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U.S. Under-20 MNT World Youth Championship Notes - Nov. 30, 2003

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Nov. 30, 2003 -- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

OFF TO A GOOD START: The U.S. couldn’t have put themselves in a better position after their 3-1 victory over Paraguay in their first match of the World Youth Championship. The win places the U.S. atop Group F, with South Korea sitting in second after downing Germany 2-0 in the late group game. The U.S. will face Germany in its second match of the tournament on Tuesday, Dec. 2, at Al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match kicks off at 5:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. ET) and will be televised live on Galavision in the Eastern (8:30 a.m.), Central (7:30 a.m.) and Mountain (6:30 a.m.) time zones. In the Pacific Time zone, the match will be televised tape delay, starting at 8:30 a.m. The match can also be followed live via’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The U.S. will finish Group F play against South Korea on Friday, Dec. 5.

2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Group F
Team            GP W L T GF GA Pts
USA              1    1  0 0  3    1    3
South Korea   1    1  0 0  2    0    3
Paraguay       1    0  1 0  1    3    0
Germany       1    0  1  0 0    2    0

Nov. 29
, Paraguay 1 (Johnson, Magee, Convey)
Germany 0, South Korea 2

Dec. 2
USA vs. Germany 5:45 p.m. local (8:45 a.m. ET), Televised live on Galavision 8:30 a.m. ET (PT delayed)
South Korea vs. Paraguay 8:30 p.m. local

Dec. 5
Germany vs. Paraguay 5:45 p.m. local
USA vs. South Korea 8:30 p.m. local (11:30 a.m. ET), Televised tape delay on Galavision 1:30 ET & PT

MORNING PRACTICE: The U.S. went through an hour-long practice this morning. The 11 starters against Paraguay worked with assistant Cle Kooiman, doing some light running and stretching, before playing a few games of soccer-tennis. The rest of the team worked on finishing with Rongen and assistant Dave Dir, playing in a small field with full-size goals. The players will have just one practice tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m., their final session before their match against Germany.

A SLICE OF AMERICA: The U.S. players and staff were welcomed to the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi this afternoon with a warm reception from Deputy Chief of Mission Richard Albright and the rest of the Embassy’s staff of about 30 people. Albright gave a short speech to the team, explaining the Embassy’s role in UAE and its importance, and then presented the players and Rongen with polos and lapel pins. After the short presentation, the players mingled with the Embassy staff, signed autographs and took photos.

SURPRISED BY A LION: While at the Embassy, the players were treated to surprise when former FIFA Player of the Year, George Weah, made a special appearance. "The Lion King", who is now working with the United Nations, was in Abu Dhabi for a conference and stopped by the Embassy to say hello to the team. Weah said a few words to the team and took pictures with a number of the players. A number of the players were excited to meet Weah, including forward Ed Johnson, who asked the former AC Milan star for his autograph. While walking back to the bus after the Embassy visit, the topic of conversation was on Weah’s playing days in the 1990’s, when he was at the top of his game. Nicknamed the "Lion King" and "King George" by people of Liberia, Weah collected almost every athletic accolade that can be awarded to an international soccer player during his playing days. In 1995, be became the only player in history to have ever been named the European, African and FIFA Player of the Year in the same year. He was also named the African Player of the Century in 1998 and was inducted into the FIFA Hall of Fame in 1999. Weah was an impressive offensive threat on every team he played for and brought league championships to Monaco, Paris St.-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea.

YOU TALK FUNNY: The first thing you notice about U.S. defender Zak Whitbread is that he talks funny. The second thing you notice is, well…you can’t really get past the fact that he talks funny. Ok, so he doesn’t technically talk funny, he just one of the few American-born citizens that has an English accent, as he’s lived most of his life overseas on the soccer-frenzy island. The important thing is that Whitbread doesn’t play funny, as he has become the starting left back for the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team. While his play has been solid for the U.S., his background has been a bit of a mystery, even to his teammates. Click below to learn about Zak’s path to the Under-20s.


DOWN TO THE ELITE EIGHT: Ford Williams is bumming as UNC was knocked out last week, but seven other Under-20 MNT players have been bragging all week as their college team moved on to the third round of the NCAA Div. I Men’s Soccer Championship. All the talk could stop though as the Round of 16 is played today. The players – Steve Cronin (Santa Clara), Knox Cameron (Michigan), Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara), Ned Grabavoy (Indiana), Drew Moor (Indiana), C.J. Klass (Washington) and Jordan Harvey (UCLA) – won’t find out how their teammates did until the morning, as the nine-hour time difference from the east coast means the guys will probably be asleep before the end of the match. Below is a list of the relevant team’s opponent in the third round of the tournament.

2003 NCAA Div. 1 Men’s College Soccer Championship
Third Round (games to be played Nov. 30)
Jordan Harvey – UCLA (19-1-1) vs. Florida International (14-5-3)
Ned Grabavoy and Drew Moor – Indiana (13-3-5) vs. Virginia Commonwealth (17-4)
Knox Cameron -- Notre Dame (16-3-3) vs. Michigan (14-6)
Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane --
Coastal Carolina (20-2) vs. Santa Clara (15-3-3)
C.J. Klass -- Saint Louis (14-3-3) vs. Washington (13-4-2)

A ONE TIME EXPERIENCE: Two members of the U.S. U-20 MNT staff – Rongen and Kooiman – can say they did something they will never do again – ride a camel. The entire staff was approached by the team’s liaison, Salah (or "Prince Salah" as he is called by the team) if they’d like to ride the camels that are right outside and being provided to visitors staying at the hotel during the tournament, and the two coaches were the only ones to accept. The brave souls took short rides and enjoyed the experience, even though the seating was a bit awkward. While it isn’t something the two would do again anytime soon, it is something they will remember forever (and we’ve got the pictures to prove it).

HE’S EVERYWHERE: The U.S. team is becoming very familiar with the UAE president, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, even though they have never met the man. The Sheik’s picture is plastered all over UAE, from paintings on buildings to banners to neon-lighted archways. He’s even with the U.S. team while they eat, as there’s a large painting hanging in the dining room where all the teams eat. While the Sheik has yet to be witnessed in real life, the players are doing the next best thing as a number of them have taken photos next to the picture hanging in the dining room.