BACOLET, Tobago (March 10, 2009) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team secured a place at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup with a 2-0 win against El Salvador on Tuesday evening in their final Group A match of the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Bacolet, Tobago. The 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup will be held from Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt. The trip to Egypt marks the CONCACAF-record 12th appearance for the U.S. at the FIFA U-20 World Cup and the seventh straight.
First-half goals from Brek Shea and Tony Taylor combined with Brian Perk’s third shutout in as many games provided the U.S. with a 2-0-1 record in group play and the top spot in Group A. The U.S. advances to the semifinals where they will face the second-place finisher from Group B, which rounds out play on Wednesday night in Trinidad.
The kickoff time for the semifinal will be determined after the conclusion of the Group B matches. Honduras, who defeated Jamaica 4-0 in the other Group A game of the night, clinched second place in the group and also advanced to the World Cup. The other two CONCACAF berths will come from the top two finishers in Group B.
The U.S. finished the game with only nine players after Shea received his second yellow card in the 60th minute. Shea's first yellow came in the 26th minute after a foul on Diego Jose Chavarria. In the 60th minute he was shown a second yellow when the referee judged him to have tripped up a Salvadorian player on a 50-50 ball. With only nine players against El Salvador’s full squad, the U.S. was able to hold on for the shutout victory. Jorge Flores was sent off in the 84th minute on a straight red card for a foul that occurred away from the ball.
It was the first time that the U.S. defeated El Salvador in the U-20 qualifying tournament outside of the United States. The U.S. evened their record against the Central American side all-time in qualifying at 3-3-1.
“Even though we only needed a tie tonight, we wanted to be aggressive,” said U.S. Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen. “We did a very good job in the first half of playing together and scoring the two goals. We played three tough games and put ourselves in a position to get to Egypt, which we did. We were able to determine our own fate in this game and I couldn’t be happier with this team as they showed a lot of character through some adversity tonight.”
The game started out at a high pace, with the teams exchanging possession in the early stages. El Salvador got the first good chance of the night in the 12th minute when Fabricio Alfaro unleashed a well-struck shot from long range that looked destined for goal, but Perk responded in time to make the lunging save.
From that point on, the U.S. took control of the game, forcing several corner kicks and winning dangerous free kicks in El Salvador’s final third, but it was a nice build-up in the run of play in the 30th minute that gave them the lead. Brian Ownby, who provided tireless effort down the right wing all night, received a lofted pass from Dilly Duka, cut around his defender and struck a driven cross into the penalty area. Jared Jeffrey dummied the ball to force El Salvador goalkeeper Diego Cuelller to over-commit and leave his net wide open for Shea to easily place the pass inside the far post. Taylor entered the game in the 20th minute, marking his first international appearance, and immediately created one of the numerous dangerous chances he would have on the night, flicking a header just off target.
Five minutes before halftime, Taylor had another opportunity and this time he didn’t disappoint to give the U.S. a 2-0 lead. Peri Marosevic slipped a through ball behind El Salvador’s back line and into the box, providing the speedy Taylor time to take a touch and look up before slotting the ball inside the far post. Ownby, who was named ussoccer.com Man of the Match, continued his spectacular play into the second half, creating two opportunities early on. In the 47th minute, Ownby pounced on a deflected ball and ripped a first-time shot that went just high of Cuellar’s net, and three minutes later smacked a hard shot that deflected off a defender and nearly snuck into the goal.
The two teams combined for 44 fouls during the game, but after the U.S. went down to 10 men in the 60th minute they were content to possess the ball and maintain the lead. With rough play continuing, the U.S. went down to nine men in the 84th minute and therefore played with four defenders, four midfielders and no forwards to close out the game. With 12 FIFA U-20 World Cup appearances, the U.S. has qualified more than any other CONCACAF nation, but has never won the regional crown. In 2005 and 2007, when CONCACAF qualifying was held as two groups at two separate venues, the U.S. has won their group. In the previous three editions in 1999, 2001 and 2003, the U.S. qualified for the World Cup as the second-place finisher in their respective group.
U.S. UNDER-20 MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH REPORT
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F USA 2 0 2 SLV 0 0 0 USA – Brek Shea (Brian Ownby) 30th minute USA – Tony Taylor (Peri Marosevic) 40
USA: 24-Brian Perk; 4-Sheanon Williams, 22-Gale Agbossoumonde, 2-Kyle Davies (capt.),11-Jorge Flores; 15-Brian Ownby, 8-Jared Jeffrey, 10-Dilly Duka (5-Aaron Maund, 82), 23-Brek Shea; 9-Peri Marosevic (7-Danny Cruz, 69), 14-Sam Garza (13-Tony Taylor, 21) Subs not used: 1-Sean Johnson, 6-Amobi Okugo, 18-Josh Lambo, 12-Bryan Arguez, Subs not available: 3-Anthony Wallace, 16-Billy Schuler Head coach: Thomas Rongen
SLV: 1-Diego Andres Cuellar, 2-Cesar Antonio Lopez, 2-Andres Eduardo Menendez (14-Herbert Arnoldo Sosa, 77), 4-Moises Xavier Garcia (capt.), 6-Juan Carlos Alas, 8-Diego Jose Chavarria, 9-Andres Alexander Flores, 11-Ricardo Jose Orellana (13-Irza Romel Santos, 66), 12-Mark Lester Blanco, 15-Fabricio Alfaro (17-Gilberto Arnulfo Baires, 70), 20-Jaime Enrique Alas Subs not used: 5-Alexander Enrique Mendoza, 10-William Antonio Maldonado, 18-Oscar Daniel Arroyo, 19-Jorge Luis Moran Subs not available: 7-Irving Arnulfo Flores, 16-Nelson Ismael Rivera, Head Coach: Jose Norberto Huezo