ABU DHABI, UAE (Friday, December 5, 2003) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team advanced to the second round of the FIFA World Youth Championship with a 2-0 win over South Korea this evening in front of a crowd of 8,000 at Al-Nahyan Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Two first half penalty kicks by forward Ed Johnson propelled the U.S. to the top of Group F with six points, beating out Paraguay with a better goal differential. This was the first time the U.S. has won their group at the FIFA World Youth Championship in nine attempts.
The U.S. will face Ivory Coast, second place finisher in Group E, in the Round of 16 on Monday, Dec. 8 at 9 p.m. at Al-Maktourn Stadium in Dubai. The match will be televised live by Galavision beginning at 11:55 a.m. ET (delayed on the West Coast at 11:55 a.m. PT) and can also be followed live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
“We knew going into the tournament that our group was pretty evenly matched and I think the games showed that,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. “We pushed for the win tonight and our guys came out and got it done right away. I’m proud of the fact that we are the first USA team to win our group at the World Youth Championship, but now we have to concentrate on getting ready for a difficult Ivory Coast team.”
With the 2-0 victory by Paraguay over Germany just before the USA-South Korea match, the U.S. knew it would qualify for the Round of 16 with a win, draw or even a two-goal loss.Directly off the opening whistle it was evident that the U.S. was only interested in getting the win as they came out strong, attacking the Korean defense from both flanks, but struggled a bit to find much in the way of scoring chances. Just 23 minutes in, the U.S. was awarded two penalty kicks that provided them with an early 2-0 lead and had Korea looking at the standings. Figuring they would still qualify to the Round of 16 if they didn’t allow another goal, Korea barely attacked for the final two-thirds of the game, bringing all 11 into their defensive half at times.
Helping the U.S. push forward early was a treble of fresh legs as Freddy Adu, Drew Moor and Ned Grabavoy all got their first starts of the tournament. Adu, at the tender age of 14, became the second youngest player to ever start in a World Youth Championship, only a few days older than Nigerian Togolese Kpakpakpi, who started in Saudi Arabia ’89.
The U.S. got the first shot on goal in the fifth minute when Johnson got free near the top right corner of the penalty area and unleashed a bullet on goal, but ‘keeper Kwang Young Kim was able to get down and corral the effort.
After Johnson’s chance, Korea got one of their own in the 8th minute when midfielder Won Hee Cho chased down a ball on the left side in front of the box and was able to get Moor turned around for an open shot. His shot from 25 yards out was a good effort, but missed left of the frame by a mere foot.
The main attack adopted by the Koreans was to knock in long balls from the back towards their towering lone forward, Dong Hun Kim, but the U.S. was able to counter with a pair of twin towers on the backline in Ryan Cochrane and Chad Marshall. The two central defenders dominated the Koreans in the air, winning the majority of balls dropped in and clearing them from danger.
In the 12th minute, the U.S. took the lead when the referee pointed to the spot after one of the Korean defenders bear-hugged Zak Whitbread as he attempted to make his run into the box during a free kick. Despite the Koreans’ complaints, Johnson was provided the penalty kick, which he buried into the lower left corner.
Korea put their first of its two shots on goal during the entire game into the hands of U.S. ‘keeper Steve Cronin in the 20th minute. Keeping with their method of attack, defender Jin Kyu Kim sent in a long ball off a free kick near midfield, finding the head of Dong Kim for a back-flick header that was easily snagged by Cronin.
Three minutes later, the U.S. doubled its lead when captain Bobby Convey was clearly taken down in the box after a nice collection of passes between him and Moor. Convey had slipped between defenders and collected Moor’s delivery, only to be tripped up by Korea captain Chi Gon Kim. Johnson took the resulting penalty, placing it in the same location as his first, sneaking it past the outstretched hands of Young Kim.
Despite the two-goal deficit, Korea continued to push forward, getting their only other shot on goal during the game in the 26th minute. Unable to find a path through the U.S. defense at the top of the 18-yard box, Dong Kim dropped the ball back to Ho Lee, who ripped a shot on frame, forcing Cronin to first knock it down before collecting it to keep the clean sheet.
The U.S. made one tactical change as Adu switched positions from left midfield to right with Justin Mapp, a move that almost gave the U.S. a three-goal advantage. In the 34th minute, Adu stole a poor pass out of the Korean backline, dribbled forward towards goal before dropping it off to his left for Johnson. Looking for his hat trick, Johnson tried to slip it past the ‘keeper from 12 yards out, but Young Kim was able to get just enough of it to keep it away from the back of the net.
For the rest of the match, the U.S. dominated most of the possession and kept the Koreans at bay. Knowing that the 2-0 loss would still provide Korea with a Round of 16 appearance, the play was slow and only a few attempts into the U.S. defensive half were attempted.
Notes: The fans became restless and began booing and hissing in the second half as Korea was content with slowing the game down to assure it didn’t give another goal up to keep its place in the second round … Every field player for the U.S. saw playing time during Group F play … The U.S. will stay in Abu Dhabi tomorrow to train before leaving for Dubai on Sunday morning.
- U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team vs. South Korea
Competition: 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
Location: Al-Nahyan Stadium (Abu Dhabi, UAE)
Date: December 5, 2003
Weather: Warm; 85 degrees
1st 2nd Final
United States 2 0 2
South Korea 0 0 0
USA – Ed Johnson (penalty kick) 13th minute
USA – Ed Johnson (penalty kick) 24th
USA – 1-Steve Cronin; 2-Zak Whitbread, 4-Chad Marshall, 5-Ryan Cochrane, 16-Drew Moor; 19-Ned Grabavoy, 3-Justin Mapp (20-Jordan
Harvey, 84), 10-Bobby Convey (Capt.), 11-Ricardo Clark, 12-Freddy Adu (14-Clint Dempsey, 70); 7-Ed Johnson (17-Knox Cameron, 80).
Subs not used: 6-Jordan Stone, 8-C.J. Klass, 9-Santino Quaranta, 13-Mike Magee, 15-David Johnson, 18-Ford Williams.
KOR – 1-Young Kwang Kim; 3-Chi Woo Kim, 4-Chi Gon Kim, 6-Jin Kyu Kim, 17-You Hwan Lim, 19-Hyo Jin Yeo; 7-Jong Min Lee, 8-Ho Lee,
11-Won Hee Cho (2-Beom Seok Oh, 84), 16-Jae Woong Han (13-Woong Namkung, 77); 18-Dong Hun Kim.
Subs not used: 5-Ju Sung Park, 9-Jo Gook Jung, 10-Sung Kuk Choi, 12-Kyung II Sung, 14-Jip Kwon, 15-Chu Young Park, 20-Ho Jin Lee.
Shots 6 4
Shots on goal 3 2
Saves 2 1
Corner Kick 2 2
Fouls 13 8
Offside 1 2
KOR – You Hwan Lim (caution) 12th minute
KOR – Chi Gon Kim (caution) 33rd
Referee: Matthew Breeze (Australia)
Assistant Referee: Matthew Cream (Australia)
Assistant Referee: Nathan Gibson (Australia)
4th Official: Salah Mohamed (United Arab Emirates)
2003 FIFA World Youth Championship – Group F
Team GP W L T GF GA +/- Pts
USA 3 2 1 0 6 4 2 6
Paraguay 3 2 1 0 4 3 1 6
South Korea 3 1 2 0 2 3 -1 3
Germany 3 1 2 0 3 5 -2 3
USA 3, Paraguay 1
Germany 0, South Korea 2
USA 1, Germany 4
South Korea 0, Paraguay 1
Germany 0, Paraguay 2
USA 2, South Korea 0