BUSAN, South Korea (Saturday, May 31, 2003) - The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team dropped its first game of the Busan International Youth Tournament, falling to host South Korea 3-0 on Saturday afternoon in front of a frenzied crowd of around 35,000 at Busan Asiad Main Stadium. The U.S. will face South American power Argentina on Monday evening, and then close out the tournament against Poland on Wednesday.
After a scoreless first half, Sang Hup Lee broke the tie, notching the game’s first goal off a penalty kick in the 51st minute. Forward Dong Hyen Yang sealed the victory for Korea with two goals in the 79th and 86th minute, finishing both off of crosses from forward Hun Lee.
The U.S. had to deal with a defensive blow in the fourth minute when starting central defender Jonathan Spector fell awkwardly on his left shoulder after getting dispossessed by a Korean defender and fractured his clavicle. After the game, Spector was taken to the hospital for x-rays and it was determined he would be out for 3-6 weeks.
“Korea just came out and played a better game than we did today,” U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger said after the game. “Their defense closed down the majority of our offensive attacks and after they scored the penalty kick, we were never really ever to get back in the game. Korea played really well and we expect the same from Argentina and Poland, so we will have to get better prepared for our next two games.”
The most crucial moment in the game occurred in the 51st minute when the U.S. just missed its best scoring opportunity of the game and then, less than 30 seconds later, the Koreans were awarded a penalty kick for a hard challenge by defender Brandon Owens.
Korea got the ball down the field quickly, and after a cross from right to left, midfielder Seung Min Baek collected the ball deep in the U.S. defense and tried to feed a ball into Yang, who was waiting in the penalty area. As Yang ran onto the ball, Owens tried to win the ball from behind and knocked him down, causing the referee to award the penalty kick. Sang Hup Lee buried the ball into the lower right corner for the 1-0 lead.
The U.S. had a great opportunity to equalize in the 77th minute when Guillermo Gonzalez got free down the left flank and served in a perfect cross to Gaven, who was waiting at the far post. Gaven outjumped his defender and headed the ball back across towards the near post, but Cha was able to sprawl out and knock it away.
Korea struck again two minutes later when Hun Lee served in the ball from the right side of the penalty area to a waiting Yang, who took one touch to collect the ball and another to bury it into the back of the net past a helpless Phil Marfuggi. Korea finished off the scoring in the 86th minute, when Hun Lee served in another cross from the right flank, which a wide-open Yang one-timed into the lower-left corner of the goal past Marfuggi.
The win was the 21st in a row for the Under-17 Korean National Team, which hasn’t lost a since January of 2002. In those 21 matches, Korea has gone 15-0-6.
With about 35,000 fans at the game, the stadium was more than half-filled, providing the players with an atmosphere they have rarely experienced. While most of the fans cheered for the home team, there was a section of the stadium that was filled with numerous fans waving American flags.
The U.S. will face Argentina at 5 p.m. local time on Monday, June 2 for its next match of the tournament. Argentina beat Poland 2-1 directly after the U.S.-Korea game.
The Korean Football Association invited the U.S. to play in the tournament, which is in commemoration of the one-year anniversary of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. The KFA invited all three teams from Group D at the 2002 World Cup, which included Poland, Portugal and the U.S. Portugal was unable to participate, leaving Argentina to take their place as the fourth and final team.
The tournament is serving as preparation for the U.S. before it plays in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland this August 13-30. The Korea Republic and Argentina both qualified for Finland by winning their respective qualifying tournaments.
Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. South Korea
Competition: Busan International Youth Tournament
Location: Busan Asiad Main Stadium; Busan, Korea
Date: May 31, 2003
Weather: Warm; 70 degrees
1st 2nd Final
United States 0 0 0
South Korea 0 3 3
KOR – Sang Hup Lee 51st minute
KOR – Dong Hyen Yang 79th
KOR – Dong Hyen Yang 86th
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
Subs not used: 18-Stephen Sandbo, 19-Jay Denny, 6-Jacob Peterson, 16-Tim Ward, 20-Jose Gomez
KOR – 1-Ki Seok Cha (18-Dae Ho Kim, 90); 20- Gang Jin Lee (3-Kyu Hawn Hwang, 61), 4-Jin Ouk Kang, 12-Sang Yong Lee (5-In Wang Jung, 82), 2-Tae Min Park; 16-Jung Hoon Kim (8-Seung Jo Kang, 88), 10-Yong Rae Lee (17-Sang Hup Lee, 46), 7-Seung Min Baek, 14-Jun Kim (19-Dong Kun Cho, 79), 9-Dong Hyen Yang, 11-Hun Lee
Shots 2 5
Saves 1 2
Corner Kick 1 8
Fouls 13 22
Offside 4 1
KOR –Sang Yong Lee (caution) 16th minute
KOR – Gang Jin Lee (caution) 26th
USA – Freddy Adu (caution) 66th