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U.S. U-17s Open Qualifying with Impressive 3-0 Victory vs. El Salvador

  • Ryan Soroka and Preston Zimmerman Each Notch a Goal and an Assist
  • U.S. Increases Unbeaten Streak to 14 Games in CONCACAF Qualifying
  • U.S. Will Next Face Cuba on Thursday, April 14 at 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)

HEREDIA, Costa Rica (April 12, 2005) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team increased their unbeaten streak in CONCACAF qualifying to 14 games this evening with a dominating 3-0 victory over El Salvador in their opening match of Group A of the U-17 Final Round CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament at Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, Costa Rica.

The U.S. sits in a first place tie in Group A with Costa Rica at three points as the host defeated Cuba by an identical 3-0 margin. The U.S. will face Cuba in their next match on Thursday, April 14 at 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET).

The U.S. came out blazing in the first half, putting pressure on El Salvador’s backline from the opening whistle. After creating havoc down both flanks and winning six corner kicks in the first 15 minutes, Ryan Soroka got the U.S. on the board in the 17th minute and Kyle Nakazawa doubled the lead eleven minutes later. After weathering an El Salvador storm early in the second half, Preston Zimmerman put the game out of reach with a goal four minutes from time.

“The first match in qualifying is the most important and we got that under our belt with a good result,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth, who is now 5-0-0 in international matches. “I think we did well not to give El Salvador anything too dangerous, but we definitely can play better. Now our focus is on our next match against Cuba.”

The U.S. overwhelmed El Salvador in the early stages of the match as they were continually able to push the ball out on the wings and swing in dangerous crosses. While outside midfielders Jeremy Hall and Soroka were very active on the flanks, so were forwards Preston Zimmerman and David Arvizu, who were getting free down the sideline early on and forcing El Salvador to give up a constant flow of corner kicks. Despite dominating the flow of the match and putting the ball in front of the goal, they struggled to finish their services.

The U.S. finally broke through in the 17th minute directly after El Salvador was called offside. Goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner hit a long ball into the U.S. front line where Jeremy Hall headed the ball a few yards ahead to the top of the box for Zimmerman, who also headed the ball on, knocking it to his left for an unmarked Soroka inside the penalty area. Soroka ran onto the beautiful flick and buried it low past the El Salvador goalkeeper Benji Villalobos.

In the 28th minute the U.S. capitalized on one of their numerous crosses into the box to double their lead. Kevin Alston played the ball up the right sideline and Zimmerman let it go by as Arvizu made a diagonal run to latch onto the pass. Arvizu sped up toward the endline past his defender and swerved in a ball to the penalty area where both Zimmerman and Nakazawa were open. The ball was a bit out of reach for Zimmerman, leaving it for Nakazawa to hit first-time into the back of the net.

Four minutes later, Zimmerman almost made it a three-goal lead off an Amaechi Igwe corner kick. Zimmerman brought the ball down about eight yards out at the back post and quickly hit a shot on frame that looked destined to sneak inside the left post, but Hall was unable to get out of the its path as it bounced off him and was eventually cleared out.

Rueckner had a quiet first half as the U.S. backline held El Salvador to just three shots, none of which were on goal. The only dangerous opportunity came in the final minute of the half when Cesar Vasquez got into the penalty area on the dribble and had an opportunity to take a shot, but instead tried to feed Kevin Escobar to his right with a pass that was broken up by Igwe.

El Salvador turned the tables in first 15 minutes of the second half as they were looking like the better team despite being down by two goals. El Salvador was able to get the U.S. defense off balance as Flores was able to find space inside the penalty area. El Salvador’s captain forced Rueckner to come off his line to clear out a dangerous service into the box and then a minute later got off a shot about 12 yards out that was deflected out for a corner kick.

Escobar finally forced Rueckner into his first save in the 57th minute when he tried his luck on a 30-yard free kick, the U.S. goalkeeper easily collecting the shot.

Despite being outplayed in the first 15 minutes, the U.S. got off a couple chances as well, forcing Villalobos into two saves.  Zimmerman turned on a ball in the box, striking it toward the right post and Avizu got free on goal with a pretty through ball by Soroka, but Villalobos was up to both challenges.

In the 62nd minute, Hackworth brought on Carlos Borja for Nikolas Besagno who had nicked-up his ankle earlier. The substitution worked wonders as Borja was able to settle the game back down for the U.S. and they once again began to play a much more simple game.

Arvizu was also substituted in the 68th minute after suffering from leg cramps. Forward Omar Gonzalez replaced Arvizu, getting his first international cap since joining the U-17s in January.

With things settled down and the U.S. in control, it appeared they would just keep possession and kill the clock, but Zimmerman had other plans as he buried home a Soroka cross after missing on a number of other chances on the night. With just three minutes remaining, the U.S. worked the ball around on the left flank until Soroka zipped in a ball from the left flank for Zimmerman wide-open at the back post. He tucked it past Villalobos with a left-footed strike inside the right post.
Two U.S. players picked up cards in the match as Arvizu and Igwe were both given cautions during the same sequence in the first half. Arvizu tried to slow down Jersson Gaytan as he dribbled on the right flank by pulling his jersey, but he got free and the referee played advantage until Igwe took Gaytan down with a tough tackle. The referee showed the two U.S. players a yellow card for their actions. If either player receives a yellow card in the match against Cuba they will be suspended for the final match against Costa Rica. 

The winners of Group A and Group B, which will be contested among Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Honduras in Mexico from May 17-21, will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship to be played in Peru from September 15-October 2. The two second-place finishers will play a home-and-home playoff series for the third and final CONCACAF berth for the world championship.

The U.S. is the only nation to qualify and compete in all 10 FIFA World Championships at this age group. The U.S. won the CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament twice (1983 and 1992) when just one winner was crowned from 1983-1996. Since the event became a final round qualification consisting of two groups in 1999, the U.S. has won their group twice, taking home the Group A title during the past two competitions in 2001 and 2003. 

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

Participants: USA vs. El Salvador
Competition: CONCACAF Group A Qualifying Tournament (Final Round)
Location: Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero; Heredia, Costa Rica
Date: April 12, 2005
Weather: Sunny, warm; 85 degrees

Scoring Summary:
                                1      2       F
USA                        2      1      3
El Salvador            0      0      0

USA – Ryan Soroka (Preston Zimmerman)    17th minute
USA – Kyle Nakazawa (David Avizu)               28.
USA – Preston Zimmerman (Ryan Soroka)    86. 

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Kevin Alston, 5-Ofori Sarkodie (capt.), 4-Eric Lichaj, 14-Amaechi Igwe; 6-Jeremy Hall (13-Blake Wagner, 88), 8-Kyle Nakazawa, 16-Nikolas Besagno  (7-Carlos Borja, 62), 11-Ryan Soroka; 9-Preston Zimmerman, 10-David Arvizu (17-Omar Gonzalez, 74).
Subs not used: 2-Richard Edgar, 12-Eddie Ababio, 15-Neven Subotic, 18-Brian Perk.
Head Coach: John Hackworth

SLV: 22-Benji Oldai Villalobos; 3-Fernando Flores, 7-Victor Samuel Turcios, 8-Edgar Espinoza,12-Jhonny Hernandez; 14-Jersson Gayton, 10-Jilber Aldonay Alvarez, 20-Josue Odir Flores, 21-Joel Ely Serrano (17-Fernando Monico, 64); 9-Cesar Mauricio Vasquez (16-Jose Nelson Hernandez, 46), 18-Kevin Escobar.
Subs not used: 2-Erick Leonel Vigil, 11-Juan Carlos Aguilar, 13-Sergio Miguel Palacios, 15-Herberth Ulloa, 25-Guillermo Pino Martinez. 
Head Coach: Raul Cocherari

Statistical Summary:
                              USA    SLV
Shots                      12        8 
Saves                       2        3                
Fouls                      15        12 
Corner Kicks           8         2  
Offside                     1          1

Misconduct Summary:
SLV – Jhonny Hernandez (caution)       31st minute
USA – David Avizu (caution)                  38.
USA – Amaechi Igwe (caution)              38.

Referee: Elmar Rodas (GUA)
1st Assistant: Hairo Fuentes (PAN)
2nd Assistant: Dion Inniss (GUY)
Fourth Official: Rolando Vidal (PAN)


Tuesday, April 12
USA 3, El Salvador 0
Costa Rica 3, Cuba 0

Thursday, April 14
USA vs. Cuba    4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

Saturday, April 16
El Salvador vs. Cuba  4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
USA vs. Costa Rica  7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)