The United States Under-20 National Team completed a surprising run through group play of the FIFA World Championships in Canada last week, finishing with a 2-1 upset over Brazil.
The team received significant contributions from two Bruins, juniors Sal Zizzo and Tony Beltran.
The two UCLA midfielders have started in all three of the team’s matches. Zizzo has tallied a team-leading three assists and has played in every minute of competition.
The U.S. team got off to a slow start in Montreal, tying Korea Republic 1-1, before dominating Poland in a 6-1 victory three days later. Zizzo was especially dominant on the right side, assisting on three of the six scores.
But the matches in Montreal turned out to be a prelude to a brilliant victory in Ottawa over Brazil in the final match of group play. Striker Josmer Altidore scored twice as the U.S. won and set Brazil, winners of four consecutive under-20 championships, on the brink of elimination.
The dominating performance puts the U.S. in the winners bracket, where it will meet a third place finisher from a different group on Wednesday in Toronto.
While Zizzo, Beltran and UCLA goalkeeper Brian Perk (who has yet to play) continue with the national team in Canada, three other Bruins will compete for the U.S. in the Pan-American Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Greg Folk, Michael Stephens and Chance Myers were selected to the 17-man roster for the games, which run from July 13-26. While most of the men on the under-20 national team are professionals, the Pan-American team mainly consists of collegiate players.
MEN’S BASKETBALL: Joe Hillock has been hired as UCLA’s director of basketball operations, coach Ben Howland announced Saturday.
Hillock coached the Southern Utah women’s basketball team for ten seasons from 1996-2006, leading the Thunderbirds to 128 victories. He will replace Chris Carlson, who was hired as coach at UC San Diego in June. Carlson was the last UCLA staff member to have worked with Howland when he was coach at the University of Pittsburgh.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Hillock said in an official press release. “To be working with the staff that Coach Howland has assembled and to be working for what I consider to be the best coach in college basketball is an amazing opportunity for me.”
The hire makes Hillock the second new addition to Ben Howland’s staff for the 2007 season. In April, UCLA hired Scott Duncan to replace Kerry Keating, who accepted the coaching position at Santa Clara.
MEN’S TRACK: Sophomore Nick Robinson won the shot put event at the PanAm Junior Championships in Brazil last week.
A year after placing tenth in the shot put at the World Junior Championships in Beijing, Robinson captured his first international title with a throw of 61-0.25. His mark was almost a foot better than the second place finisher, Jamaica’s Raymond Brown. The gold medal throw came on the fifth of Robinson’s six attempts.
Robinson also claimed a second-place medal in the discuss, finishing with a mark of 183-4.