U.S. Under-20s Win CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament
Jan. 16, 2005
Carson, CA - Chevrolet Man of the Match Chad Barrett scored 90 seconds into the game to lead the U.S. to a 2-0 win over Costa Rica that gave the team the overall victory at the CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament at The Home Depot Center. The U.S. went undefeated with a 3-0 record and easily qualified for the 2005 World Youth Championships in Holland.
With the victory, the U.S. finishes atop the group with nine points, marking the first time the U.S. has gone undefeated and finished in sole possession of first place in CONCACAF qualifying. The U.S. finished tied for first place on points two other times in 1998 and 2001, both times with Costa Rica, with tie-breakers needed to determine the final standings.
The USA's 2-0 victory also was celebrated by Panama, as their 3-1 victory over Trinidad & Tobago in the early match allowed them to leapfrog Costa Rica and finish in second place to secure the second spot in the world championship from Group A. Panama and Costa Rica both finished with four points, but Panama advances with a superior number of total goals scored (4 to 3).
The U.S. scored 90 seconds into the match when Barrett collected a Sacha Kljestan pass, dribbled past four defenders and slipped a low drive past Costa Rica goalkeeper Keilor Navas. Danny Szetela provided the second strike for the U.S. in the 38th minute when he buried a pass from Charlie Davies about 12 yards out.
'We started a number of new players, but I was confident they'd be able to get the job done and they did,' said U.S. Under-20 head coach Sigi Schmid. 'While qualifying for Holland was our first objective, winning the group and going undefeated is a testament to how hard the players have worked over the past few months. Now we will concentrate on preparations for Holland over the next five-and-a-half months. '
Former Bruin coach Schmid started six new players compared to the first two qualifiers, but kept the backline of Hunter Freeman, Marvell Wynne, Patrick Phelan and Patrick Ianni. The backline was solid again, securing their second straight shutout of the tournament. The Under-20s set the record for the least amount of goals given up in CONCACAF qualifying since 1998 when the tournament was reformatted from to only two final groups of four teams.
Costa Rica was hoping for a win or a tie to secure a spot in Holland along with the U.S., but Barrett put those hopes on hold when he scorched the backline in just the second minute. Kljestan had the ball in midfield and found Barrett at the top of the box. With defenders on his back, the stout forward quickly turned towards goal, sliced through a crowd of four defenders and buried his shot past a helpless Navas. The goal was Barrett's fifth international strike with the U.S. Under-20s.
In the 38th minute, Danny Szetela provided the U.S. with a two-goal lead. Arturo Alvarez served in a cross from the left flank that was deflected towards the endline to the left of the goal. Charlie Davies did well to track down and turn sharply past a defender, before slipping in a ball across the goalmouth past Barrett to a waiting Szetela, who buried his shot past Navas from 12 yards.
The U.S. had one last chance to add to their tournament-leading 10 goals when Phelan unleashed a rocket from 20 yards toward the upper-right corner, but Navas came up with a huge save, stretching out and snagging the shot.
Barrett was named the Chevrolet Man of the Match, marking the second consecutive game in which a Bruin player received this honor (Wynne was honored after the United States' 2-0 win over Panama on Friday).
This is the fifth straight time the U.S. has qualified for the world championship and their tenth overall. The U.S. qualifying streak ties Mexico's five straight (1977, '79, '81, '83, '85).
The other two teams that will represent CONCACAF at the world championship will come from the CONCACAF U-20 Group B, which includes Honduras, Mexico, Canada and Jamaica. The tournament will be played in San Pedro Sula, Honduras from Jan. 26-30.
In Holland, the U.S. will look to improve on its impressive fifth place finish in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, when they reached the quarterfinals before falling to Argentina in overtime. The 24-team tournament will take place at five venues in Holland with games in Doetinchem, Emmen, Enschede, Kerkrade, Tilburg and Utrecht.
Along with the U.S. and the host, ten other teams have already booked a place at the world championship. Korea Republic, China PR, Japan and Syria are the Asia qualifiers and Spain, Turkey, Ukraine, Switzerland, Italy and Germany are in from Europe.