The U.S. U20's qualified for this summer's FIFA World Championship in Canada in style, knocking down Panama, the CONCACAF tournament host, 5-0, to finish first in a group that included Guatemala and Haiti, as well as the hosts.
The spectacular team effort against Panama was preceded by tepid performances against the other two-Guatemala especially. Nevertheless, this batch of U20's became the first U.S. team to clinch the CONCACAF title away from American soil.
Stalwarts like Freddy Adu, about to appear in his third successive U20 championship, Danny Szetela, Nate Sturgis and Robbie Rodgers played every minute of every game, while a few relative unknowns, like Harvard's Andre Akpan, were a pleasant surprise. Indeed, coach Thomas Rongen made the odd choice of giving more time to college players like Akpan and Sal Zizzo rather than professionals like Jozy Altidore and Preston Zimmerman.
The players offer ample praise for each other in the L.A. Soccer News article, though surely they understand that far sterner tests await them this summer. Read the original story...