U-20s Drop First Match At World Youth Championships

June 18, 2001

Mendoza, Argentina - The United States Under-20 Men's National Team fell 1-0 to China in their opening match of the XIth FIFA World Youth Championship in a cold and chilly Malvinas Argentinas Stadium in Mendoza, Argentina. Despite controlling play for the majority of the second half, the United States was unable to penetrate the Chinese defense and was shutout in an international for the second consecutive match.

The U.S. gets a chance to restart their trek to the second round when they face Chile on Wednesday, June 20, in what will be the second game of the tournament for both teams. That game can be seen on same-day delay on Galavision's East Feed (Eastern/Central/Mountain (except Arizona) ) at 9 p.m. ET, and on Galavision's West Feed (Pacific/Arizona/Alaska/Hawaii) at 9 p.m. PT.

'I am a little disappointed with the result, but on the other hand I thought we saw two good teams out there playing good soccer for the first game in this tournament,' U.S. head coach Wolfgang Suhnholz said. 'I know that China is a very good team and they gave us a lot of problems in the first half. Finally in the second half we came out and got the game under control. I think we did most of the attacking in the second half.'

While the U.S. did most of the attacking in the second half, they also did much of the defending in the first half. UCLA sophomore DJ Countess came up huge in the nets for the USA, especially in the first 45 minutes when he recorded four saves. His best save of the game kept the match scoreless in the first half when he elevated to palm a Gao Ming blast over the bar. Countess came up with five saves in the match.

The Chinese finally put one by Countess in the 50th minute, when a splitting through ball put Qu Bo in behind the U.S. defense in the right side of the penalty box. Qu carried the ball in to a one-on-one with Countess, and he placed the ball past the sliding goalkeeper. Qu Bo also scored against the full U.S. Men's National Team earlier this year, in a 2-1 U.S. win in Oakland, Calif.

Alecko Eskandarian replaced Conor Casey in the second half, and shortly thereafter found himself with a pair of opportunities to even the game. But the striker who was so sure-fire in the Toulon Festival last month was unable to bury the ball. After a brilliant combination between UCLA sophomore Alex Yi and Bobby Convey, Convey's cross to the back post found Eskandarian all alone, but he could do nothing with it. Minutes later the University of Virginia striker found himself with the ball and time at the top of the box, but he hurried his shot, and An Qi made the save from 15 yards.

Oguchi Onyewu and Yi produced solid performances in the backline, and Kelly Gray played a solid 90 minutes in his role as a defensive midfielder.

'China was a very talented team,' said Yi. 'It was very hard for us to disrupt their play.'

Countess echoed his Bruin and U.S. teammate's sentiment. 'I think that up top we had a tough time progressing the ball,' he said. 'But at the same time, China is a very good team and they did well today. Give them credit - that is just the way it happens sometimes. Defensively we did pretty well. Offensively we created chances, we just couldn't get on the end of them, unfortunately.'

The U.S. will next face Chile, in what will almost be a home match for Argentina's neighbors, on Wednesday, June 20. The U.S. will wrap up the tournament on June 23 against Ukraine, the UEFA runner-ups. The top two teams from each four-team group advances to the Round of 16, as do the top-four third-place group finishers.

Scoring Summary:
USA 0-0-0
CHN 0-1-1

CHN -- Qu Bo (Marco Ferro) 50th minute.

USA -- 1-D.J. Countess, 5- Alex Yi, 4- Nelson Akwari - capt., 3-Oguchi Onyewu, 11-Bobby Convey, 6-Kelly Gray, 15-Brian Carroll (2-PhilipSalyer, 86), 13-Kyle Martino (17-Edson Buddle, 63), 7-DaMarcus Beasley, 10-Landon Donovan, 17-Conor Casey (8-Alecko Eskandarian, 57).

CHN -- 1-An Qi, 3-Du Wei-capt., 4-Zhou Lin, 5-Wang Sheng, 6-Hu Zhaojun, 8-Gao Ming, 10- Yan Song (13-Wang Xinxin, 65), 14-Xu Linag, 15-Yaokun Zhang, 16-Qu Bo (2-Ma Yi, 64), 17-Yu Tao.

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