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U.S. U-20 Men Defeat Ivory Coast, Advance to Quarterfinals of World Youth Championship

Dubai, UAE (Monday, December 8, 2003) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team advanced to the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Youth Championship this evening with a 2-0 win against the Ivory Coast in front of a crowd of 3,210 at Al-Maktoum Stadium in Dubai. The victory advances the U.S. to the quarterfinals of a FIFA World Youth Championship for the first time since the tournament increased to 24 teams in 1997.

The U.S. will face Argentina, who topped Egypt with a 2-1 golden goal victory in the earlier game at Al-Maktoum stadium, on Friday, Dec. 12 at 9 p.m. local time at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The match will be televised live on Galavision beginning at 11:55 a.m. ET (delayed on the West Coast at 11:55 a.m. PT) and can also be followed live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

"This was really a remarkable game by our players tonight,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. “They came out, played as hard as they could and left everything on the field. I couldn’t be any prouder of all 20 of those guys. We’re extremely excited to be moving on to the quarterfinals and expect a tough match with Argentina, who as everyone knows has been one of the tournament favorites.”

Both teams had their sights set on the opponent’s goal early, as an extremely quick pace was set from the opening whistle. The first 20 minutes saw both teams with numerous chances on goal, but only the U.S. was able to capitalize.

Ivory Coast, donning their bright orange jerseys, looked as though they would be the team to strike first when they got an immediate chance in the 4th minute. U.S. right back Drew Moor played a poor pass in defense that forward Arouna Kone collected before laying it off to his right for Kassiaty Labi. With a clean look on goal, Lobi drove a low shot past ‘keeper Steve Cronin, but Moor was able to make up for his earlier mistake by clearing the shot off the line.

In the sixth minute, the U.S. found their first opportunity on goal when U.S. captain Bobby Convey slipped a ball between the Coast’s defense to an onrushing Ed Johnson. From the right of the box, Johnson drove his shot just wide of the left post.

One minute later, the USA found the back of the net for the first time on the night. The goal started in the midfield where U.S. captain Bobby Convey took a ball off his chest and stretched out his leg high enough to flick a ball over his head to a streaking Justin Mapp. Flying by the Ivory Coast backline, Mapp collected the ball 30 yards from goal for a breakaway against ‘keeper Drissa Toure. The Chicago Fire midfielder calmly slotted the ball low past Toure and into the left side netting.

The pace remained frantic for the rest of the half, and Ivory Coast began seizing control of the game while creating most of the attack. The Elephants created havoc for the U.S. defenders and peppered Cronin by frequently taking open chances from 30 yards or more; however, Cronin and the rest of the backline were up for the challenge, sending the attackers away empty handed time after time.

In the 16th minute, Ivory Coast captain Jean-Jacques Gosso found his way through the U.S. defense, and rocketed a shot that veered wide left.

Six minutes later, Gosso again was involved in a chance for the Elephants as his deft back heel at the top of the box found Adolph Tohoua, whose strike looked destined for the lower right corner before Cronin dove to push it wide.

In the 27th minute, Labi got free on the edge of the area and powered a shot on frame, but Cronin was able to parry it over the bar. Moments later, the Elephants played in a cross from the left side that found Labi wide-open again beyond the far post. With Cronin racing off his line to cut off his angle, Labi wisely played the ball back to midfielder Tohoua, whose effort on the open net from 16 yards out was deflected away by defender Chad Marshall.

On the other end, Ivory Coast struggled with the USA’s speed up front as Mapp, Johnson and Adu were continually able to brush by defenders and get behind their backline.

While still under pressure, the U.S. came back on the attack and was able to take a two-goal lead in the 43rd minute. From the left flank, Convey played a ball into the box ahead of Adu, who sprinted on to the pass before being clipped by Toure, who had come off his line. Johnson took the penalty kick, doing a small stutter-step before powering it past Toure for the 2-0 lead. The goal was the tournament-leading fourth for Johnson, and his third from the penalty spot.

Down by two goals, Ivory Coast was hit with another setback just before halftime as goalkeeper Toure was sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty box trying to snag an Adu through ball intended for Johnson. Backup ‘keeper Danile Yeboah was brought on at the expense of midfielder Andre Saki, leaving the Elephants to play with ten men for the remainder of the match.

Amazingly, it was the second time in the tournament that Ivory Coast had had their starting goalkeeper ejected for such an offense. In Ivory Coast’s second group match against the Republic of Ireland, Daniel Yeboah was ejected for similar offense and was replaced by Toure, who then blanked Saudi Arabia in their group finale to earn the starting position against the U.S.

Shorthanded to begin the second half, Ivory Coast struggled to try and get back into the match as the pace of the game slowed down considerably.  The U.S. adopted a much more even approach, keeping the play in front of them as much as possible while looking to take advantage of opportunities created by the Coast’s need to equalize.

The Ivory Coast would be dealt their final unfortunate blow in the 75th minute, when defender Gballou Kouyo suffered a non-contact hamstring injury as he chased Ed Johnson down defensively in the corner. Already exhausting their three substitutes, the Elephants were forced to play with nine men for the final 15 minutes. The U.S. had calmly seized control of the match at that point, maturely killing off the remainder of the game.

The victory was the third of the tournament for the U.S. in four games, marking the first time in the team's nine FIFA World Youth Championship appearances that the team has ever won three matches outright.

- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. Ivory Coast
Competition: 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Location: Al-Maktoum Stadium; Dubai, UAE
Date: December 8, 2003
Weather: Warm; 75 degrees
Attendance: 3,210

Scoring Summary:
                                1st     2nd       Final
United States             2       0             2
Ivory Coast                 0       0             0

USA – Justin Mapp (Bobby Convey)       7th minute
USA – Ed Johnson (penalty kick)          43.

USA – 1-Steve Cronin; 2-Zak Whitbread, 4-Chad Marshall, 5-Ryan Cochrane, 16-Drew Moor; 19-Ned Grabavoy, 3-Justin Mapp, 10-Bobby Convey (Capt.) (17-Knox Cameron, 83), 11-Ricardo Clark, 12-Freddy Adu (8-C.J. Klass, 58); 7-Ed Johnson (9-Santino Quaranta, 79).
Subs not used: 6-Jordan Stone, 13-Mike Magee, 14-Clint Dempsey, 15-David Johnson, 18-Ford Williams, 20-Jordan Harvey.

CIV – 20-Drissa Toure; 2-Dan Ouehi, 4-Ayi Ahyee, 5-Gballou Kouyo, 6-Mondakan Mahan (12-Jean Kipre, 66); 7-Jean-Jacques Gosso (Capt.), 11-Adolph Tohoua, 14-Andre Saki (1-Daniel Yeboah, 45), 19-Kassiaty Labi (9-Antonin Koutouan, 68); 8-Arouna Kone, 18-Fracois Zoko.
Subs not used: 3-Dacosta Goore, 10-Raphael Yabre, 16-Souleman Bamba, 17-Herve Guy
Not eligible: 13-Almamy Doumbia, 15-Mohamed Cisse.

Statistical Summary:
                            USA         CIV
Shots                      7             15
Shots on goal        2               8
Saves                     8               0
Corner kicks         2                7       
Fouls                    20             20
Offside                 14               0

Misconduct Summary:
CIV – Gballou Kouyo (caution)                 34.
CIV – Drissa Toure (caution)                    42.
CIV – Drissa Toure (ejection)                   46+.
CIV – Jean-Jacques Gosso (caution)     47+.
USA – Drew Moor (caution)                     53.

Referee: Oscar Ruiz (COL)
Assistant Referee: Daniel Wilson (COL)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Botero (COL)
4th Official: Salah Mohamed (UAE)