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Quote Sheet: U-17 MNT Excited by Big Win in Opening game of 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Quote Sheet
USA 5, CUBA 0
Feb. 27, 2015

U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
On the 5-0 victory to begin the Under-17 Championship:
"It was a good start for the team. Obviously it was important to come in and start off on the right foot, get three points and score some goals. So I thought it was a solid showing today against a Cuba team that is difficult and makes it hard on you, and I thought at times were physical and defended well. So it was difficult at times but I thought the guys did a great job.”

On being considered a favorite to win the Championship:
"You’re always happy with a win, no matter what. The objective is to go out and win. Again, we want to take one game at a time. Trinidad is next and we have to focus on Trinidad, who’s going to be a good opponent. Again we take one game at a time. We have to get the results, play well, and then hopefully we’ll continue that one game after another and into the final on the last day of the tournament.”

On how the team dealt with the climate:
“We were fine. We train full time in Florida so we also have a lot of heat in Florida - we trained the last year and half in Florida. We felt fine. The guys came through the game with no issues. We have a strong squad of 20 players that we trust that will be able to come in and play for us at certain times and do well for us if need be.”

On the play of Joe Gallardoin his first major competition after coming back from a broken leg in August 2014:
“It’s great to see Joe back from his injury. Joe’s a good goal scorer – he was proving it up until his injury. Now he’s back, and obviously got three goals tonight. He worked extremely hard, he played well and he was rewarded with his three goals. I believe that he’ll continue to do that throughout the tournament. Again it’s great for him to be able to recover from the injury and to be back with this team.”

On if he expects the coming games will be more difficult:
“Anybody in international soccer can beat anybody. So we’re not going to relax and take any team for granted. We respect all the teams; they’re all competitive and we don’t feel that there’s going to be any easy game. We have to show up and make sure that we play well offensively and defensively and have good team outings.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder CHRISTIAN PULISIC
On starting the tournament with a 5-0 victory:
"It was great. We played really hard right from the start and got that early goal, which really helped us. After that we didn’t hold back. All the guys did their job and played really well. We kept a clean sheet and we’re all happy and looking forward to the next game.”

On turning corner kick drills into an early goal:
“It’s awesome. To practice that with Richie showing us the plays we’d like to do, and just being able to execute is really important. So it was really good to get that first goal like that.”

On having two goals called back early on:
“We weren’t worried. Things like that happen. We just had to keep pushing and we knew they’d (goals) come.”

U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder ALEJANDRO ZENDEJAS

On starting the tournament off with a convincing win:
"It’s definitely exciting. Of course we still want to look at the good things we did and the things we can do better. But I think we’re all very happy to start off with a win. And now we’re just ready for the next game.”

On getting an early goal and being able to add to the lead:
“It was great, but we knew we still had to keep our composure and keep playing, keep scoring. And obviously we were able to do that.”

On how his goal came about:
“Josh (Perez) sent a ball from the left side and Haji (Wright) tried to play it back. It was kind of bouncing around. Joe (Gallardo) laid it off and I just hit it first time. We’ve practiced finishing a lot, and it paid off, so I’m happy.”

U.S. U-17 MNT forward JOE GALLARDO
On scoring three goals in the win to start the tournament:
"I’m happy I got the hat trick, but more happy that we got the win as team. We played really well and I’m just happy for the victory today.”

On how he scored the first goal:
“As coach always tells me, run to the first post, and that’s what I did. I saw a clear path for Christian, he got it across and I was able to tap it in.”

On returning to the form he had prior to his injury:
“I’m just happy that I’m back to how I used to play. I’m thankful to God that he gave me the strength and perfect mindset to come back and play really well.”

Photo Gallery: U-17 MNT Off to Flying Start at 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

Photos from the U-17 MNT's 5-0 win against Cuba in its opening Group A game at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, which is being held in Honduras. The U.S. next plays Trinidad & Tobago on Monday at 6 p.m. ET. The match will be broadcast on FOX Sports 2 and Univision Deportes. Fans will also be able to follow all the action on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt and @ussoccer_esp

U-17 MNT vs. Cuba: Highlights - Feb. 27, 2015

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team kicks off the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship with a 5-0 victory against Cuba.

U-17 MNT Posts 5-0 Victory against Cuba to Open 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras (Feb. 27, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got off to a strong start at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship, earning a 5-0 victory against Cuba in the Group A opener at Estadio Francisco Morazán. 

Joe Gallardo scored three goals, Hugo Arellano and Alejandro Zendejas tallied in the first half, while Christian Pulisic and Luca de la Torre each provided two assists to lead the way for the USA. 

With the victory, the U-17 MNT has now won seven straight group openers at this qualifying event, starting with the 2001 edition of the tournament. 

It was a dominant performance by the USA, which had ample chances to pad the lead in both halves. Gallardo struck the right post in the 20th minute and Haji Wright had a wide-open scoring opportunity but hit the left of the frame in the 50th minute. 

In Friday’s earlier Group A match, Guatemala defeated Trinidad & Tobago 4-1. Jamaica and Honduras kicked off their group opener following USA-Cuba. 

The USA next faces Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes). 

Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic), 5th minute: Pulisic, who had threatened the net just one minute earlier to earn the corner kick, took the set piece opportunity from the left side, whipping the ball into the box to Arellano. The team captain rose over three Cuba defenders and headed it into the right side of the frame for the early lead. It was Arellano’s first goal of the year and second during his U-17 MNT tenure. USA 1, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic), 40th minute: Pulisic and Alejandro Zendejas played a swift give-and-go down the right side and Pulisic crossed from the edge of the six-yard box. Gallardo tapped it home with ease for his second goal of the year and 11th of his U-17 MNT career. USA 2, CUB 0 

USA – Alejandro Zendejas, 43rd minute: Just before halftime, the USA worked the ball in from the left and Cuba’s Felipe Hurtado attempted a header clearance. Zendejas was there to settle the ball and ripped a long distance shot into the left of the frame to push the lead to three goals. Zendejas tallied his first international goal of 2015 and fourth during his U-17 career. USA 3, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 65th minute: Just seconds after entering the match, de la Torre took two quick touches in the box and set up Gallardo from 20 yards out. Gallardo fired toward the left of the frame, his shot bouncing once in the six-yard box, slightly deflected by Cuba goalkeeper Jesus Enrique Hernandez and finding its way into the back of the net. USA 4, CUB 0 

USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre), 88th minute: The USA wrapped up its scoring when de la Torre played a through ball to Gallardo at close range. Gallardo’s shot was stopped briefly by Jesus Enrique Hernandez, but bounced right back to Gallardo who capitalized on the second chance and found the left side of the frame for the hat trick. He now leads the U-17s this year with four goals this year and has 14 career goals. USA 5, CUB 0 (FINAL) 

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 10th and 13th minutes: The Honduras goalkeeper was challenged early and often, required to limit the damage on a couple occasions. In the 10th minute, Hernandez lunched to his right for a diving save on Josh Perez’s strike. Hernandez allowed a rebound, but Christian Pulisic was offside. Then in the 13th minute, Hernandez again dove to his right to smother another Perez shot. 

USA – Will Pulisic, 23rd minute: Cuba’s Eduard Puga drove a free kick into the box that Alejandro Zendejas headed away. But Cuba continued to threaten in the area and had a chance to attack the net again from the left side of the box with much of the back line pushed up. Pulisic alertly darted off of his line and snared the ball at the edge of the box. 

CUB – Jesus Enrique Hernandez, 62nd minute: U.S. forward Joe Gallardo found a window to shoot from 21 yards out. Hernandez once again made a diving save to his right, making up for a Cuba back line that allowed plenty of space for the USA to work the ball in. 

Next on the Schedule:
The U-17 MNT resumes Group A play against Trinidad & Tobago at 6 p.m. ET on Monday, March 2, at Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula.
Broadcast information: FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes
Social: Twitter (@ussoccer_ynt; @ussoccer_esp

Additional Notes:

  • The U-17 MNT is now 4-1-0 in international play this year.
  • The USA moved to 6-0-2 all-time against Cuba in this tournament’s history.
  • Head coach Richie Williams’ starting lineup featured a 4-3-3 formation, with Will Pulisic in net and a defensive line that included John Nelson at left back, Matthew Olosunde at right back and a center back duo of team captain Hugo Arellano and Alexis Velela.
  • The midfield trio comprised of Alejandro Zendejas, Eric Calvillo and Christian Pulisic in an attacking role.
  • The front line featured Josh Perez on the left, Haji Wright on the right and Joe Gallardo in the middle.
  • Christian Pulisic and Wright earned their 30th international caps in this age group, tying for the most by any player in this cycle.
  • Every starter – other than Gallardo who was injured for much of 2014 with a leg injury – has earned 19 or more caps in this age group.
  • The USA was forced to burn an early substitution in the 28th minute when Tyler Adams entered for Calvillo, who suffered a lower leg injury.
  • Midfielder Luca de la Torre made his first appearance of the year when he entered for Zendejas in the 64th minute.
  • In the 84th minute, McKinze Gaines entered the game for Wright. Gaines is the only USA player to appear in all five international matches this year.

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

Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Cuba U-17 Men’s National Team
Date: Feb. 27, 2015
Competition: 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship
Venue: Estadio Francisco Morazán; San Pedro Sula, Honduras
Kickoff: 6 p.m. ET (5 p.m. local)
Attendance: 720
Weather: 86 degrees; clear

Scoring Summary:    1 2 F

USA                            3 2 5 
CUB                            0 0 0

USA – Hugo Arellano (Christian Pulisic)                   5th minute
USA – Joe Gallardo (Christian Pulisic)                      40
USA – Alejandro Zendejas                                         43
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de le Torre)                      65
USA – Joe Gallardo (Luca de la Torre)                      88

Lineups: 
USA: 1-Will Pulisic; 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson; 6-Eric Calvillo (18-Tyler Adams, 28), 20-Alejandro Zendejas (8-Luca de la Torre, 64), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Haji Wright (13-McKinze Gaines, 86), 9-Joe Gallardo, 11-Josh Perez
Subs Not Used: 12-Kevin Silva, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Thomas McCabe, 17-Pierre da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez
Head coach: Richie Williams

CUB: 12-Enrique Hernandez; 2-Felipe Hurtado (18-Neisser Sando, 54), 3-Dariel Morejon, 4-Carlos Borromeo (capt.), 15-Jeffrey Delgado; 5-Jansiel Blanco, 6-Jonathan Ramirez (17-Yordan Alonso, 66), 7-Raycharles Herrera (16-Brian Savigne, 87), 10-Eduard Puga, 13-Serguey Campillo; 8-Yosniel Gonzalez 
Subs Not Used: 1-Lazaro Garcia; 9-Carlos Sebrango, 11-Nelson Betancourt, 14-Yon Hernandez, 19-Omar Romero, 20-Yordanis Barreto  
Head coach: Fidel Salazar

Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 21 / 6
Shots on Goal: 13 / 0
Saves: 0 / 8
Corner Kicks: 4 / 2
Fouls: 11 / 14
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary: 
CUB – Felipe Hurtado (caution)                                39th minute
USA – Alejandro Zendejas (caution)                        51
USA – Haji Wright (caution)                                     69

Officials: 
Referee: Mathieu Boudeau (CAN)
Assistant Referee 1: Kenroy Willis (CAY)
Assistant Referee 2: Zachari Zeegelar
Fourth Official: Drew Fisher (CAN)

ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Joe Gallardo

Richie Williams Names 20-Player Roster for 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship

CHICAGO (Feb. 24, 2015) – U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach Richie Williams has named the 20-player roster that will represent the USA at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. The U.S. opens Group A play against Cuba on Friday, Feb. 27, at Estadio Francisco Morazan in San Pedro Sula, Honduras (FOX Sports 2, Univision Deportes).

“We’re very happy with the 20-man roster that we named, and we think it’s a strong and deep roster,” Williams said. “Obviously there were difficult decisions that needed to be made because we have a very good group, and we have a lot of players that have been here for a year and a half to two years that have really worked hard and developed. That made it difficult in terms of choosing that 20-man roster. It’s not easy when you have to tell players that they haven’t made it. But again, we feel this is a strong roster and it’s a group that’s ready to go and compete and win a championship.”

The USA is paired with Cuba, Guatemala, host side Honduras, Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago in Group A at the 2015 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. After the USA’s game against Cuba on Feb. 27, the U-17 MNT faces Trinidad & Tobago on March 2, followed by Guatemala (March 5), Honduras (March 8) and Jamaica (March 11).

U.S. U-17 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): William Pulisic (Richmond United), Kevin Silva (Players Development Academy)
DEFENDERS (7): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy), Hugo Arellano (LA Galaxy Academy), Daniel Barbir (West Bromwich Albion), Tanner Dieterich (Real Salt Lake AZ), John Nelson (Internationals), Matthew Olosunde (New York Red Bulls Academy), Alexis Velela (San Diego Surf)
MIDFIELDERS (5): Eric Calvillo (Real So Cal), Luca de la Torre (Fulham), Thomas McCabe (Players Development Academy), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Alejandro Zendejas (FC Dallas)
FORWARDS (6): Pierre da Silva (Orlando City Academy), McKinze Gaines (Lonestar SC), Joe Gallardo (Monterrey), Josh Perez (Unattached), Brandon Vazquez (Club Tijuana), Haji Wright (Unattached)

Four countries from the CONCACAF region will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. The Group A and B winners will clinch a berth for the World Cup and earn a spot in the CONCACAF U-17 Championship title match on March 15. The group’s second- and third-place teams will advance to a playoff stage. Those four teams will be seeded, with the No. 2 and 3 seeds playing in one playoff and the No. 1 and 4 seeds in the other playoff game, both taking place on March 15. The two playoff victors will earn the other two berths for the U-17 World Cup.

Additional Roster Notes:

  • Nineteen of the 20 players also have ties to the Development Academy.
  • Much of this U-17 MNT roster played a big role in the USA’s 17-7-3 international campaign in 2014.
  • The roster includes forward Haji Wright, the leading goal scorer last year with 18 goals in 22 matches. Midfielder Christian Pulisic, who officially joined German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund earlier this month, is coming off a strong 2014 with the U-17s that included 17 goals and seven assists in international play. Both Wright and Pulisic were nominees for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year.
  • The U-17s have had a successful cycle in international competition, including four tournament titles.
  • Most of this group was part of the 2013 Nike International Friendlies championship side and earned a runner-up finish in the 2014 Nike Friendlies.
  • Also in 2014, the USA defeated host Turkey to win the Aegean Cup title, followed by a championship crown at the Josip Katalinski International Tournament in Bosnia-Herzegovina and a title run at the Panama U-17 International Tournament in early October.
  • In preparation for qualifying, the U-17s have had four international matches this month. The U.S. split a two-game set against Panama on Feb. 2 and 4, then showcased a strong offensive display this past weekend with a 5-2 victory against Bermuda on Friday, Feb. 20, followed by a 4-0 win in the rematch two days later.
  • The USA has qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup on 14 occasions, more than any other CONCACAF team. The U-17 MNT’s absence from the 2013 World Cup was the only occurrence that the USA did not qualify for that stage.
Under-17s: In 2013, Pulisic earned six caps and recorded a goal and two assists. His goal capped off the scoring in a dominant 4-1 victory against Brazil on Dec. 13 at the 2013 Nike International Friendlies, where the U-17 MNT earned the title and Pulisic earned tournament MVP honors. In 2014, Pulisic was second on the U-17 MNT with 17 goals and tied for second with seven assists in international play. Pulisic scored three goals during the USA’s 6-0 win against China PR on Aug. 2 in the Copa Mexico de Naciones. He started in 17 of 21 games and logged 1,404 minutes. Pulisic was a nominee for 2014 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year. Pulisic is cousins with U-17 MNT goalkeeper Will Pulisic. … Under-15s: Pulisic played for the U-15 Boys’ National Team in 2012 and 2013.

Pulisic is a product of PA Classics, though his tenure in recent years was minimal because of his involvement with the U-17 Residency Program. In February of 2015, Pulisic officially joined German Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, where he immediately had the opportunity to train with the first team under manager Jurgen Klopp.

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