The U.S. team arrived in Spain on Tuesday morning in Madrid, although most of the travel-wary U.S. team still believed it was Monday. From the Madrid airport the team bussed to their accommodations in Alzira, just outside of Valencia. The locals told the team they are just over 10 km for the Mediterranean Sea, but no players have been able to prove that knowledge correct. The U.S. team went for a light jog on Tuesday, before training twice on Wednesday. The crispness of the sessions were a pleasant surprise to the coaching staff, who expected a little more jet-lag in the players’ bodies. A scrimmage on Thursday night got the team a final intense training session ahead of Saturday’s opener against Brazil.
U.S. – BRAZIL KICKS OFF XIX TORNEIG INTERNACIONAL DE FUTBOL DE L’ALCUDIA: The U.S. Under-20 MNT kick off the tournament on Saturday evening, taking on Brazil at 8 pm in the opening match of the 19th annual event. The previous 18 tournaments have included club sides, but to celebrate the city’s 750th anniversary this year international teams were invited. National Teams will compete in this event next year as well to celebrate the tournament’s 20th anniversary.
U.S. FIELDS ONE OF YOUNGEST TEAMS AT TOURNAMENT: The U.S. will have one of the younger teams at this year's tournament. The U.S. is preparing for the 2003 World Youth Championship, and they have brought what is essentially an Under-19 team (born since Jan. 1, 1983,and therefore Under-20s in 2003) to this tournament where they will face true Under-20 (born since Jan. 1, 1982) teams. Surprisingly, having one of the youngest teams may help the U.S. in the case of a tie after the group stage. If there is a tie in the group stage, the first tiebreaker is goal differential, followed by goals for, sportsmanship points and if there is still a tie the decision goes to the team with the youngest average age.
U.S. WINS FINAL WARM-UP, 5-0: The U.S. team scrimmaged a local amateur team on Thursday night, cruising to a 5-0 win on the same field where the U.S. squad goes through their daily training sessions. The opportunity to watch the U.S. Under-20 National Team was quite a draw, as local fans packed the small complex to see their local boys take on America’s finest. The U.S. side dominated play the entire match, but it wasn’t until the 33rd minute that they were able to get on the board. Justin Mapp scored the first U.S. goal, opening the floodgates on a rout that could have been much worse for the hosts. Ned Grabavoy scored the second goal with a rocket from 23 yards out, and Ricardo Clark finished the scoring in the first half, leaping high at the far post to head home a Grabavoy corner kick. Ned Grabavoy and Mike Magee each scored in the second half for the U.S., who outshot Polinya 18-1.
1st Half Line-up: Steve Cronin; Chefik Simo, Ryan Cochrane, Chad Marshall, C.J. Klaas; Justin Mapp, Ricardo Clark, David Johnson, Ned Grabavoy; Knox Cameron, Ed Johnson.
2nd Half Line-up: Ford Williams; Jordan Harvey, Chad Marshall (Chefik Simo, 80), Chris Lancos, Craig Capano; Mike Ambersley (Justin Mapp, 80), Jordan Stone, Raul Palomares, David Johnson (Steve Cronin, 81); Mike Magee, Ned Grabavoy
2001 TORNEIG INTERNACIONAL: In last year’s tournament, Sao Paulo of Brazil walked off with the trophy, topping FC Barcelona in the final. In the third place match Alianza Lima (Peru) topped Real Madrid. Costa Rica’s Under-20s finished in fifth place. Up-and-coming Antonio Moral (Barcelona) was named the tournament’s top player, and Kleber Giacomassi (Sao Paulo) was the tournament’s leading goalscorer.
FLASHBACK - MAGEE LEADS U.S. TO 1-0 WIN OVER BRAZIL: The U.S. and Brazil have met several times on the youth level, including once last September when many of these U.S. players were on the field. In one of the U.S. Under-17s final matches before the FIFA Under-17 World Championship, the U.S. topped Brazil 1-0, with Mike Magee scoring the gamewinner on a brilliant free kick. Eight of the U.S. players on the 20-man roster in Spain played in the win over Brazil: Jordan Harvey, Chris Lancos, Craig Capano, Jordan Stone, David Johnson, Mike Magee, Justin Mapp and Ed Johnson.
MOTTA WILL PLAY FOR BARCELONA, WON’T PLAY FOR BRAZIL: F.C. Barcelona midfielder Motta was not released to Brazil for this tournament in Spain as Barcelona stood up to the Brazilian Federation’s wishes and kept the young star with his club. The will-he or won’t-he drama played out all week long in the Spanish papers. Motta, a 20-year old, is expected to have a regular spot in Barcelona’s line-up this year.
LUGGAGE LOST, LUGGAGE FOUND, MORE LUGGAGE LOST: The U.S. delegation was filled out on Thursday with the arrival of team doctor Mel Hayashi. In addition to Hayashi, three missing pieces of the team equipment made their way to the Valencia airport – and eventually to the team hotel - on Thursday. However, the luggage soap opera continued as one of the U.S. bags didn’t make it to the airport and is considered lost, and although Hayashi made it to Valencia on Thursday, his bags never departed Atlanta.
U.S. UNDER-20s IN 2002: The U.S. Under-20s have posted an 11-5-9 record in 2002, including a 1-2-2 record in five international matches. Mike Magee is the team’s leading scorer with ten goals (in just 14 games), while Ned Grabavoy (3 goals, 4 assists) and Knox Cameron (3 g, 2 a) have contributed heavily to the offense.
UNDER-20 QUALIFYING COMING SOON TO CHARLESTON, S.C.: The tournament in Spain will be the Under-20s final international games before World Youth Championship qualifying kicks off in the U.S. on November 13. The U.S. will host Canada, the Central American runner-up and the winner from the playoff between the Caribbean Group B and Group C champions in Charleston, S.C., from Nov. 13-17. The top two teams from the qualifying tournament in Charleston will qualify for the 2003 World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16, 2003.
OPPONENTS TO SHARE FIELD ON SATURDAY, SHARE HOTEL ALL WEEK: The U.S. and Brazil will not only share the field on Saturday evening, they are currently sharing the same hotel - and at times the same dining room. The bus drivers and hotel staff has assured the U.S. delegation that they are the easier of the two teams to deal with.
PLAYING PAST THEIR BEDTIME: As is the way of life in Spain, this tournament will start late and will run late into the night – or actually early into the morning. The schedule calls for three games played each night from Aug. 24-Aug. 27 during the group phase of the tournament. In that phase, a match will kick off at 8 p.m., followed by a match at 10 p.m. and the nightcap is scheduled nightly at 11:30 p.m.
TOURNAMENT BOASTS IMPRESSIVE LIST OF ALUMNI: In the past this tournament has included many of the world’s best players. Listed in the program’s extensive list of tournament alumni are: Raul, Casillas, Shevschenko, Mendieta, Coloccini, Salas, Cafu, Guti and many more. Based on the past quality of play at this event, and the impressive line-up for this year’s tournament, the tournament hosts are expecting scouts to turn up en masse for the tournament, including scouts from nearly every team in Spain’s La Liga.
OPENING CEREMONIES ON FRIDAY NIGHT: The U.S. squad will attend the tournament opening ceremonies tonight at the stadium in L’Acudia. The ceremonies kick off at 10 p.m. tonight and will be attended by the entire U.S. team and delegation.
STRONG TOURNAMENT FIELD READIES FOR WEEKEND KICK-OFF: Joining the U.S. in Group B will be Brazil, Italy and Ukraine. Group A consists of Spain, Gabon, Uruguay and Costa Rica. Three games will be played each night, with each team having one night off between August 24-27. A tournament schedule follows:
Aug. 24: Spain vs. Costa Rica
Aug. 25: Uruguay vs. Spain
Aug. 25: Gabon vs. Costa Rica
Aug. 26: Uruguay vs. Gabon
Aug. 27: Costa Rica vs. Uruguay
Aug. 27: Spain vs. Gabon
Aug. 24: United States vs. Brazil
Aug. 24: Ukraine vs. Italy
Aug. 25: Italy vs. Brazil
Aug. 26: United States vs. Italy
Aug. 26: Brazil vs. Ukraine
Aug. 27: United States vs. Ukraine
Semifinals – August 28
1st Group A vs. 2nd Group B
1st Group B vs. 2nd Group A
Classification Games – August 29
7th/8th Place 4th Group A vs. 4th Group B
5th/6th Place 3rd Group A vs. 3rd Group B
3rd/4th Place (Losers of semifinals)
Final – August 29
Winner of semifinal #1 vs. Winner of semifinal #2