Alvarez named to US U-20 roster

United States Under-20 men’s national team head coach Thomas Rongen named his 23-player roster that will face defending Under-20 FIFA World Champion Brazil at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Fans can follow the game live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. Of the players selected, a total of six are playing professionally, with five players representing teams in Major League Soccer.

The morning after the match with Brazil, the majority of the Under-20 roster will travel to Busan, South Korea to participate in the Busan Four Nations International Tournament. The U.S. will play South Korea, Poland and Brazil once again in a round-robin format.

“Facing the reigning world champion twice in two weeks will be a great test for us while we continue to identify our qualifying roster for next year,” said Rongen. “We’re also looking forward to meeting South Korea and Poland, two of the top youth teams in the world as they will provide us with a tough challenge in Busan.”

Advance tickets for the June 16 match against Brazil are $20 for adults and $10 for kids under the age of 12 and are on sale now through Complete Ticket Solutions. Groups of 25 or more can get a $2 discount per ticket by calling the box office at 1-877-877-7677.

Rongen continues to sort through the U.S. U-20 player pool in preparation for the CONCACAF U-20 Qualifying Tournament in January 2005. Fourteen players on the roster were also part of the U-20 camp in March, which featured a 1-0 victory over Haiti Select on March 21, at Lockhart Stadium.

Leading the way on the roster are five MLS players, including Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Arturo Alvarez (San Jose Earthquakes), Craig Capano (Chicago Fire), Eddie Gaven (MetroStars) and Guillermo Gonzalez (Los Angeles Galaxy). The final professional player is goalkeeper Quentin Westberg, who plays for ESTAC Troyes in the second division in France.

Adu, who turned 15 last week, and Gaven are two of the most promising young players in MLS and in the U.S. national youth system. A third of the way through the season, Adu has played in all 11 games for United, starting five, while registering two goals and one assist for five points on the year. Despite being the youngest player to ever take the field in the MLS, Adu has demonstrated his deft touch and goal-scoring instincts that made him worthy of the first overall pick in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft.

While Adu may be considered the most threatening player on the Under-20s, the 17-year-old Gaven is the general of the team, directing play from his central midfield position. Gaven, who was the youngest player to play in the MLS before Adu got his first minute this year, is quickly becoming one of the top players in the league, as his tireless work rate and knack for always being around the ball has solidified his starting role with the MetroStars. The New Jersey native has played all but 10 minutes of the MetroStars first nine games and is tied for second in the league in assists with four.

Capano, Alvarez and Gonzalez have seen less time with their respective clubs so far this season, but Rongen will be looking for their experience to help direct the team. Capano was the hero for the U-20s against Haiti Select, scoring the winning goal with a 20-yard strike that nicked the left post and deflected into the net.

Westberg was a member of the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team that finished in eighth place at the 2003 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Finland. This will be his first time Westberg will suit up for the U.S. since falling to Brazil 3-0 in the quarterfinals.

Rounding out the rest of the roster is a collection of top college and high school players, many of which are recent graduates of U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. Along with Adu, midfielder Danny Szetela and defenders Nathan Sturgis, Julian Valentin and Tim Ward just graduated in May, while Steve Curfman (Wake Forest), John DiRaimondo (St. Louis University), Jamie Watson (UNC), Capano, Gaven and Gonzalez all moved on in the past two years.

The U.S. Under-20 players and coaches will be available to the media prior to the Brazil match at the Sunrise Hilton in Sunrise, Fla., on Monday, June 14 at 1 p.m., and after practice on Tuesday, June 15 at 6 p.m. All media requests must be pre-arranged by contacting team press officer Neil Buethe in the U.S. Soccer Communications Department at 312-528-1270 or on his cell at 312-371-2724. All requests for Freddy Adu must be made for Monday, as he will not be available to the media on Tuesday.

After the match, Adu, Alvarez, Capano and Gaven will all travel back to their respective MLS clubs, while the rest of the team will leave for South Korea. The U-20s will have a few days of training before facing South Korea in the opening match of the tournament on June 22. The U.S. will then face Brazil on June 24 and finish the round-robin play against Poland on Feb. 26. All the matches will take place at Busan Asiad Main Stadium.

The U.S. and Brazil last met at this age group in the final of the 2002 C.O.T.I.F. XIX Torneig International in L’Alcudia, Spain on Aug. 29, with the U.S. falling 1-0. The U.S also faced Brazil in their first match of the tournament, taking a 1-0 lead before being reduced to ten men and allowing Brazil to find the back of the net twice for a 2-1 comeback win.

The U.S. and Brazil last met at this age group in the final of the 2002 C.O.T.I.F. XIX Torneig International in L’Alcudia, Spain on Aug. 29, with the U.S. falling 1-0. The U.S also faced Brazil in their first match of the tournament, taking a 1-0 lead before being reduced to ten men and allowing Brazil to find the back of the net twice for a 2-1 comeback win.

The U.S. is scheduled to host one half of the CONCACAF Under-20 Qualifying Tournament sometime in January 2005 at a venue to be determined. The U.S. will be attempting to qualify for their fifth consecutive FIFA World Youth Championship, which will be held in Holland in June and July 2005.


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