BRIAN SCIARETTA - Saturday, July 31, 2010
The United States Under-20 national team won the 2010 Milk Cup on Friday in impressive fashion with a convincing 3-0 victory over the hosts Northern Ireland in the championship game.
The US opened the scoring in the 24th when central defender Gale Agbossoumonde hit a hard low driving free kick into the bottom left corner of the goal from about 25 meters out.
Agbossoumonde, who plays with Portugal's SC Braga, is widely considered to be one of the top prospects in the US system.
The US would add another goal shortly before the halftime whistle when New York Red Bulls forward Juan Agudelo scored a wonder goal.
After collecting the ball just inside his own half, he dribbled around several defenders towards the middle of the field. When he was about 20 meters out, he unleashed a powerful shot that dipped down over Northern Ireland's keeper Wayne Drummond and into the top of the goal.
In the second half, the US would continue to dominate. In the 68th minute they would add their third goal when Santos Laguna forward Adrian Ruelas would notch his third goal of the game when he hammered home from about 12 meters a low pass from the University of Akron's Zarek Valentin.
In the 77th minute tempers would flair and a scuffle would see Agbossoumonde and Northern Ireland's Chris Hegarty sent off with direct reds.
The red card would not diminish the impressive tournament for Agbossoumonde who was a defensive presence for the American team. He routinely shut down opposing attacks and showed skill and composure on the ball.
Every player on the US roster played in the tournament. In addition to Agbossoumonde, Ruelas, and Agudelo there were several other players that had strong tournaments.
Zac MacMath posted two shutouts in his two games. Omar Salgado, at just 16 years of age, showed that he has tremendous potential.
Alex Molano and Fuad Ibrahim were dangerous on the wings of the attack and will surely be parts of the team as it moves forward towards U20 World qualifying next spring.
US U20 head coach Thomas Rongen brought a strong team to Northern Ireland for the Milk Cup but the team was missing a few key players in Amobi Okugo, Jack MacInerney, Sebastian Lletget, Kofi Sarkodie, and Alexander Zahavi.
It is unclear when the next tournament for the U20 nation team will be but last month Rongen told YA that there were preliminary plans for a three team tournament with Mexico and Colombia sometime in the fall.
With the US winning the tournament and Northern Ireland finishing second, Denmark defeated Mexico 3-1 in the third place game and Japan defeated China 3-0 in the fifth place game.
The US last won the Milk Cup in 2005 when Charlie Davies scored a hat trick in the championship game to lead the US to a 4-2 win also against Northern Ireland.