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U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team opens FIFA U-20 World Cup vs. Spain today in Istanbul, Turkey

The U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team and head coach Tab Ramos have been working toward this moment for the past year and a half and the big day arrives when the USA faces Spain today in the opener of the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Istanbul, Turkey. The Group A game at Ali Sami Yen Arena kicks off at 9 p.m. local (2 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast live on ESPN2, WatchESPN and Univision Deportes.

“We’re very excited to be here competing in the World Cup and in Group A with some of the best teams in the world and some legitimate contenders to win the World Cup,” U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos said. “I think that’s a good thing for our players. I’m also excited that this is the culmination of a year and a half of work and to see what we have put together and how competitive we are with the rest of the world. We feel very good about our roster and the players we have selected, and we certainly feel like we have good talent here with us.”

USA’S U-20 WORLD CUP HISTORY

  • The 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup marks the USA’s 13th appearance in this tournament. (13 for ’13: A Retrospective Look at the USA’s U-20 World Cup History)
  • The U.S. has advanced through the group stage of the tournament eight times.
  • In 1981, the USA debuted in the FIFA World Youth Championship, playing 1981 runner-up Qatar to a 1-1 draw but dropping its other games to Uruguay and Poland. Mark Devey became the first U.S. player to score in the tournament during the Qatar draw on Oct. 6.
  • Thirty years ago, current U-20 MNT head coach Tab Ramos and U-20 assistant coach Hugo Perez suited up for the U.S. in the 1983 FIFA World Youth Championship. Perez scored one of the U.S. goals during the team’s opening 3-2 loss to Uruguay on June 3. Ramos was only 16 years old in that competition.
  • The U.S. earned its most lopsided victory in a FIFA World Youth Championship or FIFA U-20 World Cup against Turkey on March 7, 1993, a 6-0 victory in Group C play. Chris Faklaris scored three goals, Miles Joseph added two and Imad Baba opened the scoring.
  • In the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship, Taylor Twellman set a U.S. record with four goals in the tournament. He scored two goals during a 3-1 victory against Cameroon on April 11, followed by another brace during a 3-2 loss to eventual tournament winner Spain in the Round of 16.
  • Twellman, Eddie Johnson (2003) and Jozy Altidore (2007) are tied for the most goals scored in a U-20 World Cup or World Youth Championship with four apiece.
  • The USA’s 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship team posted three shutouts in Group D play to win that stage of the tournament in the Netherlands. Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg manned the net for those three clean sheets.
  • The best offensive performance in the FIFA U-20 World Cup came in 2007, when the USA outscored its opponents 12-6 for the tournament and won Group D. Altidore had four tallies, including two goals during a 2-1 victory against Brazil on July 6.

ROSTER BY POSITION – DETAILED ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3) : 1-Cody Cropper (Southampton FC; Maple Grove, Minn.), 12-Kendall McIntosh (Santa Clara; Santa Rosa, Calif.), 21-Zach Steffen (FC DELCO; Downington, Pa.)
DEFENDERS (7) : 13-Eric Miller (Creighton; Woodbury, Minn.), 3-Juan Pablo Ocegueda (Guadalajara; Riverside, Calif.), 5-Shane O’Neill (Colorado Rapids; Boulder, Colo.), 18-Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy; Los Angeles, Calif.), 4-Caleb Stanko (SC Freiburg; Holly, Mich.), 14-Javan Torre (UCLA; Santa Monica, Calif.), 2-DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders; Seattle, Wash.)
MIDFIELDERS (5) : 16-Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), 10-Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake; Garden Grove, Calif.), 8-Benji Joya (Santos Laguna; San Jose, Calif.), 15-Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City; Mission, Texas), 6-Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew; Gahanna, Ohio)
FORWARDS (6) : 20-Daniel Cuevas (Santos Laguna; Sacramento, Calif.), 17-Danny Garcia (FC Dallas; Dallas, Texas), 7-Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), 19-Alonso Hernandez (C.F. Monterrey; El Paso, Texas), 9-Mario Rodriguez (1. FC Kaiserslautern; North Hollywood, Calif.), 11-Jose Villarreal (LA Galaxy; Inglewood, Calif.)

2013 FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP GROUP PAIRINGS AND SCHEDULE
Group A

Date Matchup Time (local/ET) TV Arena
June 21 France vs. Ghana 6 p.m. / 11 a.m. ET ESPN3, Univision Deportes Ali Sami Yen Arena;
Istanbul
June 21 USA vs. Spain 9 p.m. / 2 p.m. ET ESPN2, WatchESPN, Univision Deportes Ali Sami Yen Arena ;
Istanbul
June 24 France vs. USA 6 p.m. / 11 a.m. ET ESPN2, WatchESPN, Univision Deportes Ali Sami Yen Arena ;
Istanbul
June 24 Spain vs. Ghana 9 p.m. / 2 p.m. ET ESPNU, WatchESPN, Univision Deportes Ali Sami Yen Arena;
Istanbul
June 27 Spain vs. France 8 p.m. / 1 p.m. ET WatchESPN (live), ESPNU (at 7 p.m. ET) Ali Sami Yen Arena;
Istanbul
June 27 Ghana vs. USA 8 p.m. / 1 p.m. ET ESPNU, WatchESPN Kadir Has Stadium; Kayseri


U.S. U-20 MNT 2013 RESULTS

Date Opponent Result/
Time (ET)
U.S. goal scorers Venue
Jan. 19 Panama 2-2 T Cuevas, Allen Estadio Olímpico; Puebla, Mexico
Jan. 21 Panama 1-2 L Villarreal (PK) La Noria FC; Puebla, Mexico
Feb. 18^ Haiti 2-1 W Gil (PK), Cuevas Estadio Olímpico; Puebla, Mexico
Feb. 22^ Costa Rica 1-0 W Villarreal Estadio Olímpico; Puebla, Mexico
Feb. 26^ Canada 4-2 W Gil, Villarreal (2), Trapp Estadio Olímpico; Puebla, Mexico
March 1^ Cuba 2-0 W Rodriguez, Cuevas Estadio Cuauhtémoc; Puebla, Mexico
March 3^ Mexico 1-3 L (ot) Joya (PK) Estadio Cuauhtémoc; Puebla, Mexico
May 28* France 1-4 L Joya Stade Léo Lagrange; Toulon, France
May 30* Colombia 1-2 L Garcia Stade des Costieres, Nimes, France
June 1* Congo DR 1-0 W Cuevas Stade du Ray; Nice, France
June 5* Korea Republic 0-1 L Stade Louis Hon; Saint-Raphael, France
June 14 Portugal 3-1 W Villarreal, O’Neill, Hernandez Municipal Stadium; Vila Real Santo Antonio, Portugal

^CONCACAF U-20 Championship
*Toulon Tournament (games featured 40-minute halves)

ROSTER NOTES

  • Defender Shane O’Neill will not be available for Friday’s FIFA U-20 World Cup opener against Spain. He is serving a red card suspension, which he was issued in overtime of the USA’s 3-1 loss to Mexico in the final of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship on March 3 in Puebla, Mexico.
  • Jose Villarreal is the leading scorer among this U.S. U-20 group with eight career goals in 11 U-20 MNT matches. He also leads the squad with five goals in 2013 and had a two-goal performance to pace the U.S. to a 4-2 victory against Canada in the quarterfinals of the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship to officially qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey.
  • Defender Caleb Stanko captained the USA’s first three matches in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship before departing for his club team Freiburg. Stanko again serves the captain’s role for the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
  • Ten players on the U-20 World Cup roster play professionally for Major League Soccer teams. Most recently, Danny Garcia signed a homegrown contract with FC Dallas on June 18, 2013. Other MLS ties include Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Luis Gil (Real Salt Lake), Mikey Lopez (Sporting Kansas City), O’Neill (Colorado Rapids), Victor Pineda (Chicago Fire), Oscar Sorto (LA Galaxy), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Villarreal (LA Galaxy) and DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders).
  • Seventeen players have ties to the U.S. Soccer Development Academy, including three Academy players who have competed during the 2012-13 season: Acosta (FC Dallas), Sorto (LA Galaxy) and goalkeeper Zach Steffen (FC DELCO).
  • Six players on this U-20 World Cup roster have won Development Academy titles: Acosta and Garcia of FC Dallas’ 2011-12 FC Dallas U-17/18 team; Javan Torre and Villarreal of the 2010-11 Pateadores U-17/18 team; Pineda with the 2009-10 Chicago Fire U-15/16 squad; and Stanko for the 2009-10 Vardar U-17/18 team.
  • Four players have represented the U.S. in a World Cup. Gil was a member of the USA’s 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup team, while Kendall McIntosh, Rodriguez and Acosta played for the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup squad.

HOW U.S. ADVANCED TO TURKEY: The U.S. U-20 MNT grew throughout the CONCACAF U-20 Championship in Puebla, Mexico, culminating with an impressive second-place showing at the tournament. The team had a somewhat sluggish start to the tournament in holding off Haiti for a 2-1 victory in the Group A opener on Feb. 18, but the USA responded with a 1-0 victory against Costa Rica on Feb. 22 to win the group and advance to the all-important quarterfinals as the four CONCACAF semifinalists moved on to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup. That set the stage for a Feb. 26 match against its neighbor to the north, Canada, and the U.S. offense scored four goals in a 25-minute span en route to a 4-2 victory and a spot in the World Cup in Turkey. With the main task accomplished, several players returned to their respective professional club teams, but the U-20s kept the run going with a 2-0 victory against Cuba in the March 1 semifinal. The USA-Mexico final on March 3 drew more than 40,000 spectators at Estadio Cuauhtemoc, and despite falling down a goal early, the U.S. played host Mexico to a 1-1 score through regulation. Benji Joya scored a clutch penalty kick in the 10th minute – the only goal that Mexico allowed throughout this year’s CONCACAF U-20 Championship. However, Mexico scored two overtime goals and captured the title with a 3-1 victory.

2013 U-20 WORLD CUP FIELD SET: The 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup features 24 teams (full schedule): Turkey automatically qualified as the host and will be playing alongside six fellow UEFA qualifiers in Croatia, England, France, Greece, Portugal and Spain. Four teams qualified from CONCACAF – the USA, Cuba, El Salvador and Mexico. The remainder of the field features four CONMEBOL (South America) nations in Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Uruguay; four Asian teams in Australia, Iraq, Korea Republic (South Korea) and Uzbekistan; African nations Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria; and Oceania’s New Zealand. The tournament field has some noteworthy changes from the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia. Fourteen of the 2011 U-20 World Cup teams are returning to this year’s event, but two regular fixtures in the tournament did not advance to Turkey. Defending U-20 champion Brazil, a five-time winner of the event, and six-time U-20 World Cup champion Argentina are missing from the field. Those two countries by far are the most successful as Portugal (1989 and 1991 champion) is the only other country to win more than one title.

U.S. U-20 MNT vs. SPAIN

  • The U.S. U-20 MNT has faced Spain once during the 12th FIFA World Youth Championship in 1999, held in Nigeria.
  • Spain, which won its lone World Cup at this age group in 1999, defeated the USA 3-2 on April 15, 1999, in the Round of 16.
  • In that match, Spain jumped out to a 3-0 lead with three Xavi goals in the first 32 minutes. But Taylor Twellman scored two tallies in the second half, including a 90th-minute goal, to bring the U.S. to within one in front of 15,600 spectators at Liberation Stadium in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

TAB RAMOS FACT FILE: Tab Ramos was named head coach of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in October of 2011. As a former U.S. National Team midfielder and U-20 MNT assistant and interim head coach, Ramos brings a wealth of experience to the U.S. National Team program. Here are some of his accomplishments as both a coach and player:

  • Ramos has been a member of the U.S. Soccer Federation Technical Board since 2006, and after receiving his “A” coaching license in 2007, became the U.S. U-20 MNT assistant coach two years later. Ramos served as interim head coach in late 2011, guiding the U-20 Men through training camp and two friendlies in France.
  • Ramos’s first coaching experience came with the New Jersey Soccer Academy (NJSA 04), a U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, which he founded in 2004. He is currently the Executive Director of the program and has won four New Jersey state championships and a national championship, the only U.S. Youth Soccer National Championship for a N.J. boys’ club in more than two decades.
  • Ramos first earned international playing experience with the U-20 Men when he scored two goals for the U.S. in FIFA U-20 World Cup qualifying. He played for the U.S. in the 1983 U-20 World Cup and was also a member of the U.S. team that competed in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
  • His first appearance with the full team came on Jan. 10, 1988, against Guatemala, and Ramos went on to play in the 1990 World Cup, where his performance earned him the title of U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year. By the time he retired from international duty in 2000, Ramos had played in three World Cups, earned 81 caps and scored eight goals, becoming the only U.S. player to score at least one World Cup qualifying goal in three different decades.
  • A 2001 graduate of North Carolina State University, Ramos studied foreign language and literature while becoming a three-time All-American in his four years playing for the school’s men’s soccer team. He joined American Soccer League side New Jersey Eagles in 1998 before moving to fellow ASL club Miami Sharks the next season.
  • In 1990, Ramos had a contract to play exclusively for the U.S. MNT as it prepared for the 1990 World Cup, but Spanish Second Division club Figueres took him on loan later that year, before eventually signing him. Ramos was sold to Real Betis in 1992 and helped the team win promotion to La Liga, but a skull fracture suffered in the 1994 World Cup kept him from making any La Liga appearances.
  • Ramos was the first player signed to Major League Soccer in 1995 ( Centennial 100 Moments), and before being allocated to the New York/New Jersey MetroStars, MLS loaned him to UANL Tigres in Mexico, where his team was 1996 Mexico Cup champion. In his seven seasons with the MetroStars, Ramos tallied eight goals and 36 assists before retiring in 2002.

IN FOCUS: SPAIN
Royal Spanish Football Federation
(Real Federación Española de Fútbol)
Founded: 1909 (Joined FIFA in 1914)
Head Coach: Julen Lopetegui
Best FIFA U-20 World Cup Finish: First place (1999)

SPAIN UPDATE

  • Spain won the 2012 UEFA Under-19 Championship in July. The tournament is Europe’s U-20 World Cup qualifying competition as six teams advanced to Turkey. Spain garnered its ninth UEFA crown after beating Greece 1-0 on July 15. Real Madrid Castilla’s Jesé Rodriguez (simply known as Jesé) scored the title game’s lone goal and he was the tournament’s scoring lead with five tallies.
  • Spain won the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship, defeating Japan 4-0 in the title match.
  • Spain is a two-time runner-up in the tournament, finishing second to Brazil in both the 1985 and 2003 FIFA World Youth Championships as Brazil won each game 1-0.
  • Spain also was a fourth-place finisher in 1995, advancing to the third-place game and coming up short 3-2 against Portugal.
  • Spain U-20 head coach Julen Lopetegui, a former goalkeeper, was a member of Spain’s 1985 FIFA World Youth Championship squad, which finished second to Brazil. At the time, it was Spain’s best finish in the tournament until the squad captured the 1999 crown.

SPAIN ROSTER BY POSITION
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Daniel Sotres (Racing Santander), 13-Adrian Ortola (Villarreal), 21-Ruben Yanez (Real Madrid)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Javier Manquillo (Atletico Madrid), 3-Jose Luis Gaya (Valencia), 4-Derik (Real Madrid), 5-Israel Puerto (Sevilla), 6-Jose Campana (Sevilla), 12-Diego Llorente (Real Madrid), 20-Jonatan Otto (Celta Vigo)
MIDFIELDERS (5): 8-Suso (Liverpool), 14-Ager Aketxe (Athletic Club Bilbao), 15-Saul (Atletico Madrid), 16-Oliver (Atletico Madrid), 18-Denis Suarez (Manchester City)
FORWARDS (6): 7-Ruben (Levante), 9-Paco Alcacer (Getafe), 10-Jese (Real Madrid), 11-Juan Bernat (Valencia), 17-Gerard Deulofeu (FC Barcelona), 19-Jairo (Racing Santander)

LAST TIME
On the field for USA:
June 14, 2013 – Municipal Stadium – Vila Real Santo Antonio, Portugal
International Friendly

USA   3   Jose Villarreal 9, Shane O’Neill 51, Alonso Hernandez 53
POR   1   Bruma 28

Lineups:
USA: 1-Cody Cropper; 14-DeAndre Yedlin, 6-Caleb Stanko (capt.), 25-Javan Torre (23-Shane O’Neill, 46), 19-Juan Pablo Ocegueda; 20-Benji Joya (5-Mikey Lopez, 63), 4-Wil Trapp; 17-Jose Villarreal (11-Victor Pineda, 72), 16-Luis Gil (13-Danny Garcia, 40), 18-Mario Rodriguez (10-Daniel Cuevas, 46); 15-Alonso Hernandez (8-Kellyn Acosta, 81)
Subs Not Used: 12-Kendall McIntosh, 21-Eric Miller, 22-Zack Steffen, 24-Oscar Sorto
Head Coach: Tab Ramos

POR: 12-Jose Sa (1-Bruno Varela, 46); 2-Joao Cancelo (10-Ricardo Esgaio, 61), 3-Tiago Ferreira (4-Tiago Ilori, 46), 7-Ricardo Pereira (18-Tiago Silva, 61), 8-Joao Mario (capt.), 9-Aladje, 11-Bruma, 14-Edgar Ie, 15-Andre Gomes (13-Tomas Dabo, 61), 16-Ricardo Alves (6-Agostinho Ca, 46), 20-Kiko (5-Mica, 76)
Subs Not Used: 17-To-Ze, 21-Rafael Veloso
Head Coach: Edgar Borges