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U.S. U-17s Play Mexico for Spot in Semifinals of FIFA World Youth Championship

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Friday, November 19, 1999) - There is no tomorrow for the eight teams left at the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship as the quarterfinals begin, meaning single elimination from this point on. The United States will open the quarterfinals against border rivals Mexico on Nov. 20 at 2:00 p.m. local time (8:00 p.m. ET / Friday, Nov. 19).

The last time that U.S. and Mexico met was on February 17, 1998 in Pensacola, Florida where the match ended in a scoreless draw, 0-0. The USA played Mexico five days earlier on Feb. 13, 1998 in Florida but lost 2-1 with Landon Donovan scoring the lone U.S. goal.

Mexico advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1-0 record after beating European powerhouse Spain 1-0 to finish second in Group B, with six points, behind tournament favorites Ghana. During group play Mexico beat Thailand 4-0 but lost to Ghana 4-0.

Since the USA's arrival the team has been blessed with the presence of Phil, a mentally challenged fan, who has not missed a U.S. practice session or game. Phil has been the team's biggest supporter and brought good spirits to the USA camp with his charismatic personality, great sense of humor and powerful speeches on the bus after training. The U.S. U-17 players have taken Phil in and everyday look forward to his presence at training and look for him on game-days. After a recent speech on the bus Phil took U.S. U-17 goalkeeper coach Peter Mellor by the head and gave him a good-luck kiss right on top his head.

"Phil is our biggest fan and we have only known him for a couple of weeks. He really pumps up with his speeches. During intense practices Phil's USA chants, songs, jokes or enthusiastic personality lightens things up and brings a smile to all our faces. Phil is awesome," said U.S. U-17 forward Jordan Cila.


GOLDEN GOAL RULE APPLIED: Heading into the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, of the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship the golden goal rule will be applied. If these matches end in draw, extra time shall follow (two periods of 15 minutes each) with the golden goal in effect. Should one of the teams score a goal in the extra time (golden goal), the match will end immediately. Penalty kicks will be used to determine a winner of neither team scores during the extra time periods.

PALOMARES AND HISPANIC ROOTS: When the U.S. takes on Mexico tomorrow afternoon their will be mixed emotions in the Palomares family. Raul's mother was born in Jaisco, Mexico, his father's parents were born and lived in Michigan, Mexico and Raul's father played professionally for Jaisco and America in the Mexican first division.

"My family roots and history are a part of me but I am all American and every time I step onto the field I am proud to represent the United States. I want to prove to Mexico that we should no longer be overlooked and underestimated as a soccer nation," said Raul Palomares.

FIFA FAIR PLAY STANDINGS: After the first 24 matches the U.S. U-17s are currently in 7th place of the FIFA Fair play award with Qatar leading the ranking for the official FIFA award. Points are given for the behavior of the players on the field of play, as well as for the general attitude of the entire team delegation off the field. The following is a look at the current standings heading into the quarterfinal matches: 1) Qatar, 2) Spain, 3) Mexico, 4) Poland, 5) Ghana, 6) Burkina Faso, 7) United States, 8) Paraguay, 9) Uruguay, 10) Jamaica, 11) New Zealand, 12) Mali, 13) Thailand, 14) Germany, 15) Brazil, 16) Australia.

BIRTHDAY BOYS: U.S. U-17 goalkeeper coach Peter Mellor and U.S. U-17 physician Dr. Raymond Monto will celebrate their birthday tomorrow, Nov. 20, on the day of the USA-Mexico match. "The team knows what I want for my birthday, they now have to go out and get it," said Mellor.

DONOVAN STILL IN HUNT FOR GOLDEN BOOT: U.S. U-17 all-time leading goal scorer Landon Donovan is still in the running for the FIFA Golden Boot award, that goes to the top goal scorer of the tournament, with two goals. Qatar's Waleed leads all scorers with four goals, followed by Ishmael Addo (Ghana), Aitor (Spain), Ibrahim Attiku (Ghana) and Benard Dong-Bortey (Ghana) with three goals. Donovan and eight others have two goals apiece and there are 34 players with one goal each.

COLLEGE-BOUND U-17 PLAYERS: Several U-17 players will attend top NCAA division I soccer schools next year on full scholarships. The following is a look at the players and their schools:

Player Pos.  School Player Pos. School
Alexander Yi D UCLA Bryan Jackson M Clemson
Delvin Countess GK UCLA Kenneth Cutler M Clemson
Adolfo Gregorio M UCLA Oguchi Onyewu D Clemson
Greg Martin D Notre Dame Abe Thompson F Maryland
Jordan Cila F Duke Kellen Kalso D Indiana
*Landon Donovan (Bayer Leverkusen; Germany), DaMarcus Beasley 
(Los Angeles Galaxy - Major League Soccer), Seth Trembly (Colorado Rapids - MLS).

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: Here is a look at some of the headlines in Uruguay newspapers following their 1-0 defeat to the U.S. to finish second in Group A play: "The North Americans were superior over Uruguay" - El Telegrafo, Paysandu; "Uruguay loses to the U.S. . . ." - El Pais, Montevideo; "Uruguay fell to the United States . . . " - El Observador, Montevideo.

USA MOVES UP IN FIFA U-17 ALL-TIME RANKING: At the FIFA U-17 World Championships the USA has compiled a 10-12-4 record in 26 matches (34 goals for and 42 against). With 34 points the USA move up from 7th to 6th place in the U-17 all-time ranking and the 1st team from CONCACAF.


KENNETH CUTLER (U.S. U-17 Midfielder)

On stopping Mexico play-maker Sanchez:
"Obviously it is going to be tough. It is not just me defending him, there is Bryan Jackson in the middle and then there is Nelson Akwari in the back. Sanchez is one of the most talented players in the tournament but I have played against good players before and stopped them. Sanchez's greatest strengths is on dead ball situations. We can't give him the opportunity to use his skills on free kicks by giving away any silly fouls around the box."

DaMARCUS BEASLEY (U.S. U-17 Forward)

On the USA-Mexico rivalry:
"Both teams will come out with a lot of passion and urgency. We are neighboring countries and there is more at stake than advancing to the semifinals. We are playing for pride, our country and respect. I feel confident going into the match that we will get a positive result but at the same time it is going to be the toughest match we have played."


Date Match Venue Kickoff (local time) Kickoff (ET)
Nov. 20 United States vs. Mexico Auckland, New Zealand 2:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
Nov. 20 Ghana vs. Uruguay Napier, New Zealand 4:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m.
Nov. 21 Australia vs. Qatar Christchurch, New Zealand 2:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
Nov. 21 Paraguay vs. Brazil Dunedin, New Zealand 4:00 p.m. 10:00 p.m.