U.S. Under-20s Finish Second in Group After 1-1 Draw with Ukraine, Face Egypt on Wednesday in Buenos Aires
Kenny Arena started in the central midfield for the United States, and he stamped his mark on the match early, heading home an Oguchi Onyewu throw-in in the 39th minute. The goal put the U.S. ahead, where they stayed until a Denis Stoyan free kick equalized the game in the 89th minute. Following the USA - Ukraine match, Chile surprised China, 1-0, with an 88th-minute goal. The China loss allowed the U.S. (four points, +2) to finish second, behind Ukraine (five points) and ahead of China (four points, +0) on goal differential.
"I am extremely excited for our team," U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. "One of our goals was to advance out of the round, and we did that and now we get to head to Buenos Aires and play Egypt. You always have to go one step at a time, and by getting out of our group, we have taken the first step of this tournament."
Arena, playing in his first match of the tournament, put the U.S. ahead in the 39th minute with a diving header that handcuffed Vitaliy Rudenko. Onyewu fired a throw in from the right side and Arena separated from his defender at the top of the six-yard box and nodded the ball past a stunned Rudenko.
Arena's goal held on until the 89th minute, when a spinning Denis Stoshan free kick from 37 yards slipped through D.J. Countess' hands and evened the match and provided the final scoreline. It was an unjust end to another fantastic match in nets for Countess, who finished with eight saves. Bobby Convey had one final opportunity for the United States, but his 93rd minute header was saved on the line by Rudenko.
"I thought that we played very well today," Suhnholz said. "For 89 minutes we played well enough to win, but it wasn't meant to be. I am very proud of the boys and am very confident that we will do well in the next round."
The turista bug that has plagued the United States team during their stay in Mendoza struck again just before kick-off. A backline that was shuffled to include Ricky Lewis for the second straight match was shuffled even further when Kelly Gray replaced Alex Yi at the last moment. Playing without two of the team's regulars (Yi and Philip Salyer), the U.S. allowed only one goal for the third consecutive match at the World Youth Championships.
After a choppy first half, the second half of the match was a welcomed change. Both teams came out pressing, and the United States was unable to take advantage of their numerous chances to double their score.
The U.S. had opportunities to increase their lead in the second half as the game opened up and space appearead in the midfield when Ukraine pushed forward looking for a winner. Alecko Eskandarian came on in the 58th minute and had two chances to increase the lead, but he was unable to connect on a volley attempt and had his shot from six yards out blocked at the last moment by a Ukrainian defender.
Ukraine picked up the pressure in the final 15 minutes of the game, and only two Countess saves in the 80th and 81st minutes kept the match scoreless into the 89th minute. Countess twice denied Ruslan Valeev in consecutive minutes, as the Ukrainians mounted a late second-half surge. Olekcii Byelik headed just over the bar in the 87th minute, just seconds before a Nelson Akwari foul 37 yards from the goal set up the deciging strike of the game.
The game began as a scrappy affair and included 26 first-half fouls. Neither team produced an abundance of chances. Ukraine received their two best chances courtesty of referee Carlos Amarilla Demarqui, who gave two free kicks dangerously close to the U.S. area.
Prior to Arena's goal, the two best U.S. chances also came off Arena's head, but he put two headers wide of the right post and high in the first nine minutes.
With many interested Americans looking on, Chile's Mario Berrios scored in the 88th minute to give Chile a surprise win against China. China finished third in the group, but will not know their second round opponent until the completion of the tournament's first round on Sunday.
Notes: The U.S. team wore their all-white jerseys, shorts and socks ... The Ukranians wore all blue uniforms ... Ukraine kicked off to begin the match ... After being one of two players (Nelson Akwari) to appear in the first 13 internationals that the U.S. Under-20s have played in 2000-2001, Salyer has now missed two straight ... Gray missed the U.S. - Chile match with the same bug that struck Yi ... The U.S. entered the match as the only team without a caution in its first two matches ... With Arena seeing time in the match, 17 of the 18 players on the U.S. roster have appeared in the WYC ... Only back-up goalkeeper Doug Warren has not appeared in the '01 World Youth Championship.
2001 U.S. UNDER-20 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team vs. Ukraine|
|Competition:||XIth World Youth Championship, Group C|
|Venue:||Malvinas Argentinas (Mendoza, Argentina)|
|Date:||June 23, 2001 - Kickoff 1:00 p.m. ET|
|Weather:||48 degrees (Overcast, Windy)|
USA - Kenny Arena (Oguchi Onyewu), 39.
UKR - Denis Stoyan (unassisted), 89.
USA - 1-D.J. Countess; 12-Ricky Lewis, 6-Kelly Gray, 4-Nelson Akwari - capt., 3-Oguchi Onyewu; 11-Bobby Convey, 14-Kenny Arena, 9-Brad Davis (8-Alecko Eskandarian, 58), 10- Landon Donovan; 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 17-Edson Buddle (16-Conor Casey, 65).
UKR - 18-Vitaliy Rudenko; 2-Roman Passichnichenko - capt., 3-Bogdan Shershun, 4-Sergi Simonenko 5-Vitaliy Komarnitskyy; 14-Sergiy Khistyev, 15-Serhiy Danylovskyy (6-Denis Stoyan, 81), 16-Mykola Nakoneshnyi (11-Andri Gerasimenko, 46), 17-Olexiy Gay (7-Volodymyr Bondarenko, 70); 10-Ruslan Valeev, 9-Olekcii Byelik.
USA - Kelly Gray (caution), 38.
USA - Oguchi Onyewu (caution), 56.
UKR - Ruslan Valeev (caution), 56.
UKR - Andri Gerasimenko (caution), 58.
USA - Ricky Lewis (caution), 60.
UKR - Sergi Simonenko (caution), 81.