U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team attacking midfielder Bobby Convey was designated by head coach Thomas Rongen as the captain not only for his play on the field, but almost more importantly for the immeasurable amount of experience he has garnered over the past few years. Only 20, Convey has already played in the an Under-17 World Championship (Trinidad & Tobago ’01), an Under-20 World Championship (Argentina ’01), and was the most capped player for the full Men’s National Team with 15 appearances in 2003. Plus, there’s the four years at the professional level with D.C. United, which basically puts Convey at the top in the U.S. among 20-year-olds with big game experience. With two days left before the U.S. meets Paraguay in its first match of the 2003 World Youth Championship, Convey takes a quick look back to Argentina ’01 and ahead to the task at hand.
You played in the U-20 World Youth Championship in Argentina in 2001, when the U.S. lost to Egypt in the second round. What do you remember most about that team?
"I just remember going into the tournament with a good team and a lot of expectations that we ended up not living up to. It was disappointing. We were lucky just to get into the second round, first of all. We came in third in our group, which was surprising considering how good we were supposed thought we would do. I think we didn’t really play well as a team. In the final game against Egypt in the second round, they just came out and out played us. We just didn’t do as well as we should of."
How does this team differ from the one in 2001?
"Looking at this team, I think it’s a lot different. We obviously don’t have the same players, but these guys seem to also be a little hungrier than the last team. I just hope it turns out differently this time."
How has that experience, along with playing in the Under-17 World Championship and with the full Men’s National Team, helped you prepare for UAE ’03?
"Any experience is obviously good. Having gone to those World Cups, you know what to expect. You know that all the other teams are going to be coming in focused and ready to play. This is a huge stage. Every scout and team is here watching the best young players in the world play. You’re lucky to be here and you want to make the best of the situation."
With a load of experience and being the captain have the guys been looking to you as a leader?
"I think everyone’s experience brings something to the team. With me, I’m happy to help out and calm people down if they get nervous or anything else. When the coach chooses you as the captain, it puts faith in you that you can help the team out and be a leader. I’m happy that Thomas made me the captain an I’m hoping that the experience I have, I will be able to show on the field and lead by example."
Assess the team at this point.
"I think everyone is looking confident and ready to play. I think it took us a little bit to get used to time difference and the travel, but now we are ready to go. We know what we have to do. We’re playing against three good teams, so we have to come out of the first game and get points out of it, and go from there. Everyone is excited to be here and we are looking to go far."
What are you expecting from the teams in your group?
"Knowing how the teams finished in each of their regions it will be a tough task. In Paraguay, they have a couple good playmakers and will also try to get us out of our game. Germany is a big strong team, so hopefully we can play around them by using our speed to our advantage. And in Korea, it’s just going to be a battle. They are always physically fit and always very smart. That is going to be a tough game for us. We'll just have to try and stay with them and finish our chances when we get them."
How has UAE been so far?
"Everything has been great, really nice. We definitely won’t have excuses. The hotel is nice, the food is good, and the training fields are good. The people have been really nice and helping us get everything we need. How we do in the tournament will just come down to us, and I think everyone is ready."