U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen (along with some U.S. Soccer administrators) will be heading to Egypt one week from today for their first glimpse of the FIFA U-20 World Cup venues and of course to attend the draw which will be held on Sunday, April 5.
The 24 participating teams have all been decided by now…
Australia, Korea Republic, United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan (Asian zone); Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa (African zone); Czech Republic, England, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Spain (European zone): Costa Rica, Honduras, Trinidad & Tobago and USA (North, Central America and Caribbean zone); Tahiti (Oceania); Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (South American zone); and Egypt.
…and they will be drawn into six groups, A through F, with each group having four teams.
Of course, ussoccer.com will have the information once the draw is completed, including some reaction from Rongen and information on the USA’s group opponents, so stay tuned!
Friday, March 27, 2009
U.S. U-20 MNT head coach Thomas Rongen (along with some U.S. Soccer administrators) will be heading to Egypt one week from today for their first glimpse of the FIFA U-20 World Cup venues and of course to attend the draw which will be held on Sunday, April 5.
Posted at 11:32 AM
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Nine teams have already earned their respective berths to the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup as African qualifying wraps up this week. In a setup similar to the CONCACAF U-17 Championship that kicks off in a few weeks, semifinalists from the CAF Championship are the four who book their place in the FIFA event.
Joining World Cup hosts Nigeria, Algeria has qualified for the event for the first time with a pair of 1-0 wins against Cameroon and Guinea. They joined Gambia, also winners against Guinea and Cameroon, from Group A of the confederation championship.
From Group B, Niger turned a pair of victories against Zimbabwe and Malawi to quickly seal advancement to the World Cup. Burkina Faso also earned a place in the final four - and consequently in Nigeria - with a 2-0 defeat of Malawi.
The quartet from Africa will join up with already qualified Nigeria (hosts), Iran, Japan, Korea Republic and UAE (Asia). The representatives from the other FIFA confederations will be decided later in the year.
Posted at 10:52 AM
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
The team did what it set out to do - qualify for a seventh-straight FIFA U-20 World Cup - and qualify they did. The U.S., Costa Rica, Honduras and Trinidad & Tobago will all represent CONCACAF in Egypt from Sept. 24-Oct. 16. They will learn their group opponents, venues and dates at the draw ceremony, which will be held on April 5.
You can check out more on Sunday night's final, including a photo gallery and some post-game and tournament thoughts from the players, by checking out ussoccer.com
Posted at 11:31 AM
Monday, March 16, 2009
We'll have more from T&T as soon as we find a reliable internet connection....
Posted at 1:15 PM
Sunday, March 15, 2009
U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen has named eight new starters for tonight's final against Costa Rica... They'll return to the traditional 4-3-3 and here is who's playing where:
Okugo - Maund - Davies - Flores
Arguez - Wallace - Jeffrey
Garza - Schuler - Shea
Stay tuned to ussoccer.com's MatchTracker for more as we head toward kickoff!
Posted at 6:25 PM
Saturday, March 14, 2009
It's been the same routine for the team before every game and it has been a winning formula so far! Stay tuned to MatchTracker to see if the U.S. can go the entire length of the tournament without conceding a goal and whether a sixth player can score a sixth goal
Here are a few other fun facts about tomorrow's game:
- While never winning a regional championship, the U.S. still stands alone by qualifying for a CONCACAF-best 12 FIFA U-20 World Cups. Heading into the 2009 qualifying tournament, the U.S. and Mexico had both qualified for 11 times, but the U.S. now holds the title after qualifying for Egypt, while Mexico was knocked out of contention in Group B after just two games.
- The United States has not lost in 10 games in CONCACAF U-20 play, with their last defeat coming at the hands of Canada in 2002 (a 3-2 loss). The U.S. has also not allowed a goal in its last six matches, dating back to a 4-1 victory over Haiti in its opening match of Group B in 2007.
- The U.S. and Costa Rica have met nine times in CONCACAF Qualifying, with the U.S. holding a slight advantage with three wins and two losses to go along with four draws. The last time Costa Rica beat the U.S. was on April 20, 1988, in Guatemala. The two teams were in separate groups in the last round of qualifying in 2007, but met in 2005, with the U.S. earning a 2-0 victory in Group B.
- All 20 players will be available for selection on Sunday, with Brek Shea and Jorge Flores returning from red card suspensions they served during Friday’s semifinal.
Posted at 9:40 PM
Posted at 8:47 PM
After our bus used a police escort fit for a President to get TO the stadium yesterday, the ride home didn't go as smoothly. A few miles into our 25 minute ride back to the hotel, the power on the bus went out.... seconds later, the engine stopped running and everything shut completely off!
Seconds later, our driver got the engine running again to loud cheers... but they were quickly quieted after the engine failed to engage. As our driver and security guard started to come up with a Plan B, the engine finally turned over and we were back on our way.
The whole event took just minutes, but we were all starting to think what would happen if we were stuck on a bus with a USA sign minutes away from the stadium, right after we beat the host country....
Posted at 11:36 AM
The big news in T&T that we have been hearing about, really since we got here, is the upcoming Summit of the Americas that is coming to Port of Spain in May. Dignitaries from all over the region will be descending on Trinidad - including President Obama - and local officials decided that it would be a good idea to practice.
With President Obama's arrival scheduled for a Friday evening, what better way to test the travel routes than to use another Friday evening event for practice?
Yep, that's right... streets all over Trinidad were closed yesterday and the police used their hours of police escort training on the four team buses that were used for yesterday's semifinals. Traffic here tends to be pretty bad, as we noticed on our hour long drive to training on Thursday. How long did it take on closed roads surrounded by a motorcade? 14 minutes.
We are staying right across the street from where the U.S. delegation will be staying for the summit and Marvin Lee Stadium is in the direction of the airport so we think it was a pretty accurate assessment.
Posted at 11:30 AM
Thursday, March 12, 2009
We realized while reading this interview that we have three players on the U-20s whose first and last name start with the same letter: Dilly Duka, Jared Jeffrey and Tony Taylor (okay, Tony is kind of cheating because Antonio is his middle name – his first name is Alejandro, but it’s our blog). We wondered... is this something that's fairly common? Do a lot of people use this alliteration when naming their children? Do other people notice these things?
We found 32 current and former senior MNT Players who share this trait (caps in parenthesis):
Amr Aly (8), Andy Auld (5), Boris Bandov (33), Barry Barto 16), Barney Battles (1), Brian Benedict (4), Brian Bliss (33), Bobby Boswell (3), Ben Brewster (1), Carmen Capurro (2), Conor Casey (9), Cornelius Casey (4), Cecil Correa (1), David D’Errrico (19), Don Droegre (8), Eric Eichmann (29), Edward Embarger (2), Gene Geimer (6), Gene Grabowski (1), Kasey Keller (102), Lawrence Lozzano (7), Manuel Martin (9), Michael Mason (5), Mike Masters (1), Matt McKeon (2), Oguchi Onyewu (38), Peter Piertras (2), Steve Shafter (3), Steve Sharp (8), Steve Snow (2), Taylor Twellman (30), Tim Twellman (1)
And of course a handful of non-soccer celebrities (in no particular order):
Susan Sarandon, Cindy Crawford, Mark McGuire, Rob Reiner, Bob Barker, Ozzy Osbourne, Nick Nolte, Barbara Bush, Connie Chung, Alan Alda, Janet Jackson, Marilyn Monroe
Posted at 8:58 PM
After wearing the captain’s armband for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, Jared Jeffrey made the move overseas, signing with Club Brugge in Belgium. Now, as one of only three European-based players on the U.S. U-20 MNT that just qualified for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup, Jeffrey is also one of the youngest. He spoke with ussoccer.com about his role as one of the younger guys, life in Belgium and breaking away from superstitions and you can read what he had to say by clicking here.
Posted at 12:54 PM
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The U.S now knows their semifinal opponent as Group B games concluded tonight at Marvin Lee Stadium in Trinidad.....
Opponent: Trinidad & Tobago
Date: Friday, March 13
Time: Under the Lights at 8 p.m. local/ET
At Stake: A trip to the CONCACAF U-20 final on March 15
That's right... the US will take on the hosts under the lights at Marvin Lee Stadium. Should be a great atmosphere!
T&T tied Mexico 2-2 to give them five points in the group, just behind Costa Rica who won the group with seven points. Costa Rica eliminated Canada earlier in the night with a 2-1 win over the Canucks. Mexico was eliminated on Monday evening after they picked up their second loss and finished the group in last place with one point.
Posted at 9:03 PM
Jorge Flores earned his first start last night, starting at left fullback for the suspended Anthony Wallace. Flores, a midfielder for Major League Soccer's Chivas USA who scored three goals last season, has recently made the switch to fullback under Thomas Rongen and is playing the position for the first time in his career.
We asked the 19-year-old for his thoughts and here is what he had to say:
"I will play wherever the coaches want me to, whether that's at left back or left midfield. I will do my best wherever I am because that's where the team needs me. I think I did well and it felt good. I think the back four did a good job because they weren't able to get through us and I don't think I let my attacker get by me on the wing."
...and to further explain the red card:
"The player was antagonizing me, he was pinching me as we were going up the field and talking trash. I kind of threw up my arm to get him off of me and he threw up his arms and took a couple of steps backwards. I did touch him, but I think the assistant referee thought I tried to elbow him."
Posted at 1:46 PM
The U.S. will pack up their bags and take the 20 minute flight to Trinidad this afternoon after a solid effort and a 2-0 win against El Salvador last night. The U.S. dominated the majority of the game and were able to hold on to the shutout after going down to nine men in the second half.
Honduras was the other Group A team celebrating last night as they claimed the group's other place in Egypt. Some other notes from last night's game...
- The U.S. holds the CONCACAF record seventh-straight trip to the FIFA U-20 World Cup, and record 12th overall.
- Five different goal scorers have scored the USA's five goals so far in this tournament: Marosevic, Duka, Schuler, Shea and Taylor
- Five players have also started on the back four, helping to pave the way for three straight shutouts.
- Brek Shea did the airplane celebration after scoring his goal, which might not sound that intersting, except that he and roomate Dilly Duka had planned something unique ahead of time. While Shea was flying the plane, Duka did his best to form his hands into a pyramid as if they were flying to Egypt. A few other players have goal celebration ideas for the remaining games, but we're going to keep them a secret.
Posted at 9:23 AM
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
With two losses in their first two Group B games, Mexico has been mathematically eliminated from the CONCACAF Championship and the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.
El tricolores lost 1-0 to hosts T&T on Saturday and 2-0 to Canada last night, leaving the 10-time regional U-20 champions with zero points and just one game remaining. Because of a 0-0 draw between T&T and Costa Rica, both of those teams have four points and are unreachable for Mexico.
Mexico, which has reached the U-20 World Cup 10 times – second most in CONCACAF after the U.S., failed to qualify for third time in the last five tries.
Posted at 11:08 AM
Monday, March 9, 2009
a. Greater number of Points in matches between the tied teams.
b. Greater Goal Difference in matches between the tied teams (if more than two teams finish equal on
c. Greater number of goals scored in matches among the tied teams (if more than two teams finish equal on points).
d. Greater Goal difference in all group matches.
e. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches.
f. Drawing of lots.
And here how that translates to the U.S. U-20s...
- If the U.S. wins against El Salvador... they secure advancement to the U-20 World Cup
- If the U.S. ties against El Salvador... they secure advancement to the U-20 World Cup
- If the U.S. loses to El Salvador.....
....AND Jamaica ties Honduras, the U.S. secures advancement to Egypt
....and EITHER Jamaica OR Honduras wins, they will not advance out of Group A
So, there it is... the US is in control of its own destiny, with a win or a draw booking a spot in Egypt.
Posted at 5:59 PM
What a crazy couple of games last night in Group A....
The first game of the double header at Dwight Yorke Stadium - Jamaica vs. El Salvador - saw a 1-1 game in just the 11th minute, three players sent off before halftime and a team with nine men on the field eventually win the game 2-1 despite being outplayed. Near the end of the game, the Jamaican players were so tired that they were just sitting down during stoppages of play.
The USA - Honduras match started without lights but with a replaying of the Star Spangled Banner after an electrical failure. That was just the beginning though as another power failure caused a 10-minute delay in the 35th minute.
In all, the four Group A teams combined for four red cards and three goals on the night. All four are still in the running for one of the top two spots in the group and therefore, advancement to the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Tonight in Group B, both Canada and Mexico will be desperate for points tonight as they battle in the second group game in Trinidad. Costa Rica and the hosts are also squaring off tonight, with the winner securing a berth in Egypt.
Whew... we're exhausted just writing that....
Posted at 11:18 AM
We missed this yesterday, but of course in the US yesterday was the start of Daylight Savings Time. They don't change the clocks here in T&T, but of course there was still confusion among some members of the delegation... how? Well, our cell phones automatically skipped an hour ahead and with no clock radio or alarm in the rooms that's all we had to go by!
A handful of players meandered upstairs an hour early for breakfast, including roommates Brian Perk and Danny Cruz. Danny is usually a very happy guy, but apparently he had already tried to convince Perk that his clock was wrong. Upon finding out that he was right, he was happy to go back to bed, but not happy that he had listened to his roomate!
Posted at 10:14 AM
Saturday, March 7, 2009
We just realized this morning that two of the U.S. goalscorers from last night hail from New Jersey. Dilly Duka hails from Montville, N.J. and of course goes to Rutgers University. Schuler is an Allentown, N.J. native.
So be proud New Jersey... ans? ...ites? We're not sure what to call people from New Jersey actually. Thoughts/suggestions?
Posted at 1:09 PM
Let's face it - Trinidad & Tobago are far away from home. But, much to the players' delight, a handful of families were able to make the journey. Kyle Davies father and grandfather are here and Jared Jeffrey's parents arrive tonight. Aaron Maund's dad came down from Florida, and he will have a great turnout if the team makes it the semifinals in Trinidad (where he has a lot of extended family). Right now the guy with the biggest cheering section is Sheanon Williams - his mom, dad, brother and sister are all here and he is also expecting a good pro-Williams crowd if the team to Trinidad (where his parents are from)
Having parents around definitely helps make it feel like home for everyone.
Posted at 8:52 AM
You can catch Thomas Rongen and some of the players' post-game reactions from last night's impressive 3-0 win against Jamaica by watching today's episode of Studio 90. Host Michael Kammarman checks in with the U-20 MNT and the WNT while they're in the Algarve. And yes, if you're wondering, it is really dark here at night!
Posted at 7:06 AM
Thursday, March 5, 2009
We apologize for it being a little blurry, but we thought it was cool enough to share anyway. Leaving Dwight Yorke Stadium tonight, on a small patch of grass under one light and on a patch of dirt, were four men working with a boxing trainer. The man in red was hitting the pads while the two other guys were doing jumping jacks on the side. In this weather, it sure beats being in a tiny gym.
Posted at 10:47 PM
Fun things we saw on our bus ride to Dwight Yorke Stadium for tonight's official training, with some Bob Marley music playing on the speakers (it seemed perfectly fit for our drive):
- Cattle Crossing Signs - Last time the team was here, traffic stopped for nearly 20 minutes so one of the farmers could cross the main highway. Also, the main highway is just a road with one lane in each direction. No entrance ramps or anything either, just intersections
- Harrison Ford's House - Yes, THAT Harrison Ford. He has a massive mansion on the island that includes a private golf course, among other things. His many acres of land don't have ocean front, but he's halfway up a hill that we're quite sure has a fantastic view. Rumor has it that he also has a heart-shaped pool in that home
- KFC - Tobagoans apparently love the Colonel. There is even a KFC at the tiny Port of Spain airport.
- K-Mart - Okay, not the same K-Mart as the U.S., but the big sign was encouraging to the players.
- A Penn State football jersey - Can't really explain this one, but there is no question that it was an official Nittany Lion jersey, No. 34 if you were wondering
- A near crash - A risky pass of our bus nearly resulted in one car colliding head on with a car heading in the opposite direction
- Potholes the size of cars
- An impressive navigation of small city streets - Our drive is driving what is, literally, the biggest bus in Tobago, with 33 seats. It exactly holds our delegation. Our busdriver navigated the thing through the narrow one-way streets of the city of Tobago - a slight detour on our way to the stadium.
- Scarborough- the city of Scarborough has a lively population of 17,000 and is the biggest town on the island. It also has a harbor that houses the popular ferry that travels back and forth between Trinidad and Tobago
Posted at 8:57 PM
U.S. Men’s National Team members Sacha Kljestan and Eddie Lewis will appear at the FIFA Interactive World Cup 2009 U.S. Qualifiers in Santa Monica, Calif. They’ll be meeting with FIFA 09 gamers and trying their hand/laying down the law against fans and media alike. If you’re interested in attending and meeting with either player, the event will take place from 9 a.m. this Saturday, March 7 at 3rd Street Promenade in the heart of Santa Monica. Eddie will be at 11 a.m. while Sacha will be there at 1:30pm. The FIFA Interactive World Cup is a global tournament organized by FIFA themselves in conjunction with EA SPORTS. For more information on the tournament, head over to FIFA's official website.
Posted at 5:52 PM
(The bottom picture is looking away from the hotel, toward our training field. You can faintly see the lights in the middle of the photo.)
Posted at 9:22 AM
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
The team's hotel is busy tonight as Jamaica and Honduras both arrived this afternoon ahead of Friday's Group A games. The lobby is even more raucous now than it was before, but everyone is getting along just fine.
Have we mentioned that the lobby is the only place to get the wireless signal? It's also the only place we know of that has three songs on constant repeat. All. The. Time. Beware that if you're online for hours at a time (the YNT Blog knows a little something about this) that you will hear the same three island songs on repeat for the duration. We have absolutely nothing against island music, quite the contrary, we rather enjoy it. But we just know that there are more great songs than these three!
Posted at 8:46 PM
Posted at 3:24 PM
Since the U-20s have returned to the same hotel we stayed in about six weeks ago, we have been greeted by many of the hotel staff like old friends. Everyone from the waitstaff in the meal room to the people at the front desk and the bus drivers have all made us feel at home. It's nice to feel like that when we're so far from home and we very much appreciate the hospitality.
Posted at 12:08 PM
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Coach Mulqueen gives some goalkeeping tips to kids
Coach Maisonneuve leading the warm up run
Another small-sided game broke out on the sidelines
Players listen intently to Coach Rongen
Davies showing good form
Dusk hit the field...
....Right at the same time as the sunset
Mookie laughs at some of the younger kids we met today before playfully squirting them with water
Posted at 9:30 PM
This morning, to shake out the tiredness that sometimes comes with a day of travel, the team went for a scenic jog and stretch on the beach.
Posted at 4:12 PM
Well, it’s technically the dry season here in Tobago, but we woke up this morning to some light rain that seemed to have been a continuation from some overnight rain. The rain actually felt nice in the humid climate and it was gone by 10 a.m., clearing the way for sunshine and heat that seems as though it's going to stick around for the rest of the day...
Posted at 10:08 AM
Monday, March 2, 2009
The U.S. has learned its second opponent for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after Honduras topped St. Vincent & the Grenadines 3-1 in Trinidad this evening.
St. Vincent took a surprising 1-0 lead on a penalty kick, but they couldn't hang on. So now, the Group A Schedule looks like this:
Friday, March 6
USA vs. Jamaica
El Salvador vs. Honduras
Sunday, March 8
USA vs. Honduras
Jamaica vs. El Salvador
Tuesday, March 10
USA vs. El Salvador
Jamaica vs. Honduras
Posted at 9:06 PM
The U.S. team in its ever-present search for internet, might just make some new friends in Tobago thanks to the wireless that is limited to the lobby area of our hotel. Americans apparently aren't the only ones reliant on being connected - Nearly 100% of the El Salvador players have congregated in the lobby to get online. It's quite the sight, as 40 players are filling every chair trying to reach out.
Posted at 8:02 PM
We asked forward Brian Ownby to take us through what turned out to be quite a travel day from Miami to Trinidad to Tobago.
We woke up early and therefore we were all very excited to sleep on the plane. Once we hurried to check in all of our bags, the team bags and all the people, it was time to… wait in the terminal for a little while.
We finally got on the plane to Port of Spain and sat there for a while. I don’t know what happened because I fell asleep as soon as I got to my seat. Then when I woke up we were still on the ground. That’s when I knew it was going to be a long day.
I didn’t sleep the rest of the flight. My neck was sore from the chair and I just could not fall back to sleep. I tried everything – listening to music, everything.
So, I turned on my computer to watch a movie and realized I didn’t charge it all the way. Ten minutes into Stepbrothers my computer shut down. So then I went to my back up plan and pulled up my PSP to play FIFA.
Shortly after that, they came around with drinks and food. I was soooo hungry, so this was good news. Much to my dismay, I found out that the food cost money. We ended up not eating anything for the four-hour trip. I don’t think we realized that it would be so long before we got to the airport in Trinidad.
We landed and went through immigration. That took forever and we weren’t sure if one player was going to make it through because he had left his passport on the plane. Finally though, we were all legal visitors in Trinidad & Tobago.
Now, I had filled out my immigration form in pencil because I had given my pen away to someone else for their form. I had been so excited to be at the front of the line only to find out I had to go all the way to the back to re-do it in pen.
We found out we missed our original flight because of our delay, so we sat around for about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get to Tobago… it was so hot and muggy at the airport we were just sweating. Once we figured out our next flight we went to get food and I went straight for Church’s Chicken. It took forever to get that meal, and by then I was starving.
I didn’t think I’d get on the next flight because my name is low in the alphabet. But all of the sudden Marcus came over and told me I was on! I looked at the boarding time on my new boarding pass and panicked! I thought I was going to be late so I gave some of my food away to other players. I went through “security” in the “domestic terminal” and it was kind of funny. I kept my drink – the guy made me take one sip to prove it wasn’t a deadly liquid and then let me through. Needless to say it was much faster than U.S. security.
I sat down on the tiny plane and I was in row 14, which I thought would be all the way in the back so I walked through the entire plane. I got back there and realized that it only went up to 13 and that for some reason I had the very front seat. It was odd because I was facing backwards and staring at everyone the whole flight. It was a little awkward sitting and directly facing this guy who just kept talking.
The flight itself wasn’t bad. I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t lean back and the guy across from me couldn’t stop talking, but, it must have been the shortest flight I’ve ever been on – 20 minutes is a pretty quick trip.
We finally arrived at the hotel, and it is beautiful. Unfortunately there is no internet in the rooms, so that’s unfortunate. I tried calling the front desk to ask about it and then my phone stopped working halfway through the call. So, then we had to get that fixed. Overall though it’s a beautiful hotel and we are excited to be here.
By the time we settled in and ate dinner, I was so hungry. All I wanted to do was eat. I was having a nice time, enjoying meal and next thing we knew there was screaming and chanting coming from the pool nearby. Apparently El Salvador has settled in nicely and they were quite loud. But now that we’re here and unwinding, we are getting rested up and ready to go.
Posted at 7:58 PM
Sunday, March 1, 2009
You can tell we've been spoiled when 60 degrees is enough to make us shiver... those were the harsh conditions we faced today during a scrimmage against Canada -- 60 degrees, windy and cloudy. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!
Yea, we know, we're just rubbing it in....
Posted at 7:27 PM
As you can see, we are staying quite close to the Miami airport and there are a LOT of big planes flying around these parts. Inside the hotel we can't hear them much at all, but once we step outside it looks and sounds like they're heading right for us. The above picture was taken from the hotel's pool deck (we didn't use a zoom lens or anything!)
Posted at 12:19 PM