BACOLET, Tobago (March 8, 2009) – The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team played to a scoreless draw against Honduras in Group A action on Sunday night at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship at Dwight Yorke Stadium in Bacolet, Tobago.
The draw keeps the U.S. atop of the group with four points. Jamaica, after a 2-1 win against El Salvador, has three points, Honduras has two points and El Salvador has one. All four teams are still in the running to advance to both the semifinals of the tournament and the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
The U.S. controls its own fate and can secure advancement as one of the top two teams in the group with a win or tie against El Salvador on Tuesday, March 10. Kickoff for the USA's final group match is 7 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET). Before the U.S. kicks off, Jamaica and Honduras will play their final group game and the match could have major implications for the Americans. If those two teams tie, the U.S. would also be able to advance with a loss to El Salvador.
"As we had anticipated, the game against Honduras was very tough," said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. "We are happy that we were able to put ourselves in a good position to determine our own fate heading into our last game against El Salvador."Honduras kept the U.S. under pressure throughout the game and in just the fifth minute, Roger Rojas nearly gave the Central Americans the lead. Mario Martinez, who was dangerous on the left wing throughout the game, hit a low driven ball across the goal mouth. Rojas got a foot to it but ussoccer.com Man of the Match Brian Perk made a great reaction save, the first of many for him on the night, to keep the game scoreless.
The U.S. was able to regroup during a break in play in the 35th minute when the stadium lights went out, leaving the venue completely dark. Following the 10-minute delay, the U.S. came out firing, creating some of their best opportunities of the night. Sheanon Williams created three dangerous opportunities with his long throw-ins, but Honduras did well to defend in their own goal area to clear them away. Brek Shea earned a U.S. free kick in the 36th minute, setting Dilly Duka up from about 25 yards, but Duka's shot missed the target.
Continuing the pressure, Peri Marosevic set up Jared Jeffrey by holding the ball up and laying it off to the midfielder about 20 yards from goal. Jeffrey smacked a one-timer that went high over the net, leaving the game scoreless heading into the half. Similar to the start of the game, Honduras came out of the locker room firing. This time it was Erick Salvador Andino who ripped a shot from long range that forced Perk into a one handed save as he was able to tip the ball over the crossbar. Honduras would finish the game with 11 corner kicks. In the 60th minute, midfielder Billy Schuler, who had entered the game just minutes earlier, was issued a straight red card for a tackle against Jose Israel Fonseca, forcing the U.S. to play a man down for the remainder of the game.
Despite being down a man, second-half substitute Brian Ownby was able to spark the U.S. attack with his speed down the right wing. In the 70th minute, he dribbled through a pair of Honduras defenders and played the ball across the goal looking for Shea, but it was just out of reach. Honduras had an opportunity to take a late lead when Jose Francisco Valladares surprised the U.S. defense by hitting a shot from long range that just missed the far post. In stoppage time, a pair of corner kicks were cleared out by the U.S. defense just seconds before the final whistle ended the game scoreless.
The match was the eighth meeting at the U-20 level between the USA and Honduras in CONCACAF qualifying. Honduras has won half of the encounters, while the United States has been victorious just once.The U.S. will be looking to secure a berth in a record seventh-straight FIFA Under-20 World Cup. The 2009 edition of that tournament will be held from Sept. 24-Oct.16 in Egypt.
The U.S. has also clinched the top place in Group A and will advance to the semifinals on March 13 at Marvin Lee Stadium in Macoya, Trinidad, against a Group B opponent to be determined. Group B consists of Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago. The third-place game and final will be held on Sunday, March 15. With 11 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.
USA: 24-Brian Perk; 4-Sheanon Williams, 22-Gale Agbossoumonde, 2-Kyle Davies (capt.), 3-Anthony Wallace; 8-Jared Jeffrey, 10-Dilly Duka, 12-Bryan Arguez (16-Billy Schuler, 53); 7-Danny Cruz (15-Brian Ownby, 58), 9-Peri Marosevic, 23-Brek Shea Subs not used: 5-Aaron Maund, 6-Amobi Okugo, 11-Jorge Flores, 13-Tony Taylor, 18-Josh Lambo Subs not available: 1-Sean Johnson, 14-Sam Garza Head coach: Thomas Rongen
HON: 1-Francisco Javier Reyes; 3-Angel Gabriel Castro, 4-Wilmer Crisanto Casildo, 5-Jose Israel Fonseca, 7-Mario Roberto Martinez, 8-Reinieri Joel Mayorquin (capt.), 10-Erick Salvador Andino, 11-Roger Fabricio Rojas (19-Jose Francisco Valladares, 83), 13-Ronald Edgardo Martinez (6-Esdras Isai Padilla, 54), 16-Johnny Harold Leveron, 20-Alfredo Antonio Mejia Subs not used: 2-Porfirio Andres Boquin, 12-Jose Alberto Mendoza, 14-Cristhian Josue Altamirano, 17-Erick Ernesto Zepeda, 18-Julio de Jesus Ocampo, Subs not available: 9-Julio Ernesto Canales, 15-Antony Ruben Lozano Head Coach: Eugenio Emilio Umanzor