final against Spain. The Spanish side shocked France, 1-0, to take home the title, but with their second-place finish France advanced to just their second FIFA Under-17 World Championship. Jean Fracois Jodar’s squad is paced by an offense that scored 17 goals in its first five qualifiers in England. Leading the way on the offensive end will be Florent Sinama Pongolle and Anthony Le Tallec. Sinama Pongolle finished the tournament with six goals in six matches to tie for top scoring honors, and Le Tallec finished third in scoring with five goals, including two two-goal games. Sinama Pongolle one-upped his teammate, finishing with three two-goal games, and he hit a double in each of the first two Group D matches.
U.S. OPENS WITH 1-0 LOSS TO JAPAN: On a day of national mourning in the United States, the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team fell 1-0 to Japan on Friday in the team's first match of the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship at Dwigth Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago. The Americans dominated play in the second half of the match, but were unable to capitalize inside Japan’s penalty area. U.S. forward Ed Johnson caused problems for the Japanese defense all evening long, and the Dallas Burn striker was robbed off a last-minute equalizer with a brilliant save from Japanese goalkeeper Kenta Tokushige. Japanese forward Yutaro Abe scored the game’s only goal in the 12th minute.
STARTING ON THE WRONG FOOT: The U.S. opened the 1993 Under-17 Championship in Japan with a 1-2 loss to Colombia. The U.S. rebounded to draw with the Czech Republic and then topped Qatar 5-1 to advance out of group play and into the quarterfinals. The U.S. fell to Poland in the quarterfinals and finished the tournament in seventh place.
SCHUERMAN’S SHUTOUT STREAK SNAPPED: Abe’s 12th minute goal against the United State on Friday ended Adam Schuerman and the U.S. defense’s string of 220 minutes without allowing a goal. Switzerland tallied in the 62nd minute in a 2-1 U.S. win on May 30 in Zurich, and the U.S. shutout Brazil (Sept. 2)and Australia (Sept. 6), before facing Japan.
DIGGING A HOLE: In last night’s loss, the U.S. continued a trend that it began at the 1999 championships - falling behind early. In six matches at the 1999 World Championship, the U.S. gave up the first goal in five of them. The only match that the U.S. scored first in was a 1-0 win against Uruguay, that Oguychi Onyewu won with a 90th minute score.
COACH JOHN ELLINGER’S STATEMENT: John Ellinger released a statement on Friday concerning the tragic events that took place in the United States.
"The horrific events that occurred this past week shocked and saddened all of us in the U.S. delegation here in Tobago, and I think it did the same for people all over the world. A tragic event such as this puts things in perspective and makes you realize that while this is a World Championship, it is just a soccer tournament. But we are here to play soccer, and we have every intention of putting forth our best effort."