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Men’s Soccer: Maund, Powers to represent U.S. in Under-20 World Cup

Laura Myers | Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Two Irish players will be representing country and Notre Dame this month when they play in the Under-20 World Cup in Suez, Egypt.

Sophomore defender Aaron Maund and freshman midfielder Dillon Powers were named in to the 21-man roster of the United States’ under-20 team in late August and will leave for the World Cup after this weekend’s games against Seattle and New Mexico. Depending on the team’s success, the two may not be back until Notre Dame’s Oct. 21 match with Georgetown.

“I was really excited [when named to the team] because I worked really hard to get there,” Maund said. “It’s the World Cup, where every player dreams to be at one point. It was a great honor and I’m really excited to go.”

Maund, who will turn 19 a week before the team’s first World Cup game, has played 282 of 290 total minutes this season for Notre Dame (1-1-1). In 2008, his freshman season, he played every possible minute.

“It’s tough to miss time from the season,” he said. “But our squad is really deep this year, so we have options. Boss – that’s our coach [Bobby Clark], we call him Boss – he has things up his sleeve. The team should be okay.”

Powers, a highly regarded recruit and just 18 years old, has played in all three games for a total of 42 minutes. He has already notched an assist, in the Sept. 1 win over Michigan.

“You just kind of get used to the fact that you’re going to be gone and you travel all the time,” Powers said. “It’s the life of a soccer player.”

Maund has been playing with U.S. Soccer for years – he played on the under-14, under-15 and under-17 teams, and started all three games in the under-17 World Cup in South Korea.

Powers is newer to the national scene. He played on the under-18 team for a small amount of time before joining the under-20.

“Every time I play with the [under-20] team I learn something new, I get the best quality of soccer you can possibly find for our age,” Powers said. “Some of the best professional players have played in the [under-20] World Cup … I’ll get to see future stars, and be among them.”

According to a press release on the U.S. Soccer Web site, the team will leave for Larnaca, Cyprus on Sept. 14 and will play a tune-up against Australia before traveling to Suez. The first World Cup game will be against Germany on Sept. 26. The United States plays in Group C in the first round of the Cup, and their other opponents in the group are Cameroon on Sept. 29 and Korea Republic on Oct. 2.

“We have a pretty tough group,” Maund said. “I’m really excited to get over there and see where we are as a country. Germany is the best [under-20] team in the world. I’m excited to try to win the world over that we are a soccer country.”

Both players agreed that their time in Egypt can only help them grow as players and in turn can help the Irish.

“There’s only eight players on the U.S. team who are in college right now,” Powers said. “And two of us go to Notre Dame.

“You just try to get better and bring that back to school with you,” he added.

The two also agreed that Clark was very supportive of their roles on the U.S. team.

“He’s really understanding,” Maund said. “It’s tough to lose two players in the middle of the season, but he understands how important it is to us. He played in two World Cups, so he’s kind of been there, done that. He has been helping us prepare mentally and physically.”

Of 24 national squads at the World Cup, all but eight will advance to The Round of 16, which will take place Oct. 5-7. The quarterfinals are set for Oct. 9-10, with the semifinals to follow on Oct. 13. The championship match and third-place game are scheduled for Oct. 16.

The two will be back when the U.S. team either wins the Championship or is eliminated from the tournament.

“I just really want to win over there,” Maund said. “Then come back, help the team, [and] help us win the national championship.”