• Akpan, Smith, Zimmerman and Zizzo All Score for the U.S.
• U.S. Gets Look at Frank Clair Stadium, Site of Their Third Group Match in the World Cup Against Brazil
• U.S. and Canada Will Face Off Again on Wednesday, June 6 in Kingston
OTTAWA, Canada (June 2, 2007) - The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team defeated Canada, 4-1, this afternoon at Frank Clair Stadium in Ottawa, Canada. Andre Akpan, Preston Zimmerman, Johann Smith and Sal Zizzo each tallied a goal for the U.S. side in the first of two games against the World Cup hosts this week.
The first half consisted of back and forth action from the start as both teams were fighting for every ball and attacking relentlessly. The U.S. struck first when Akpan finished a free kick from Anthony Wallace, but Canada struck back just six minutes later. Zimmerman gave the U.S. the lead before the half and the U.S. didn’t look back as Zizzo and Smith put the finishing touches on the impressive victory with goals in the second half.
The match was the first to two games the neighboring countries will play this week as they will play a rematch on Wednesday, June 6 in Kingston at 7 p.m. ET in preparation for the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
Getting the chance to play at Frank Clair Stadium was a crucial part of the USA’s preparations as it is the same location the U.S. will play their third and final Group E match against Brazil. Earlier in the week, the U.S. also got a tour of The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, site of their first two matches against South Korea and Poland.
“I think tonight's game was a good demonstration of how we've been training,” said U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Thomas Rongen. "We got a couple of goals from set pieces and a couple in the run of play as well, and I think overall it was a good game for us. Both teams battled hard for the full 90 minutes and we created some good opportunities that we were able to put away. I think it was a good stepping stone for us to continue this camp and get ready for the World Cup, and a great opportunity for us to play on this stadium's surface."
The first goal of the game came in the ninth minute when Anthony Wallace served in a free kick form the top right corner of the 18-yard box. Wallace placed the ball perfectly to the far post right for Akpan, who one-timed the ball past Canadian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.
Canada kept up the pressure on the other end, and was able to tie the game in the 15th minute. A foul called on Ofori Sarkodie from 40 yards away seemed harmless, but Canada won a corner off the ensuing free kick when Beltran headed it over the endline during a challenge. Keegan Ayre served the corner in and the U.S. defense attempted to clear the ball, but played it right to the foot of Nana Attakora-Gyan, who fired a low one-time shot past Steve Sandbo to make the game 1-1.
The U.S. reclaimed the lead on a corner kick in the 25th minute taken by Wallace. The FC Dallas midfielder once again hit Akpan, but this time the Harvard product played the ball with his head, directing it down to the feet of Johann Smith, who trapped the ball for Preston Zimmerman who was alone six yards from goal. Zimmerman took a touch to turn and then fired a shot that hit the top of the net to put the U.S. back on top heading into the locker rooms.
Once the second half started, the teams settled more into a possession game, trying to find their respective rhythms. Canada had the first opportunity of the half in the 49th minute on a free kick 25 yards away from Sandbo’s goal. Will Johnson got the ball around the five-man wall, but couldn’t beat Sandbo, who was there for the save.
The first chance for the U.S. in the half came in the 58th minute when Wallace won the ball in the midfield and quickly played it to the speedy Smith. Smith took a touch inside and tried to get past Canada’s last defender, but Steve Lumley defused the play and didn’t let him get a shot off.
Canada’s best chance of the night came on a counter-attack in the 81st minute. Lecoste-Lebuis carried the ball down the right flank and took a shot from close range, but Sandbo dove to direct the ball over the endline. On the ensuing corner, Ayre played the ball nicely into the box, but Amaechi Igwe did well to clear the ball out of danger.
Zizzo, who had been dangerous all night from his right midfield position, finally was rewarded with a goal of his own. In the 83rd minute the UCLA midfielder carried the ball down the flank and cut towards goal. He attempted to slot the ball back to a teammate, but the pass was blocked and ended up right back at his feet. Zizzo took a shot from a tough angle that was initially saved, but followed his own rebound and put it in the back of the net for his first career goal with the U-20s.
Smith topped off the scoring on the night in the 87th minute. He received the ball on the left sideline and cut it in towards goal. He beat two defenders on his way into the box, and buried a low shot just past the outstretched arms of Begovic for the final score of 4-1.
The 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup will be held from June 30-July 22 in Canada. The U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil. After their opener against the Korea Republic, the U.S. 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 Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal, before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil.
U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report
Participants: USA vs. Canada
Location: Ottawa, Ontario
Date: June 3, 2007
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees
1 2 F
USA 2 2 4
Canada 1 0 1
USA – Andre Akpan (Anthony Wallace) 9th min.
CAN – Nana Attakora-Gyan 15.
USA – Preston Zimmerman (Johann Smith) 25.
USA – Sal Zizzo 82.
USA – Johann Smith 85
USA: 24 – Steve Sandbo, 3-Amaechi Igwe, 13-Ofori Sarkodie, 14-Julian Valentin, 19-Tony Beltran, 4-Anthony Wallace, 6-Brian Arguez, 9-Johann Smith, 10-Sal Zizzo, 12-Andre Akpan, 17-Preston Zimmerman
Subs not used: 5-Dane Shea, 7-Gabriel Ferrari, 15-Sheanon Williams, 16-Mitchell van den Beld, 18-Diego Restrepo
Head Coach: Thomas Rongen
GUA: 1-Asmir Begovic, 2-Nana Attakora-Gyan (16-Oliver Lacoste-Lebuis, 73), 4-Marcus Haber, 5-Steve Lumley, 14-Gabe Gala (15-Kennedy Owusu-Ansah, 58), 6-Christian Nunez, 8-Keegan Ayre, 10-Will Johnson, 9-Andrea Lombardo, 11-Alex Elliott (AJ Gray, 25; 12-Michael D’Agostino, 68), 7-Toisaint Ricketts
Subs not used: 3- Kent O’Connor, 22-David Monslave
Head Coach: Dale Mitchell
Shots 7 6
Saves 4 1
Fouls 27 10
Corner Kicks 5 6
Offside 4 3
CAN – Gabe Gala (caution) 33rd min.
CAN – Andrea Lombardo (caution) 39.
USA – Preston Zimmerman (caution) 59
CAN – Christian Nunez (caution) 75
USA – Julian Valentin (sent off) 90
Referee: Silviu Petrescu (CAN)
1st Assistant:Daniel Bellau (CAN)
2nd Assistant: Pierre Cantave (CAN)
Fourth Official: Carol-Anne Chenard (CAN)