The United States, captained by the sensational Freddy Adu who
will be playing in his third FIFA U-20 World Cup, face Korea
Republic in their opening Group D match on Saturday. Although
Thomas Rongen refuses to call his US side favourites, the smart
money is on the North Americans.
Korea Republic v United States, Montreal, 30 June, 17:00 (local time)
Watch out for the United States, whose squad is both experimental and talented. Even so though, Korea Republic may have a trick or two up their sleeve. With Brazil looking like the favourites to take the group, both sides should be keen to pick up points where they can, making for a potentially open and attacking game.
Stars and Stripes forward Johann Smith has already been forced to return home with a hip injury and has been replaced by Hamburger SV striker Preston Zimmerman. Along with Adu, senior international Michael Bradley could make all the difference for the Americans. For Korea, hopes will fall on the shoulders of striker Ha Tae-Kyun.
The United States and Korea Republic have already met twice at the U-20 world finals. In 1993 the two teams shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw, whereas in 2003 the North Americans came away with a 2-0 victory. Happy memories indeed for coach Thomas Rongen, who was already in charge of the USA at a tournament in which Freddy Adu made his international debut at the tender age of 14.
"We must be realistic and not see ourselves as the favourites. We don't figure among the top five, six or even seven teams in the world, not yet. Even so, I've got a talented, experienced team with real chemistry." United States coach Thomas Rongen.
"We have a lot of good players in the squad, good energy and if we play our game there is no reason why we can't spring a surprise or two." Korean striker Ha Tae-Kyun.