CHICAGO (March 3, 2007) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has been drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, which will take place from June 30-July 22.
The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium (full schedule). Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup can be followed live via ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.
"Anytime you go to a World Cup and you’re drawn with Brazil it’s exciting,” said U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen. “For us to go out and measure ourselves against the best in the world is what this Under-20 competition is all about. With Poland and South Korea complementing Brazil we have a very interesting and tough group, but saying that, all 24 teams at this stage deserve to be there so there are no easy games.”
U-20 Players Talk About the Draw
The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria. The U.S. will play all their group matches in Montreal and Ottawa on artificial turf.
This will be the second time Rongen has lead the U.S. Under-20s in a World Cup as he was also the head coach during the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates where he led the U.S. to an impressive run through the tournament. The U.S. won their group for the first time ever and reached the quarterfinals only to lose a heartbreaking overtime thriller to Argentina to finish in fifth place, their second-best showing ever.
The best finish ever for the U.S. came in Saudi Arabia ’89 when the U-20s, led by goalkeeper Kasey Keller, advanced to the semifinals before falling to Brazil in the third place match to finish in fourth place. This is the sixth straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall.
“I think we obviously have a hard group but I’m excited about this opportunity,” said U-20 captain Freddy Adu. “We are going to find out how good we are playing against these teams and if we play well enough to get out of the group we will be well prepared for the second round because all three games are going to be tough. Brazil always has one of the best teams in every age group and it’s a great opportunity for us to show we can play against the best in the world on the world stage. People are going to be watching and it is going to be a great atmosphere I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it.”
Korea Republic has played in nine FIFA U-20 World Cups (formerly FIFA World Youth Championships), including the past two in the Netherlands (2005) and the United Arab Emirates (2003), and qualified for the 2007 event by finishing third in the AFC Youth Championship in India in November of 2006. The U.S. and Korea have faced each other twice in the U-20 World Cup, with both matches marking their third and final group games in 1993 and 2005. In their first meeting in 1993 in Australia, the countries drew, 2-2, but in 2005 in UAE, the U.S. pulled out a 2-0 victory which allowed them to win their group for the first time at a U-20 World Cup.
In July of 2006, Poland hosted the UEFA European U-19 Championship and finished in fifth place to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup for their fourth time and first since 1983. Poland finished in third place during that tournament in Mexico and defeated the U.S., 2-0, in group play. The U.S. and Poland also met in group play during the previous tournament in Australia in 1981, with Poland outclassing the U.S. for a 4-0 victory.
The biggest and most anticipated match of group play for the U.S. will be their match against Brazil, who has the most appearances (14) and victories (57) at the FIFA U-20 World Cup. The U.S. was on the losing end of three of those Brazil victories, falling to the four-time champions twice in 1989 (in group play and the semifinals) and in the Round of 16 in 1993. Brazil qualified for the 2007 World Cup by winning the South American U-20 Championship in Paraguay this January.
The U.S. qualified for Canada ’07 with a first-place finish in Group A of the CONCACAF U-20 Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Panama City, Panama, in January. The U.S. didn’t allow a single goal in the run of play, outscoring their three opponents 9-1. The U-20s opened the tournament with a 4-1 victory against Haiti and then drew, 0-0, with Guatemala before thrashing Panama, 5-0. The impressive performance marked the second straight time the U.S. went undefeated and finished in sole possession of first place in CONCACAF qualifying, and the first time ever outside of the United States.
Visit the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup competitions page for a complete schedule and standings, plus features, podcasts, and exclusive all_access video coverage of the U-20 MNT in Canada.