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Christopher Lema

U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team

U-17 MNT vs. Haiti: Post-Match Quotes - April 7, 2013

Post-Game Quote Sheet: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Haiti
April 7, 2013

On the game overall:
“We’re very happy we got the three points. I thought the guys did a great job. A lot of times the first game of a tournament is difficult, with a little bit of nerves. I thought that the guys did a very good job and we got a result; that’s important.”

On whether he was surprised by Haiti’s showing:
“No, not surprised at all. I’ve played against Haiti when I played for the National Team and you saw Haiti in the Under-20 qualifying and they have a lot of talent. They’re athletic, they’re strong, they’re fast and they can play. They’re definitely a difficult team to play against. We tried to make sure our guys were aware, and early in the first half they came at us with pace. We thought if we kept our composure, we passed better and kept our shape a little bit better we would get our opportunities, which we did. After our defense settled down, I don’t think we gave them too much to look at in front of the goal.”

On Christopher Lema, who scored the game’s first two goals:
“Chris had a great game for us. He was very good on the ball, very good passing, was able to link up our defenders with our attackers, obviously took the penalty and had a nice second goal. He was very good tonight. Chris has been improving with our group from Day 1. He’s a valuable player for us and it’s great to see him grow as a player and to go out and score some goals for us.”

On the first goal settling the team down:
“I think it definitely helped, for sure, to get the goal. I still thought we had some chances. We had one really early in the game in the [first] minute of the game [from Ahinga Selemani]. Anytime you get an early goal and the first goal, it’s really important. It definitely helped us and gave us confidence.”

On Corey Baird, who moved into an attacking role during the second half:
“Corey’s been doing a great job for us as the number 10, and he does a really good job usually finding space in between the back four and the midfielders. He was having a little more of a difficult time in this game in the transition finding the ball. It looked like a little bit of man marking going on with him, so we thought by moving him out left, we thought Alan [Winn] got a little bit tired and we put Corey out left, brought Joel [Sonora] in to see if he could have a little more success holding the ball for us, which I thought worked.”

U-17 MNT midfielder COREY BAIRD
On drawing the penalty kick leading to Christopher Lema’s game-winner:
“We strung a bunch of passes together and I found the ball out wide. It was a big gap. I knew I could take the guy on. I got past him and he just put me down.”

On switching from a midfield to forward role in the second half:
“When I first came to Residency two years ago, I started playing as a winger and I moved over to attacking midfield about six or seven months ago. It was a position that I was not used to. It was good to find my way further up the field today and attack more.”

On the team’s improvement during the course of game:
“We just picked it up, and we all started playing the ball, passing, finding opportunities, taking the shots. In the second half we came out stronger than the first half and just pulled through it. We got the three goals and the win. That’s what we needed.”

On the first-half penalty kick:
“My teammates trusted me taking the PK. Therefore I have to trust myself. I did a little stutter step, saw the goalkeeper move and just went to the other side.”

On the buildup for his second goal, assisted by Rubio Rubin:
“You would expect a forward to cross that ball back into the box or go for the header himself, but he saw that I was there, flicked it back to me and I just finished. Once I hit it, it felt perfect.”

U-17 MNT goalkeeper JEFF CALDWELL
On rebounding from a slow start to shut out Haiti:
“It was a little shaky the first 20 minutes, getting the first-game-of-the-tournament nerves out of our system. Once we got in a flow and we started stringing some passes together, we got in our rhythm, we got the first goal, Corey drew the penalty and Chris tucked it away. That’s always huge to get the first goal. Overall, I thought the back line was great. I didn’t have much to do today but we got our feet under us. We got into halftime up 1-0, came out the right way in the second half, stayed composed, got the second and third goal and did exactly what we needed to do. At the end of the day, we got three points, three goals for a positive goal difference and we’re looking forward to Guatemala.”

On the excitement of kicking off the big-stage event:
“It’s tremendously exciting. It’s great to finally be here and get it done. This is what we’ve been working toward. For me, it’s been eight months. It’s exciting to get out here and be in the moment and take advantage of it. There were jitters, but it’s what we’re here for. I enjoyed it, and I think everybody enjoyed it too after we got rolling.”

U-17 Men's National Team Opens CONCACAF Championship with 3-0 Win against Haiti

  • Christopher Lema Tallies First Two Goals and Ahinga Selemani Adds Final Strike
  • U.S. Sits in First Place in Group C with Three Points
  • U.S. U-17 MNT Next Faces Guatemala on Thursday, April 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET; Match to be Broadcast on 30-Minute Delay by FOX Soccer

PANAMA CITY, Panama (April 7, 2013) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got two goals from Christopher Lema and a late strike from Ahinga Selemani to lead the team to a 3-0 victory against Haiti in its opening match of the CONCACAF Under-17 Championship at Estadio Rommel Fernandez in Panama City, Panama.

With the victory, the U.S. sits atop Group C with three points and can earn a spot in the quarterfinals with at least a tie in their second and final group game against Guatemala on Thursday, April 11. The match will kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Rommel Fernandez and will be broadcast on a 30-minute delay on FOX Soccer beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Fans can follow the match on’s MatchTracker and via Twitter @ussoccer_ynt.

The top two teams in each group move on to the all-important quarterfinals. The tournament’s four semifinalists will qualify for the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup to be held from Oct. 17-Nov. 8 in the United Arab Emirates. The U.S. is the only country that has qualified for all 15 FIFA U-17 World Cups.

The U.S. had a chance only 30 seconds into the match when Ahinga Selemani got free on the right side and unleashed a shot, but Haiti goalkeeper Cadet Cleef made the save.

Despite that early opportunity, it was Haiti that looked more likely to get on the scoreboard first with a couple quality chances by forward Jonel Desire in the first 10 minutes. In the sixth minute, Desire ran down a long ball along the right side and took a touch toward goal, but his shot from a tough angle was well wide of the far post. Two minutes later, a flubbed shot from the top of the box by one of his teammates fell precipitously to Desire inside the middle of the penalty area, but he directed his uncontested shot wide right.

The U.S. settled down around the 15th minute and began creating chances and controlling the tempo of the game. In the 20th minute, Rubio Rubin collected a cross inside the box from the left side from Alan Winn, cut to his dominant left foot and hit a shot that clanged off the right post.

The U.S. kept the pressure on and four minutes later Corey Baird was taken down inside the area after eluding his defender on the right side. Lema stepped up to take the penalty kick and slotted it home to the right side as the Haiti goalkeeper guessed the wrong way.

Haiti had a great opportunity just before halftime off a corner kick when Arcus Carlens unleashed on a poor clearance at the top of the box, but Elijah Martin came up with a huge play by heading the ball off the line near the left post.

The U.S. put the match away in the 73rd minute when Lema scored his second goal of the night, this one an impressive one-time strike from the top of the box. Baird sent in a cross from the right side and Rubin did well to win a header at the left corner of the six-yard box and direct it back to the top of the area for Lema. The New York Red Bulls Academy midfielder hit the volley low to the left corner past the ‘keeper.

The final goal came in the 86th minute on a fantastic individual effort by Selemani. The forward battled with a Haitian defender down the left flank and got a fortuitous bounce near the end line that provided him with a clear opportunity on goal. Despite the tight angle, Selemani buried his shot to give the U.S. the 3-0 lead.

Additional Notes:

  • Group A includes Panama, Barbados and Jamaica. In the opening match, Jamaica and Panama tied 1-1.
  • Group B consists of Canada, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. In the opening match, Canada defeated Trinidad & Tobago 2-0.
  • Group D is comprised of Mexico, Honduras and Cuba. Mexico and Cuba played in the late match this evening to open the group.
  • In the first half, Haiti made two substitutions for injuries in the 32nd and 39th minutes.
  • Midfielder Christopher Lema and goalkeeper Evan Louro were members of the New York Red Bulls team that won the program’s first U-15/16 Finals Week crown on July 23, 2012.
  • Eleven players on the U-17 MNT roster have current ties to U.S. Soccer Development Academy teams.
  • This was the first meeting between the U.S. and Haiti in a CONCACAF U-17 Championship or Tournament since the competition began in 1983.
  • The roster consists of 19 players who are members of the U.S. U-17 Residency Program. The only player not part of the Residency Program is midfielder Joel Soñora, who plays for Boca Juniors in Argentina and is the son of three-time Major League Soccer All-Star Diego Soñora.

-U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Match Report-

Match: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Haiti
Date: April 7, 2013
Competition: 2013 CONCACAF U-17 Championship; Group C
Venue: Estadio Rommel Fernández; Panama City, Panama
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. ET
Attendance: --
Weather: 87 degrees, mostly cloudy

Scoring Summary:    1 2 F
USA                             1 2 3
HAI                               0 0 0

USA – Christopher Lema (penalty)                           26th minute
USA – Christopher Lema (Rubio Rubin)                   73
USA – Ahinga Selemani                                  86

USA: 1-Jeff Caldwell; 2-Shaquell Moore (capt.), 4-Tommy Redding, 5-Conor Donovan, 3-John Requejo Jr.; 8-Christopher Lema, 10-Corey Baird, 16-Elijah Martin (6-Tyler Turner, 90+3); 11-Alan Winn (19-Joel Soñora, 61), 9-Ahinga Selemani (17-Sebastian Elney, 87), 7-Rubio Rubin
Subs Not Used: 12-Evan Louro, 13-Peter Schropp, 14-Justen Glad, 15-Mukwelle Akale, 18-Angel Heredia, 20-Junior Flores
Head coach: Richie Williams

HAI: 21-Cadet Cleef; 2-Joseph Guerson, 3-Arcus Carlens, 5-Clebert Ednel (16-Rousse Esterdy, 65), 7-Jean Wisner Derival, 8-Richelin Etienne (capt.), 9-Jonel Desire, 13-Alexis Josue (6-Stevenson Frederic, 34), 14-Oracius Wilmont, 18-Pheide Erickson, 20-Ronald Jean-Marie (10-Therson Philippe, 39)
Subs Not Used: 11-Campoy Alessandro, 15-Destine Ronaldo, 19-Derrick Etienne
Head coach: Rafael Novaes

Stats Summary: USA / HAI
Shots: 10 / 11
Shots on Goal: 6 / 6
Saves: 6 / 3
Corner Kicks: 4 / 6
Fouls: 14 / 7
Offside: 1 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
HAI – Richelin Etienne (caution)         25th minute
HAI – Jean Wisner Derival (caution)   28
HAI - Arcus Carlens (caution)             88

Referee: Christophel Stewart (CAY)
Assistant Referee 1: Venton Mars (GUY)
Assistant Referee 2: Kesle Powell (JAM)
Fourth Official: Kevin Morrison (JAM) Man of the Match: Christopher Lema