The U.S. Soccer Federation has hired Thomas Rongen as the head coach of the U.S. U-20 menÆs national team. Rongen, who was released as D.C. United coach after the 2001 season, replaces Wolfgang Suhnholz. Rongen has notched two winning seasons during his six seasons as an MLS coach. In 1996, he coached Tampa Bay to a 20-12 (win-loss) record. In 1997 he moved to New England and notched a 15-17 record. In 1998, after a 8-18 start, he was replaced in New England by Walter Zenga. Rongen moved to D.C. United in 1999, taking over the league's most successful club from Coach Bruce Arena, and won the league title after compiling 23-9 regular season record. He went 8-18-6 (win-loss-tie) with D.C. United in 2000. He again failed to reach the playoffs, on a 8-16-2 record, in 2001 and D.C. United announced in October that it would not offer him another contract when his current 3-year deal expired on Dec. 31. The U.S. U-20s play their first international game since June next month on Jan. 9, 2002. Under Suhnholz at the 2001 U-20 World Cup, the USA reached the second round, where it lost to Egypt, 2-0. Its best finish was fourth place, under Coach Bob Gansler in 1989. "This is an extremely exciting challenge for me," said Rongen. "The international game is a new venture in my coaching career, and I am looking forward to our first training camp in January." "After looking at all of the qualities we wanted in our Under-20 head coach, we felt there was not a better fit for the position than Thomas Rongen" said U.S. Soccer president Bob Contiguglia. Rongen, 45, came to the United States from his native Netherlands in 1979 to play for the NASLÆs Los Angeles Aztecs. He played in the NASL until its demise in 1984, then played in the Major Indoor Soccer League and APSL. Rongen coached the APSLÆs Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 1989-1994 and Nova Southeastern Ununiversity in 1991-95.
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