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U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Defeats North Korea 3-2 in Opening Match of 2005 FIFA World Championship

  • Ryan Soroka, Kyle Nakazawa and Preston Zimmerman Score For the U.S. in Win
  • U.S. Sits Tied Atop Group C on Three Points With Italy
  • Victory Marks Sixth Time the U.S. has Won Their Opening Match of U-17 World Championship
  • U.S. Will Face Italy in Their Next Group C Match on Sept. 20 in Chiclayo at 3:30 p.m. CT, live on Fox Soccer Channel

CHICLAYO, Peru (September 17, 2005) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got past North Korea 3-2 in their opening match of the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in front of 15,200 spectators this afternoon at Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero in Chiclayo, Peru, putting them tied for first place in Group C.  The U.S. scored all three of their goals off set pieces and were up by two goals with five minutes left in the match, but had to hold off a frenzied North Korea attack in the final moments for the victory.

Ryan Soroka scored off a throw-in and Kyle Nakazawa buried a free kick in the first half, before Preston Zimmerman buried the eventual game-winner off a corner kick in the 72nd minute, but North Korea came close to stealing a point. The Asian team cut the deficit to one with a goal in the 86th minute and peppered the U.S. goal in hopes of finding the late equalizer before the final whistle.

The U.S. sits tied atop Group C with Italy, who also won their opening match by defeating Ivory Coast 4-3 in an electric affair that included three goals in the last five minutes. Tied 2-2, Italy thought it had found the game-winner in the 86th minute only to see Ivory Coast pull even a minute later, but a last-minute strike gave them the dramatic three points.

The U.S. will face the Italians in their next Group C match, taking on the third place UEFA qualifiers at Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero on Tuesday, Sept. 20 at 3:30 p.m. CT. The match will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel and same-day delay at 9:15 ET/PT on Galavision.

The victory marked the sixth time out of the record 11 FIFA U-17 World Championships in which the U.S. has participated that the team has taken the maximum three points from their opening match. 

“It was our first game in the World Championship and we came away with three points, so we accomplished our goal,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth, who increased his record in international play to 13-3-1. “I’m proud of the guys’ effort today, but we can play much better and we’re going to have to if we want to progress in this tournament. We did what we needed to get the win today, though, and now we are concentrating on our next match against Italy.”

The first half was an even affair as each team took seven shots on goal with five on target, but it was the U.S. that was able to capitalize on their opportunities to take a 2-1 lead into halftime.

The U.S. opened the scoring off a throw-in by defender Amaechi Igwe from the left sideline. Igwe tossed the ball to the near post to Quavas Kirk who flicked the ball on toward the back post where Preston Zimmerman challenged a North Korean defender in the air at the six-yard box. The ball deflected back from goal and fell to Ryan Soroka who pounced on the loose ball, burying it in the upper right corner.

The U.S. lead didn’t last long as North Korea found the equalizer in the 24th minute when they capitalized on a mishap by goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner. Kuk Jin Kim served in a cross from the right sideline that curled towards the back post, which Rueckner got two hands on in the air, but dropped the ball to the turf when he bumped into defender Kevin Alston. Myong Ho Choe was there to collect the ball and slip it into the open net.

Rueckner redeemed himself a minute later with a fantastic save that kept the game tied. Hung Ryong Ri dribbled along the left endline before pushing the ball back to the six-yard box for Chol Ung Kim, who ripped a shot toward the right corner. Rueckner recovering from the right side of the goal was able to stretch out and get a hand to the shot, pushing off target just enough so that it hit the right post. The ball trickled along the goal line, but was eventually cleared off the line by Blake Wagner.

The U.S. retook the lead in the 43rd minute when North Korea’s Nan Chol Pak was whistled for a dangerous play on a high kick on David Arvizu as he attempted to hit home a rebound from the penalty area. On the ensuing indirect free kick a few yards left of the penalty spot, Michael Farfan rolled the ball to Kyle Nakazawa and he curled home a perfect shot passed the rushing wall of Korean defenders just inside the right post.

North Korea had the first quality look on goal in the 58th minute when Ri got the ball out wide left and dribbled in on goal. The crafty forward cut inside of Blake Wagner near the top of the box and unleashed a blast that went just wide left.

But it was the U.S. who took what looked to be a commanding lead when Preston Zimmerman put scored a superb turnaround strike from six yards. The play was set-up from a superbly executed short corner from Amaechi Igwe into the area for Ryan Soroka, who played ball straight back out to Igwe to slot into the area. Besagno nicked the ball with his left heel into Zimmerman, who controlled it, spun to his right and slotted the ball into the lower left corner

North Korea wasn’t ready to concede the match though as they created their most firepower in the final 10 minutes of the match, pulling one goal back in the 86th minute off a corner kick. The ball was served into the near post where Chol Min Pak flicked the ball on for Kuk Jin Kim who was able to knock it past Rueckner into the left side of the goal.

The last chance for an equalizer came a minute later as Chol Min Pak got the ball on the right just inside the penalty are, quickly turned and unleashed a shot that zipped a foot past the upper right corner of the goal.

"We knew we couldn't let another goal in," said U.S. captain and central defender Ofori Sarkodie about the final tense moments of the game. "We had made two mistakes and let two goals slip in, so we had the mindset to make up for them right now and get out of here with a win and three points. We were able to do that and we'll have to use this as a learning tool for Italy."

The U.S. will now have the opportunity to enact a bit of revenge for their older counterparts when they play Italy. The U.S. Under-20s were knocked out of the FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands this past June with a 3-1 loss to Italy in the Round of 16.  

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

Participants: USA vs. North Korea
Competition: 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship
Location: Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero; Chiclayo, Peru
Date: September 17, 2005
Weather: Cool, 65 degrees
Attendance: 15,200

Scoring Summary:
                                1     2     F
USA                        2     1     3
North Korea           1     1     2

USA – Ryan Soroka (unassisted)                          13th minute
PRK – Myong Ho Choe (unassisted)                     24.
USA – Kyle Nakazawa (Michael Farfan)                43.
USA – Preston Zimmerman (Nikolas Besagno)    72.
PRK – Kuk Jin Kim (Chol Min Pak)                          86.

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Kevin Alston, 5-Ofori Sarkodie (capt.), 13-Blake Wagner, 2-Amaechi Igwe; 6-Quavas Kirk, 8-Kyle Nakazawa, 19-Michael Farfan (17-Jeremy Hall, 71) 11-Ryan Soroka (14-Neven Subotic, 87); 9-Preston Zimmerman, 10-David Arvizu (16-Nikolas Besagno, 62).
Subs not used: 4-Josmer Altidore, 7-Omar Gonzalez, 12-Gabriel Farfan, 15-Daniel Kelly, 18-Deigo Restrepo, 20-Brian Perk.
Head Coach: John Hackworth

PRK: 1-Kwang Min Ju; 5-Nan Chol Pak, 7-Yong II Yun, 13-Kwang Ik Jon (capt.), 16-Sok Chol Pin; 9-Myong Ho Choe, 12-Kuk Jin Kim, 14-Chol Ung Kim, 19-Kyong II Kim; 10-Hung Ryong Ri (18-Chol Min Jong, 72), 11-Chol Min Pak
Subs not used: 2-Myong Song Yun, 3-In Gol Pak, 4-Chol Ryong Pak, 6-Hyon Chol Kim, 8-Chol Myong Ri, 15-In Ho Myong, 17-Kyong Nam Mun, 20-Kyong II Pak
Head Coach: Tong Sop Jo

Statistical Summary:
                              USA      PRK
Shots                      11         19     
Saves                      8            5                    
Fouls                       25         14  
Corner Kicks          4            8  
Offside                    0            0  

Misconduct Summary:
PRK – Myong Ho Choe (caution) 24th minute.
PRK – Nan Chol Pak (caution)  37.
USA – Michael Farfan (caution)  51.
USA – Blake Wagner (caution)  64.

Referee: Jerome Damon (RSA)
1st Assistant: Tshotleno Molefe (RSA)
2nd Assistant: Justice Yeboah (GHA)
Fourth Official: Jorge Larrionda (URU)

Group C Standings/Results

Saturday, September 17
Italy 4, Ivory Coast 3
USA 3, North Korea 2

Tuesday, September 20
USA vs. Italy                              Chiclayo 3:30 p.m. CT (live on Fox Soccer Channel)
Ivory Coast vs. North Korea    Chiclayo 6:15 p.m. CT

Friday, September 23
USA vs. Ivory Coast                  Lima  3:30 p.m. CT (live on Fox Soccer Channel)
Italy vs. North Korea                  Trujillo  3:30 p.m. CT is the official website of U.S. Soccer, the governing body of soccer in the United States.