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Italy Eliminates U.S. U-17s in Round of 16 at FIFA U-17 World Cup


  • Nick Palodichuk Becomes Third Different Goal Scorer of the Tournament for the U.S.
  • U.S. U-17 MNT Returns to the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla.   

KADUNA, Nigeria (Nov. 4, 2009) The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team was defeated 2-1 by Italy today in Kaduna, Nigera, in the Round of 16 of the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, eliminating them from the tournament. 

Italy opened the scoring in the 28th minute with a strike from Giacomo Beretta after a missed penalty by Jack McInerney in the 16th minute. The second half saw the U.S. draw level after Nick Palodichuk converted a Luis Gil corner, but Pietro Iemello’s strike from the top of the box in the 56th minute would prove to be the winner. 

The U.S. leaves the World Cup with a 2-2-0 record playing at three different venues across Nigeria. The team recorded two shutouts and head coach Wilmer Cabrera used all 18 field players during the course of the tournament. 

“We created a lot of chances, we had more possession tonight than against any other team that we played, but we couldn’t find a way to finish our chances,” said Cabrera. “So, now we have to leave the tournament and I leave the tournament proud of my kids because they respect the game every time.” 

The first action of the match came in the first minute as Stefan Jerome broke down the right side and crossed for Alex Shinsky, but the midfielder could not meet the ball cleanly and his header never troubled Italian goalkeeper Francesco Bardi. 

Italy answered promptly in the fifth minute with a Federico Carraro turn and shot that went just wide of the far post from the left side of the box. 

The U.S. continued on the attack, and Italian defender Federico Mannini picked up a yellow card in the sixth minute for a challenge on Marlon Duran. This would be followed with a nice spell of possession for the Americans as they pressured the Italian defense and looked for a breakthrough. After linking together several passes, McInerney found himself with space to blast a 25 yard shot which was pushed out for a corner by Bardi in the 13th minute.  

Mannini was again under the microscope in the 16th minute when a seemingly innocuous throw in for the Italians deep in their own half bounced up and struck the defender’s slightly outstretched arm. Paraguayan referee Carlos Amarilla had no choice to point the spot as Mannini was standing two yards inside his own penalty area. 

With a chance to give the U.S. an early lead, McInerney stepped up to the spot, but his shot was saved by Bardi who dove correctly to his right. The missed opportunity seemed to take a bit out of the young Americans, as Italy seized the chance to take back control of the match after their slow start, with striker Beretta looking particularly threatening. 

After a pair of half chances from the two Italian frontrunners, the Azzurri found their breakthrough on the foot of Beretta. Bardi sent a 28th minute goal kick down the middle of the pitch where Iemello rose to flick the ball backwards toward goal. The ball skipped through to Beretta who successfully held off U.S. captain Jared Watts and clipped home a shot that eluded the onrushing Earl Edwards in the U.S. goal.  

It was a quick strike that stunned the U.S. men, who had not given up a goal since the 30th minute of their World Cup opener against Spain. 

Italy continued to pressure the U.S. defense and almost produced a second goal with a 3-on-2 counter attack in the 33rd minute from a Zachary Herold turnover. However, the U.S. awoke in the latter moments of the first half in search of the equalizer. Midfielders Gil and Palodichuk, who were instrumental in the bright start for the U.S., combined well in the middle of the field to spring Jerome down the right channel. With ample space at the top of the box, he ballooned a cross to the far post which failed to trouble the Italian defense. 

Coming back onto the pitch for the second half, Cabrera’s men looked to reenact their lively start to first period. Jerome, again, was the protagonist in the 47th minute as he ran at the Italian defense from the right side. After beating two men, defender Felice Natalino intervened at the top of the area.  As he and Jerome came together, the ball popped out to an unmarked McInerney fifteen yards from goal. His hard-struck shot was somehow redirected onto the crossbar by the fingertips of Bardi, who once again denied McInerney of a gilt-edged chance.

In the 50th minute, Bardi was penalized for holding the ball longer than the allotted six seconds given to goalkeepers. Amarilla whistled the infraction and awarded an indirect free kick to the U.S. 17 yards from goal. McInerney stepped up to take the shot but his goalward effort was blocked by a defender and eventually scrambled out for a corner kick. 

The resulting corner kick in the 51st minute saw the Americans level the score as Palodichuk rose to meet Gil’s cross at the six yard box and glanced a downward header into the side netting at the far post. It was the first goal of the tournament for the midfielder and just the second given up by Italy. 

Buoyed by the goal and looking for a second, the U.S. looked to take control of the proceedings. McInerney and Shinsky manufactured a half chance by combining on the left side, but the Azzurri would need only five minutes to regain the lead from a vintage Italian counter attack. 

After gaining possession in midfield, the Italian defense found Beretta on the right in front of defender Tyler Polak. Beretta looked up to find Iemello cutting in from the left wing. The midfielder received the ball in stride and continued into the center of the pitch in between the U.S. center backs and beat Edwards with a well struck effort from 18 yards. With the lead retaken, the Italians slowed down the pace of the game and made things difficult for the U.S. in the midfield – not letting them build an attack and harrying them in possession.  

In the 60th minute, Italy made the first of its three changes by replacing midfielder Lorenzo Cristetig with more defensive minded Leonardo Bianchi in order to shore up the midfield. Six minutes later, goal scorer Iemello came off for Alessandro Scialpi and Cabrera made his first move by replacing Jerome with Dominick Sarle. 

In the 68th minute, defender Alessandro de Vitis earned a booking for a hard challenge on Shinsky on the left. Gil bent the resultant free kick to the far post just out reach of Bardi, but there was not an American present to turn it into the goal as it bounced out for a goal kick. The match continued much in the same vein as the U.S. continued unsuccessfully to unlock the Italian defense.  

Shinksy earned a yellow of his own in the 75th minute which would prove to be his last contribution as he was subbed off in the 81st minute for striker Victor Chavez. Two more substitutions came in quick succession as Carraro was taken off for Simone Benedetti in the 83rd and forward Juan Agudelo came in for Herold in the 84th minute for the U.S. 

It was the substitute Chavez who nearly provided the U.S. with a late equalizer as fellow replacement Sarle made an incisive move down the middle of the field. Just as he approached the Italian back line, he slipped the ball over to an advancing Chavez who found himself with room to shoot from 12 yards, but his effort slid agonizingly wide of Bardi’s far post. 

At the end of regular time, the U.S. won a series of corner kicks, but failed to test Bardi or the Italian defense. 

In the waning moments of stoppage time, Eriq Zavaleta earned a red card for impeding Natalino, who looked to break down the right flank and behind the defense. McInerney was booked in subsequent discussion with the referee but the cards would have no effect on the play on the pitch as the referee blew his whistle for full time right after the restart. Thus, ending the U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team’s run at the 2009 World Cup in Nigeria.

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

Match: U.S. U-17 MNT vs. Italy
Date: Nov. 4, 2009
Competition: 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup; Round of 16
Venue: Ahmadu Bello Stadium; Kaduna, Nigeria
Kickoff: 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET)
Attendance: 11,311
Weather: 90 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:    1    2    F
USA                           0    1    1
ITA                            1    1    2

ITA – Giacomo Beretta (Pietro Iemmello)    29th minute
USA – Nick Palodichuck (Luis Gil)               51
ITA – Pietro Iemmello (Giacomo Beretta)    56

USA: 1-Earl Edwards; 6-Zachary Herold (16-Juan Agudelo, 84), 2-Jared Watts (capt.), 15-Eriq Zavaleta, 3-Tyler Polak; 7-Stefan Jerome (13-Dominick Sarle, 66), 10-Luis Gil, 11-Nick Palodichuk, 5-Marlon Duran, 8-Alex Shinsky (19-Victor Chavez, 81); 9-Jack McInerney
Subs not used: 4-Perry Kitchen, 21-Keith Cardona, 12-Spencer Richey, 14-Carlos Martinez, 17-William Packwood, 18-Andrew Craven, 20-Boyd Okwuonu
Head Coach: Wilmer Cabrera

ITA: 12-Francesco Bardi; 5-Simone Sini, 3-Federico Mannini, 15-Michele Camporese, 2-Felice Natalino; 19-Marco Fossati, 20-Federico Carraro (13-Simone Benedetti, 83), 6-Lorenzo Crisetig (16-Leonardo Bianchi, 60), 8-Alessandro de Vitis; 18-Pietro Iemmello (7-Alessandro Scialpi, 66), 9-Giacomo Beretta
Subs not used: 4-Vincenzo Camilleri, 10-Stephan el Shaarawy, 11-Simone dell Agnello, 14-Andrea Bagnai, 21-Giacomo Venturi
Head coach: Pasquale Salerno

Stats Summary: USA / ITA
Shots: 12/11
Shots on Goal: 6/3
Saves: 1/5
Corner Kicks: 7/5
Fouls: 23 / 14
Offside: 2 / 5

Misconduct Summary:
ITA – Federico Mannini (caution)       6th minute
ITA – Alessandro de Vitis (caution)    68
USA – Alex Shinsky (caution)            74
USA – Eriq Zavaleta (sent off)           90+3
USA – Jack McInterny (caution)         90+4

Referee: Carlos Amarilla (PAR)
Assistant Referee 1: Emigdio Ruiz (PAR)
Assistant Referee 2: Nicolas Yegros (PAR)
Fourth Official: Pablo Pozo (CHI) Man of the Match:
Luis Gil