CHICAGO - U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team head coach Sigi Schmid has named a 20-man roster, including Crew midfielder Danny Szetela, for the Suwon International Youth Football Tournament in Suwon, South Korea, from March 22-26. The Under-20s will face Argentina, Egypt and South Korea in the four-team tournament, which will serve as preparation for the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Holland from June 10-July 2.
The U.S. will arrive in South Korea early on Sunday, March 20, and have two days of training before opening the round-robin tournament against Argentina on Tuesday, March 22 at 4:30 p.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET). The U.S. will then meet the host two days later at 7 p.m. local time (5 a.m. ET), before concluding play against Egypt on Saturday, March 26 at 12:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on Friday, March 25). All of the matches in the tournament will be played at Suwon World Cup Stadium, the location of the full U.S. Men's National Team's historic 3-2 upset of Portugal in their opening match of the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
In an interesting twist of fate, the U.S. was recently drawn into Group D of the FIFA World Youth Championship with two of the opponents they will face in Suwon - Argentina and Egypt. At the WYC, the U.S. is scheduled to play all their group games at Enschede Stadium in Enschede, Holland, opening up the tournament against Argentina on June 11, before meeting Germany on June 14 and finishing group play against Egypt on June 18.
"We're excited to get to play in such a high-level tournament against some of the best teams at this age level," said Schmid. "It is a bit unusual to go up against teams that you will face in the World Youth Championship so close to the tournament, but that doesn't overshadow the importance of going against quality teams as we begin our preparations."
This is the second trip to the Asian country in the past 10 months for the Under-20s, as the U.S. traveled to the southern city of Busan for the Four Nations International Tournament this past June. With Thomas Rongen the head coach at the time, the U.S. finished third in the tournament, falling to South Korea 1-0 in the opening match in front of 30,000 fans, before dropping a tough 2-1 decision to Brazil and then drawing with Poland in their final match.
The U.S. will only be missing two players that were on the 18-man roster during the CONCACAF qualifying tournament, which took place this January in Carson, Calif. Midfielder Freddy Adu, one of the U-20s most experienced and dangerous players, will be unable to make the trip due to commitments with his MLS club, D.C. United. Due to an injury, UCLA defender Marvell Wynne will also be unable to participate in the Suwon Cup.
Of the nine professionals heading to Korea, the soft-spoken Eddie Gaven is the most experienced. The 18-year-old MetroStars midfielder has already become one of the best players in the league in just a year-and-a-half, being named to the MLS Best XI and earning a starting position on the Eastern Conference All-Star Team in 2004. At age 17 and 260 days, Gaven became the fourth youngest player in U.S. Men's National Team history to earn a cap when he came on as a substitute against Poland on July 11, 2004. Most recently, Gaven notched a hat trick for the U-20s during their 6-1 opening match victory against Trinidad & Tobago in the CONCACAF qualifying tournament.
Of the remaining eight professionals on the roster, six are currently plying their trade in the MLS, while first-choice goalkeeper Quentin Westberg is playing overseas with ESTAC Troyes in France and defender Sammy Ochoa is with Tecos in Mexico. Danny Szetela, who scored a goal against Costa Rica in qualifying, will be looking to burst into the starting squad with the Columbus Crew after joining the team midway through the season last year. Arturo Alvarez will be looking to do the same after moving from the San Jose Earthquakes to FC Dallas in a trade this past off-season.
The final four professionals were just recently drafted during the 2005 MLS SuperDraft in January, with Chad Barrett (Chicago Fire), Hunter Freeman (Colorado Rapids) and Tim Ward (MetroStars) getting picked in the first round, and Will John (Chicago Fire) getting nabbed in the second round. During qualifying for the world championship, Barrett and Freeman started all three matches, with Barrett scoring the game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory over Costa Rica.
Eight of the 10 college players on the roster were part of the qualifying tournament. The center back duo of Patrick Phelan (Wake Forest) and Patrick Ianni (UCLA) led a defense that only allowed one goal during qualifying, while Greg Dalby (Notre Dame), Benny Feilhaber (UCLA), Sacha Kljestan (Seton Hall) were part of a dangerous midfield that controlled the flow and sprung quick attacks forward. Up front, Charlie Davies (Boston College) notched one assist and Jacob Peterson (Indiana) scored a goal during qualifying. Goalkeeper Andrew Kartunen (Stanford) helped the U.S. secure their second shutout of the tournament with three saves against Costa Rica in their final group match.
The final few players on the roster have all spent time with the U-20s. Nathan Sturgis (Clemson) was an alternate for the qualifying tournament, while Virginia high schooler Robby Rogers and Sean Franklin (CSU-Northridge) were part of the team's latest camp in Bradenton, Fla.
Along with the U.S., all three of its opponents comfortably qualified for the FIFA World Youth Championship. Argentina advanced by finishing third in the South American qualifying tournament, while Egypt qualified for their third world championship with a second place finish at the African Youth Championship and South Korea advanced by winning the U-19 Asian Youth Championship.
The U.S. qualified for Holland '05 with a first-place finish in Group A of the CONCACAF Under-20 qualifying tournament at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in January. The U.S. opened the tournament with a 6-1 thrashing of Trinidad & Tobago before collecting identical 2-0 shutouts against Panama and Costa Rica. The impressive performance marked the first time the U.S. U-20s went undefeated and finished in sole possession of first place in CONCACAF qualifying.
Since taking over as head coach of the Under-20s in late October, Schmid has gone undefeated (7-0) in international matches, beginning with impressive victories over CONCACAF counterparts Mexico (2-1) and Honduras (2-0) in Fort Lauderdale in November. Over the past two years, the Under-20s have amassed a 9-4-4 international record (17-8-8 overall).