Aug. 30, 2002
L'ALCUDIA, Spain - The United States Under-20 Men's National Team lost to an older Brazil team 1-0 tonight in the final of the C.O.T.I.F XIX Torneig Internacional in L'Alcuna, Spain. The U.S. Under-20s opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Brazil, before winning three straight matches over Italy, Ukraine and Uruguay to advance to tonight's final. Brazil finished the tournament undefeated in five matches.
U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cronin, who made three saves in tonight's match, was named the tournament's top goalkeeper. His biggest test tonight came in the 43rd minute, when he stoned Brazilian striker Marcelo in a one-on-one.
"I thought we played well in the second half tonight, but you can't expect to beat Brazil if you only play one half", said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. "This tournament was a very positive experience for this team, and I think we learned a lot that will help us when the qualifying tournament comes around in November."
Tonight, for the first time in the tournament, the U.S. gave up the opening goal. A sloppy giveaway in the USA's half allowed Edno to free Tavares in the area, and the Brazilian striker went in alone on Cronin and slotted the ball under the sliding U.S. goalkeeper.
The first half was a stagnant one, as both teams showed the wear and tear of playing five international matches in six days. The U.S. outshot the Brazilians 5-4 in the half, but Brazilian goalkeeper Diego made four first-half saves to keep the U.S. scoreless at the break.
Mike Magee, who scored four goals in his only other start of the tournament, started tonight in place of suspended captain Devin Barclay. Magee had the USA's best chance in the first half. Eddie Johnson flicked on a long ball, and Magee found a speck of space behind the Brazilian defense and was able to get off a shot that a sliding Diego blocked into the air. Magee charged the rebound, but Diego's overhead kick cleared the loose ball just before Magee was able to head into an empty net.
Eddie Johnson nearly equalized in the 65th minute, but his flashing header from a Justin Mapp corner was somehow pushed just wide of the post by Diego. The U.S. pressured until the final whistle, earning two corner kicks in the extra-time, and were backed by a vocal crowd that roared its approval when Steve Cronin entered the Brazilian penalty area on the final two corner kicks.
Chad Marshall had another strong game in the middle of the U.S. backline, winning nearly every ball in the air and controlling the center of the field. The insertion of Jordan Stone into the line-up at half helped jumpstart the U.S. in the second half. Stone played with Ricardo Clark in front of the defenders and helped the U.S. put on a much-improved performance in the second half.
Earlier tonight Uruguay took advantage of a Costa Rican red card to post a 1-0 win in the third place game. The other two classification games were cancelled to preserve the field for the final.
The match was the Under-20s final international game before World Youth Championship qualifying at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C., from November 13-17. The top two teams from the four-team qualifying tournament in Charleston will qualify for the 2003 World Youth Championship in United Arab Emirates from March 25-April 16, 2003.
Notes: The U.S. wore blue jerseys with white shorts and white socks, while Brazil wore their traditional yellow-blue-white strip ... Brazil kicked off to start the game ... Brazil made four changes to the line-up from the first match, while the insertion of Magee was Rongen's only change ... The U.S. played tonight without starting forward and co-captain Devin Barclay, who received his second and third cautions of the tournament in last night's semifinal win over Uruguay ... Tournament rules stipulate that a player must miss a game after receiving his third caution of the tournament ... Brazil was also without a starter, as defender Daniel Alves received a one-game suspension for a red card in their semifinal match against Costa Rica ... The U.S. scored 11 goals in the tournament, the most among any team ... When the teams met in the opening game of the tournament, U.S. midfielder Ricardo Clark received two yellow cards in the game's first 34 minutes and was sent off. The U.S. played with only ten men for the remaining 46 minutes.