US keen to break Uruguay hex

With nine goals to their name, Freddy Adu and the other US youngsters are top of the scoring charts and after their incredible win over Brazil, they are one of the hot favourites to win the FIFA U-20 World Cup Canada 2007. Coach Thomas Rongen will nevertheless have his work cut out on Wednesday, since the US have rarely enjoyed much success against Uruguay.

The game
USA v Uruguay, Toronto, 11 July, 19:45 (local time)

The stakes
On current form, there could only be one possible winner. The US sailed into the Round of 16 with two convincing wins - a 6-1 thrashing of Poland and a 2-1 win over Brazil in what was probably the best match of the tournament to date. Self-confidence is certainly not lacking in the American camp, while the Uruguayans have flattered to deceive. The South American side squeezed into the Round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams, and striker Edinson Cavani and co will have to be at the top of their game if they are to stand any chance against a lively and above all dangerous American team.

The players
Rongen has a full squad at his disposal with everyone ready for action, while the South Americans will have to do without regular goalkeeper Mauro Goicoechea, who was red-carded against Zambia for a professional foul and thus has to sit this match out.

The past

This will be the fourth time that the teams have met at a FIFA U-20 World Cup, and Uruguay have very much had the upper hand, winning all three matches and notching three goals every time. The South Americans have twice won 3-0 (in 1981 and 1997), with a 3-2 victory in 1983 completing the set. The only hint of junior and youth success for the US was at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Nigeria in 1999, when they won 1-0.

Despite this dismal record, the Americans have every reason to feel confident ahead of the clash. This is the second time in a row that they have come through the group stages at a FIFA U-20 World Cup without defeat and they have also set a new record by having three players each on three goals at the end of the group stage - namely Freddy Adu, Josmer Altidore and Danny Szetela.

The words
"I know that Uruguay have some good young guys who play at the highest level with their various clubs, which means that we'll have to be really on our guard and play with pace and intelligence - but that is exactly what we've been doing up until now." Josmer Altidore, forward, USA.

"We didn't play that well against Zambia, but we knew that we'd make it through anyway. Against the USA we'll definitely raise our game. It's knock-out football now, so we'll have to be a lot cleverer. They're a strong team, but we have some excellent players who are all looking to prove that they are better than they were last time out. When we lose a match, we Uruguayans come straight back out and show what we're made of, and thank God this next match has come around quickly to give us a chance to prove this." Luis Suarez, midfielder, Uruguay.