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U.S. Under-20s Set For Match Against Haiti Select

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team will face off against the Haiti Select team this evening at 7:30 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The match will be the second of four matches the Under-20s will play during their week-long camp in Sunrise, Fla. The U.S. beat Jamaica 1-0 on Tuesday (see below for match report) in their first match and will face Jamaica again on Thursday, April 22, and finish the camp with their second match against Haiti Select on Saturday, April 24. Below is the probable 3-5-2 starting lineup for the Thomas Rongen’s squad:
GOALKEEPER: Andrew Kartunen
DEFENDERS: Erik Ustruck, Kiel McClung, Nathan Sturgis
MIDFIELDERS: Craig Capano, Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela, Eddie Gaven, Arturo Alvarez
FORWARDS: Freddy Adu, Jamie Watson

The U.S. defeated Jamaica 1-0 on Monday afternoon on a corner kick in the 62nd minute as midfielder Christian Jimenez served in a ball to the near post where defender Brandon Owens headed it home from 8 yards out. The U.S. defense did well to keep the Jamaican attack at bay, as goalkeeper Stephen Sandbo only had to make one save on the day. Click here for the full match report.

Adrian Chevannes sprained his knee in the 30th minute of the match against Jamaica on Monday after colliding with a player while going for a loose ball. The Clemson standout will be getting some tests done this afternoon and will most likely not be available for today’s match.

Gilbet Kubayanda, the president of Kubayanda Business International in Ft. Lauderdale and native of Ghana, took it upon himself to welcome Under-20 midfielder Freddy Adu to South Florida on Tuesday during the team’s press conference after the Jamaica match. Kubayanda told Adu, who was born in Tema, Ghana before moving to the U.S. when he was eight, that he was happy to have him playing in Ft. Lauderdale and that there would be a throng of Ghanaians and other Africans at Lockhart Stadium in Haiti tonight. Kubayanda purchased 200 hundred tickets for his fellow Africans and said they would be as loud as possible during the match, waving Ghana flags and cheering on Adu.

All five Major League Soccer professionals – Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Michael Bradley (MetroStars), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire) and Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) will start this evening against Haiti Select. All except Adu will start in the midfield giving the U.S. a strong, experienced core in the center of the field to lead the U.S. against the Haitians.

U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen might do a little reminiscing this evening when he steps onto the field at Lockhart Stadium as he used to play on the same field with the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers from 1981-83 and 1989-92. Rongen actually became an assistant coach with the Strikers in 1989 while still playing in the field for the team. The following year, Rongen was promoted to head coach of the Strikers, earning coach of the year. Rongen would serve as a player-coach until 1992, when he retired from playing, and stayed on to coach Ft. Lauderdale until 1994.


Thomas Rongen
On the victory against Jamaica…
“To me, winning is contagious. Our previous (Under-20) group did the same thing and won a lot of games. We wanted to start on a good note and I think our guys responded well today. I hope our other group tomorrow will do the same thing. It was a positive first impression.”

On the match with Haiti…
“We’ll have a completely different starting 11 for (the Haiti match). That was plan for this trip as we have four games in a very short amount of time, including three games in three days on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. We felt that for the first two games we needed two full teams to get the results that we want and bring in more players, evaluate all of them and eventually get down to our top 20 players that will represent the U.S. in qualifying and hopefully go on to the World Championship.”

On how he handles a soccer superstar like Freddy Adu…
“I don’t consider him a soccer superstar, I just consider him one of our 23 players here. The way he acts, he wants to be one of 23. Fortunately for the sport and for him some incredible things are happening, but I treat everyone the same. He still has to produce and do well.”

Forward Freddy Adu
On what his role is on the team…
“As a forward my goal is to score goals. That’s what I’m trying to do and that’s what the coaches want out of me. I like to have the ball and try to make things happen. ”

On any message he has to Ghanaians watching the match tonight…
“First of all thanks for getting tickets to the game and secondly, we’ll try everything we can to give you a good game.”

Ernest-Gean Baptist, head coach of the Haiti team
On the match with the United States…
“I think it is going to be a nice game. There are a lot of good players on the field.”


“Uncle Jim”
       -- Defender Nathan Sturgis when asked by team coordinator Erik Carlson his uncle’s name so he could leave him a ticket at the will call for tonight’s game.