June 15, 2007
UCLA players Tony Beltran, Brian Perk and Sal Zizzo have been selected to the final 21-man U.S. roster for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, which will be held in Canada from June 30 - July 22. The three Bruins represent nearly half of the collegiate contingent. With 14 professional players on the squad, this is the most experienced squad the U.S. has ever sent to the Under-20 World Cup.
All three Bruins were on the World Cup Qualifying squad that went 2-0-1 at the CONCACAF Tournament. Beltran and Zizzo each started two games, while Perk backed up starter Chris Seitz. During the 2006 collegiate season, the trio played critical roles in the Bruins' run to the College Cup championship game. Zizzo, a sophomore midfielder, was the team's MVP, earning first-team All-America honors after scoring seven goals and 23 points and leading the team with nine assists. Beltran's return from a mid-season injury coincided with UCLA's strong post-season run, and the sophomore midfielder closed the year by being selected to the College Cup All-Tournament Team. Perk, a freshman goalkeeper who was named to the Top Drawer Soccer All-Rookie second team, started seven games during the regular season and posted a 3-1-3 record.
The U.S. was drawn into Group D with Korea Republic, Poland and Brazil. This is the sixth-straight appearance for the U.S. in the world championship and their 11th overall. The U.S. opens against Korea Republic on June 30, then faces Poland on July 3 and concludes group play on July 6 against four-time U-20 world champions Brazil. The U.S. will play Korea Republic and Poland at The Olympic Stadium in Montreal before heading to Ottawa to face Brazil at Frank Clair Stadium. Every U.S. match at the U-20 World Cup will be broadcast live on ESPNU and can be followed live via ussoccer.com's MatchTracker.
The 24-team field is divided into six groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the top four (of six) third-place teams advancing to the Round of 16. The 52-match tournament will take place at six venues in Canada with games in Burnaby, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Victoria.
The 21 players on the World Cup roster will arrive in Somerset, N.J. on June 17 for training before departing for Montreal. The team will also play a preparation game against Chile at Giants Stadium on June 23, with kickoff set for 2 p.m. ET.
"We looked at about 80 players and narrowed it down to 21," said head coach Thomas Rongen. "We feel that through playing games in qualifying and through camps, that we have a good handle on this age group and that we've made some great selections for this team to go forward and hopefully do something special during the World Cup."
Roster By Position:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brian Perk (UCLA), Steve Sandbo (SMU), Chris Seitz (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (6): Tony Beltran (UCLA), Amaechi Igwe (New England Revolution), Ofori Sarkodie (Indiana University), Nathan Sturgis (L.A. Galaxy), Julian Valentin (Wake Forest), Tim Ward (Columbus Crew)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Freddy Adu (Real Salt Lake), Bryan Arguez (D.C. United), Michael Bradley (SC Heerenveen), Dax McCarty (F.C. Dallas), Danny Szetela (Columbus Crew), Anthony Wallace (F.C. Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Andre Akpan (Harvard), Josmer Altidore (N.Y. Red Bulls), Gabriel Ferrari (Sampdoria), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew), Johann Smith (Bolton F.C.), Sal Zizzo (UCLA)
Information courtesy USSoccer.com