PANAMA CITY, Panama (April 23, 2017) – Battling scorching conditions under the afternoon sun, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team used a barrage of second half goals from Chris Durkin, Timothy Weah, Josh Sargent and a late brace from Ayo Akinola to earn a 5-0 victory against Jamaica in the teams’ opening match of the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship.
Despite 90-degree heat and high humidity at kickoff, the U.S. came out with heavy pressure early on but was thwarted at every turn in the first half thanks to stellar play from Jamaica goalkeeper Tajay Griffiths. The Reggae Boyz captain turned away two great chances from Blaine Ferri and Akinola inside the first 11 minutes before pouncing on Andrew Carleton’s 22nd minute penalty kick.
A minute later, he got help from center back Jamoi Topey, who blocked George Acosta’s shot, before Griffiths came up with another impressive save on Josh Sargent’s well-placed free kick in the 27th minute as Jamaica mostly locked down the U.S. attack for the remainder of the half.
The U.S. continued its forward pressure early in the second half and after a series of corner kicks, unlocked the lead in the 53rd minute when Acosta’s take from the left was headed home by Durkin. The U-17 MNT pressed looking for the insurance goal, but again saw Griffiths impressively deny another effort from Ferri in the 58th minute before an Akinola chance was turned away in the 61st.
The second goal came in the 77th minute when a great piece of work between Akinola and Weah, who had come on for Andrew Carleton, saw the substitute striker tap home from inside the six-yard box. The U.S. then took advantage of a tiring Jamaica side, with Sargent adding an opportunistic strike in the 87th minute and assisting on Akinola’s near-post effort one minute later. Deep into second-half stoppage time, Akinola alertly smashed home his second of the match to cap the scoring at 5-0.
Sunday’s win against Jamaica preceded the second Group C clash between Mexico and El Salvador, also to be played at Estadio Maracaná in Panama City.
Up Next: The U-17 MNT faces rival Mexico in its second group stage match of the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on Wednesday, April 26. Kickoff from Estadio Maracaná in Panama City is set for 6:30 p.m. ET and the match can be seen live on UDN and CONCACAF YouTube.
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Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Chris Durkin (George Acosta), 53rd minute: The U.S. breakthrough came eight minutes after halftime when George Acosta’s in-swinging corner kick from the left picked out Chris Durkin whose glancing header from the six-yard box crept inside the right post.USA 1, JAM 0 [WATCH]
USA – Timothy Weah (Ayo Akinola) 77th minute: After peppering the Jamaica goal with more chances, the insurance marker came through substitute Timothy Weah. The Paris Saint-Germain attacker started the play when he swung a diagonal ball to Akinola on the left, who beat his defender to gain entry into the box before providing an easy tap-in for Weah. USA 2, JAM 0 [WATCH]
USA – Josh Sargent (Jaylin Lindsey), 87th minute: The U.S. added a third goal when Lindsey’s long ball from the right was chased down by Sargent, who alertly worked around Kendall Edwards and poked his shot past the onrushing Griffiths. USA 3, JAM 0 [WATCH]
USA – Ayo Akinola (Josh Sargent), 88th minute: The U.S. continued to take advantage of a fatigued Jamaica side as Josh Sargent slid a through ball to Akinola in space. The U.S. forward powered to his right before firing a low drive that tucked inside the lower right post. USA 4, JAM 0 [WATCH]
USA – Ayo Akinola, 90+2 minute: The USA added a fifth goal in second half stoppage time when Sargent forced a turnover and tried to slip a through ball into the box for Weah. The attempt was turned away by a Jamaica defender, but went straight to Akinola, who alertly fired a first-time laser from distance past Griffiths. USA 5, JAM 0 [WATCH] FINAL
Key Saves and Defensive Stops
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 7th minute: Chris Gloster forced a turnover in midfield and immediately began a combination up the left with George Acosta. Gloster’s cross looking for Josh Sargent was a little long, but the U.S. captain chased the ball down and laid back for Ayo Akinola before the Toronto FC Academy product squared for Blaine Ferri whose first-time effort was well held by Griffiths.
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 11th minute: The U.S. continued its early pressure, building out of the back before Jaylin Lindsey carried up the right flank and cut inside. The right back then utilized a combination of passes between Acosta and Ferri that allowed him to slip through the Jamaica midfield and provide a final pass into the box for Akinola whose quick effort was thwarted as Griffiths came far off his line to make the stop.
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 22nd minute: A cross from Lindsey on the right fell for Andrew Carleton who settled and attempted to get off a shot before Jamaica defender Shane Ricketts fouled the U.S. forward in the area. Carleton’s ensuing penalty kick was hit with a lot of pace, but Griffith read it well, dropping to his right to keep the match scoreless.
JAM – Jamoi Topey, 23rd minute: Just a minute later, Sargent broke up the left and cut inside the area before centering for Acosta at the top of the area. The midfielder cut back to get the ball on his right foot, but saw his shot blocked by Jamaica center back Jamoi Topey.
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 27th minute: After Carleton earned a free kick about 25 yards from goal, Sargent stepped up and hit a curling right-footed effort around the wall, but Griffiths came through with a diving stop at the right post, putting the ball out for a corner kick in the process.
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 58th minute: The U.S. worked to build on their lead as Sargent won the ball deep in Jamaica’s half. The U.S. captain cut into the box unchallenged on the left before centering for Blaine Ferri whose first-time effort was turned away as Griffiths dove to his right to put the ball out for a corner kick.
JAM – Tajay Griffiths, 61st minute: A nice build-up on the left saw Acosta play a quick combination with Akinola at the top of the area before the forward split two Jamaica defenders and rip a low blast that Griffiths parried out for a corner kick at the right post.
- With the result, John Hackworth moves to 6-1-1 all-time in U-17 World Cup Qualifying matches.
- The U-17 MNT moves to 4-2-2 all-time vs. Jamaica in U-17 World Cup Qualifiers.
- Due to high heat and humidity, the teams took hydration breaks at the mid-way point of both halves.
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship on April 23 against Jamaica at Estadio Maracaná de Panamá in Panama City, Panama. The match can be seen via livestream on the official CONCACAF Facebook page at 1:30 p.m. ET. Fans can also follow all the matches of the U.S. U-17 MNT on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.
U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Carlos Joaquim Dos Santos (Benfica; Philadelphia, Pa.), Justin Garces (Kendall SC; Miami, Fla.)
DEFENDERS (5): Christopher Gloster (New York Red Bulls; Montclair, N.J.), Jaylin Lindsey (Sporting Kansas City; Charlotte, N.C.), James Sands (New York City FC; Rye, N.Y.), Arturo Vasquez (FC Golden State; Mira Loma, Calif.), Akil Watts (IMG Academy; Fort Wayne, Ind.)
MIDFIELDERS (7): George Acosta (Weston FC; Hollywood, Fla.), Taylor Booth (Real Salt Lake AZ; Eden, Utah), Christopher Durkin (D.C. United; Glen Allen, Va.), Blaine Ferri (Solar Chelsea SC; Southlake, Texas), Christopher Goslin (Atlanta United FC; Locust Grove, Ga.), Indiana Vassilev (IMG Academy; Savannah, Ga.), Adrian Villegas (Portland Timbers; Hood River, Ore.)
FORWARDS (6): Ayomide Akinola (Toronto FC; Brampton, Ont.), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United FC; Powder Springs, Ga.), Zyen Jones (Atlanta United FC; Clarkston, Ga.), Bryan Reynolds, Jr. (FC Dallas; Little Elm, Texas), Joshua Sargent (Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallen, Mo.) Timothy Weah (Paris Saint-Germain; Rosedale, N.Y.)Read more
Still going strong with Real Salt Lake, central midfield terrier Kyle Beckerman celebrates a milestone 35th birthday on Sunday. Known for his iconic dreadlocks and tireless work effort in the middle of the park, Beckerman has been in the U.S. Soccer consciousness since manning the midfield for the U-17 MNT in their fourth-place finish at the 1999 World Championships in New Zealand.
Half a lifetime later, we take a photographic look at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup champion and key piece of the USA’s 2014 FIFA World Cup squad.Long before his dreads, future MNT midfielder Kyle Beckerman showed he had style…
Growing up in Bowie, Md., Beckerman began playing club soccer with the Bowie Bulldogs.
Outside of games and organized training sessions, he would often come home from school and leave notes for his parents telling them he was out playing pick-up games, signing them as “Kyle Beckerman, USA #15” because as he says, “That’s what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a National Team player. I made up my mind back then.”
As he progressed in his club career, he continued to wear No. 15 for the Laurel Wildcats…
…before working his way through the Olympic Development Program to be a part of the inaugural U-17 MNT Residency Class in 1999.
Beckerman joined the likes of Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu and Bobby Convey in the U-17 MNT program in Bradenton, Fla., qualifying for the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Once in New Zealand, Beckerman appeared in each of the team’s six matches and even tallied the game-winning goal in the USA’s 3-2 Quarterfinal victory against Mexico.
Painstakingly, the U.S. fell to Australia 7-6 on penalty kicks in the Semifinal before dropping a 2-0 result to Ghana in the Third-Place Match.
After leaving Residency and graduating high school, Beckerman signed with the M.L.S. in 2000 and was allocated to the Miami Fusion. The 18-year-old scored his first professional goal in only his second match, tallying in a 6-2 win against D.C. United on Sept. 9, but would only play five total games for the club in two seasons.
Due to his limited playing time, we don’t have a photo of Kyle’s time in Miami. After the decision was made to contract the franchise in early 2002, Beckerman was chosen by the Colorado Rapids in that year’s M.L.S. Dispersal Draft.
Beckerman found his professional footing in Denver, growing into a consistent contributor by 2003 and a feared force in central midfield during the next few years. Mostly out of the National Team picture during that time, he came back into the spotlight in January 2007, earning his first U.S. Men’s National Team cap as he replaced Rapids teammate Pablo Mastroeni in the MNT’s 3-1 friendly win against Denmark.
Bob Bradley then summoned Beckerman for that summer’s Copa America in Venezuela, where he made appearances in a 4-1 defeat to Argentina and 1-0 loss against Colombia.
A week after the tournament, Beckerman returned stateside to find he’d been traded to Real Salt Lake. The 2005 expansion club had struggled mightily through its first two-and-a-half seasons, but new head coach Jason Kreis sought out the 25-year-old midfielder as a significant piece in his project to rebuild from the first few years.
The following season, RSL sneaked into the M.L.S. Cup Playoffs where they fell 1-0 to New York Red Bulls in the Western Conference Final.
Beckerman’s play that season led to his first extended run with the MNT, as called on the midfielder for the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Appearing in all six matches, Beckerman scored his first and only international goal, a beautiful half-volley to equalize in the 49th minute of the USA’s 2-1 extra time win vs. Panama in the Quarterfinals.
Fresh off his run in the Gold Cup, Beckerman received his first World Cup Qualifying appearance that September before leading RSL to an incredible turnaround that fall as they stunned Columbus Crew SC, Chicago Fire and eventually the LA Galaxy to hoist the 2009 M.L.S. Cup.
Beckerman received scant call-ups the next 18 months, at one point admitting, “For a while, the National Team was really done for me, and I didn’t think it was going to come back.”
Nearly two years after lifting M.L.S. Cup, Beckerman returned in 2011 and began to grasp a regular role with the U.S. MNT.
In 2012, he was part of the U.S. side that earned an historic 1-0 friendly win against Mexico at Estadio Azteca…
And the following year even captained the U.S. for the first time in a January Camp friendly against Canada.
That summer, he took part in his second CONCACAF Gold Cup…
…where he played in five of six matches as the U.S. won its fifth confederation championship.
Beckerman also stepped in for the injured Michael Bradley as the U.S. clinched qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup with a 2-0 win against Mexico on Sept. 10, 2013 in Columbus.
Fifteen years after first representing the U.S. at the U-17 World Cup in New Zealand, Beckerman earned a place on the MNT roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
And just as he signed each note he left for his parents, he wore the No. 15 shirt for the U.S. in Brazil.
Appearing in all three of the USA’s Group Stage matches, Beckerman put in workman-like performances doing what he’d always done – gumming up the works for passes through midfield while continually frustrating opponent’s star attackers.
Though the U.S. fell 1-0 to World Cup champions Germany in their final group game, Beckerman earned Man of the Match honors as the MNT advanced to the Knockout Round.
Since the World Cup, Beckerman continued to help the U.S. Men’s National Team both in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying…
… at the 2016 Copa America Centenario…
…and has continued to do his thing for Real Salt Lake.
In 2016, he moved past Brad Davis for most appearances by a field player in M.L.S. history. As of writing, his 412 M.L.S. appearances place him third all-time behind only goalkeepers Kevin Hartman (416) and RSL and MNT teammate Nick Rimando (430).
Anyway, here’s to you Kyle Beckerman. Have a great 35th birthday.
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team opens the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship against Jamaica on Sunday, April 23 at Estadio Maracaná de Panama in Panama City, Panama. The game can be seen live at 1:30 p.m. ET on the official CONCACAF Facebook page.
Here’s what you should know about Sunday’s opponents:
What’s in a (nick)name?
Jamaica has one of the most interesting nicknames in world soccer, with the country’s national teams referred to as the Reggae Boyz in recognition of the popular genre of music that originated on the island in the 1960s.
How they got here
Jamaica makes their 13th appearance in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship after finishing third in the 2016 Caribbean Football Union Men’s U-17 Tournament. The Reggae Boyz produced Group Stage wins against Guyana (4-1), Antigua and Barbuda (3-1) and U.S. Virgin Island to advance to the Final Round. There they defeated Bermuda 6-2, drew 0-0 with Haiti and bested Trinidad & Tobago 3-2 to advance to qualify for the tournament and advance to the Semifinals. There, they fell 1-0 to Cuba, before rebounding with a 3-0 victory against Curaçao in the Third-Place Match.
CONCACAF U-17 Championship History
In the 17 CONCACAF tournaments from 1983 to 2015, the Reggae Boyz have taken part in 12 and qualified twice in 1999 and 2011.
- READ MORE: Five Things to Know About the 2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
- READ MORE: The U-17 MNT's History in World Cup Qualifying
In 1999, Jamaica hosted and finished atop Group A, collecting wins against Honduras and Costa Rica before tying the USA to secure their top spot and qualify for the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship in New Zealand.
In 2011, Jamaica drew with Trinidad & Tobago and defeated Guatemala to advance to the Knockout Round where they defeated Honduras 2-1 to book their place at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.
The two organizations with the largest representation of players on the Jamaican roster are Clarendon College and Kingston College (2 each). These four players, along with 11 other players, are all based out of Jamaica. Four players are based in the USA and one player joins the side unattached to any school or club.
GOALKEEPERS (2): Tajay Griffi (Wolmers Boys/JAM); Daniel Russel (Manchester High/JAM)
DEFENDERS (9): Calwayne Alle (St James High/JAM); Kendall Edward (Atlanta United FC/USA); Kimani Gibbon (St Jago High/JAM); Akeem Mullin (Vauxhall High Sch./JAM); Damani Ose (Cosby High/USA); Casseam Priest (Kingston College/JAM); Shane Ricket (Little London High/JAM); Richard Thomps (Herbert Technical/JAM); Jamoi Tope (Camperdown High/JAM)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Coby Atkins (American Heritage/USA); Renato Campbe (Kingston College/JAM); Jermaine Lyon (Denham Town High/JAM); Kaheem Parris (Dinthill Technical/JAM); Jeremy Verley (Milton Academy/USA); Blake White (Unattached)
FORWARDS (3): Nicque Dale (Clarendon College/JAM); Ricardo McInto (Clarendon College/JAM); Raewin Senior (Excelsior High/JAM)
Playing in the USA
Defenders Damani Ose and Kendall Edward, and midfielders Coby Atkins and Jeremy Verley all currently play soccer in the United States. Verley gained notoriety in July of 2016 when the midfielder left Jamaican club Harbour View F.C. after receiving a scholarship to attend Milton Academy in Boston, Mass., for his three remaining years of high school.
Edward is also a notable Reggae Boy playing in the USA as the defender currently plays in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy for Atlanta United’s U-15/16 side.Read more
The topic of head injuries is a complex one, even for the top professionals and leaders in the medical field. Progress has been made in recent years with regards to identifying concussions and other head injuries, but everyone agrees there is still work to be done.
This weekend, US Soccer, Major League Soccer, and the National Women’s Soccer League officially joined forces in an attempt to accelerate that work. The three entities opened the Head Injury in Soccer: From Science to the Field summit on Friday in New York, bringing together coaches, players, medical experts, and other officials from all levels of soccer in North America.
Concussions are the focal point of the conference, including how to identify when a player has one, how to treat the injury, and how to limit the risk of suffering one.
“MLS, U.S. Soccer and the NWSL have brought together some of the leading professionals on head injury management and prevention to share their research and take a proactive approach at this issue,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. “But this is not just about sport. This is about society, this is about the health of athletes and those who deal with head injuries in everyday life.”
The recent increase in research into head injuries in sports has clearly raised awareness and instigated new, proactive initiatives, including the establishment of MLS’s concussion protocol in 2011 and the U.S. Soccer Concussion Initiative in 2016. Now the sport’s leadership in the US hopes to drive the discussion forward.
However, fully understanding such a complex injury will require patience, medical experts caution.
“There’s still so much to learn about the injury,” U.S. Soccer Chief medical officer Dr. George Chiampas told MLSsoccer.com. “Applying one way or one mechanism of managing it, for example, in the professional [ranks], may not necessarily be applicable across the board for the youth.
“Regardless, we still have to find ways to make sure that at the end, any player who plays the game who has a concussion or a suspected concussion is managed appropriately. If that management is handled appropriately and the individual is taken care of, obviously, their ability to return to sport and the game they love is going to be a positive outcome.”
For Garber, finding answers to the litany of questions about head injuries in soccer will be an ongoing quest.
“As the leader of the men’s first division league, the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of concussions in soccer, along with the education of players, stakeholders and the community, has always been a mandate for us,” he said. “But also as a citizen of the world and as somebody that thinks about how we try to use sport to improve the lives of people that live in our society, I believe we can use all of our connections, with sponsors and broadcasters, and the influence that we have on society to raise awareness of these issues that go way beyond sport.
“This summit is just the beginning.”