July 3, 2006
Santa Clara, Calif. - Santa Clara University freshman Amaechi Igwe has been called in to the United States Under-20 national team for a two-game series against the Canadian U-20 Men's National Team this week. Igwe, along with 19 other players, will participate in a week-long training camp and face off against Canada on July 7 in Toronto at Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome) in Toronto at 4:00 p.m. PT. Two days later, on July 9, the teams will battle once again, this time in Richardson Stadium at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, at 4:00 p.m. PT. Igwe, who traveled with the team to Canada on July 3, will look to make his first appearances with the Under-20 team.
Prior to arriving at Santa Clara in January, Igwe, 18, played at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. and was a part of the U.S. Under-17 residency program. He played in 18 career international games for the U.S. at the Under-17 level and scored one goal. In 2005, he played in 36 total games and scored five goals, before committing to Santa Clara, where he follows in his brother Kelechi's footsteps. Kelechi graduated this year after a standout four-year career in which he scored 15 goals. A Belmont, Calif. native, Igwe also spent two seasons at Bellarmine Prep before transferring to the IMG Academy.
Igwe, who played primarily defensive left back for the U.S. squad, was a starter on the Under-17 team that advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2005 FIFA World Championships in Peru. The U.S. side defeated North Korea and Italy and drew with Ivory Coast to win its group before a loss to Netherlands forced the Americans out of the competition.
Under-20 head coach Thomas Rongen has called in eight professional players, all of which ply their trade in Major League Soccer. A total of five MLS teams are represented, with three teams - Los Angeles Galaxy, Chivas USA and FC Dallas - each providing two players. Quavas Kirk and Nathan Sturgis (Los Angeles Galaxy), Rodrigo Lopez and Estuardo Sanchez (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty and Blake Wagner (FC Dallas) and Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls) were all part of the U-20s last camp in Argentina. Tim Ward (Columbus Crew) will be joining the U-20s for the first time in 2006 after being named to the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship roster before getting injured and not getting the chance to compete in Holland.
Overall, the U.S. has beaten Canada by one goal in each of their last four meetings since 2003. The last meeting between the two CONCACAF rivals took place last year in Blaine, Minn., ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Championship in Holland. The U.S. fell behind early after a goal from Will Johnson, but bounced back with goals from Eddie Gaven and Freddy Adu to pull out a 2-1 victory.
The U.S. is coming off a successful 10-day training camp in Argentina this past April where they went 1-1-1 during the trip. The U.S. drew, 2-2, against Arsenal de Sarandi U-20 in their first match on April 22, getting goals from Preston Zimmerman and Dax McCarty. Two days later, the U-20s defeated River Plate U-20, 1-0, on a goal by forward David Arvizu. In their first international match of the year on April 26, the U.S. fell to Argentina, 4-0.
Canada just wrapped up a three-game, tri-city series against the Brazil U-20 Men's National Team. Canada defeated Brazil, 2-1, in the series opener in Edmonton, before losing the next two in Victoria and Vancouver by the same 3-1 score line.
Canada will host the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup from June 30-July 22 (tentative dates) across six cities - Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Edmonton, Burnaby, and Victoria. The biennial event is second only to the FIFA World Cup in size and scope and will showcase the most talented youth soccer players in the world.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Mike Gustavson (University of South Carolina), Marcus Rein (University of Central Florida)
DEFENDERS (7): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Kyle Davies (Pleasanton, Calif.), Amaechi Igwe (Santa Clara University), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Blake Wagner (FC Dallas), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Bryan Arguez (Miami, Fla.), Corben Bone (Plano, Texas), Cameron Brown (Garland, Texas), Rodrigo Lopez (Chivas USA), Dax McCarty (FC Dallas), Brad Ring (Indiana University), Robbie Rogers (University of Maryland)
FORWARDS (4): Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Omar Gonzalez (University of Maryland), Kirk Quavas (L.A. Galaxy), Estuardo Sanchez (Chivas USA).