February 1, 2003

Bronco Defenders Anchor U.S. at World Championships

Jan. 29, 2003

Thanks to www.ussoccer.com

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates - The United States Under-20 Men's National Team, led by Santa Clara sophomores Ryan Cochrane and Steve Cronin, has been drawn into GroupF with Paraguay, Germany and Korea for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates.

The U.S. opens against Paraguay on March 27 at 5:45 p.m. local time, then faces Germany on March 30 (5:45 p.m. local time) and concludes Group play on April 2 (8:30 p.m. local time) against Korea. The U.S. will play all three of their first round games at Abu Dhabi's Al-Nahyam Stadium. Every U.S. match at the World Youth Championship can be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.

The top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advance to the Round of 16. The U.S. is one of only five teams to qualify for the last four World Youth Championships, and one of only two teams (Brazil is the other) to finish in the top 15 in each of the last four tournaments.

"Anytime you go to a World Championship, any opponents you draw are going to be challenging in their own ways," said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. "We're in with one of the European powerhouses, a very interesting South American team, and if the last World Cup is any indication, an up-and-coming team in Korea.This group poses some great challenges, but at the end of the day we're quite pleased with the draw and looking forward to meeting this challenge head on."

The Under-20 matches against Korea and Germany will certainly bring back memories of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Korea/Japan, where the U.S. met both Korea and Germany. The American side battled to a 1-1 draw with the hosts Korea in the first round and then advanced to the quarterfinals of the World Cup, where they met heavily favored Germany. The U.S. played one of their finest matches of the year, but valiantly fell 1-0 to the tournament runner-up.

In UAE, the U.S. will face three teams with plenty of experience and success at the Under-20 level, as Paraguay, Germany and Korea have all advanced to the semifinals of the World Youth Championship at least once, making GroupF the only group that is made up of four nations that have all advanced to the final four of the Under-20 event.

Along with the U.S., Paraguay has played in the last three world championships, finishing fourth in the 2001 event in Argentina. Paraguay advanced to the 2003 World Youth Championship with a third-place finish in the CONMEBOL Under-20 championship that they finished with a 3-2 win over Ecuador yesterday. Paraguay highlighted their play in the confederation championship with a pair of 1-1 draws against Brazil and eventual champions Argentina. Paraguay was the only nation to take points off of both teams in the final round of qualifying. The U.S. has only recorded one World Youth Championship win in seven matches against South American teams, topping Chile 4-1 in Argentina '01.

Germany, the 1981 World Youth Champions, qualified for this year's championship by virtue of their second-place finish in last year's Under-19 UEFA Championship. Germany went undefeated in the preliminary and group rounds to advance to the final, where they fell 1-0 to Spain. The U.S. has met East Germany (2-0 win in 1989) and West Germany (2-1 loss in 1987) in the Under-20 championship, but never a unified Germany. The U.S. has had limited success against European teams, going 3-7-1 in World Youth Championship play against squads from UEFA.

Korea will be appearing in their 8th FIFA World Youth Championship, highlighted by a fourth-place finish in Mexico '83. The U.S. and Korea met at the 1993 World Youth Championship in Korea, sharing a 2-2 draw. Korea won the 2002 Asia U-20 Championship in dramatic fashion, topping Japan 1-0 on a golden goal in the final. The spectacular win gave Korea their unprecedented 10th Under-20 confederation title, and it was their stellar defense that allowed them to take home the crown. Korea allowed only goal against in six qualifying matches, while scoring 13.

"Fortunately, I've had the chance to play against all the teams in our group, so they will be familiar opponents," said U.S. Under-20 MNT captain Bobby Convey. "It's going to be challenging to advance to the second round, but we've got a good team and we have confidence in ourselves."

The U.S. qualified for UAE '03 with a second-place finish at the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament in Charleston, S.C., last November. The U.S. secured a spot with consecutive shutout wins over Haiti (2-0) and El Salvador (1-0) to open the tournament, and then fell 3-2 to Canada after making several changes to their line-up.

The U.S. Under-20s have posted a 21-9-10 record since Thomas Rongen came on board in December 2001, scoring almost twice as many goals as their opponents (74 goals for, 38 goals against). The U.S. offense is headlined by MLS standouts Ed Johnson, Santino Quaranta and Bobby Convey, who combined for three goals and three assists at the qualifying tournament. Defensively the team is paced by centerbacks Chad Marshall and Ryan Cochrane and goalkeeper Steve Cronin.

The U.S. squad will regroup for a training camp and matches in mid-February, with the collegiate players joining Rongen in Florida on Feb. 13, and the MLS-based players coming in a week later. The U-20s final preparations before UAE will take place again in early March, when the U.S. team travels abroad for the VII Madeira International Tournament in Madeira, Portugal.

At the most recent World Youth Championship - Argentina '01 - the U.S. Under-20 squad was led by Bobby Convey, Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley and goalkeeper D.J. Countess. The U.S. team advanced from their group with a 1-1-1 record, only to face eventual third-place finsher Egypt in the Round of 16. The U.S. had chances to take control of the game early in the second half, but failed to score and eventually gave up a 76th minute penalty kick and an 88th minute counter-attack goal in a 2-0 loss.

The FIFA World Youth Championship will be held from March 25-April 16 in four cities in the United Arab Emirates. Twenty-four teams will combine to play 52 games in the tournament. UAE is the fourth country from the Asian Football Confederation to host the FIFA World Youth Championship.

2003 FIFA World Youth Championship
United Arab Emirates
March 25 - April 13, 2003

Group A
United Arab Emirates
Slovakia
Panama
Burkina Faso

Group B
Argentina
Spain
Uzbekistan
Mali

Group C
Brazil
Canada
Czech Republic
Australia

Group D
Colombia
Egypt
Japan
England

Group E
Saudi Arabia
Ireland
Mexico
Ivory Coast

Group F
Paraguay
United States
Korea
Germany

Group A Schedule
March 25: UAE vs Slovakia - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 26: Panama vs Burkina Faso - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 29: Burkina Faso vs Slovakia - 5:45 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 29: Panama vs UAE - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 1: UAE vs Burkina Faso - 5:45 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 1: Slovakia vs Panama - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)

Group B Schedule
March 26: Argentina vs Spain - 5:45 p.m. (Sharjah)
March 26: Uzbekistan vs Mali - 8:30 p.m. (Sharjah)
March 29: Mali vs Spain - 5:45 p.m. (Sharjah)
March 29: Uzbekistan vs Argentina- 8:30 p.m. (Sharjah)
April 1: Argentina vs Mali - 5:45 p.m. (Sharjah)
April 1: Spain vs Uzbekistan - 8:30 p.m. (Sharjah)

Group C Schedule
March 26: Brazil vs Canada - 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
March 26: Czech Rep.vs Australia - 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)
March 29: Australia vs Canada- 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
March 29: Czech Rep. vs Brazil - 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)
April 1: Brazil vs Australia - 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
April 1: Canada vs Czech Rep. - 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)

Group D Schedule
March 27: Colombia vs Egypt- 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
March 27: Japan vs England - 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)
March 30: England vs Egypt - 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
March 30: Japan vs Colombia- 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)
April 2: Colombia vs England- 5:45 p.m. (Dubai)
April 2: Egypt vs Japan - 8:30 p.m. (Dubai)

Group E Schedule
March 27: Saudi Arabia vs Ireland- 5:45 p.m. (Al-Ain)
March 27: Mexico vs Ivory Coast - 8:30 p.m. (Al-Ain)
March 30: Ivory Coast vs Ireland - 5:45 p.m. (Al-Ain)
March 30: Mexico vs Saudi Arabia - 8:30 p.m. (Al-Ain)
April 2: S. Arabia vs Ivory Coast - 5:45 p.m. (Al-Ain)
April 2: Ireland vs Mexico- 8:30 p.m. (Al-Ain)

Group F Schedule
March 27: Paraguay vs USA - 5:45 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 27: Korea vs Germany - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 30: Germany vs USA - 5:45 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
March 30: Korea vs Paraguay - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 2: Paraguay vs Germany - 5:45 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 2: USA vs Korea - 8:30 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)

SECOND STAGE

Round of 16
April 5 (#37): 1st D vs 3rd B,E,F - 6 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 5 (#38): 1st A vs 3rd C,D,E, - 9 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 5 (#39): 1st B vs 3rd A,C,D - 6 p.m. (Dubai)
April 5 (#40): 1st E vs 2nd D - 9 p.m. (Dubai)
April 6 (#41): 2nd C vs 2nd A - 6 p.m. (Sharjah)
April 6 (#42): 1st C vs 3rd A,B,F - 9 p.m. (Sharjah)
April 6 (#43): 2nd F vs 2nd B - 6 p.m. (Al-Ain)
April 6 (#44): 1st F vs 2nd E - 9 p.m. (Al-Ain)

Quarterfinals
April 9 (#45): Winner 38 vs Winner 43 - 6 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 9 (#46): Winner 44 vs Winner 39 - 9 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 9 (#47): Winner 40 vs Winner 42 - 6 p.m. (Dubai)
April 9 (#48): Winner 37 vs Winner 41 - 9 p.m. (Dubai)

Semifinals
April 12 (#49): Winner 48 vs Winner 46 - 6 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)
April 12 (#50):Winner 45 vs Winner 47 - 9 p.m. (Dubai)

Third Place Match
April 16 (#51):Loser 49 vs Loser 50 - 6 p.m. (Abu Dhabi)

Final
April 16 (#52):Winner 49 vs Winner 50 - 8:45 p.m.(Abu Dhabi)