Three Bruins Named To U.S. Soccer U-20 World Championship Team
June 5, 2001
Chicago, IL - Less than two weeks before opening the XIth FIFA World Youth Championship with a match against China, U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz has announced his 18-man roster that will represent the United States in Argentina. The final roster includes UCLA freshmen Nelson Akwari (Houston, TX), DJ Countess (Sacramento, CA) and Alex Yi (Easton, MD).
The U.S. team will forego a domestic training camp and will depart directly for Argentina on June 9, with the team's four MLS professionals joining the team the following day after playing MLS games on Saturday (June 9). The United States will be competing in its third consecutive World Youth Championship for the first time in U.S. Soccer history.
'After nearly two years of preparing and practicing, we are more than excited to get the tournament started,' U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. 'I honestly think that if our team plays well, we can play with any team in the world. Now we just have to go to Argentina to prove it.'
The U.S. roster is strikingly similar to the team Suhnholz used at the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in Tunapuna, Trinidad in March, with 17 of the 18 players returning. The U.S. outscored their opponents 11-2 in three games on the Carribean island to advance to the World Youth Championship in Argentina. Countess was named the tournament's most outstanding goalkeeper, allowing only one goal in two games, and DaMarcus Beasley was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player and finished with three goals and four assists.
Seven members of Suhnholz's squad played on the team that advanced to the 1999 Under-17 World Championship semifinals, including Akwari, Countess and Yi.
The team will have more professional experience than any other U.S. Under-20 team ever fielded. The MLS foursome of Landon Donovan, Bobby Convey, Beasley and Edson Buddle have combined for four goals and 10 assists in the young 2001 season. Also on the team is 2000 Olympian Conor Casey.
The U.S. will kick off the 2001 FIFA World Youth Championship on the tournament's opening day, June 17, against China. The U.S. will complete Group C play against Chile on June 20 and UEFA runner-ups Ukraine on June 23. All three of the USA's first round games will take place in Mendoza, at the Stadium Malvinas Argentinas. The top two teams from each group advance to the round of 16, as do the top four third-place teams.
The USA finished 11th at the 1999 World Youth Championship in Nigeria, losing only to eventual finalists Japan and Spain. The USA's best finish came in 1989, when Kasey Keller guided the Americans to a spot in the semifinals and a fourth-place finish.