CHICAGO (Friday, November 1, 2002) â€” The United States Under-20 Menâ€™s National Team arrives in Charleston, S.C., this weekend to begin final preparations for the world championship qualifying tournament taking place at Charlestonâ€™s Blackbaud Stadium from November 13-17. Tickets are on sale now at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas.
This tournament marks the first time since 1980 that U.S. Soccer has hosted an Under-20 qualifying tournament, and South Carolina and Blackbaud Stadium were chosen as the tournament site to give the U.S. a strong homefield advantage. The Carolina crowd was out in full force in January, when a sell-out crowd of 5,364 saw the U.S. Womenâ€™s National Team crush Mexico 7-0.
Tickets for the qualifying tournament are currently available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Catâ€™s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, on-line at ussoccer.com and at Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Series and group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625 or U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249.
Fans in South Carolina have a chance to watch some of the best youth soccer players the U.S. has ever produced. Nineteen year-old Bobby Convey, who has been playing professionally for D.C. United for three years, will lead the team, and he will receive offensive support from fellow MLS pros Ed Johnson and Santino Quaranta. Convey and Quaranta were MLS All-Stars in 2001, and Johnson and Quaranta combined to score an amazing 98 goals at the Under-17 level.
In all, this team will have more professional players â€“ eight â€“ on his qualifying roster than any previous U.S. Under-20 MNT. Six of those players compete in Major League Soccer â€“ Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn) â€“ while Frank Simek (Arsenal â€“ England) and David Johnson (Willem II â€“ Holland) represent the USA in Europe.
At the 2001 CONCACAF qualifying tournament, Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley helped the U.S. qualify for the World Youth Championship by topping Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago. Less than 18 months later Beasley and Donovan were playing in the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
The United States Under-20 Menâ€™s National Team will face Haiti, El Salvador and Canada in the CONCACAF Under-20 Group B Qualifying Tournament at Blackbaud Stadium in a series of three doubleheaders. The U.S. Under-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history, play the second match on each day and open on November 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET against Haiti before facing El Salvador on November 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET and then wrapping up the tournament against Canada on November 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The top two finishers in Charleston will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 â€“ April 16, 2003.
The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 14-7-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (55 to 27). At the C.O.T.I.F. XIX Torneig Internactional Tournament last month in Spain, the U.S. surprised many by topping Italy, Ukraine and Uruguay to advance to the final, where they fell 1-0 to an older Brazil team.