Championship Spot Down to Final Match as El Salvador Looks for Revenge on U.S. Under-17s
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%CHAMPIONSHIP SPOT DOWN TO FINAL MATCH: The CONCACAF qualifying tournament could not have asked for a much more dramatic finale than it will get when the U.S. and El Salvador meet in the final game of the tournament at 4:00 pm CT on Sunday at Robert R. Hermann Stadium. With a win or a draw, the U.S. will advance to the 2001 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. An El Salvador win will send the Central American team through to Trinidad & Tobago 2001. Canada and Jamaica kick off in the opener on Sunday, with both teams trying to secure third place in the tournament. Canada enters the final day with one point, while Jamaica has no points to show after two losses.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%DALLAS' ED JOHNSON BURNS CANADA IN 4-2 WIN: After a first-half deadlock, the United States Under-17 Men's National Team turned on the offensive firepower in the second half to pull away for a 4-2 win against Canada in front of 2,564 fans at Saint Louis University's Robert R. Hermann Stadium. Dallas Burn forward Ed Johnson paced the way for the United States with two goals, as the U.S. won to stay atop Group A of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament.
As they did in Wednesday's 2-1 win against Jamaica, the U.S. used a late second-half explosion to secure the win. After the first half ended with the teams even at 1-1, the U.S. scored three times between the 59th and 69th minutes to grab three points and send the partisan U.S. crowd home happy. Craig Capano and Chris Lancos also scored for the USA in the win.
"The team played well at times tonight, and, as they did on Wednesday, we turned it on in the second half," U.S. head coach John Ellinger said. "But this team still has a lot of good soccer in it, and we are going to need it against a very good El Salvador team on Sunday."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%EL SALVADOR IMPRESSIVE IN 3-0 WIN: El Salvador would have been all but eliminated from the tournament with any result other than a win against Jamaica on Friday. El Salvador erased any thought of that early in their match scoring in the fourth minute and dominating the Caribbean side before finishing with a 3-0 victory. Denis Morales scored in the fourth minute, and Marvin Bernal scored four minutes into the second half before Jose Ochoa finalized the scoreline with a goal in the 70th minute. In the game, El Salvador outshot Jamaica 14-4 and forced Jamaican goalkeeper Richard McCallum into seven saves. Ochoa has been one of the top players in the tournament with two goals and one assist in the first two matches.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%EL SALVADOR LOOKING FOR COUNTRY'S FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP BERTH: With a win on Sunday, El Salvador will qualify for their country's first FIFA World Championship at the Under-17, Under-20 or Under-23 level.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%REVENGE: In 1999 El Salvador and the U.S. were put in similar positions, as the two met in a two-game playoff to determine the final CONCACAF representative at the 1999 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. With star forward Landon Donovan sitting out with a red card, the U.S. overwhelmed El Salvador in the first leg - in El Salvador - 6-1 to essentially secure a spot in New Zealand '99. The U.S. won the return match 4-0 to advance to the championship, where they finished fourth. Heading into this year's final match, the El Salvador media are playing up the country's chance to exact revenge for 1999. Unlike the 1999 CONCACAF tournament, only the group winner will advance to the 2001 World Championship.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%FAMILY AND FRIENDS: When Ed Johnson put the U.S. ahead in the 14th minute of Friday's match, Robert R. Hermann Stadium exploded with cheers. And the loudest cheer came from a group in the grandstand seated just behind the team benches. The family of the U.S. team easily stands out in the crowd, with many wearing U.S. jerseys and other U.S. Soccer attire. The jerseys numbers of the parents' sons can also be made out on the cheeks of several of the players' mothers. The U.S. team was well-represented at the Canada match, with an amazing 71 family members in attendance. Aside from the 71 family members, dozens of players' friends have also made the trek to St. Louis.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%IN THEIR WORDS: In each update, one of the Under-17 players will tell the stories of the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in their own words. Today, the words of ...
Height: 6'0" Weight: 170
Birthdate: March 31, 1984
Hometown: Palm Coast, Florida
Club Team: Dallas Burn (MLS)
"When we got to stadium on Friday we unloaded all the team gear, and when we went in to the locker room you could just sense that everything turned a little more serious than it was before the Jamaica match. We went into the locker room and spent some time talking about the game and what we were going to do. That is when everyone really started to relax and think about the game.
"After our time in the locker room, we went out to the practice field, and that is where I really started to focus on the game and shut everything else out. I started to focus on what I had to do on the field, about how I was going to make my runs and what I was going to do to make the team successful.
"When the game started I thought we were able to get off to a much better start than we did against Jamaica. Santino (Quaranta) found me with a great through ball, and I was able to finish my chance and we went up 1-0. And then I got another goal in the second half. I got the ball, turned on my defender, beat a few defenders and then was able to chip the goalkeeper for my second goal.
"As a team I thought we really came out and played a much better second half. We needed to play better to get a result, and we did. It was nice for me to be able to get two goals in the match, because I kind of got out of the game against Jamaica. Santino talked to me in the middle of the game and I got back into it. But it felt real good to put a couple in against Canada.
"We can't wait to get out there against El Salvador. We have been waiting a year and a half for this moment. We knew it was probably going to come down to a situation where we had to win the final game, and we prepared ourselves for it. And now we just have to get the business done tomorrow."
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%STAT OF THE DAY: The 1998-99 Under-17 National Team ran off a U.S. Soccer record 25-match unbeaten streak in internationals that eventually ended in the third-place match at the 1999 World Championship. During the streak, the team never won more than six consecutive internationals. The current squad of Under-17s has quietly started a streak of their own, winning their last seven international matches. The U.S. will be gunning for an eighth straight win on Sunday against El Salvador.
%=macroPart|font/arialBlue2=%QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"How good was Eddie's second goal? That chip over the goalie was ridiculous!"