US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. Under-17 MNT Gets Set to Play Argentina at Busan International Youth Tournament

Sunday, June 1, 2003
Busan International Youth (U-17) Tournament
Busan, Korea

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team plays Argentina in its second game of the Busan International Youth Tournament in Busan, Korea at Busan Asiad Main Stadium tomorrow at 5 p.m. local time. Argentina, which beat Poland 2-1 in the second game of the tournament directly after the U.S.-Korea match on Saturday (May 31), secured their first South American U-17 Championship trophy since 1985 after finishing atop the CONMEBOL final round of qualifying in May. The eventual champions went unbeaten during the final round, scoring 19 goals while only conceding five.

3-0 Korea Win – May 31, 2003
The U.S. struggled against an energized and tough Korean squad, allowing three goals in the second half, the most the team has given up in an entire game all year. Korea struck first when Brandon Owens was called for a foul inside the penalty area and second half substitute Sang Hup Lee buried the penalty for the one goal lead. Later in the half, Dong Hyen Yang scored two goals in a seven-minute span to put the game in the books for Korea. The U.S. struggled with their possession for most of the game and never provided a constant offensive threat, only managing two solid strikes on goal.
Lineup vs. Korea
USA – 1-Phil Marfuggi; 2-Kyle Helton (9-Michael Harrington, 80), 3-Jonathan Spector (14-Julian Valentin, 4), 5-Brandon Owens, 12-Steve Curfman; 10-Guillermo Gonzalez, 8-John DiRaimondo, 15-Corey Ashe (13-Jamie Watson, 70), 7-Brian Grazier (17-Danny Szetela, 70); 11-Freddy Adu, 4-Eddie Gaven.

Team GP W L T GF GA Pts
Korea 1 1 0 0 3 0 3
Argentina 1 1 0 0 2 1 3
USA 1 0 1 0 0 3 0
Poland 1 0 1 0 1 2 0

May 31
Korea 3 USA 0
Argentina 2 Poland 1

June 2
Korea vs. Poland 3 p.m. local
USA vs. Argentina 5 p.m. local

June 4
USA vs. Poland 5 p.m. local
Korea vs. Argentina 7 p.m. local

With regular starters Chris Germani, who wasn’t able to make the trip and Adrian Chevannes and Jonathan Spector unable to play due to injuries, the U.S. defensive backline has a new look in Korea. Kyle Helton, Julian Valentin and Steve Curfman all filled in and played against Korea. Chevannes badly sprained his ankle during a tackle in a friendly against Mexico in Lancaster, Calif., a few days before the team left to go overseas, causing him to be left off the roster. On Saturday against Korea, Spector fractured his left clavicle four minutes into the game, falling awkwardly on his shoulder after getting dispossessed.

The team’s first two practices were held in or just outside Busan Asiad Main Stadium, but yesterday’s practice took place at Gudeok Sports Complex, which is located among the Busan mountains. The players went through a spirited practice on the stadium field, hopefully a sign that the new training location might rekindle the players’ desire when they step out onto the field against Argentina. After warming up, head coach John Ellinger split the players into two teams (yellow and blue) and played a game of possession. Switching between one-touch, two-touch and unlimited touch, the teams scored points by stringing together seven passes in a row. After playing for about 40 minutes, the blue team came away with the victory, winning two out of three games. After a water break the offensive players worked on shooting with goalkeepers Phil Marfuggi and Stephen Sandbo, while the defenders worked on positioning against crossing balls.

The players are definitely getting their fill of soccer matches, as they’ve seen countless games on television the first few days. Not only does the hotel carry Manchester United television, which continuously shows some of the best United games from the past few years, the Korea-Japan match was played last night and the Korean matches from the 2002 World Cup (including the 1-1 tie with the U.S.) have been re-played numerous times. Even during a trip to a local shopping center yesterday, the players ended up watching a 15-minute highlight show on the Korea-U.S. World Cup game on a large flat-screen television in the electronics department.

The players weren’t too receptive when the hotel management informed them that they would have to wear swimming caps when they did their pool workouts after the games to help keep the pool clean. Despite the looks of astonishment and a few, "No way am I wearing a swimming cap," the players donned them for the first time after the Korea game and will do so after the Argentina game as well.

Out of the 18 players on the roster for the trip to Korea, 11 recently graduated from high school in Bradenton, Fla., and will be taking the rite of passage of most 17 and 18-year olds and go on to college. The guys took a break from watching soccer on television and talked a bit about what they’re looking forward to most about college and what they want to accomplish their freshman year. The guys also let the trash talking begin as many of the players will face each other during the season, either in conference play or possibly in the tournament for the national championship, and gave predictions on their team’s outlook for the coming year.

What are you looking forward to most about college?

Jose Gomez: "I’m looking to just get better while I’m at college, which will allow me to be prepared when I decide to go pro."

Jamie Watson: "College will be fun because we will have more freedom than we did at the residency program. It’s a chance to be on your own and start to become an adult. I’m also really looking forward to the team environment."

Brandon Owens: "I’m looking forward to meeting people and enjoy traveling with my new team. I also want to practice and get better on the field and at the same time get a good education."

What are your goals during your freshman year on the team?

John DiRaimondo: "I’d definitely like to start and play well, but as long as I get to play that is the most important part."

Kyle Helton: "Obviously in college everyone wants to do as well as possible. I’m going to go and try to perform to the best of my abilities, both on and off the field."

Phil Marfuggi: "I just want to play the best that I can and help lead the team to the ACC Championship and maybe to the National Championship."

Brian Grazier: "I would like to win a national championship my freshman year. I want to start, play good and make sure out team has success."


Corey Ashe (UNC): "We’ve got a lot of good players and we should be able to do really well. It will be a tough conference to play in, but I’m pretty confident we’ll be able to fight for the top spot."

Jose Gomez (UCLA): "We are going to win the National Championship…again (The Bruins won the title last year)

John DiRaimondo (St. Louis University): "We’re going to have to gel as a team quickly because we’re young, but when we do we’re going to do well. We could win the National Championship."

Michael Harrington (UNC): "We’re really young, but we have a lot of good talent, so I think we’ll do well. I’m not sure if were going to win (it all), but I think we’ll get pretty far in the tournament and in a couple years we will win."

Kyle Helton (Duke): "Our team has a lot of good players. Last season we had our ups and our downs, but hopefully we’ll be able to put it together more often this season and take care of business.

Brian Grazier (St. Louis University): "The Billikens are going to obtain the National Championship and repeat as Conference USA Champions."

Steve Curfman (Wake Forest): "We’re winning the ACC and going to the Final Four." (Harrington chimed in, "You MIGHT win the ACC.")

Brandon Owens (UCLA): "We have to try and repeat what we did last year and win."

Phil Marfuggi (Clemson): "We have a good chance of winning the ACC and making a good run at the National Championship."

Jamie Watson (UNC): "Right now people aren’t looking for us to go very far, which is good because we can come in as the underdog. I don’t want to say we can win the national championship, but have people say, "Wow, they shouldn’t have been able to do that, but did."

Jacob Peterson (Indiana): "I think we should have a good team because we haven’t lost many seniors. We should be in the top 5 or so."