U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team Tops Mendoza All-Stars 2-1 in Final Tune-Up for Argentina 2001
Less than 24 hours after arriving in Mendoza, Landon Donovan was on the field for the U.S. Under-20s, and he didn't seem to miss a beat in his first match with the U.S. Under-20s in 11 weeks. The match also marked DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey and Edson Buddle's first action with the team since the qualifying tournament in Trinidad. Buddle started up top for the U.S. and recorded two assists in the match. With his first he set up Kyle Martino just three minutes into the match. After making a great run into the box, Buddle played a ball to Martino that the Virginia midfielder calmly finished from six yards out.
The local Mendoza team showed a lot of fight, and only three quality saves from D.J. Countess kept the U.S. ahead at the half. The second half was one of mass substitutions for the U.S., as Wolfgang Suhnholz made sure all of his players played at least one half and made seven changes at the start of the second half. The Mendoza squad equalized through a U.S. own goal after a Mendoza corner kick took a deflection and bounced off of Kenny Arena and into the net.
The U.S. went ahead for good in the 75th minute when Buddle sprung Casey with a brilliant 30-yard ball. Casey's run got him between the two central defenders, and he showed speed and strength in outracing the defenders and then holding them off while finishing from 10 yards out. Brad Davis secured the victory with two minutes remaining when he cleared a Mendoza header off the line with a header of his own.
Nelson Akwari was the only U.S. player to play the entire 90-minute match. The match was a physical one that saw the referee whistle the U.S. for 26 fouls.
USA - Kyle Martino (Edson Buddle)
MEN - Own goal (Kenny Arena)
USA - Conor Casey (Edson Buddle)
1st half: D.J. Countess; Philip Salyerb, Nelson Akwari, Alex Yi, Oguchi Onyewu; DaMarcus Beasley, Kelly Gray, Bobby Convey, Kyle Martino, Landon Donovan; Edson Buddle.
2nd half: Doug Warren; Ricky Lewis, Nelson Akwari, Oguchi Onyewu (Kyle Martino); Brad Davis, Brian Carroll, Kenny Arena, Landon Donovan (Kelly Gray), Bobby Convey (Edson Buddle); Conor Casey, Alecko Eskandarian.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%U.S. TEAM STARS ON LOCAL MORNING SHOW: Tuesday morning the U.S. team awoke for an early breakfast and then boarded a bus to make an appearance on a Mendoza morning show. "Viva La Manana" welcomed all 17 U.S. players to their set, and Francisco Marcos, Head of the U.S. Delegation, served as a translator for the players. Suhnholz, Marcos, Countess and Akwari were touched up with make-up, before being interviewed on the "Good Morning America" -like morning show. With their teammates standing behind them in the background, the players and Suhnholz were asked about their thoughts on the tournament, Mendoza and the USA's chances in the tournament. The show mixed a short humorous skit into the segment, and the U.S. players came away from the experience happy and amazed that there would be so much interest in a team that cannot directly communicate with the T.V. audience. The exchange of the morning came when Suhnholz did not divulge a game plan against China after one of the co-hosts was prying for information. Suhnholz politely declined, and the host responded, "I don't think you have to worry, we don't have any Chinese people watching us."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%THE CITY OF MENDOZA: Mendoza, as all of the U.S. players know is just a two hour plane flight from Buenos Aires. But it is just a 20-minute plane ride away from the Chile border. The city was founded in 1560 and rebuilt after an earthquake in 1861. Just one hour away is the Aconcagua Mountain (6959 meters), the highest in South America. Mendoza is known for its wine production, as it produces over 90 percent of the wine that comes from Argentina.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%HEARTS TOURNAMENT: To say that the U.S. players spend much of their free time playing cards is a huge understatement. The moment the team boards an airplane, seats are changed, cards are shuffled and games begin - much to the chagrin of the air hostesses and hosts, who have to remind the players and staff that tray tables are to be stored in their upright position for take-off. A time-honored tradition on Suhnholz's team is the pre-soccer tournament hearts tournament that equipment manager Joe Ahearn organizes. Tuesday served as the first of the two-night competition, reducing the field from 16 players to the final eight. It is no surprise to anyone that Wolfgang Suhnholz and Landon Donovan were two of the top qualifiers. Defending champion Conor Casey snuck in with the number-seven seed, and Nelson Akwari watched as several players faded late to allow the team captain to sneak out the eighth and final spot.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%WEEKEND APPROACHING: After Wednesday's scrimmage, only three practices remain before the U.S. opens the championship against China on Sunday. The team is scheduled to train between 2:00 and 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, before the match kicks off at two o'clock on Sunday. The U.S. will have the chance to sleep in on Thursday, before traveling to the stadium to receive accreditation for the tournament. Then the U.S. team will go through a two-hour training session at the Independiente Stadium.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: Four members of the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team in Argentina received their first Under-23 cap before their first Under-20 cap. Nelson Akwari, DaMarcus Beasley, Conor Casey and Landon Donovan all played in the 1999 Pan-American Games, where the U.S. took home a bronze medal. Donovan scored in the bronze-medal match.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"It was exactly what we needed. We needed to get out there and run around a little bit and get in some game action. It wasn't always pretty, but it served its purpose and was perfect for us."