U.S. to Face Netherlands in Final Match of Group Play at Toulon on Monday; Can Clinch Spot in Semifinals with Win
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMPS COLOMBIA TOP U.S. 3-1: The United States Under-20 Men's National Team could not complete their second comeback in 48 hours and fell 3-1 to two-time defending champs Colombia at the Toulon Festival in Le Pontet, France.
"We gave the game away early with two goals because of our mental mistakes," U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. "And then we put ourselves right back in the game, and we gave away another goal."
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.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%DOWN TO THE WIRE THEY COME: Each team in the tournament has only one first round match left, but an amazing seven of the eight teams in the tournament still have a chance to advance to the semifinals. Only winless Italy has no chance to advance. The United States will advance to the semis for just the second time in U.S. Soccer history with a win against the Netherlands on Monday (Fox Sports World, 1 p.m. ET). The bunched group atop Group A includes the United States (3 points), the Netherlands (4 points) and Colombia (4 points), who are all still alive in the race for the two Group A semifinal spots. Group B action got a lot more interesting on Sunday night, as Japan tied France, putting all four teams in Group B in position to advance to the semifinals. Following are the current Group standings:
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
2001 Toulon Festival|
- May 25: Poland 3, Japan 1 / Portugal 3, France 2
- May 27: Portugal 2, Poland 1 / France 1, Japan 1
- May 29: France vs. Poland / Japan vs. Portugal
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%LOOK AHEAD TO U.S. vs. HOLLAND: The United States and Holland will both be playing in the FIFA World Youth Championship in June, but right now their thoughts are on advancing into the semifinals of the Toulon Festival. The United States will advance with a win, and with a tie the U.S. will also need help from Italy in the Azzuri's match against Colombia. The Netherlands will clinch advancement to the semifinals with a win or a tie. The Netherlands topped Italy 2-1 on Saturday, despite being dominated for long stretches by the Italians. In that match, the Orange started seven different players than the team that played in their opening 0-0 draw with Colombia. The teams square off at 7 p.m. local time in Aubagne at the Stade de Lattre. Aubagne is located 45 km north west of Toulon. At the same time, in Fejus, Colombia and Italy will face off in the other Group A match.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%SUNDAY'S SHORT TRAINING SESSION: After Saturday's match against Colombia, the U.S.had a relatively easy Sunday. After sleeping in, the U.S. players had a late breakfast and then went for a walk and stretch to get the legs moving. After the afternoon off, the U.S. went through a brief 40-minute training session in the early evening. The team played a small-field scrimmage with varying touch restrictions, before holding a team meeting and going over the Netherlands' squad and the U.S. strategy for the crucial final match of group play.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%FOUR FESTIVAL TEAMS TO COMPETE IN ARGENTINA: The Toulon Festival is regarded as the top annual youth tournament in the world, and the quality of the teams in the festival is one of the reasons why. From 1989 - 1997, all five eventual World Youth Championship winners played in the Toulon Festival. Four of the eight teams in this year's festival will see if they can do the same and win an impressive 'double'. France, Japan, the Netherlands and the U.S. will all compete in the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship in Argentina from June 17 - July 8. All four teams still have a chance to advance to the tournament semifinals.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%MOTHER'S DAY IN TOULON: The U.S. players and staff temporarily panicked when they awoke Sunday morning to learn that is was a holiday in Toulon. Not just any holiday, but Mother's Day. The players and staff soon realized that they hadn't forgot a major holiday, but that France was just a few weeks behind the U.S. in celebrating. The players were disappointed to see that most of the city of Toulon was shut down for the holiday, including McDonalds.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STOP THE PRESSES, U.S. EATS CHINESE FOOD! The morning after the U.S. team fell to Colombia, the team awoke and what did they see in the newspaper? A story about the U.S. staff's dinner at a local Chinese restaurant on Friday night. Team doctor Mel "Doc" Hayashi likes to uphold a personal tradition of treating the staff to a lavish Chinese dinner on each trip. In keeping the tradition this trip, the U.S. also made headlines.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. BEATS COLOMBIA -- TO THE STADIUM: The U.S. and Colombian teams are both staying at the Hotel Mercure in Toulon. So when the teams met at Le Pontet's Stade Fargues on Saturday, the team buses were ready to leave at 12:30 for the 4 o'clock kick off. The Colombian bus left five minutes before the U.S. bus, but 35 minutes into the trip the North American bus blew by the Colombians on the freeway. The U.S. team got lost on their way to stadium, as they circled back twice before finding the right exit from the motorway, and twice the bus driver asked locals for directions to the Stade Fargues. The U.S. still beat the Colombians to the stadium by 20 minutes. Unfortunately, it was not a sign of things to come.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: Alecko Eskandarian has scored in each of the USA's last two matches. In the last two years, Bobby Convey, DaMarcus Beasley and Brad Davis have also scored in two consecutive internationals. Eskandarian can become the first U.S. Under-20 to score in three straight with a goal against the Netherlands.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"At least we are still in a position where a win against the Netherlands on Monday will put us through to the semifinals. That is a great spot to be in ... We've moved past the Colombia game and are looking forward to Holland. Everyone is pretty excited and pretty confident that we can get a win against Holland."