America's triple threat
© Foto-net

These 16th U-20 finals in Canada have seen an explosive and speedy USA team roar to unprecedented heights in the group stages. Beating Brazil for only the second time in their history at a FIFA finals, roaring to the top of Group D and hitting Poland for six, the Americans head into their Round of 16 clash with Uruguay with three players near the top of the scoring charts on three goals each. No side in the 30-year history of the tournament - not five-time champions Argentina, mighty Brazil or Spain - have sent three men with three goals each into the knockout stages. caught up with the white-hot trio - Josmer Altidore, Freddy Adu and Danny Szetela - on the eve of their all-important tangle with South American side Uruguay in Toronto.

"We've been strong going forward and moving the ball well," remarked 17-year-old Adu, who grabbed a brilliant hat-trick in the rout of Poland and set up Altidore's two in a 2-1 defeat of Brazil. "We may not be finishing every chance we get, but we're creating a whole lot of them and that's a good thing. That's the sign of a good team, a team that pushes forward and isn't afraid to attack - that's what we're all about."

One you'd expect, one you wouldn't
Szetela, holding midfielder from MLS outfit Columbus Crew, is the pretender in the trio...and he knows it. "My role is to win the ball and get it to guys like 'Jozy' (Josmer Altidore) and Freddy up in attack," he said. "But if I see the opportunity to go forward, I'll take it every time. In essence I'm a ball winner, but show me a chance and I'll get up too."

The two goals he scored against Poland were a bit special for Szetela, who carries a Polish passport, is first-generation American born and has sparked interest in his services from the Polish FA. "It felt great scoring those two goals against Poland...My parents were born there, but I developed as a player here in the States and I feel American so I do what I can to help my team win. But that being said, I hope the Poles go far in the tournament too!"

At just 17, Josmer Altidore broke into MLS side New York Red Bulls at the start of the current season and has been lining up alongside Juan Pablo Angel to great effect at the club. An out-and-out striker, Jozy's goal against Poland and his brace in the 2-1 shock win over Brazil were more expected than Szetela's.

"We've been really patient in our attacking and that's a big plus for us," the powerful forward told "We are really strong up the wings and we've been able to hold the ball up well and the chances are coming as a result of that. We're fast and good on the break too, so that's a big plus."

Keeping the scoring going
A big brawny centre forward, Altidore is ready to give Uruguay a taste of their own medicine if they come at him hard. "We just need to prepare like we do for any other team. I think they're a tough tackling team at the back, so maybe I'll have to bring a different attitude and give some back," he says with a laugh.

Last word on the American sense of camaraderie and attacking impulse goes to Adu - the captain and the only player to have scored a hat trick at both U-17 and U-20 world finals: "Our understanding has a lot to do with the time we have spent together as a team in residency camps," he concluded. "We learn the system we want to play early on and we learn how to play together and we work together well as a result of all that preparation. It's easier on the field when you know your teammates really well. I don't think it's an accident that we're linking up together so well here in Canada."

Accidental or not, goals have been tumbling in for the Americans and they will be hoping to keep up the torrid scoring pace in their first match in Toronto on 11 July against Uruguay.