The USA opens play at the U-20 World Cup Saturday in Montreal against South Korea. It has faced the Koreans twice before at the World Youth Championship and come away with good results both times.
U.S. coach Thomas Rongen was the coach four years ago when the USA and South Korea met in the final game group play. A 2-0 victory was good enough to give the USA first place in the group for the first time and also send the Koreans into the knockout phase -- a fact that they were well aware of. Trailing 2-0 early, South Korea sat back and was content to lose, knowing the result would leave them ahead of Germany for third place.
The USA and South Korea also met at the 1993 U-20 World Cup in Australia, where they played to a 2-2 tie. Kerry Zavagnin and Brian Kelly scored for the Americans, who advanced to the quarterfinals with the tie.
South Korea qualified for the U-20 World Cup for the 10th time when it beat Australia, 2-1, in the quarterfinals of the 2006 Asian U-20 championship. Both goals were scored by Song Jin-Hyungon free kicks. Ha Tae-Kyun, who is having an outstanding season for Suwon Blue Wings, Shim Young-Sung (five goals in U-20 qualifying) and Song give the Koreans considerable firepower up front.
Despite its long history of domination at the youth level in Asia, South Korea has struggled on the world stage. It has only once won a game in the knockout phase, beating Uruguay, 2-1, in the quarterfinals in the 1983 finals in Mexico, where it finished fourth.
SOUTH KOREA U-20 ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS: Su Huk Jo, Jin Hyung Lee, Jin Hyeon Kim.
DEFENDERS: Chul Soon Choi, Hyun Shik An, Yueng Sung Kim, Seung Jin Bae.
MIDFIELDERS: Kwang Hoon Shin, Hyun Bem Park, Jong Jin Park, Dong Suk Kim, Sang Ho Lee, Joo Ho Park, Chung Yong Lee, Kyung Ho Jeong, Hyun Seung Lee, Jin Hyung Song.
FORWARDS:Young Sung Shim, Sung Jae Lee, Young Rok Shin, Tae Goon Ha.