U.S. Men's U-20 Team Wins Opener

Nov. 14, 2002

CHARLESTON, S.C. - The U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team opened the CONCACAF Under-20 Group B Qualifying Tournament with a 2-0 win over Haiti at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.

Ed Johnson led the way for the U.S., scoring the first goal and then assisting on a beautiful Santino Quaranta goal just before halftime. Santa Clara sophomores Steve Cronin and Ryan Cochrane led the stingy U.S. defense that allowed only four shots in the match.

The win puts the U.S. tied atop the Group B bracket after the first of three matchdays. The U.S. next faces El Salvador, 2-0 losers to Canada tonight, on Friday, November 15, at 7:30 p.m. ET at Blackbaud Stadium, and then wraps up the tournament against Canada on Sunday, November 17 at 2:30 p.m. ET. 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.

The U.S. faced Haiti without their captain and most experienced player, Bobby Convey, after a passport mishap left him ineligible for the match. Recently called up goalkeeper Clint Baumstark was also ineligible for the match.

"Anytime you go out and get a win in the opening qualifier like we did tonight, you have to be happy," said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. "We did well tonight against Haiti to get three points, and to do it with a little bit of a distraction and without your captain is impressive. I think we still have areas we need to clean up before the next game against El Salvador, and we'll work on doing that in the next 48 hours."

The U.S. dominated the encounter, outshooting Haiti 10-4 and controlling play throughout the physical encounter.

The U.S. got a well-deserved opener in the 26th minute, when a wicked Ed Johnson rocket rewarded their possession and pressure. Justin Mapp served in a cross from the left side that sailed over two Haitian central defenders and took one hop before Johnson hammered the skipping ball with his right foot, scoring his 26th international goal for the U.S. in just his 33rd international game.

Johnson then set up his longtime strikepartner Santino Quaranta for the second goal just before halftime. Johnson controlled the ball on the left flank and moved to the middle of the field where he slotted a perfect pass through three Haitian defenders to Quaranta stepping up into the area. The D.C. United striker controlled the ball at the top of the penalty area, pulled the ball back away from his defender, and then placed a well-paced shot into the far left side of the goal.

Quaranta's strike two minutes before halftime ended the scoring, but it didn't end the chances created by the U.S.

Haitian goalkeeper Ronel St. Louis robbed Ed Johnson of a second goal with a stellar save in the 58th minute. Barclay started a beautiful combination play that saw Barclay, Clark, Ed Johnson and Mapp all touch the ball before Jordan Harvey whipped in a ball from the left wing that Ed Johnson rose to head down toward the lower left corner of the goal. Only a beautiful save by St. Louis kept it out of the net.

U.S. goalkeeper Steve Cronin was only asked to make two saves in the match, but his largest contribution came in the 61st minute, when he came out of his box and slid to clear a loose ball. The shutout was Cronin's third in a U-20 international. The U.S. team has now recorded four wins in their last five internationals and hold a 15-7-9 record overall in 2002.

Earlier in the evening, Canada topped El Salvador 2-0. Just as the teams appeared headed to the interval scoreless, Godfrey opened the scoring, running onto a Waldemar Dutra cross on the left of the box and slotting past Zetino. The second half began as the first had ended, Canada again looking to attack with El Salvador content to defend. It didn't take long for the Canadians to double the lead, Simpson's lofted pass across the box finding Belotte, his low blast easily getting past El Salvadoran goalkeeper Walvin Zetino.

On the second matchday on Friday, Canada will face Haiti at 5 p.m. ET, before the U.S. faces El Salvador at 7:30 p.m. ET in a match that can be followed live on on ussoccer.com's MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics. The game is also available via pay-per-view on DirecTV and Time Warner Cable (in New York City). The U.S. and El Salvador met at the 2001 Under-17 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament, with the U.S. posting a decisive 4-0 win in the deciding match, with Ed Johnson scoring three times in the match. If the U.S. and Canada both win on Friday, both will clinch spots in the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship.

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