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U.S. U-20 Men's National Team Set for Saturday World Cup Opener Against South Korea


U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team
U-20 FIFA World Cup Update
Montreal, Canada
June 29, 2007


READY FOR THE CUP: Since coming together on June 17, the U.S. has been preparing for their FIFA Under-20 World Cup opener against South Korea on Saturday, June 30, in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium. A sell-out crowd of approximately 56,000 will be on hand in the indoor facility, where the team has been training since Wednesday. Saturday’s match against South Korea on June 30 kicks off at 5 p.m. ET and will be shown live on ESPNU and fans can follow along live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker.

TWO WINS IN PREPARATION: The U.S. team is coming off two games played during training camp with a 2-0 record. On June 23 the team battled a strong Chile team in Giants Stadium and picked up a 2-1 victory behind goals from Freddy Adu and Robbie Rogers. On June 25 the team took on New Zealand in a closed door match at PDA, where the team trained throughout the week. Calling on three Under-17 players to complete a roster to prevent any field player from playing more than a half, the U.S. topped New Zealand 4-0. Gabriel Ferrari, Adu, Danny Szetela and Michael Bradley all tallied goals during the game.

NEW ADDITION: Following an injury to forward Johann Smith in the scrimmage against New Zealand, Preston Zimmerman has been called to Montreal. The Bolton forward suffered a third-degree sprain of his right ankle. Zimmerman, who plays for Hamburg SV in Germany, completes the 21-man roster as Smith has returned home to Connecticut for treatment. Zimmerman was part of the U.S. team that traveled to Canada for one of the team’s final preparation camps in early June, scoring a goal in the United States’ 4-1 win against Canada on June 3 at Frank-Clair Stadium in Ottawa.

U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brian Perk (UCLA), Steve Sandbo (SMU), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Ofori Sarkodie (Indiana University), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Arguez (D.C. United), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Dax McCarty (F.C. Dallas), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew), Anthony Wallace (F.C. Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Andre Akpan (Harvard), Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Gabriel Ferrari (Sampdoria), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Preston Zimmerman (Hamburg SV), Sal Zizzo
(UCLA)

SOUTH KOREA’S ROAD TO CANADA: In Asian qualifying, defending champion South Korea began their campaign with comfortable 3-0 and 7-0 wins over Jordan and Kyrgyzstan, respectively. Shin Young-Rok scored a hat trick in the second game, before a 3-0 win over India gave the South Koreans the top spot in their group. In the quarterfinals, two Song Jin-Hyung free kicks gave the team a 2-1 win over Australia and set them up to take the final of four Asian tickets to the FIFA U-20 World Cup as semifinalists against Japan. In driving rain and wind, the game was tied at two goals apiece after 120 minutes, and South Korea eventually lost in penalty kicks.

South Korea Roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Su Huk Jo, Jin Hyung Lee, Jin Hyeon Kim
DEFENDERS (4): Chul Soon Choi, Hyun Shik An, Yueng Sung Kim, Seung Jin Bae
MIDFIELDERS (10): Kwang Hoon Shin, Hyun Bem Park, Jong Jin Park, Dong Suk Kim, Sang Ho Lee, Joo Ho Park, Chung Yong Lee, Kyung Ho Jeong, Hyun Seung Lee, Jin Hyung Song
FORWARDS (4): Young Sung Shim, Sung Jae Lee, Young Rok Shin, Tae Goon Ha

NOT THE FIRST TIME: The U.S. and South Korea have met twice in previous FIFA Under-20 World Cups (previously the FIFA World Youth Championship). Before the third group games were played simultaneously, the two squads met in 2003, after a 2-0 victory by Paraguay over Germany. The U.S. and South Korea both knew that they would advance to the Round of 16 with a win, draw or even a two-goal loss. Directly off the opening whistle it was evident that the U.S. was only interested in getting the win as they came out strong, attacking the Korean defense from both flanks, but struggled a bit to find much in the way of scoring chances. Just 23 minutes in, the U.S. was awarded two penalty kicks that provided them with an early 2-0 lead and had Korea looking at the standings. Figuring they would still qualify to the Round of 16 if they didn’t allow another goal, Korea barely attacked for the final two-thirds of the game, bringing all 11 into their defensive half at times. The fans became restless and began booing and hissing in the second half as Korea was content with slowing the game down to assure it didn’t give another goal up to keep its place in the second round. The U.S. would go on to become the first USA team to win their group at the championships.

NOR THE SECOND TIME: The two teams also faced each other in the World Youth Championships in Australia in 1993. With Gregg Berhalter and Kerry Zavagnin leading the team to an eventual eighth-place finish, Zavagnin and Brian Kelly tallied goals in the third game of the group stage against South Korea. With the tie, the USA advanced to the second round before being knocked out by eventual champion Brazil.

PART OF MONTREAL HISTORY: The four teams playing in Group D have received a warm welcome to Montreal, and yesterday became part of the city’s history. Each team sent representatives to City Hall to sign the Golden Book, a guest book of sorts for important guests of the area. Andre Akpan and Preston Zimmerman represented the United States delegation and met with a large media contingent. Expect to see the two forwards’ faces all over Canadian press.

JULES’ JOURNAL RETURNS: In addition to ussoccer.com’s daily blog updates, Julian Valentin is back with Jules’ Journal. Jules will provide a player’s perspective on the daily life of training camp, including what really happens at practice and at the hotel. The Journal returns after a two-year hiatus and can be found on ussoccer.com.

ALL_ACCESS WITH THE U-20S: With Studio 90 providing updates from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, ussoccer.com will provide unprecedented coverage of the team in its campaign to win a world championship. Check all_access coverage of training in Olympic Stadium, as well as the team’s stay in Montreal in the June 30 edition of Studio 90.

WORLD CUP UPON US: The U.S. kicks off their World Cup campaign on Saturday when they take on South Korea. This is the sixth straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall. The U.S. then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play South Korea and Poland at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium. Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup can be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker. The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria. The U.S. will play all their group matches in Montreal and Ottawa on artificial turf. All of the United States’ matches can be seen live on ESPNU, and ESPNU and ESPN360.com will combine to show all 52 games of the tournament.

USA's FIFA U-20 World Cup Schedule - Group D
Date          Match-up                               Venue        Kickoff (ET)    Television
June 30    Korea Republic vs. USA    Montreal    2:15 p.m.        ESPNU
July 3        USA vs. Poland                    Montreal    7:45 p.m.        ESPNU/Galavision
July 6        Brazil vs. USA                       Ottawa       7:45 p.m.        ESPNU/Galavision

QUICK HITS:

  • Since 2006, this group of U.S. U-20s holds a 9-6-3 record in international play. So far in 2007, the U.S. is 5-2-1
  • So far in 2007, the U.S. has outscored their opponents, 17-9. Two goals were scored by Haiti national teams (U-20 and full team), one by Argentina, one by Chile and five by Canada in the team’s two-game World Cup preparation tour in June
  • The other three games on the year all came during the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament in Panama City, Panama. The U.S. defeated Haiti, 4-1, drew, 0-0, with Guatemala and then cruised past Panama, 5-0 to finish at the top of their group
  • Along with the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama all qualified from CONCACAF for the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup. With Canada as host, CONCACAF has five teams in the tournament
  • This is Rongen's second stint as the head coach of the U.S. Under-20s. Rongen also coached the team to the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, guiding them to an impressive fifth place finish
  • Michael Bradley and Freddy Adu are the only two players on the team who have caps with the senior national team. Bradley was part of the Gold Cup Champions roster, starting all but one game leading up to the Final
  • Adu leads the team in scoring in 2007, with four goals and two assists leading up to the World Cup
  • There are 14 players on the roster who play professionally in either Europe or Major League Soccer, more than any other U.S. team in Under-20 World Cup history
  • Three players on the roster, Freddy Adu, Nathan Sturgis and Danny Szetela, played in the 2005 edition of the Under-20 World Cup. Adu will become just the second player to ever appear in three Under-20 World Cups, as he was also part of the 2003 squad at age 14
  • First-choice goalkeeper Chris Seitz has a goals against average of just 0.67 in 2007

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