Commentary

Qatar clash recalls USA's first U-20 World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

With the countdown to the kickoff of the 2015 U-20 World Cup down to 38 days, the USA tied, 2-2, with Qatar, which qualified for the tourney in New Zealand by winning the Asian championship.

In the friendly clash in Austria, the USA took the lead in the 22nd minute on a goal by Amando Moreno but the Qataris responded with strikes in the 46th and 75th minutes. Conor Donovan scored the equalizer in 84th minute following a U.S. corner kick.

Donovan, an Orlando City SC defender who played one year at North Carolina State, started one game and made one appearance off the bench during the USA's six-game qualifying campaign. Forward Moreno, who left the Red Bulls in early 2014 for Club Tijuana, made two appearances as a sub in qualifying.

It was the USA’s third game since qualifying. During a March camp in England, the USA fell 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur in a closed-doors game and 2-1 to England’s U-21s in front of a crowd of 11,406. Lynden Gooch scored against Tottenham and Maki Tall vs. England.

Limited is how much one can read into these preparation games. Much of their purpose is to help Coach Tab Ramos determine how many of the players on his roster for qualifying should be replaced. But the Qatar match did mark the first U.S. game against a fellow qualifier, and one that faced off against U.S. first-round opponent Myanmar (in Group A along with host New Zealand and Ukraine).

Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is making its U-20 World Cup debut thanks to winning a quarterfinal win, 1-0, over UAE at the Asian Championship Myanmar hosted. In the semifinals, Qatar, which also had already clinched, beat Myanmar, 3-2, in overtime, and won the final, 1-0, over North Korea. Most of its U-20 players have been parked at clubs in Europe as it amps up its national team program ahead of the 2022 World Cup of which it is the controversial host.

For Qatar, this marks a third appearance at the U-20 world championship. It exited in the first round in 1995 but its runner-up finish to West Germany in 1981 marked the nation’s greatest soccer achievement.

That 1981 U-20 world championship was the biennial competition’s third edition and the first the USA qualified for. Qatar tied the USA, 1-1, in group play.

The Walt Chyzowych-coached U.S. team exited with loses to Uruguay (3-0) and Poland (4-0). The U.S. squad included John Stollmeyer, who would play in the 1990 World Cup; future Duke Hermann Trophy winner Tom Kain, now a Nike executive; future Colombia Hermann Trophy winner Amr Aly; Darryl Gee, who would play for the New York Cosmos; and Todd Saldana, who today serves a U.S. Soccer’s Southwest Technical Advisor.

Ramos' team faces Croatia, which did not qualify for the New Zealand, on Saturday, also at Red Bull Arena in Wals-Siezenheim.

April 21 in Wals-Siezenheim, Austria
USA 2, Qatar 2. Goals: Moreno 22, Donovan 84; Ahmed Al Saadi (pen.) 46, Tarek Salman 75.
U.S. Starters -- Zack Steffen (Freiburg/GER); Shaquell Moore (Unattached), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham/ENG), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), John Requejo (Tijuana/MEX); Ethan Sonis (Freiburg/GER), Joel Sonora (Boca Juniors/ARG), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund/GER); Amando Moreno (Tijuana/MEX), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland/ENG), Maki Tall (Red Star/FRA).


Tab Ramos addresses his troops in Austria. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Soccer)

U.S. U-18 boys head to Bosnia

U-18 boys national team coach Javier Perez has selected a 18-player squad to travel Bosnia & Herzegovina April 22-May 1. The roster includes goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, son of U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, and Houston Dynamo academy forward Christian Lucatero, who trained with Mexico’s U-18 national team in February.

The USA will play three friendlies, against Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia U-18s and a third opponent yet to be announced.

Nine of the players on the roster were part of Perez’s squad that finished February’s Copa Chivas in Guadalajara with a 1-2-1 win-loss-tie record while scoring only twice. They include Klinsmann and both scorers, Mauricio Pineda and Eryk Williamson.

U.S. U-18 Boys Roster
GOALKEEPERS (2): Jonathan Klinsmann (Irvine Strikers; Newport Beach, Calif.), Mason Stajduhar (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.).
DEFENDERS (6): Marcello Borges (New York Red Bulls; Kearny, N.J.), Kyle Duncan (New York Red Bulls; Brooklyn, N.Y.), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Pablo Pelaez (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Mauricio Pineda (Chicago Fire; Bolingbrook, Ill.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.).
MIDFIELDERS (7): Amir Bashti (San Jose Earthquakes; Cupertino, Calif.), Cameron Lindley (Chicago Fire; Carmel, Ind.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Chicago Magic; Libertyville, Ill.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Casa Grande, Ariz.), Ben Swanson (Columbus Crew SC; Grove City, Ohio), Jackson Yueill (Minnesota Thunder; Bloomington, Minn.), Eryk Williamson (D.C. United; Alexandria, Va.).
FORWARDS (5): Mukwelle Akale (Villarreal CF; Minneapolis, Minn), Coy Craft (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas), Brooks Lennon (RSL Arizona; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Christian Lucatero (Houston Dynamo; Pasadena, Texas), Victor Mansaray (Seattle Sounders; Des Moines, Wash.).

Alianza talent search enters eighth season

More than 5,000 teens are expected to attend Alianza de Futbol's Sueno tryouts in 11 cities across the USA in hopes of impressing scouts from Mexican Liga MX clubs, the Mexican national team program and MLS clubs. Launched in 2008 to discover young Latino talent, this year’s Powerade Sueno Alianza begins in Phoenix April 25.

Registration: Powerade Sueno Alianza

Last year, seven players received contract offers from Mexican clubs following the Sueno finals and 22 received trial invitations in Mexico.

In 2013, then 14-year-old Jonathan Gonzalez of Santa Rosa, Calif., received invitations to train at 14 Liga MX clubs. He signed with Monterrey in February 2014.

Sueno Alianza alums include Julio Morales, who after 2010 Sueno was signed by Chivas Guadalajara and played for Mexico at the 2013 U-20 World Cup, and Dennis Flores, who made his Liga MX debut with Leon last year. Both Morales and Flores were called into the USA's U-23 national team camp earlier this year.

The Powerade Sueno Alianza host cities are: Phoenix (April 25), Dallas (May 2), Houston (May 23), Atlanta (June 20), New York (July 11), Denver (July 18), Chicago (Aug. 1), Los Angeles (Aug. 8), San Francisco (Sept. 5), El Paso (Sept. 12), Miami (Sept. 26).

The top 24 players in U-15 and U-19 age groups from the events, which are cost-free, in 11 cities will advance to an all-expenses paid trip to the Alianza National Finals in Miami.

This year, Alianza de Futbol has launched of Alianza Femenil, the first national women's Hispanic tournament. More than 3,000 players are expected to compete in U-18 and open-age divisions.

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