WORLD YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIP: U.S. U-20s kick off on Saturday

The U.S. U-20s, under Coach Thomas Rongen, begin their World Youth Championship quest in the United Arab Emirates Saturday against Paraguay.

The Americans face Germany Tuesday, Dec. 2 and South Korea Friday, Dec. 5. All U.S. first-round games will be televised by Galavision (see schedule below).

Rongen's team features 14-year-old Freddy Adu. The U.S. U-17 star who signed with MLS last week was a late replacement for injured midfielder Arturo Alvarez of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Rongen's squad is the most experienced squad the USA has taken to the U-20 World Cup. It includes eight players who have a combined 260 MLS regular-season games under their belt.

The U-20s who finished 13th at the last World Youth Championship had four pros who had played in 79 MLS games.

Rongen's squad also includes two foreign-based pros -- Zak Whitbread and David Johnson, who play for the reserve teams of Liverpool (England) and Willem II (Netherlands), respectively.

The best U.S. performance came in 1989 under Coach Bob Gansler, who guided the team to a fourth-place finish. That squad included Kasey Keller, Chris Henderson, Troy Dayak, Mike Burns and Steve Snow.

U.S. Roster:

Goalkeepers: Steve Cronin (Santa Clara Univ.), Ford Williams (Univ. of North Carolina).

Defenders: Ryan Cochrane (Santa Clara Univ.), Jordan Harvey (UCLA), C.J. Klaas (Univ. of Washington), Chad Marshall (Stanford Univ.), Drew Moor (Indiana Univ.), Jordan Stone (Dallas Burn), Zak Whitbread (Liverpool/ENG).

Midfielders: Ricardo Clark (MetroStars), Bobby Convey (D.C. United), Clint Dempsey (Furman Univ.), Ned Grabavoy (Indiana Univ.), David Johnson (Willem II/HOL), Justin Mapp (Chicago Fire).

Forwards: Freddy Adu (D.C. United), Knox Cameron (Michigan Univ.), Ed Johnson (Dallas Burn), Mike Magee (MetroStars), Santino Quaranta (D.C. United).

Head coach: Thomas Rongen Assistant coaches: Dave Dir, Cle Kooiman

U.S. history

The United States has played in the World Youth Championship eight times and reached the knockout phase in its last five appearances. Fourteen players who played in the under-20 championship have gone on to represent the United States in the World Cup.

U.S. Finish
1977 -- didn't qualify
1979 -- didn't qualify
1981 -- 15
1983 -- 11
1985 -- didn't qualify
1987 -- 11
1989 -- 4
1991 -- didn't qualify
1993 -- 8
1995 -- didn't qualify
1997 -- 15
1999 -- 11
2001 -- 13

The Field

Four-time champion Argentina heads the field in the World Youth Championship. Argentina, three-time winner Brazil and European champion Spain are the favorites.

Group A
Burkina Faso

Group B

Group C
Czech Republic

Group D

Group E
Ivory Coast
Saudi Arabia

Group F
South Korea

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