Aug. 29, 2002
L'ALCUDIA, Spain - The United States Under-20 Men's National Team topped Uruguay 3-1 tonight in the semifinal round of the C.O.T.I.F XIX Torneig Internacional to earn a chance at revenge against Brazil in tomorrow night's final. The U.S. squad was reduced to ten men in the 52nd minute, but the U.S. used an own goal, a penalty and a superb solo effort from Eddie Johnson to secure their third straight win in Spain.
Brazil topped Costa Rica in penalties tonight in the other semifinal after the teams played to a 2-2 draw. Leading 2-0 at halftime, Brazil gave up two second-half goals and saw their goalkeeper save a penalty in regulation before winning 5-3 in penalty kicks. In the opening game of the tournament, Brazil topped a ten-man U.S. team 2-1.
"Tonight our guys gave it every thing they had, and I am very proud of the effort they put forth to come away with a well-deserved victory," said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. "I think that we have grown as a team this week, and getting a result like this against such a strong Uruguay side shows that. Coming to one of the top youth tournaments in the world and bouncing back from an opening loss to win three straight games and advance to the final is impressive."
The U.S. team grabbed a 2-1 lead at halftime, and then 10 minutes into the second half were reduced to ten men when Devin Barclay was shown his second caution of the game. The U.S. team withstood a fierce Uruguay attack and grabbed an insurance goal in the 65th minute through an extraordinary effort from U.S. striker Eddie Johnson.
U.S. midfielder Ned Grabavoy won a loose ball 35 yards from the U.S. goal and played a short pass ahead to Eddie Johnson. Johnson turned and beat Uruguayan defender Carlos Grosnile with speed down the left sideline and into Uruguay's half of the field. Johnson slowed down and as Grosnile and Nelson Sempereda approached, Johnson split the two defenders and carried the ball into the center of the park. The Dallas Burn striker unleashed a left-footed blast from 30 yards that took one hop and bounced into the goal past a stunned Uruguayan goalkeeper. The goal was Johnson's second in three matches at the tournament.
The U.S. defense played solid all game long, but tightened up after the ejection of Barclay. The foursome of C.J. Klaas, Chad Marshall, Ryan Cochrane and Chefik Simo, playing behind central midfield workhorses Ned Grabavoy and Ricardo Clark, frustrated the second-highest scoring team at the tournament and only allowed four shots in the second half as Uruguay stepped up the pressure. U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cronin was only forced to make one save in the match and that came in the first half.
Entering tonight's match Uruguay had not conceded a goal in the tournament. That impressive streak changed in the game's 20th minute with the most bizarre of own goals. U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cronin punted the ball from his own penalty area, sending it deep into the Uruguayan half. Uruguay's sweeper, Guillermo Rodriguez, backpedaled and attempted to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, Martin Silva. Off-balance, Rodriguez headed the ball over a stranded Silva and into the Uruguayan net.
Uruguay fought right back, drawing a penalty less than two minutes later when Ryan Cochrane was whistled for a push in the box on Uruguayan forward William Ferreira. Ferreira then beat Cronin from 12 yards, pushing the ball into the left side of the net as Cronin dove to the right.
The U.S. regained the lead from the penalty spot in the 34th minute, after Chad Marshall was pulled down in the penalty area during a U.S. corner kick. U.S. midfielder Ned Grabavoy wasted no time in dispensing the ensuing penalty kick into the left side of the Uruguayan net. It was the second time in three games that Marshall has been pulled down in the box and earned U.S. penalty kick.
The USA's speed and skill frustrated Uruguay, and the South Americans tried to combat that combination with physical play. The teams combined for 42 fouls, 11 cautions and two red cards in the 80-minute match.
In classification games tomorrow that will take place before the U.S. meets Brazil in the final, Gabon and Ukraine meet in the 7th-place match, European powers Italy and Spain play for 5th place and Uruguay faces Costa Rica for third place.
Tomorrow's match will be the Under-20s final international game before World Youth Championship qualifying at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., from November 13-17. The top two teams from the four-team qualifying tournament in Charleston will qualify for the 2003 World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16, 2003.
Game Notes: The U.S. wore white jerseys with blue shorts and white socks ... Rongen started the same 11 as he did in the Brazil match on Saturday and the Italy match on Monday ... Barclay will miss the match against Brazil after earning his third yellow card of the tournament ... Uruguay's assistant coach was ejected in the 39th minute ... Two opposing coaches have now been thrown out of matches against the U.S. in this tournament (Italy and Uruguay).