IN HEARTBREAKING 2-1 LOSS TO ARGENTINA
• U.S. Finishes in Second Place in Torneo Internacional Sub-17 in San Luis, Argentina
• Ellis McLoughlin Named Sierra Mist Man of the Match
• U.S. moves on to Rosario Tomorrow to Begin Second Half of Month-long Tour
SAN LUIS, Argentina (October 13, 2006) — A goal in the waning moments of stoppage time condemned the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team to a 2-1 defeat against Argentina in the final of the Torneo Internacional Sub-17 in San Luis, Argentina. A goal by Sierra Mist Man of the Match Ellis McLoughlin allowed the U.S. to carry a 1-0 lead late into the second half before surrendering two goals in the final 20 minutes that ultimately delivered the championship to the host nation.
The U.S. matched or bettered Argentina’s performance throughout the entire contest, but breakdowns at the end were the team’s eventual undoing.
“We played good soccer today against one of the best teams in the world," said U.S. coach John Hackworth. "That being said, with the end result we have no one to blame but ourselves. We got outworked in the last 20 minutes of the game, and that is not acceptable. It’s one thing to let them back in the game; it’s another to lose it three minutes into injury time. That part is very heartbreaking.”
The U.S. came out organized and energetic, neutralizing Argentina’s classic playmaker in Brian Sarmiento while demonstrating a much more composed attack than their first two matches on the tour. Despite the intensity, neither team managed to create any serious threats on goal through the first 30 minutes. The U.S. would draw first blood five minutes before the halftime whistle.
After a nice build up, McLoughlin retreated to receive the ball just past the midline and alertly changed the point of attack, delivering a great service across the field to left back Greg Garza. As Garza advanced down the flank, McLoughlin darted towards the penalty and received the return cross near the penalty spot. With the goalkeeper charging, he slipped to the right and calmly slotted home his first goal of the South American tour.
Argentina had two chances to equalize before intermission, the first coming less than 60 seconds after the U.S. goal when a 40-yard drive from Cristian Gaitan forced U.S. ‘keeper Zac MacMath to surrender a corner by tipping the effort over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner, Danny Wenzel’s attempt at a clearance was disrupted by Gustavo Bou, whose subsequent goal was nullified by referee Sergio Pezotta.
The second half began just as competitively as its predecessor, the USA’s defensive effort showing no signs of relenting. Nonetheless, an alert play off of an Argentinean punt put second-half sub Aldo Rivas in on goal. Smart one-on-one defending from Mykel Bates forced Rivas wide, resulting in a harmless shot wide of goal.
Undaunted, Argentina turned up the heat and finally broke through in the 74th minute. Sarmiento finally managed to escape his markers, getting passed two defenders on the right flank and lofting a chip to the back post to an unmarked Maximiliano Oliva. Standing underneath the cross, Oliva’s first-time volley took one hop before looping into the side netting on the far post.
The U.S. had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 85th minute as a result of a freak play. After corralling a free kick, Argentina goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola attempted a quick punt to release a counter-attack. His strike caromed off the back of Jesse Paredes, falling at the feet of Matthew Uy, who found himself staring at an empty net 18 yards from goal. His hurried effort skidded agonizingly past the left post, leaving the score deadlocked.
It was the U.S. who once again had a chance to move ahead five minutes from time. A quick counter attack found Ryan Gracia speeding down the left flack. From the corner, his curling delivery found McLoughlin dead center and 15 yards from goal. Once again, a rushed shot sailed harmlessly over the goal.
As the match inched towards penalty kicks, Sarmiento yet again created the decisive blow. After eluding no less than three defenders and barreling into the box, his shot got past MacMath but was heroically cleared off the line by Kofi Sarkodie. An attempted clearance by Brandon Zimmerman proved unsuccessful, leaving Nicolas Mazzola unimpeded to bury a shot in the back of the net and dash the hopes of a U.S. victory.
The team packs up tomorrow and heads to Rosario, where they will remain for the duration of the month-long tour of Uruguay and Argentina. The U.S. will play several matches against club teams, in addition to their final international on Oct. 25 against Paraguay.
-- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: USA vs. Argentina
Date: October 13, 2006
Competition: Torneo Internacional Sub-17
Venue: Estadio Juan Gilberto Funes – San Luis, Argentina
Kickoff: 4 p.m. AT
Weather: Sunny, Mild
1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
Argentina 0 2 2
USA – Ellis McLoughlin (Ryan Garza) 40th minute
ARG - Maximiliano Oliva (Brian Sarmiento) 74.
ARG - Nicolas Mazzola 94+.
USA: 18-Zac MacMath; 15-Greg Garza (20-Ryan Gracia, 82), 3-Mykell Bates, 4-Howard Turk, 22-Kofi Sarkodie; 6-Danny Wenzel (16-Brandon Zimmerman, 87), 8-Jared Jeffrey (capt.), 13-Jesse Paredes, 2-Sheanon Williams (14-Amobi Okugo,75), 7-Axel Levy (5-Matthew Uy, 46); 9-Ellis McLoughlin
Subs not used: 1-Josh Lambo, 10-Danny Barrera, 11-Kirk Urso, 12-Jose Altimorano, 19-Brendan King
Head Coach: John Hackworth
ARG: 12-Leandro Chichizola; 3-Maximiliano Oliva, 6-Fernando Meza, 2-Alexis Machuca (4-Mateo Musacchio, 56), 7-Damian Martinez (20-Nicolas Mazzola, 67), 8-Cristian Gaitan (14-Lucas Tricadichi, 46), 5-Fernando Godoy, 19-Gustavo Bou (15-Eduardo Salvio, 46); 18-Brian Sarmiento; 9-Federico Laurito (17-Aldo Rivas, 46), 11-Santiago Fernandez
Subs not used: 1-Federico Nicosia, 13-German Rica, 16-Guido Pizarro Demestri, 21-Leandro Arguello
Head Coach: Manuel Angel Toho
Stats Summary: USA/ARG
Corner Kicks: 5/8
USA - Howard Turk (caution) 42nd minute
USA – Danny Wenzel (caution) 67.
ARG – Eduardo Salvio (caution) 80.
USA – Elllis McLoughlin (caution) 83.
Referee: Sergio Pezotta
Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Ellis McLoughlin