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U.S. U-23 MNT Draws with China for Second Time to Close Out Tour of Olympic Host Country

GUANGZHOU, China (December 16, 2007) — The U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team jumped out to a 3-0 lead at halftime, before seeing the advantage disappear in the second half of a thrilling 3-3 tie against the Chinese U-23 National Team at the Yue Xiu Shan Stadium in Guangzhou.

The U.S. fired home the first three goals but China answered back with a pair of their own before the match ended with a dubious penalty call in the final minute that sealed the draw. The U.S. closes out its 16-day camp having earned two draws in as many matches in China; the teams drew 0-0 on Dec. 13 in Changsha.

“I think we saw two different halves today,” said U.S. U-23 head coach Peter Nowak. “We executed our game plan very well in the first half. The second half wasn’t the prettiest. We knew going into the locker room at halftime that the Chinese team was going to be upset about being three goals down in front of their home crowd, and that they would come out and put pressure on us. Some of our players didn’t perform in a tough situation. Overall, we had a great two weeks together. We have just started our selection process for the team that will compete in Olympic qualifying. These two games gave us a lot of answers.”

The U.S. team began firing on all cylinders from the opening whistle, combining a smooth and varied passing game with a swarming defense. Using their pace and precision, they maintained the vast majority of the possession throughout the first half.

The USA got on the score sheet in the 13th minute on their first shot of the match. Earning a throw in deep in Chinese territory, Marvell Wynne hurled a trademark long throw into the area that Kljestan flicked to the center of the box where Robbie Rogers had positioned himself. Teeing up 15 yards from goal, Rogers unloaded a wicked volley that soared into the back of the net.

The U.S. pressure continued unrelenting, and Wynne nearly doubled the lead three minutes later when his close range shot just slipped past the near post. Fellow defender Patrick Ianni would do the honors in the 25th minute, rising above his mark off a Stuart Holden corner kick to power a curling header to the far post, leaving the Chinese faithful stunned into silence.

Seven minutes later, the U.S. turned a lightning quick counterattack into a 3-0 lead. An attempted through ball in the U.S. half by the Chinese was intercepted by Wynne, who deftly first-timed a pass to Robbie Finley. The striker alertly sprung Charlie Davies on a through ball down the right flank, and the speedy forward outran his defender to close in on goal one v. one. With the ‘keeper frozen, Davies calmly slotted a low shot to the far post.

As planned in advance, the U.S. made six changes at halftime. The second stanza began on much more equal footing, but again it was the U.S. that created the first quality opportunity. Maurice Edu cleverly chipped a ball behind the Chinese backline onto the foot of Arturo Alvarez, who raced into the box with markers on his tail. His low drive was pegged for the far post, but goalkeeper Qui Shengjoing proved equal to the task.

The Chinese settled into a rhythm and the momentum began to shift their way. While the U.S. were back on their heels, the hosts finally put themselves on the scoreboard. A nice combination freed Lu Lin on the left flank, where he delivered a dipping cross into the box that striker Zhu Ting glanced into the far corner.

Buoyed by the goal and the re-energized crowd, the Chinese continued to mount pressure on the U.S. backline and the 65th minute reduced the lead to one goal. A failed defensive clearance in the box fell to the feet of Du Zhenyu, who took one controlling touch before slipping a shot underneath Chris Seitz.

From then on, the U.S. appeared to have weathered the storm, but a series of controversial calls set the stage for an unfortunate climax. With the match clock reading 90 minutes, Zhenyu collected the ball at the top of the box and dribbled towards goal. Second-half substitute Aaron Hohlbein cleanly tackled the ball away, but was left to stare in horror as referee Zhao Liang pointed to the penalty spot. Zhenyu had Seitz going the wrong way as he converted the ensuing penalty to level the score at three apiece.

The game nearly got out of hand in the waning moments after a nasty challenge on Jozy Altidore brought both teams together near the U.S. bench. Kljestan intervened to try and restore order, only to be dismissed by the Chinese referee.

The U-23’s will take a break for the holidays before regrouping at the IMG Academy for a two-week training camp from Jan. 6-20 in Bradenton, Fla. The camp will continue the team’s preparation for final round action of the 2008 CONCACAF Men’s Under-23 Championship to be held from March 11-23, 2008, in Los Angeles, Tampa and Nashville. The eight-team tournament will send the two finalists to the 2008 Olympic Games in

                                                 -- U.S. Under-23 Men’s National Team Game Report --

Match-up: U.S. Under-23 National Team vs. China U-23 National Team
Date: December 16, 2007
Competition: International Friendly
Venue: Yue Xiu Shan Stadium – Guangzhou, China
Kickoff: 2:30 p.m. local time
Attendance: 18,000
Weather: 72 degrees, muggy

Scoring Summary:
            1  2  F
USA    3  0  3
CHN   0  3  3

USA – Robbie Rogers (Sacha Kljestan) 13th minute
USA – Patrick Ianni (Stuart Holden) 25.
USA – Charlie Davies (Robbie Findley) 32.
CHN – Zhu Ting (Yu Dabao) 52.
CHN – Du Zhenyu (unassisted) 65.
CHN - Du Zhenyu (pen) 91+

USA: 1-Chris Seitz; 6-Marvell Wynne (5-Hunter Freeman, 46; 17-Aaron Hohlbein, 55), 4-Maurice Edu, 6-Patrick Ianni (19-Jon Leathers, 46) 21-Mike Randolph (13-Michael Harrington, 46); 8-Stuart Holden (2-Tim Ward, 46), 16-Sacha Kljestan (capt.), 10-Dax McCarty, 14-Robbie Rogers; 9-Charlie Davies (12-Jozy Altidore, 46), 11-Robbie Findley (7-Arturo Alvarez, 46)
Subs not used: 18- Zac MacMath
Head Coach: Peter Nowak

CHN: 1-Qui Shengjiong; 3- Sun Xiang (14-Yuan Weiwei, 67), 4-Lv Jianjun (2-Tan Wangsong, 46), 5-Li Weifeng, 12-Lv Zheng (11-Zhu Ting, 31), 15-Dai Lin (13-Yang Shanping, 46), 7-Zhao Yuri (17-Yan Xiangchuang, 84), 8-Xu Bo (19-Wang Yongpo, 45), 6-Lu Lin (16-Wang Xiaolong, 75) 10-Du Zhenyu; 20-Yu Dabao (9-Jiang Ning, 71)
Subs not used: 18-Zhang Lu
Head Coach: Ratomir Dujkovic

Stats Summary:
        USA / CHN
Shots 8 / 7
Saves 3 / 3
Corner Kicks 3 / 3
Fouls 21 / 5
Offside 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Mike Randolph (caution) 37th minute
USA – Chris Seitz (caution) 84.
USA – Sacha Kljestan (ejection) 92+.

Referee: Zhao Liang (CHN)
1st Asst.: Zheng Weixiang (CHN)
2nd Asst.: Li Zhizhong (CHN)
Fourth Official: Chen Honghui (CHN)