LA VALETTE, France (March 25, 2008) – The U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team closed out the Toulon International Tournament with a 2-0 loss to Group B winner, Italy, in La Valette, France.
Italy, made up of a core of players that were part of their Olympic qualifying team, took the top spot in Group B of the Toulon Tournament with three wins, and will face Japan in the semifinal match on May 27. In tonight’s other Group B game, the Ivory Coast topped Turkey, 4-0, also advancing to the semifinals to face Chile on Tuesday night.
The U.S., which was using the tournament to evaluate as many players as possible before this summer’s Olympic Games, finished the tournament with three losses. Head coach Peter Nowak used all 22 available players throughout the three games, including three different goalkeepers.
“We came to this tournament to make sure that we had all of our bases covered, and to evaluate as many players in the Olympic pool as possible,” said Nowak. “There were many positive things to take out of the tournament, and we will use a lot of what we saw here in our decision making in the next couple months as we move toward Beijing.”
The U.S. now has just 74 days before its opening game at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, when it will take on Japan on Aug. 7. The U.S. will also face the Netherlands on August 10 and Nigeria on August 13 as part of Group D.
The Americans created the first chances of the game, with a Kamani Hill shot on goal coming from distance in just the third minute. In the eighth minute, the U.S. had a golden opportunity to take an early lead when a Hill corner kick found the head of Sammy Ochoa, but the forward’s header was high over the crossbar.
The two teams traded opportunities throughout the first half, but it was Italy who was able to capitalize. Jumping on a turnover in the U.S. defensive zone, Dessena played a quick through ball for Ignazio Abate. Alone in front of Seitz, Abate played a low shot to the far post, just out of the reach of the sprawling ‘keeper to give Italy a 1-0 lead in the 30th minute.
On an Italian buildup in the 35th minute, the U.S. back line stepped up to pressure. Italian midfielder Daniele Galloppa flicked the ball up and over the defense for an on-rushing Osvaldo. Osvaldo looked up and spotted Dessena coming with him and slotted the ball back into his path. Dessena’s shot came from six yards in front of Seitz, giving him no chance to save the one-timer.
In the second half, the U.S. continued to battle and create dangerous chances. In the 66th minute, a U.S. buildup got the ball to the feet of Gabe Ferrari, who touched the ball to the middle of the field and ripped a shot that Italian goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso did well to tip over the crossbar.
U.S. goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, one of three halftime substitutes, was called upon to make several key saves, and the Troyes-based ‘keeper was up to the task. After an Italy corner kick, Dessena ripped a shot from just outside the box that sailed toward goal, but Westberg dove and punched it out of play.
The U.S. had one final opportunity, as Brek Shea combined with Julian Valentin to move the ball up field in the 90th minute. Valentin slipped the ball to Lee Nguyen, and the midfielder touched it around a pair of defenders toward goal. Nguyen pulled the trigger from the top of the box, but was unable to get much power behind his shot.
U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Match Report
Participants: U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team vs. Italy
Competition: Toulon International Tournament
Location: La Valette du Var – La Valette, France
Date: May 25, 2008
Weather: Overcast, Breezy
1 2 Final
USA 0 0 0
ITA 2 0 2
ITA – Ignazio Abate (Daniele Dessena) 30st minute
ITA – Daniele Dessena (Paolo Daniel Osvaldo) 35.
USA: 1-Chris Seitz (24-Quentin Westberg, 46); 13-Blake Wagner (4-Kyle Davies, 46), 3-Eric Brunner, 6-Julian Valentin, 25-Jonathan Leathers; 16-Corey Ashe, 14-Bryan Arguez, 8-Greg Dalby, 7-Kamani Hill - capt. (17-Lee Nguyen, 46); 9-Gabe Ferrari, 19-Sammy Ochoa
Subs Not Used: 2-Rob Valentino, 5-Michael Gavin, 11-Ellis McLoughlin, 15-Bryan Jordan
Head Coach: Peter Nowak
ITA: 12-Alfonso Enrico; 2-Marco Motta, 5-Lino Marzoratti, 13-Andrea Coda – capt., 6-Salvatore Bocchetti; 20-Daniele Dessena, 21-Luca Cigarini (4-Antonio Nocerino, 59), 14-Daniele Galloppa; 17-Ignazio Abate; 10-Claudio Marchisio (7-Davide Lanzafame, 46); 9-Pablo Daniel Osvaldo (19-Graziano Pelle, 59)
Subs Not Used: 1-David Bassi, 3-Paolo De Ceglie, 8-Tiberio Guarente, 10-Sebastian Giovinco, 11-Claudio Marchisio, 14-Daniele Galloppa, 15-Hernan Dellafiore, 16-Lorenzo De Silvestri, 18-Antonio Candreva,
Head Coach: Pierliuigi Casiraghi
Statistical Summary: USA / ITA
Shots 7 / 16
Shots on Goal 5 / 8
Saves 6 / 5
Fouls 18 / 9
Corner Kicks 4 / 4
Offside 4 / 4
USA – Lee Nguyen (caution) 71st minute.
Referee: Steven Depiero (CAN)
Asst.: Daniel Belleau (CAN)
Asst.: Darren Clark (CAN)
4th: Monetchet Nahi (CIV)
Toulon International Tournament
Group B Standings
Team W L T PTS GF GA GD
ITA 3 0 0 9 6 1 +5
CIV 2 1 0 6 6 2 +4
TUR 1 2 0 3 4 8 -4
USA 0 0 3 0 2 7 -5
Wednesday, May 21
Italy 2, Ivory Coast 0
Turkey 3, USA 2
Friday, May 23
Ivory Coast 2, USA 0
Italy 2, Turkey 1
Sunday, May 25
Italy 2, USA 0
Ivory Coast 4, Turkey 0
Chile vs. Ivory Coast
Italy vs. Japan