Story courtesy of Akron Media Relations
AKRON, Ohio - Two defenders from The University of Akron men's soccer team, Zarek Valentin and Perry Kitchen, have been instrumental in leading the United States Under-20 Men's National Team to the championship game at the Milk Cup in Northern Ireland.
After opening its campaign with a 1-0 shutout of China last Monday, the U.S. became the only team in the Elite Section to earn two wins in its first two games with a 3-2 decision over Denmark Wednesday. Valentin, who started all 25 games for the Zips last fall as a true freshman, and Kitchen, an incoming freshman, started both games for the U.S.
The U.S. will face host, Ireland, on Friday at 1 p.m. ET in the final.
Forward Omar Salgado scored the game's only goal in the 18th minute against China, while goalkeeper Zac MacMath and defenders Gale Agbossoumonde and Greg Garza teamed up with Valentin and Kitchen to hold on for the shutout.
According to the U.S. Soccer website, Valentin was mobile from his right back position and got forward in the first half via a give and go with Alex Molano to get into the corner. Valentin touched it back for Molano, who played a good ball into the area, where the 6-foot 4-inch Salgado jumped over his defender to head the ball in at he back post in his first international game.
After the Americans allowed an early goal to Denmark, Adrian Ruelas drew them even at 1-1 heading into halftime. Fuad Ibrahim scored for the U.S. just minutes after entering as a substitute, but an own goal put the score even once again at 2-2. In the 89th minute, with the U.S. knowing they needed a win, Ruelas provided the winner that sent his team to the Final.