CHICAGO (Thursday, September 26, 2002) â€” With the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament less than two months away, CONCACAF has released the schedule for the four-team round-robin tournament that will be staged in Charleston, S.C., at Blackbaud Stadium from November 13-17, 2002. Tickets for the event are on sale now (see ticket info). This tournament marks the first time since 1980 that U.S. Soccer has hosted an Under-20 qualifying tournament.
The qualifying tournament will consist of three doubleheaders, with each team playing on November 13, November 15 and November 17. The U.S. Under-20s, who are attempting to qualify for a fourth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history, play the second match on each day and open on November 13 at 7:30 p.m. ET against the winner of the two-legged Caribbean playoff between Haiti and Jamaica before facing El Salvador on November 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET and then wrapping up the tournament against Canada on November 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET. The top two finishers in Charleston will advance to the FIFA World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates from March 25 â€“ April 16, 2003.
â€œWeâ€™ve been training and preparing for this event for almost a year now, and I think this team is ready for the challenge ahead of us,â€ said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. â€œI think we really improved and moved forward with our results in Spain, and I canâ€™t wait to test our team against CONCACAFâ€™s best in Charleston.â€
The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 14-7-9 record in 2002, scoring more than twice as many goals as their opposition (55-27). In a tournament last month in Spain, the U.S. surprised the soccer world by topping Italy, Ukraine and Uruguay to advance to the tournament final, where they fell 1-0 to an older Brazil team.
While a roster will not be released until mid-October, this pool of Under-20s includes European professionals, MLS and college players. The MLS players eligible for selection include Devin Barclay (San Jose Earthquakes), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Justin Mapp (D.C. United), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United), Miguel Saavedra (Chicago) and Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn).
Ed Johnson, one of 11 U.S. players who were a part of team that qualified for and played in the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship and have seen extensive time with the Under-20s this year, is expected to play a major role for the U.S. in Charleston. Johnson, who has scored four times with the Under-20s in 2002, scored five goals in the final two games of the 2001 U-17 qualifying tournament, including a hat trick in the deciding game.
The D.C. United duo of Santino Quaranta and Bobby Convey are expected to add experience and offensive firepower to the U.S. line-up. Convey is in his third year playing with the U.S. U-20s and scored three goals in qualifying for the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship. As a 16-year old rookie Quaranta was named to the MLS All-Star Team in 2001, and he was Unitedâ€™s leading scorer before getting injured early in the 2002 season.
Tickets for the qualifying tournament are now available at all Ticketmaster outlets throughout the Carolinas (including Publix and Catâ€™s Music Stores), by phone at 843-554-6060, on-line at www.ussoccer.com, and at the Blackbaud Stadium (office open Monday-Friday, 9 am to 5 pm). Series and group tickets are available through the Charleston Battery at 843-971-4625 or U.S. Soccer at 312-528-1249.
CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament - Group B
Blackbaud Stadium (Charleston, S.C.)
November 13-17, 2002 â€“ All Times ET
Wednesday, Nov. 13
5:00 p.m. - Canada vs. El Salvador
7:30 p.m. - United States vs. Haiti/Jamaica
Friday, Nov. 15
5:00 p.m. - Haiti/Jamaica vs. Canada
7:30 p.m. - United States vs. El Salvador
Sunday, Nov. 17
12:00 p.m. - El Salvador vs. Haiti/Jamaica
2:30 p.m. - United States vs. Canada