U.S. Battles To Tie In U-20 WC

In Montreal, the United States would score first and hold on late despite being utterly outplayed to manage a 1-1 tie against the Republic of Korea to open their journey in the 2007 U-20 World Cup.The Koreans would pressure early and often at Olympic Stadium, starting in the 7th minute when Shin Young-Rok received a long pass on a counter-attack and drew U.S. keeper Chris Seitz off his line. Unable to make up his mind about coming out to challenge or retreating back to goal, Seitz had to rely on his defender to make the play. Fortunately for the Americans, Nathan Sturgis was able to get back and defend the volley, which didn’t have much on it by the time it got to Seitz, who easily made the save.

In the 15th minute, Sturgis nearly gifted a goal to the opposition. In a battle against Lee Chung-Yong near the endline, the former Galaxy standout had the ball taken off his feet, creating a three-on-two chance for Korea. Instead of taking a shot, Chung-Yong slid a pass through the box to the on-rushing Young-Rok, whose shot was blocked at the last second by a sliding Tony Beltran, denying what would have been almost surely a goal for the Koreans.

Just one minute later, the U.S. would jump ahead. Sal Zizzo’s cross from the right side skipped in front of Jozy Altidore in the box and found Danny Szetela streaking through. The Columbus Crew midfielder’s header found the back of the net to give the Americans an early advantage.

Korea would not let up and threatened again in the 25th minute. Lee Chung-Yong looked for Shin Young-Rok once more as he cut into the right side of the box and centered the ball. Young-Rok didn’t strike the ball cleanly on this shot either, but Seitz was still forced to make a diving save to his right to keep the Koreans off the board.

Having unyielding control of the match throughout much of the first half, the Republic of Korea finally found their equalizer in the 38th minute as Shim Young-Sung slipped a pass through the defense, a perfect ball for Shin Young-Rok to run onto. Alone with only the keeper to beat, Young-Rok kept the ball low and pulled the Koreans level just before halftime.

The United States would have to find a way to slow down Korea in the second half, as the first 45 minutes saw them get thoroughly out-played, out-shot and out-hustled.

At the start of the second half, Korea would continue to dominate. Playmaker Shim Young-Sung used a brilliant toe-poke to get around Tony Beltran in the 50th minute and lined up a shot from just inside the box. His effort beat Seitz but firmly clanged off the crossbar as it curled around the U.S. keeper, allowing the U.S. to clear away the danger.

Perhaps the United States’ best chance of the second half came in the 69th minute. Captain Freddy Adu used some fancy footwork to get by two defenders and rolled a pass into the box where Sal Zizzo was stationed. Zizzo’s first touch was poor and brought the ball back into the middle, allowing the defense time to recover and block his shot, ending a rare quality chance for the Americans.

Seitz came up big in the 76th minute, making the initial save on Ha Tae-Goon after he broke through the U.S. defense. As Tae-Goon got back to his feet, Seitz scrambled to block the second-chance shot, but the Korean’s left-footed effort rattled the side netting instead and the U.S. dodged another bullet.

Just three minutes from full-time, Lee Chung-Yong beat the U.S. back-line again and looked set to give Korea three points. He tried to poke the ball around the keeper, but Seitz got a piece of the ball. As Chung-Yong recovered near the end-line, he perfectly played the ball into the middle for Ha Tae-Goon with three American defenders surrounding him. Tae-Goon never made it to the ball, however, as it got caught underneath a sliding Julian Valentin, allowing Seitz to come out and grab the ball.

Korea pressured until the final whistle, but was unable to come up with the go-ahead goal, instead forced to settle with a tie to open their campaign in Group D.

USA – Danny Szetela 16’
KOR – Shin Young-Rok 38’

USA – Chris Seitz, Tim Ward, Nathan Sturgis, Michael Bradley, Danny Szetela (Dax McCarty 52’), Robbie Rogers, Freddy Adu, Josmer Altidore, Sal Zizzo, Julian Valentin, Tony Beltran

KOR – Kim Jin-Hyeon, Choi Chul-Soon, Shin Kwang-Hoon, Ki Sung-Yueng, Kim Dong-Suk (Song Jin-Hyung 70’), Lee Sang-Ho, Shim Young-Sung (Lee Hyun-Seung 84’), Park Joo-Ho, Lee Chung-Yong, Shin Young-Rok (Ha Tae-Goon 59’), Bae Seung-Jin

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