Perk Leads U.S. To Quarterfinals Of FIFA Under-20 World Cup

July 11, 2007

Starting in the biggest game of his young career, UCLA sophomore goalkeeper Brian Perk helped lead the U.S. Under-20 National Team to a 2-1 overtime victory over Uruguay in the Round of 16 at the 2007 FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Toronto.

The 17 year-old Perk saw the pitch for the first time in the Tournament due to an injury to regular starting goalkeeper Chris Seitz. Perk, who was joined in the starting lineup by his Bruin teammates Sal Zizzo and Tony Beltran, made six saves, including three in overtime, and was named the Sierra Mist Man of the Match by U.S. Soccer.

The U.S. had to come from behind to win the match. Uruguay broke a scoreless tie in the 73rd minute when an unmarked Edinson Cavani sent in a header in front of the net. Perk made a nice diving save to stop the shot, but he could not hang on to the ball, and the rebound went right to Luis Suarez for the goal.

With three minutes to play, however, the United States' Danny Szetela sent a cross past the Uruguayan keeper Yonatan Irrazabal, and Andre Akpan's pressure forced Uruguayan defender Mathias Cardaccio to put the ball through his own net for the U.S. equalizer. Uruguay nearly won it at the end of regulation, but Manuel Diaz's header hit the right post.

In the second minute of the second overtime period, a Freddy Adu corner kick was played out to Julian Valentin, whose cross to the far post found Michael Bradley for the go-ahead goal.

'We knew this would be a hard game,' said U.S. coach Thomas Rongen. 'Uruguay was the toughest third place finisher we could have faced. They're a high-quality team with many dangerous players and ways to hurt you. It was a hard-fought game which went all the way to the wire. Our regular keeper Chris Seitz couldn't play after a collision in the game against Brazil, but Perk came in and did the job for us. We haven't had too many tough games like this so far, hard physical battles, but we stayed strong and showed them that we could mix it up too. We showed great heart today.'

The U.S. advances to the quarterfinals to face Austria on July 14 in Toronto.

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