SUWON, South Korea - The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team fell 1-0 to South Korea during a freezing cold evening at Suwon World Cup Stadium in their second match of the Suwon International Youth Football Tournament in Suwon, South Korea. Crew midfielder Danny Szetela started and played 76 minutes. The U.S. will next face Egypt in their third and final match on Saturday, March 26 at 12:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on March 25) at Suwon World Cup Stadium. In the earlier match, Egypt was reduced to 10 men 10 minutes in and could never recover as Argentina cruised to a 4-0 victory.
The U.S. started a completely different line-up from the one that defeated Argentina two days earlier, as head coach Sigi Schmid gave nine different players a look as he continues to try and solidify the starting eleven he will use for the upcoming FIFA World Youth Championship. It was the first international cap for defender Sean Franklin as he started at right back, while Brad Evans got his first international start after notching his first cap against Argentina.
The U.S. struggled offensively in the first half and didn't get a single shot on goal, but Korea didn't fair much better with only two early attempts before putting pressure on the U.S. in the final few minutes and eventually capitalizing off a corner kick. The ball was headed clear of the box, but Yong Rae Lee blasted the bouncing ball from 24 yards out, placing it just inside the right post for the eventual game-winner.
The match was the first international loss for Schmid since taking over in late October last year, breaking his eight-game winning streak.
"We played with a much different lineup than we did in our first game and we struggled a bit tonight," said Schmid. "Korea is a good team. They play with a lot of energy and they make the field small defensively at the right times. We needed to use this trip to look at players, so while we are disappointed that we lost that is something that we accomplished."
Korea dictated the pace and flow of the game in the first 10 minutes, keeping most of the play in the U.S. defensive half. In the third minute, Korea took its first shot when defender Greg Dalby's header clearance fell to Byong Hun On 25 yards from goal, but the U.S. goalkeeper Andrew Kartunen was able to dive to his right for the relatively easy save.
In the 15th minute, the U.S. had a great chance as the two players getting their first international starts almost hooked up for the equalizer. The ball got knocked down the right flank for Franklin who raced up from his right back position and served in a cross for Evans near the top of the six-yard box, but he couldn't get a foot to the ball as it passed by.
Until the final minutes, the rest of the half was mostly a possession game as both Korea and the U.S. back lines did well to squash any opportunities on goal. The U.S. did much better tonight with their marking and one-on-one defending, not letting the Koreans slip into any gaps and get in behind for the majority of the first 45 minutes. Korea was just as stringent though as it seemed they were able to shut down every U.S. attack at the last moment, not letting the U.S. get a single shot on goal in the first half.
Dalby, wearing the captain's armband for his first time with the Under-20s, was especially efficient from his central midfield position, winning head balls and making tackles, while at the same time showing composure to find the open man to keep possession and start an attack from the back.
After the quiet spell, Korea broke through with a chance in the 42nd minute when Rae Lee slipped a ball into the box on the right side for Young Rok Shin, who was able to unleash a shot from 12 yards out before Robby Rogers could recover, but Kartunen was able to parry the shot out for a corner.
The game-winning goal came off the ensuing corner kick when Evans headed it out of the area only to see it bounce once before Rae Lee hit a blistering volley that streaked to the right side of the goal past the outstretched hands of Kartunen.
Eddie Gaven replaced Sacha Kljestan in the midfield to start the second half and he quickly created a corner that led to a chance for the U.S. just minutes after the whistle. Gaven hustled to a ball rolling toward the endline and forced defender Han Yoo Lee try and make a play with the ball rather than having the luxury of letting it roll out. On the ensuing corner, the ball was headed clear, but defender Nathan Sturgis ran onto the loose ball and tried to duplicate the goal he scored against Poland the last time the U-20s played in Korea, but his 35-yard blast went a few feet wide right.
Shortly after in the 50th minute, the U.S. doubled its shot output when Evans got dispossessed while dribbling near the top of the box and Franklin stepped up to hit the loose ball. The defender struck it low towards the left post, forcing 'keeper Sung Ryong Jung to make his only save of the match.
Korea had the next two chances, but Rae Lee's strike from the top of the of the box in the 59th minute was well wide, while Seung Min Baek's attempt from almost the exact same location five minutes later was easily snagged by Kartunen.
The last chance for the U.S. came in the 73rd minute when Arturo Alvarez slipped a ball through a tight space to substitute Chad Barrett, who was left unmarked at the top of the box. Barrett took a settling touch before hitting a left-footed attempt, but he didn't hit it cleanly and the ball went harmlessly over the endline wide right.
Kartunen did well to keep it a one-goal game with two saves at the end of the match. The first came when he was well-placed at the right post to deflect an attempt by In Whan Jung in the 85th minute. Five minutes later, Young Tae Boo put Seung Hyun Lee through on a breakaway, but Kartunen cut off his angle and then made a kick save on the striker's shot from the top of the box.