CHICAGO (Jan. 10, 2004) – United States Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Sigi Schmid announced today the 18-man roster that will represent the U.S. at the CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from Jan. 12-16.
Schmid brought in 22 players to the HDC on Jan. 2 and held one final week of training before making his final decision on which 18 would make the final roster.
Of the 18 players on the qualifying roster, 13 are in college while five are professional players, four of which play in Major League Soccer – Freddy Adu (D.C United), Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) and Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew). The final professional player is first-choice goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who plays for ESTAC Troyes in the second division in France.
The U.S., which will be attempting to qualify for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, will play the second match of three doubleheaders during the six-game round-robin tournament, with each team playing on January 12, 14 and 16. The U.S. will open up the qualifying tournament against Trinidad & Tobago on Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. PT before facing Panama on Friday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. PT. The U-20s wrap up the tournament against Costa Rica on Sunday, Jan. 16 at 2:30 p.m. PT.
Fans can follow all three games on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The top two finishers in Carson will advance to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship, which will be held in Holland from June 10-July 2.
“These players have put in a lot of work over the past year with the Under-20s and specifically during the past few months since I’ve taken over as head coach,” said Schmid, who was named the U.S. U-20 MNT head coach in late October. “Finishing in the top two in our group will be a challenge as we are going up against three quality opponents, but it is a task our players are excited about and looking forward to as we hope to secure a spot in Holland later this year.”
With four professionals available to play the inside and outside midfield positions, the U.S. will look to lead from the center of the field. While only being 15 years of age, Adu is one of the most experienced international players on the team as he was part of the U.S. Under-20 MNT that had a remarkable run at the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates, finishing in fifth place. In the past two years with the U-20s, Adu, who has played in midfield and as a forward, has appeared in nine international matches with two goals and one assist.
Gaven will provide an offensive bite from his central midfield position as he has recovered fully from the hernia surgery he underwent in November. At the outside midfield positions, Szetela provides a formidable attack with his speed, vision and pinpoint passing on the right wing, while Alvarez brings experience on the left with 17 international caps over the past two years.
On defense, Westberg is the first-choice goalkeeper as his international experience in France and with the U.S. Under-17 MNT has pushed him to the lead in caps for goalkeepers this year with 10 international appearances for the U-20s.
Out of the 13 college players invited into camp, a total of nine schools from five conferences are represented. The Pacific-10 Conference leads the way with five players (four from UCLA), followed by the Big East with three, the Atlantic Coast Conference and Conference USA with two and the Big Ten Conference with one representative.
There are a number of college players that will be looking to solidify the defensive line in front of Westberg and backup goalkeeper Andrew Kartunen (Stanford). Patrick Ianni (UCLA), Patrick Phelan (Wake Forest), and Greg Dalby (Notre Dame) are all options at central back, with Dalby also a possible fixture as a holding midfielder. On the outside, Schmid has the benefit of choosing from three solid defenders in Hunter Freeman (Virginia), Marvell Wynne (UCLA) and Tim Ward (St. Louis), who can also play in midfield.
In midfield from the college ranks, Will John has made the most impact over the past two years for the Under-20s as the St. Louis product’s versatility has made him a valuable asset to the team. John is capable of playing a number of positions on the field, including as an attacking midfielder, on the wing or even up front as the lone forward, performing at a high level every time to lead the team with nine points (four goals, one assist) in international play.
Benny Feilhaber (UCLA) and Sacha Kljestan (Seton Hall) will also play a role in midfield for the Under-20s during qualifying, as all three made an impact in the past couple camps to earn one of the 18 spots.
Schmid will have an array of weapons up front with the ability to choose from Chad Barrett (UCLA), Charlie Davies (Boston College), and Jacob Peterson (Indiana). Barrett finished second in scoring for UCLA with 22 points (six goals, 10 assists) this season, while Davies (22 points - nine goals, four assists) and Peterson (24 points - 11 goals, two assists) were the scoring leaders for their respective squads.
Since taking over the reigns of the Under-20s in late October, Schmid has gone undefeated (6-0) with impressive victories over CONCACAF counterparts Mexico (2-1) and Honduras (2-0) in Fort Lauderdale in November and two 1-0 victories over Canada at the HDC in December, increasing their overall record in 2004 to 12-7-6.
In Carson, the U.S. will open play on Jan. 12 against Trinidad & Tobago, who defeated Cuba 6-5 in aggregate in the Caribbean Zone to advance to the final round of qualifying. The U.S. holds a 7-2-0 record against Trinidad & Tobago in world championship qualifying, with a substantial goal differential of 26-5.
The USA’s second match on Jan. 14 pits them against Panama, a team they have never faced in U-20 qualifying. Panama advanced to the final round by finishing second in the Central American Zone behind Costa Rica, who is the third and final team the U.S. will face on Jan. 16. The U.S. and Costa Rica have met eight times in qualifying and the series is tied up at 2-2-4, with the U.S. holding a slight edge in goal differential, 7-6.
The other two CONCACAF representatives to the 2005 FIFA WYC will come from CONCACAF U-20 Group B as Honduras will host Mexico, Canada and Jamaica in San Pedro Sula from Jan. 26-30, 2005.
This marks the second straight time that U.S. Soccer will host an Under-20 qualifying tournament, as just two years ago the U.S. hosted the 2003 Under-20 Group B qualifying tournament in Charleston, S.C. Before that, the U.S. hadn’t hosted the event since 1980.
This will be the first time any U.S. Youth National Team will play at The Home Depot Center, site of U.S. Soccer’s National Training Center. The U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Teams have both played matches at The Home Depot Center.
Tickets ranging in price levels from $10 to $24 are available online at ussoccer.com, at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Southern California (including Robinson’s-May, Wherehouse Music and Tower Records), by calling 213-480-3232 (Los Angeles), 714-740-2000 (Orange County) or 619-220-8497 (San Diego), and at The Home Depot Center ticket office. Groups of 20 or more can call U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1290.
U-20 MNT CONCACAF Qualifying Roster
U.S. U-20 MNT Staff
Position Name Residence
Head Coach: Sigi Schmid Manhattan Beach, Calif.
Assistant Coach: Dave Dir Addison, Texas
Assistant Coach: Mike Lapper New Albany, Ohio
Assistant Coach: Peter Vermes Overland Park, Kan.
Coordinator: Erik Carlson Long Beach, Calif.
Doctor: Scott Powell Pacific Palisades, Calif.
Trainer: Jeff Thomas Chicago, Ill.
Trainer: Mike Overturf Aurora, Ill.
Massage Therapist: John Zecopolis Charleston, S.C.
Equipment Manager: Mike Manning Newbury Park, Calif.
Press Officer: Neil Buethe Chicago, Ill.