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U.S. Under-20 MNT Get Ready For Ivory Coast

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Dec. 7, 2003 -- Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

ON TO THE ROUND OF 16: The U.S. has its sights on a spot in the quarterfinals as it gets set to face Ivory Coast tomorrow. In its crucial third match of group play on Friday night, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team defeated South Korea 2-0 at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Abu Dhabi to finish first in Group F and move onto the Round of 16. Ed Johnson provided both goals to give the U.S. a two-goal edge in the first half and the team kept that margin the rest of the way. The U.S. will face Ivory Coast, second place finisher in Group E, in the Round of 16 tomorrow at 9 p.m. at Al-Maktourn Stadium in Dubai. The match will be televised live by Galavision beginning at 11:55 a.m. ET (delayed on the West Coast at 11:55 a.m. PT) and can also be followed live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE: While eight teams are gone, 16 teams are now looking forward to Monday or Tuesday as the next round will be split with four games occurring on each day. Here is a breakdown of the second stage and how it will play out to the final in Abu Dhabi.

2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Second Stage
Round of 16
Date No. Match Time Location
Dec. 8 37 Japan vs. South Korea 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Al-Nahyan Stadium)
Dec. 8 38 Burkina Faso vs. Canada 9 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Al-Nahyan Stadium)
Dec. 8 39 Argentina vs. Egypt 6 p.m. Dubai (Al-Maktoum Stadium)
Dec. 8 40 USA vs. Ivory Coast 9 p.m. Dubai (Al-Maktoum Stadium)
Dec. 9 41 Brazil vs. Slovakia 6 p.m. Sharjah (Al-Sharjah Stadium)
Dec. 9 42 Australia vs. UAE 9 p.m. Sharjah Al-Sharjah Stadium)
Dec. 9 43 Paraguay vs. Spain 6 p.m. Al-Ain (Sheikh Khalifah Stadium)
Dec. 9 44 Rep. Ireland vs. Colombia 9 p.m. Al-Ain (Sheikh Khalifah Stadium)
Dec. 12 45 Winner 38 vs Winner 43 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 46 Winner 40 vs Winner 39 9 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 12 47 Winner 44 vs Winner 42 6 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 12 48 Winner 37 vs Winner 41 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Dec. 15 49 Winner 48 vs Winner 46 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 15 50 Winner 45 vs Winner 47 9 p.m. Dubai (Rashed Stadium)
Third Place Match
Dec. 19 51 Loser 49 vs Loser 50 6 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)
Dec. 19 52 Winner 49 vs Winner 50 8:45 p.m. Abu Dhabi (Zayed Sports City)

TRIP TO DUBAI: The U.S. made the trip from Abu Dhabi to Dubai this afternoon, arriving at their hotel which is a short walk from Al-Maktoum Stadium, the site of their Round of 16 match. While on the bus, the players got the opportunity to see Ivory Coast for the first time as they watched the Ivory Coast-Republic of Ireland match from Group E. The game was a perfect time-consumer as the 90 minute game was about the length of the trip, which seemed a lot quicker than the bus ride the team took from the Dubai airport to Abu Dhabi when it arrived.

LAST PRACTICE: The players went through their final preparations this evening at Al-Maktoum Stadium under the lights and a full moon. Rongen split up the squad, with the defenders working on breaking down attacks in the final third and the offense playing a 6v6 in a small field with full-size goals. The hour practice was topped off with a bit of work on penalty kicks, a possible outcome to tomorrow night’s game.

ABOUT THE STADIUM: The location for the USA’s Round of 16 match, Al-Maktoum Stadium, is six miles from the city and an average-size ground. The most interesting part of the 12,000 seat stadium is that it was built with touchline-hugging seats (ten meters from the sides and 20 meters behind the goals).

LIKE YOU WERE WORRIED: The U.S. Under-20 staff did the U.S. proud this morning when it downed UAE (members of the Local Organizing Committee) 9-7, with striker Tom King leading the way with a double hat trick. The U.S. took an early 2-0 lead, but the Emirates came back with possibly the best shot of the day, a 18-yard bomb that found the top right corner to cut the U.S. lead in half. With a 4-2 lead going into the second half, the U.S. staff found itself in a position similar to the Under-20 players against Germany as UAE came out attacking and had a number of good opportunities on goal. Most of the UAE’s chances came from the swift feet of their attacking midfielder, who donned a pair of blue cleats. The U.S. was able to weather the storm, and with the unstoppable duo of King and Dave Dir up top never relinquished the lead at any time during the match. After the match, King was named Chevrolet Player of the Match.

WHAT IS RAIN?: That’s the question some people in UAE must wonder as the chance of rain hitting the sandy ground is about as likely as camel racing taking off in the U.S. When the team arrived here on Nov. 24, we were told it hadn’t rained for months and nothing has changed to make us believe anything else. The lack of rain begs the question: How many total umbrellas and ponchos exist in the entire country?

GELNOVATCH KNOWS IVORY COAST: The U.S. has played Ivory Coast one other time in the FIFA World Youth Championship, winning 1-0 in their second group match in Mexico ’83. The winning goal was scored by none other than George Gelnovatch, the U.S. Under-18 head coach, and thereby coach of a number of the U.S. U-20 players that will take on Ivory Coast tomorrow night. The connection was a pleasant surprise to the players and staff.

ON TO THE FINAL FOUR: You would have thought Indiana and Santa Clara were the two teams with the biggest disadvantage going into the NCAA Div. I Men’s Soccer Championship as each knew it would be without key players - Ned Grabavoy and Drew Moor (Indiana), and Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara) – who are with the U.S. Under-20s as they play for their country at the World Youth Championship. Well, you thought wrong. This morning at the breakfast table, the Indiana and Santa Clara boys were smirking as they found out the results between spoonfuls of their corn flakes. Across the table, Knox Cameron (Michigan) and Jordan Harvey (UCLA) as they were on the short end and knew there was no possibility they’d be playing with their college teammates again this season. With the other side of the bracket still to be decided, Indiana and Santa Clara have packed their bags for Columbus, Ohio. The two teams will meet in the Final Four at Crew Stadium on Dec. 12. Below are the results from yesterday and the scheduled semifinal between the Hoosiers and Broncos.

2003 NCAA Div. 1 Men’s College Soccer Championship

Dec. 6 Results
Indiana 2, UCLA 1
Santa Clara 3, Michigan 1

Dec. 12 Semifinal (5 or 7:30 p.m. ET)
Ned Grabavoy and Drew Moor (Indiana -- 15-3-5) vs. Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara -- 16-3-3)


World Youth Championship Facts:
Games Played
– 15
Wins – 1
Losses – 7
Ties – 7
Goals Scored – 13
Goals Against – 28
Points – 10
Tournaments – 1977,1983,1991, 1997
Best Finish – 1977 and 1991 (13th place)
Against U.S. – One meeting in second match of group play in 1983, with U.S winning 1-0.

LOOK OUT FOR: The duo of strikers, Antonin Koutouan and Arouna Kone, who are the heart of Ivory Coast’s attack. Antonin Koutouan is quite a phenomenon. First spotted by Jean-Marc Guillou, who enrolled him into his football academy at ASEC Mimosa, the striker is a born leader. Koutouan is extremely quick, hard to knock off the ball, blessed with great touch and has the ability to make something out of nothing. He showed his talent with three goals in qualifying. On the other side is Kone, who has a treble of his own, but his have come during Group E play here in UAE.

BEEN HERE BEFORE: While they might not have many points to show for it, Ivory Coast’s appearance in this year’s World Youth Championship, their fifth, tied the appearance record held by Nigeria.

DOUBLING THEIR POINTS: Coming into the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, Ivory Coast hadn’t won a single game in four previous tournament appearances. With their victory in their first match against Mexico, the Ivory Coast solved that problem and then with two ties against Ireland and Saudi Arabia, they doubled their point total of five coming into the tournament.

HOW THEY GOT HERE: The road to the Emirates for Ivory Coast was a long and arduous one. With two-leg wins over Algeria (3-0 and 2-0) and Cameroon (2-2 and 1-0) earned them their ticket to the African Youth Championship in Burkina Faso, where they were drawn in Group B. In their first match of the qualifying finals, they snagged a draw against Egypt (1-1), before a narrow win over Morocco. Three days later they had a more convincing victory over Ghana (3-2) in the final group match, which took them through to the semi-finals. Their advancement to the final quartet was enough to guarantee them their spot in the FIFA World Youth Championship UAE 2003. However, Mama Ouattara's boys were intent on going all the way, getting by Burkina Faso first in penalties. In the final they didn’t fail to find the back of the net, but couldn’t defend as well as they needed, falling 4-2 to Egypt.

2003 CAF UNDER-20 Championship – Group B
Team GP W L T GF GA +/- Pts
Ivory Coast 3 2 0 1 5 3 2 7
Egypt 3 1 0 2 6 2 4 5
Ghana 3 0 1 2 3 4 -1 2
Morocco 3 0 2 1 0 5 -5 1
Group B Matches
Jan. 5, 2003 Ivory Coast 1, Egypt 1
Jan. 8, 2003 Ivory Coast 1, Morocco 0
Jan. 11, 2003 Ivory Coast 3, Ghana 2
Jan. 14, 2003 Ivory Coast 0, Burkina Faso 0 (3:1 PK)
Jan. 18, 2003 Egypt 4, Ivory Coast 3

UNABLE TO PARTICIPATE: Two players for Ivory Coast will not be able to suit up for the Round of 16 match against the U.S. as they received their second yellow in their final Group E game against Saudi Arabia and are forced to watch from the sideline. The players, Almamy Doumbia and Mohamed Cisse, are both midfielders and saw significant minutes during the team’s group play.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "My girlfriend’s eyes are better. Her eyes are so beautiful they change with the color of the day."
  -- U.S. Under-20 MNT forward Knox Cameron after players were talking about how Arabian women’s eyes are very beautiful.