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U.S. Under-20s Take on Costa Rica for First-Ever Regional Title

U.S. U-20 MNT LOOK FOR FIRST-EVER CONCACAF U-20 TITLE: The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team has a chance to make history on Sunday, March 15 when they face Costa Rica for the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship title. The U.S., which already secured a berth to the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt this summer, has never won the confederation title despite competing in 13 qualifying tournaments at this age group where a regional champion has been crowned. Kickoff for the final is set for 7 p.m. local/ET and fans can follow the action live from Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, via’s MatchTracker.

U.S. U-20 CONCACAF Championship Homepage

PERK SAVES IN SHOOTOUT GET U.S. TO CHAMPIONSHIP: The U.S. secured a place in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship, with a 4-3 penalty shootout victory against Trinidad & Tobago on Friday evening. After 120 minutes of scoreless action, the two teams stepped to the penalty spot for the dramatic shootout. The U.S. shot first and Jared Jeffrey slotted his shot perfectly into the right side netting, but Jean Luc Rochford answered right back for T&T. Dilly Duka’s shot was nearly identical to Jeffrey’s but again the hosts had an answer, this time in the form of Daniel Joseph. Peri Marosevic hit his shot high, allowing Uriah Bentick to give T&T the 3-2 lead we he finished his effort. Kyle Davies put his kick away and after U.S. ‘keeper Perk came up with the save against Sheldon Bateau the score was level at three each. Anthony Wallace stayed cool under pressure to successfully convert his kick, setting the stage for Perk’s heroics. The UCLA ‘keeper stopped his second penalty of the night to secure the victory.

UNDEFEATED STREAK AT 10: The United States has not lost in 10 games in CONCACAF U-20 play, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Canada in 2002 (a 3-2 loss). The U.S. has also not allowed a goal in its last six matches, dating back to a 4-1 victory over Haiti in its opening match of Group B in 2007.

CONCACAF CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY: The U.S. has competed in 18 CONCACAF Under-20 Championships, including 13 where a regional champion was crowned, but has never won the regional title. The first 16 qualifying tournaments at this age level (from 1962 to 1996) were held in one venue and included a championship match to determine a regional champion, but the format was switched for the next five tournaments from 1998 to 2007. During those years, the two groups played in different venues and didn’t cross over to compete for an overall regional champion. The U.S. U-20s have played in two CONCACAF finals in 1980 and 1982, falling to Mexico and Honduras, respectively.

NO CHAMPIONSHIP, BUT STILL BEST IN REGION: While never winning a regional championship, the U.S. still stands alone by qualifying for a CONCACAF-best 12 FIFA U-20 World Cups. Heading into the 2009 qualifying tournament, the U.S. and Mexico had both qualified for 11 times, but the U.S. now holds the title after qualifying for Egypt, while Mexico was knocked out of contention in Group B after just two games. The U.S. first qualified in 1980 and has only fallen short three times since then in 1984, 1990 and 1994.

MAKING IT SEVEN STRAIGHT: The U.S. has also qualified for a CONCACAF record seven consecutive FIFA U-20 World Cups. Mexico sits in second with five straight appearances from 1977 to 1985, while Costa Rica qualified for four from 1995 to 2001 and Panama qualified for three straight from 2003 to 2007. In the world, Brazil holds the record by qualifying for 15 straight FIFA U-20 World Cups, only failing to earn a berth to the second-ever event in 1979 in Japan. Surprisingly, Australia holds the second spot with eight straight from 1991 to 2005, while both Japan and Argentina had their streaks stop at seven this year when both countries failed to qualify for the 2009 tournament.

Opponent                   Result                U.S. Goal Scorer(s)              Venue
Jamaica                     3-0 W                 Marosevic, Duka, Schuler    Dwight Yorke Stadium; Bacolet Tobago
Honduras                  0-0 T                   --                                               Dwight Yorke Stadium; Bacolet Tobago
El Salvador                2-0 W                Shea, Taylor                            Dwight Yorke Stadium; Bacolet Tobago
Trinidad & Tobago   0-0 T (4-3 pk)    --                                              Marvin Lee Stadium; Macoya, Trinidad

Costa Rica
Opponent                    Result               Costa Rica Goal Scorer(s)    Venue
Mexico                         1-0 W                 Martinez                                     Marvin Lee Stadium; Macoya, Trinidad
Trinidad & Tobago    0-0 T                  --                                                 Marvin Lee Stadium; Macoya, Trinidad
Canada                       2-1 W                Guzman, Urena                        Marvin Lee Stadium; Macoya, Trinidad
Honduras                   0-0 T (4-2 pk)    --                                                 Marvin Lee Stadium; Macoya, Trinidad

EVERYBODY BACK:  All 20 players will be available for selection on Sunday, with Brek Shea and Jorge Flores returning from red card suspensions they served during Friday’s semifinal. After 120 minutes of hard, defensive soccer, head coach Thomas Rongen will likely change up his lineup once again to provide fresh legs in positions where players have already played four games in eight days. With just one day of rest before Sunday’s final, the players will have a light day on Saturday in preparation. Rongen has already used all 17 field players in the tournament and five different players have scored the five U.S. goals so far including two players, Dilly Duka and Tony Taylor, who scored in their first-ever international caps.

U.S. Under-20 MNT Roster by Position (Detailed Roster)
2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championship
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Sean Johnson (Central Florida; Lilburn, Ga.), 18-Josh Lambo (FC Dallas; Middleton, Wis.), 24-Brian Perk (UCLA; Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.)
DEFENDERS (7): 22-Gale Agbossoumonde (unattached; Syracuse, N.Y.), 2-Kyle Davies (Southampton; Danville, Calif.), 11-Jorge Flores (Chivas USA; Anaheim, Calif.), 5-Aaron Maund (Notre Dame; Dorchester, Mass.), 6-Amobi Okugo (San Juan Lightning; Sacramento, Calif.), 3-Anthony Wallace (FC Dallas; St. Petersburg, Fla.), 4-Sheanon Williams (unattached; Boston, Mass.)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 12-Bryan Arguez (Hertha Berlin; Miami, Fla.), 7-Danny Cruz (Houston Dynamo; Glendale, Ariz.), 10-Dilly Duka (Rutgers; Montville, N.J.), 8-Jared Jeffrey (Club Brugge; Richardson, Texas), 15-Brian Ownby (Virginia; Glen Allen, Va.); 23-Brek Shea (FC Dallas; College Station, Texas)
FORWARDS (4): 14-Sam Garza (Denver; Highland Village, Texas), 9-Peri Marosevic (FC Dallas; Rockford, Ill.), 16-Billy Schuler (North Carolina; Allentown, N.J.), 13-Tony Taylor (Jacksonville; Jacksonville, Fla.)

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Costa Rica also advanced to the CONCACAF U-20 final after a penalty shootout win in the semifinals, topping Honduras 4-2 after a scoreless 120 minutes. The Ticos took the top place in the tournament’s Group B with seven points in the form of wins against Mexico and Canada and a draw against Trinidad & Tobago. Costa Rica has now qualified seven times for the FIFA U-20 World Cup, more than any other Central American side. With Friday’s draw, Costa Rica extended its unbeaten streak in the CONCACAF U-20s to 11 matches. Preliminary matches saw Costa Rica win their group in UNCAF qualifying to book their place in T&T.

Costa Rica Under-20 MNT Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Esteban Alvarado (Universidad de Costa Rica), 18-Minor Jesus Alvarez (Deportivo Saprissa)
DEFENDERS (8): 2-José Mena (Deportivo Saprissa), 3-Kenner Gutiérrez (LD Alajuelense), 4-Juan Andrés Monge (Deportivo Saprissa), 5-Derrick Johnson (Brujas FC), 6-Ricardo José Blanco (Deportivo Saprissa), 12-Cristian Gamboa (Liberia Mia), 14-Bryan Oviedo (Deportivo Saprissa), 19-Jose Varela (Brujas FC)
MIDFIELDERS (6): 8-David Guzmán (Deportivo Saprissa), 10-Carlos Hernández (Heredia), 11-Diego Madrigal (Universidad de Costa Rica), 13-Allen Guevara (Liberia Mia), 16-Diego Estrada (LD Alajuelense), 20-Esteban Luna (Deportivo Saprissa)
FORWARDS (4): 7-Marcos Urena (LD Alajuelense), 9-Jorge Castro (Deportivo Saprissa), 15-Mynor Escoe (Deportivo Saprissa), 17-Josue Varela (Brujas FC)

IN THE PAST: The U.S. and Costa Rica have met nine times in CONCACAF Qualifying, with the U.S. holding a slight advantage with three wins and two losses to go along with four draws. The last time Costa Rica beat the U.S. was on April 20, 1988, in Guatemala. The two teams were in separate groups in the last round of qualifying in 2007, but met in 2005, with the U.S. earning a 2-0 victory in Group B.

EVERYONE SET FOR EGYPT: The United States, Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago are the final four countries that will participate in the 24-team 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup. Asia will send four representatives in Australia, Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan. Africa will have five teams in the tournament, including the hosts, as Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa have qualified. The 2008 U-19 European Championship served as the qualifying tournament that saw the Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain advance. Oceania sends Tahiti to their first ever world championship, while Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela will represent South America.

FIFA U-20 World Cup Teams
AFC: Australia, Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan
CAF: Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa
CONCACAF: USA, Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago
CONMEBOL: Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela
OFC: Tahiti
UEFA: Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain
Host: Egypt

ALL_ACCESS ROLLS ON: With the U-20 MNT on the brink of the CONCACAF final, you can get game recaps from Thomas Rongen and his players, as well as a look ahead to Sunday’s championship by checking out’s all_access videos.

YNT BLOG STILL GOING STRONG: The U.S. U-20s have already clinched their place in Egypt, but there is still work to be done as they are on a mission to claim the country’s first-ever CONCACAF U-20 crown. Join them on their final days in T&T and stay up to date on what’s going on at the team hotel, at the training field and before and after the match by clicking here.