The United States is still in position to advance to the tournament semifinals, and they will do so for just the second time in U.S. Soccer history with a win against the Netherlands on Monday (Fox Sports World, 1p.m. ET). The Netherlands topped Italy 2-0 in the second match of the evening. The results will make for an interesting Monday night (May 28), as the United States (3 points), the Netherlands (4 points) and Colombia (4 points) are all still alive in the race for the two Group A semifinal spots.
"I really think that with the way we played, we had a great chance to win the game," U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. "But we gave the game away early with two goals because of our mental mistakes. And then we put ourselves right back in the game, and we gave away another goal. Luckily, we are still in a position where we can advance with a win against Holland."
After going down 2-0 in the first half, the U.S. team picked up the pace and drew one goal back just five minutes into the second half. Alex Yi, who played a very solid game in the U.S. backline, sent a brilliant bending ball into space behind the Colombian defense. Eskandarian timed his diagonal run perfectly and got behind the defense and collected Yi's ball just outside the penalty area.
The University of Virginia striker carried the ball into the left-side of the penalty area and unloaded a left-footed rocket from 10 yards that Martinez couldn't handle, and Eskandarian's shot found the far side netting. Eskandarian has now scored a goal in both of his international starts.
Eskandarian's goal gave the U.S. confidence, and the team pushed for an equalizer for 15 minutes before Colombia finalized the scoreline with a goal in the 60th minute. The goal came after Countess did well to deflect a Diego Valdes cross, but the American defense was slow to clear the ball. Aldo Leao Ramirez, who assisted on the first goal, made the U.S. pay and hammered the ball home from eight yards out.
The U.S. was extremely unlucky to go down 1-0 after 20 minutes, as the U.S. was the side dominating play and on the verge of breaking the 0-0 deadlock. Kelly Gray, who was a commanding presence in the U.S. midfield throughout the match, gave the U.S. a great chance in the 14th minute. Gray made a great run down the right side and drew the 'keeper out of the net, but his cross into the middle couldn't find a theammate. Two minutes later he tested Martinez from 35 yards out, but the Colombian goalkeeper dropped Gray's free kick attempt, but was able to recover before a U.S. attacker could pounce on the loose ball.
Between Gray's opportunities, Conor Casey and Eskandarian nearly combined as they had for the gamewinner on Thursday. Casey flicked on D.J. Countess goalkick and put Eskandarian into space behind the defense, but Eskandarian's right-footed blast went wide of the net.
The USA's best chance of the game came in the 24th minute, when Kyle Martino played a brilliant one-touch ball over the Colombian defense and Casey ran onto it. Casey carried the ball into the penalty box, but his one-on-one shot was saved by Martinez. Five minutes later, Colombia made the score 2-0.
Yi tried to head a Colombian cross clear, but Nestor Cuadros collected Yi's header and scored from 18 yards out. Colombia went up 1-0 after Countess produced a great save on a free kick and, and he pushed the ball out for a corner. On the ensuing corner kick, Luis Felipe Charra slipped in front of the near post unmarked and nodded home the opening goal from three yards out.
The warm weather seemed to effect the U.S. players, as did the physical play of the Colombians. Colombia was whistled for 20 fouls in the match, and the U.S. team seemed to tire in the second half as the temperature on the field approached 90 degrees.
Despite the three Colombian goals, Countess still produced a quality performance in goal for the U.S. Countess was forced into seven saves, and many were of the difficult variety. He produced one of his best in the 28th minute, after a Colombian shot took a deflection in the penalty box. With Countess diving to his right to save the initial shot, the ball deflected back to his left and he was forced to reach back across his body with one hand to save the deflected shot.
The United States will end group play against the Netherlands on Monday, May 28, at 7 p.m. local time (1 p.m. ET) at Stade De Lattre in Aubagne, France, in a match that will be shown live on Fox Sports World. With a win, the U.S. will secure a spot in the tournament semifinals. A draw against the Netherlands, and the U.S. will be forced to await the outcome of the Colombia - Italy match.
The U.S. is using the Toulon Festival as a final warm-up before to the FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina. The World Youth Championship will run from June 17 - July 8, and the U.S. will begin the tournament in Group C in Mendoza, Argentina. The U.S. opens against China PR on June 17, before playing Chile on June 20 and Ukraine on June 23. The majority of the players will come from the American squad currently in France, but the U.S. team that plays in the World Youth Championship is expected to be supplemented by Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley and Edson Buddle. The four MLS pros stayed in the U.S. to train and play with their club teams this week.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%Notes: The U.S. wore their all white kits, and Colombia wore their traditional yellow jerseys ... Logan Pause and David Wagenfuhr entered the match late in the second half and each entered their second international cap for the U.S. Under-20s ... All matches in the Toulon Festival will be played as two 40-minute halves ... Le Pontet is a two hour bus ride from Toulon ... The last time Colombia lost in the Toulon Festival was in 1997 ... The U.S. was one of two teams to beat the Colombians in the 1997 festival, as two Josh Wolff goals led the U.S. to a 3-1 win.
2001 U.S. UNDER-20 MEN'S NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team vs. Colombia|
|Competition:||29th Festival International Espoirs de Toulon - Group A|
|Venue:||Stade Fargues (Le Pontet, France)|
|Date:||May 26, 2001 - Kickoff 4:00 p.m. local (10:00 a.m. ET)|
|Weather:||88 degrees (Warm, Sunny)|
COL - Luis Felipe Chara (Aldo Leao Ramirez), 20.
COL - Nestor Cuadros, 29.
USA - Alecko Eskandarian (Alex Yi), 45.
COL - Aldo Leao Ramirez (Diego Valdes), 60.
USA - 1-D.J. Countess; 2-Phillip Salyer, 4-Nelson Akwari (capt.), 5-Alex Yi, 3-Oguchi Onyewu; 9-Brad Davis, 6-Kelly Gray, 10-Kyle Martino (11-David Wagenfuhr, 61), 15-Brian Carroll (8-Seth Trembly, 66); 12-Alecko Eskandarian (7-Logan Pause, 72), 17-Conor Casey.
COL - 12-Luis Martinez; 16-Ruben Dario Bustos, 3-Aquivaldo Mosquera, 18-Diego Valdez, 4- John Edwin Garcia; 19-Nestor Cuadros (6-Alex Segura, 63) 14-John Jairo Culma (17-Jaider Rodriguez, 71), 20-Luis Felipe Chara (capt.), 8-Jorge Lopez; 13-Carlos Ceballos, 11-Aldo Leao Ramirez (9-Leonardo Enciso, 77).
USA - Kelly Gray (caution), 76.
|%=macroPart|font/arial1=%2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 24: USA 2, Italy 1 / Colombia 0, Netherlands 0
- May 26: USA 1, Colombia 3 / Netherlands 2, Italy 0
- May 28: USA vs. Netherlands / Colombia vs. Italy
|%=macroPart|font/arial1=%2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 25: Poland 3, Japan 1 / Portugal 3, France 2
- May 27: Portugal vs. Poland / France vs. Japan
- May 29: France vs. Poland / Japan vs. Portugal