U.S. Draws 0-0 Against Holland in Toulon Festival; Americans Finish Third in Group A with 1-1-1 Record
AUBAGNE, France (Monday, May 28, 2001) - Needing a win to secure a place in the Toulon Festival semifinals, the U.S. Under-20s knocked on the door several times in the second half, but in the end had to settle for a 0-0 draw against Holland at the Stade de Lettre. D.J. Countess recorded his third international shutout of the year, and U.S. forward Alecko Eskandarian was denied his third goal of the tournament by a combination of bad luck and quality goalkeeping.
"It is frustrating because we definitely had chances to put them away, and we easily could have come out of here with a better result," said Countess. "But we didn't, and we will use the game as a great learning experience for us. We are lucky in that we have a greater challenge ahead of us now, and hopefully we can use what we learned here to become a better team in Argentina at the World Youth Championship."
Knowing that a goal would give them the game and a spot in the semifinals for just the second time in U.S. Soccer history, the U.S. put the Dutch under extreme pressure in the second half. But despite producing the majority of the scoring chances, the Under-20s were shutout in an international for the first time since 1999. The Dutch ended the first round with the tournament's top defense, allowing only one goal in three games.
The U.S. team had a variety of opportunities to grab the elusive goal in the second half, none better than the trio of opportunities that fell to Eskandarian. In the 59th minute Holland's Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelemburg saved Eskandarian's point blank shot from inside the six-yard box. Eskandarian, who entered the match as the tournament's leading scorer, produced two more quality chances in a two minute-span late in the game.
Five minutes from time, the U.S. forced a Dutch defender to play the ball back to Stekelemburg. As Eskandarian pressured the goalkeeper, the 'keeper's clearance hit the leaping Esklandarian in the chest and caromed back toward the goal. The ball rolled just wide of the right post, an accurate representation of the kind of night it was for the Americans. One minute later, U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu launched a long throw-in from the right touchline into the penalty box. Stekelemburg came up with his best save of the night as he dove to his left and somehow kept Eskandarian's header out of the net.
D.J. Countess wrapped up a solid tournament in goal for the USA with four saves and his third international shutout of the year in just seven appearances. Countess' best save came in the 31st minute when Dutch captain Heitinga's blast from 20 yards forced Countess to make a brilliant save, diving to his right and pushing the ball over the crossbar. Heitinga's shot represented the best scoring opportunity of the night for Holland.
The U.S. team made two changes in the starting line-up from the team that played the first two Festival matches. Defender Seth Trembly was inserted in at left back in place of Philip Salyer, and Kenny Arena got the start at defensive midfielder over Brian Carroll. Carroll and Salyer did enter the game in the second half and were both a large part of the USA's late second half surge.
As they pounded the Holland end in the second half, the U.S. did not help their cause with a combination of 20 fouls and 12 offside calls that slowed down their attack. The USA had two other quality opportunities in the second half, but were unable to put a shot on target.
Kyle Martino shot high from 15 yards after Brad Davis and Eskandarian worked a beautiful combination down the right side and then found Martino near the top of the box. In the 48th minute Conor Casey beat Stekelemburg to a bouncing ball and headed the ball towards the empty net, but a Dutch defender was able to clear the ball to safety.
In the other Group A match, Colombia tied Italy in a high-scoring affair 3-3. With the result, Colombia finishes atop the group with five points, even with Holland at 5 points but ahead on goal difference, followed by the USA (4 points) and Italy (0 points). Group B play finishes Tuesday evening as Japan (1 point ) faces Portugal (6 points) and France (1 point) takes on Poland (3 points). Portugal has already secured a spot in the semifinals, and all three of the remaining teams have a chance to join the Portugese in the round of four.
The U.S. is using the Toulon Festival as a final warm-up before to the FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina. The World Youth Championship will run from June 17 - July 8, and the U.S. will begin the tournament in Group C in Mendoza, Argentina. The U.S. opens against China PR on June 17, before playing Chile on June 20 and Ukraine on June 23. The majority of the players will come from the American squad currently in France, but the U.S. team that plays in the World Youth Championship is expected to be supplemented by Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley and Edson Buddle. The four MLS pros stayed in the U.S. to train and play with their club teams this week.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%Notes: The U.S. wore their all white kits, and Holland wore their traditional orange jerseys with black shorts ... The team will enjoy a rest day on Tuesday, before beginning the trek back to the United States on Wednesday ... Jose Burciaga entered the game in the 59th minute and received his first international cap since February ... Burciaga bounced back quickly from a high ankle sprain he suffered in one of the team's first training sessions in Toulon ... The United States now boasts a 5-1-3 record in international play this year.
2001 U.S. UNDER-20 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team vs. Holland|
|Competition:||29th Festival International Espoirs de Toulon - Group A|
|Venue:||Stade de Lettre (Aubagne, France)|
|Date:||May 28, 2001 - Kickoff 7:00 p.m. local (1:00 p.m. ET)|
|Weather:||80 degrees (Cool, Sunny)|
USA - 1-D.J. Countess; 8-Seth Trembly (2-Phillip Salyer, 50), 4-Nelson Akwari (capt.), 5-Alex Yi, 3-Oguchi Onyewu; 9-Brad Davis, 10-Kyle Martino, 14-Kenny Arena (16-Jose Burciaga, 59), 6-Kelly Gray; 12-Alecko Eskandarian, 17-Conor Casey (15-Brian Carroll, 65).
HOL - 1-Maarten Stekenlenburg; 11-Boutahar, 15-Huntelaar (19-Marnix Kolder, 76), 13- Mathijssen, 4-Heitinga; 17-Jeffrey De Visscher, 5-Jeffrey Leiwakabessy, 14-Santi Kolk (10- Youssouf Hersi, 59); 2-Juergen Colin, 9-Rogier Molhoek, 3-Sprockel.
USA - Kenny Arena (caution), 40.
USA - Jose Burciaga (caution), 65.
|%=macroPart|font/arial1=%2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 24: USA 2, Italy 1 / Colombia 0, Netherlands 0
- May 26: USA 1, Colombia 3 / Netherlands 2, Italy 1
- May 28: USA 0, Netherlands 0 / Colombia 3, Italy 3