U.S. Sitting Atop Group A Going Into Second Match of Group Play, Saturday vs. Colombia
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. SITTING ATOP GROUP A: The United States' 2-1 opening win, coupled with a 0-0 draw between Colombia and Netherlands, put the USA alone at the top of Group A. The top two teams advance to the semifinals on May 31. With a win against Colombia on Saturday or against the Netherlands on Monday, the United States will adavance to the semifinals of the Toulon Festival for just the second time in U.S. Soccer history. The United States also advanced to the semis in 1989, when they finished in third place. Following are the Group A and Group B tournament standings and results:
|%=macroPart|font/arial1=%2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 24: USA 2, Italy 1 / Colombia 0, Netherlands 0
- May 26: USA vs. Colombia / Netherlands vs. Italy
- May 28: USA v. Netherlands / Colombia vs. Italy
|%=macroPart|font/arial1=%2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 25: Poland 3, Japan 1 / Portugal 3, France 2
- May 27: Portugal vs. Poland / France vs. Japan
- May 29: France vs. Poland / Japan vs. Portugal
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. TOPS AZZURI: The United States Under-20 Men's National Team scored twice in three minutes to complete a comeback and open the 29th Toulon Festival with a 2-1 win over traditional European power Italy. Alecko Eskandarian and Oguchi Onyewu each scored their first international goals for the U.S., who now have a seven-game international unbeaten streak in 2001. After a scoreless first half, the Italians broke open the scoring just three minutes into the second half. U.S. forward Conor Casey, who was involved in physical battles with the Italian backline the whole game, was instrumental in both U.S. scores.
The United States equalized in the 60th minute on a brilliant set piece after Casey was fouled 40 yards from goal. Kyle Martino's free kick found the head of a charging Oguchi Onyewu at the far post and Onyewu headed across the face of the goal and into the far-side netting. Playing their first game together as strike partners, Casey and Alecko Eskandarian combined beautifully on the second goal in the 64th minute for the gamewinner. Casey controlled a long ball from the back and, with an Italian defender draped all over his back, laid the ball off into the path of Eskandarian. With a defender approaching from his left, the University of Virginia forward cut the ball back to his left foot and was able to slide it past a stunned Nicola Barasso.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%ITALY YIELDS RARE GOALS: When the U.S. scored two goals in three minutes against Italy on Thursday night, not only did they shock the Stade Mayol crowd, they also shocked last year's third place finishers. In the 2000 Toulon Festival, Italy finished an undefeated 4-0-1 and their only blemish was a penalty kick loss to Portugal in the semifinals. The Italians did not concede a goal in the entire tournament. The two goals the Americans scored on Thursday mark the first time since Italy played in the Toulon Festival in 1989 that they had allowed a goal.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%LOOK AHEAD TO U.S. vs. COLOMBIA: The United States faces perhaps its most difficult challenge of the first round on Saturday, when they square off against the two-time defending champions Colombia, at 4 p.m. at Stade Fargues in Le Pontet. With a win against Colombia on Saturday, the U.S. clinches a spot in the semifinals for only the second time in seven appearances.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%TOULON ON TELEVISION: Watching television in Toulon, and one can't help but come across a commercial for the Toulon Festival. Eurosport will be broadcasting the game throughout the continent, and the matches will be broadcast in 18 different languages. The tournament, regarded as the top annual youth tournament in the world, is being shown live in the United States on Fox Sports World and Fox Sports World Espanol. All three of the USA's first round matches will be shown live in the United States. The U.S. television schedule is as follows for the first round, but please visit www.foxsportsworld.com for a full television tournament schedule.
- May 26: U.S. vs. Colombia - 10:00 a.m. ET (FSW & FSWE)
- May 28: U.S. vs. Netherlands - 1:00 p.m. ET (FSW & FSWE)
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THE DAY AFTER: The U.S. woke up Friday with three points and their spot at the Group A all to themselves. After sleeping in and having a late breakfast, the U.S. team went for a late morning walk to stretch out the muscles and the bruises from last night's physical affair. The U.S. practiced in the afternoon, with the 10 players who started in the field doing little more than stretching their legs at the Stade Marine. The remaining players and the two goalkeepers were worked hard by Bill Irwin, playing a brutal 4 v 2 game to goal. The drill was a fast-paced affair that tested the goalkeepers, as well as the players' stamina. To even out the numbers, team equipment manager Joe Ahearn was thrown into the mix - and he more than held his own. To finish practice, the offense played against the defense in a game of "soccer-baseball". Despite several controversial calls by trainer Anthony Garcia, the offense romped to a huge win, and were paced by the long balls of Kelly Gray and the superb placement of Conor Casey. The U.S. offensive team, who ran off 16 runs in the first two innings, knocked Wolfgang Suhnholz off the mound for the third inning. He was replaced by Irwin, but the result was already in hand by that point...
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: The United States is undefeated its last seven internationals this year, despite falling behind in each of their last three internationals. The U.S. fell behind 1-0 to Costa Rica on March 22, before Kyle Martino equalized for the ten-man U.S. team in the 51st minute. Against Costa Rica on May 12, Costa Rica again jumped out to a 1-0 lead, only to see Kelly Gray equalize in the 12th minute. Oguchi Onyewu and Alecko Eskandarian scored goals three minutes apart to complete the comeback against Italy and give the USA their third straight comeback, but their first comeback win of the year.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"It is big time. That is what we dream about. We are all so happy in the locker room because this is a dream for everyone. The stage was set for such a good game like this. We've been working really hard and we earned it tonight."