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U.S. Under-17s Come Back to Top Tunisia 2-1, Advance to Semifinals

MOUILLERON, France (Wednesday, March 27, 2002) – Guillermo Gonzalez and John DiRaimondo scored goals one minute apart late in the game to give the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team a well-earned, 2-1 come-from-behind win against Tunisia today at the 30th edition of the Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee in Mouilleron, France.  The U.S. has now won four straight international matches, outscoring their opponents 13-2.  With the win, the U.S. advanced to the tournament semifinals, where they will play World Champion France on March 30 in Montaigue, France at 3:30 pm local time.

“Our team did real well to hang in there and keep fighting against a tough Tunisia team,” U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger said.    “We showed a lot of determination to come back and score two goals in the last eight minutes of the game.  Obviously, John (DiRaimondo) and Guillermo (Gonzalez) are playing great right now, and our defense continues to keep us in every game.”

The U.S. hit the goalpost four times in the match and outshot Tunisia 12-2, but found themselves down after a goal against the run of play in the 50th minute.  The Tunisian goalkeeper came up with eight saves to keep Tunisia in the match, but the U.S. attack finally broke through twice in the final eight minutes to get the win.

Gonzalez and DiRaimondo, who have each scored five goals in the USA’s last four internationals, tallied in the 72nd and 73rd minutes (of an 80-minute match) to give the U.S. win.

With eight minutes remaining in the match, U.S. forward Corey Ashe was fouled on a breakaway, sending Gonzalez to the penalty spot.  For the second time in two games, the midfielder from California calmly converted the penalty kick.  Less than one minute later, DiRaimondo gave the U.S. the lead they deserved.  Just as he did in the 3-0 win against Portugal on Tuesday, Mike Harrington set up DiRaimondo’s goal.

U.S. goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi was less active today than he had to be in Tuesday’s shutout of Portugal, when he came up with eight saves.  Against Tunisia Marfuggi made only one save.

In other matches today, France topped Belgium to advance to the semifinals, Argentina hammered Japan 3-0 and Italy drew 1-1 with Finland.

In the semifinals, the U.S. will get a rematch against Under-17 World Champions France, the team that knocked the U.S. out of the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship.

In addition to the U.S., the 12-team tournament in France also includes: Portugal, Tunisia, Finland, France, England, China, Japan, Italy, Belgium, Peru and Argentina.  After playing in the semifinal on March 30, the U.S. willl play in either the championship match or the third-place match on April 1.

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

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs Tunisia
Competition:  Mondial Minimes Montaigu Vendee
Location:  Mouilleron, France
Date:  March 27, 2002

**40-Minute Halves**
Scoring Summary:
          1st  2nd  Final
   0     2      2
TUN    0     1      1

TUN - Hammami (Hamrouni) 50th minute.
USA - Guillermo Gonzalez (penalty) 72.
USA - John DiRaimondo (Mike Harrington)  73.

USA:  1-Phil Marfuggi; 6-Drew Harrison, 13-Eric Vogl, 14-Brandon Owens, 19-Kyle Helton (3-Jonathan Spector, 66);  20-Brian Grazier, 4-Eddie Gaven, 2-Guillermo Gonzalez; 5-Mike Harrington (12-Cameron Lewis, 75); 8-John DiRaimondo, 9-Corey Ashe.

TUN: 1-Kagli; 2-Ben Lakhagar, 3-Zakar, 5-Sassi (capt.), 18-Hichai; 6-Mokri, 7-Hamrouni, 10-Mansouri (11-Naddari, 66), 15-Queslati; 9-Hammami, 17-Chikhaoul (13-Jedidi, 80).

Statistical Summary:
                       USA   TUN

Shots             12      2
Saves             1       8
Corner Kicks    5       1
Fouls              15     22
Offsides          3        1

Misconduct Summary:
Queslati (caution)   66th minute.
TUN - Mokri (caution)   80.

Referee: n/a