- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

With three D.C. United players in the lineup, the U.S. under-20 team put up a brave fight only to lose to reigning champion Argentina 2-1 in the quarterfinals of the World Youth Championship in the United Arab Emirates yesterday.

The Americans led for 94 minutes, but the pre-tournament favorites tied the match 1-1 on Javier Mascherano’s goal in the final seconds to send the game into sudden-death overtime.

In the 100th minute Argentina earned a penalty kick after American defender Drew Moor chopped down Franco Cangele. Fernando Cavenaghi converted the kick to eliminate the Americans.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the way we played,” U.S. coach Thomas Rongen said. “We came out and played one of the best teams in the world down to the wire. Unfortunately, we got a bit unlucky as they scored with just seconds left.”

United midfielder Bobby Convey scored the opening goal on a counterattack in the 59th minute on an excellent pass from 14-year-old Freddy Adu, who ran 60 yards with the ball. Adu, who was allocated by Major League Soccer to United last month, is the youngest U.S. player to represent his country at the under-20 level. He was substituted in the 78th minute. United forward Santino Quaranta entered the game in the 73rd minute.

The U.S. team finished the tournament in fifth place, its best showing since 1989. Argentina has won the title four times, the last in 2001 at home.

In other games yesterday, Brazil drubbed Japan 5-1, Spain beat Canada 2-1 and Colombia downed the United Arab Emirates 1-0.

Nelsen to Scotland? — According to reports in the British media, D.C. United captain Ryan Nelsen, 26, has been linked to a move to the Glasgow Rangers next summer. The Rangers are looking for a replacement for defender Henning Berg, who will retire after the season in May.

Nelsen is known in Scotland because he scored a goal playing for New Zealand against the Scottish national team last May in a 1-1 draw at Edinburgh.

Nelsen confirmed that the Rangers had been in touch with him but said it was just an inquiry and there had been no formal talks.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean anything — I have learned that after a few years in professional football,” Nelsen told the Express newspaper. “They ask about your details and whether or not you might be interested in joining them and you may never hear from them again. It happens all the time.”

Nelsen is currently in New Zealand for a month’s vacation. This week he was on hand as the All Whites — New Zealand’s national team — signed a multimillion-dollar sponsorship with Nike. Nelsen also is the captain of the Kiwis’ national team.

The Rangers recently turned down MetroStars forward Clint Mathis after a weeklong trial.

United notes — Four D.C. United players have been called to the U.S. under-23 training camp at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., which kicked off yesterday in advance of Olympic qualifying games in February. Goalie Doug Warren, defender David Stokes, midfielder Brian Carroll and forward Alecko Eskandarian are on the 19-man squad.

The Olympic team will play Panama (Feb.3), Canada (Feb.5), and Honduras (Feb.7) in the opening stage of the final qualifying tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico. The two teams that make it to the final of that competition earn Olympic berths to next year’s Athens Games. … According to reports from Spain, D.C. United’s Hristo Stoitchkov, 38, will be joining Spanish club Barcelona in a front office job.

The Manchester clash — American goalie Tim Howard, who has earned eight shutouts in 15 games for third-place Manchester United, will play host to American teammate Claudio Reyna and Manchester City today in the crosstown derby.

“We don’t really have derby games in the States because we are pretty spread out over there,” said Howard. “So I have never really played in such a local game before.”

It has been 29 years and 19 matches since City has won at Manchester United. The game will be carried live on Fox Sports World today at 7 a.m.

U.S. team news — The U.S. national team will make its debut at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif., when it plays Denmark on Jan.18. The U.S. team also might play the Netherlands in Rotterdam on Feb.18.

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