• Oliver Adds His Third of the Tournament
• U.S. to Face Canada for CONCACAF U-17 Championship Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. ET
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica (Feb. 25, 2011) – A goal and assist from captain Marc Pelosi paced the U.S. to a 2-0 victory against hosts Jamaica in the semifinal of the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship. Andrew Oliver added his third of the tournament and the United States posted their second shutout in advancing to the final.
The U.S. will face Canada in the championship match on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. ET at Catherine Hall Stadium. The match will be broadcast live on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3, and fans can follow along on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker and on Twitter @ussoccer_ynt. Canada advanced to the final with a 1-0 victory against Panama earlier in the day.
“This was one of our better games in this championship,” said U.S. head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “The crowd was fantastic and the atmosphere was perfect. This was the first time for some of our players to play in this environment and it’s a wonderful experience. Jamaica was a tough team but we were able to deal with a lot of things for 90 minutes tonight.”
A large and enthusiastic crowd came out to support the home team, who qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup for the first time since 1999. The U.S. made five changes to the starting lineup from the quarterfinal victory against El Salvador, deploying their fourth different starting group in as many matches. Kendall McIntosh started in goal in place of Fernando Piña, who was shown a red card in the last match. Three other U.S. players were unavailable, as Kellyn Acosta picked up two yellows against El Salvador while Matt Dunn and Mario Rodriguez were shown their second cautions of the tournament.
The U.S. team showed industry early in the half, maintaining much of the possession. Nonetheless, it was Jamaica who got the first sniff in the ninth minute. A good combination freed the Jamaicans wide on the right flank, but the cross proved a little heavy and the time it took Jevani Brown to control the ball extinguished the chance.
One minute later, the U.S. pulled ahead off a strike from Pelosi. Alejandro Guido delivered a low driven corner kick across the box, and the Jamaican attempt to clear resulted in a pop up inside the box. Alfred Koroma won the air battle and powered a header towards goal, and an unmarked Pelosi wheeled and left footed a rifle off the underside of the crossbar. The goal was his second of the tournament, following the game-winner in the 112th minute against El Salvador that clinched the USA’s spot in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Jamaica began applying pressure in the final quarter hour of the first half, pinning the U.S. in their own end and earning several corner kicks and long throw opportunities. In the 37th minute, Mobi Fehr was called into action to clear a loose ball out of the six-yard box, and two minutes later Brown got a good look at a volley from 15 yards that he couldn’t keep on frame.
The Jamaicans tried to take the initiative at the sound of the second-half whistle, and despite some individual flair they couldn’t find their way through the U.S. defense.
A misplayed ball in the back gave Jamaica a golden opportunity in the 52nd minute. A pass across the top of the USA area hopped over the foot of Carroll, rolling perfectly for Andre Lewis to tee up. His shot had power but lacked accuracy and skidded wide right.
Back and forth action ensued for the next several minutes as the game opened up, both sides using their pace to venture into the attack. The U.S. defense continued to be effective in dealing with numerous restarts.
The U.S. got a good look in the 67th minute when LA Galaxy midfielder Jack McBean found space on the left flank and whipped a cross to the near post, where Esteban Rodriguez connected on a header that missed the mark.
Assuming control of possession for long stretches beginning around the 70-minute mark, the U.S. appeared to have doubled the lead with 13 minutes remaining. A poor clearance from Jamaica gave Koroma a clear shot at goal from the top of the area, his shot spilling of the chest of goalkeeper Richard Trench. McBean pounced and tucked home the rebound, but the offside flag had already been raised.
Back to the other end came the Jamaicans, earning a free kick just outside the right corner of the 18 yard box. Team captain Omar Holness lined up over the ball and tried to catch McIntosh cheating, but his curling shot skimmed off the top of the crossbar and out of danger.
A botched free kick in the U.S. defensive end led to a quick counter for the USA, and in moments Oliver was racing past the Jamaican defense. In desperation, Alvas Powell knocked Oliver to the ground and the referee immediately reached for the red card. On the ensuing free kick, Guido got his effort up and down and the ‘keeper stood by as the crossbar saved him.
Oliver ended all doubt in the second minute of stoppage time, burying a pass from Pelosi who had beaten his marker to the endline and cut the ball back towards the six-yard box. Oliver’s calm finish was his third in four matches in the tournament.
The U.S. has qualified for 14 consecutive FIFA U-17 World Cups, continuing the record of being the only nation to qualify for every edition of the event. The 2011 tournament will be held in Mexico from June 18 - July 10.
-- U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Game Report --
Match-up: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Jamaica
Date: Feb. 25, 2011
Competition: CONCACAF Under-17 Championship
Venue: Catherine Hall Stadium; Montego Bay, Jamaica
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Weather: 80 degrees, partly cloudy
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 1 2
JAM 0 0 0
USA – Marc Pelosi (Alfred Koroma) 10th minute
USA – Andrew Oliver (Marc Pelosi) 90+2
USA: 18-Kendall McIntosh; 12-Joe Amon, 17-Zach Carroll, 6-Mobi Fehr, 4-Nathan Smith; 8-Esteban Rodriguez, 10-Alejandro Guido, 14-Tarik Salkicic, 11-Marc Pelosi; 7-Alfred Koroma (16-Andrew Oliver, 81), 19-Jack McBean;
Subs Not Used: 2-Andrew Souders, 13-Dillon Serna, 15-Jordan Allen, 20-Paul Arriola
Subs not available: 1-Fernando Pina, 3-Kellyn Acosta, 5-Matt Dunn, 9-Mario Rodriguez
Head Coach: Wilmer Cabrera
JAM: 1-Richard Trench; 2-Oshane Jenkins, 6-Quante Smith, 5-Alvas Powell, 3-Kemo Wallace; 12-Patrick Palmer, 7-Romario Williams, 9-Omar Holness, 11-Andre Lewis (19-Cardell Benbow, 65), 10-Jason Wright, 14-Jevani Brown (8-Romario Jones, 74)
Subs Not Used: 4-Junior Flemmings, 13-Odean Clarke, 15-Troy Moo Penn, 16-Ramone Brown, 20-Shawn-Claud Lawson
Subs Not available: 17-Javia Roberts, 18-King Kaya Beckford
Head Coach: Wendell Downswell
USA / JAM
Shots 8 / 8
Shots on goal 4 / 0
Saves 0 / 0
Corner Kicks 4 / 4
Fouls 19 / 8
Offsides 4 / 1
USA Alfred Koroma (caution) 30th minute
JAM Alvas Powell (caution) 50th
USA Alejandro Guido (caution) 63rd
JAM Alvas Powell (sent off) 88th