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U.S. U-17 MNT Prepares to Face Cuba in Second Qualifying Match

U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes
San Jose, Costa Rica
April 13, 2005

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will look for their second victory of the 2005 CONCACAF Under-17 Group A Qualifying Tournament when they take on Cuba on Thursday (April 14). The U.S. defeated El Salvador 3-0 in the opening match on Tuesday (April 12). The USA’s second match of the tournament will kickoff at 4:30 p.m. local (6:30 p.m. ET) at the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero in Heredia, and fans can follow live on’s MatchTracker, presented by Philips Electronics.
2005 CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament

Team  GP W   L   T  GF  GA GD Pts.
CRC    1    1    0   0   3      0     3    3
USA     1    1    0   0   3      0     3    3
CUB    1    0    1   0   0      3    -3    0
SLV     1    0    1   0   0      3    -3    0

Tuesday, April 12
USA 3, El Salvador 0
Costa Rica 3, Cuba 0

Thursday, April 14
USA vs. Cuba 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. El Salvador 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

Saturday, April 16
Cuba vs. El Salvador 4:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET)
Costa Rica vs. USA 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET)

ALL_ACCESS VIDEO WITH THE U-17s: You’ve been behind the scenes with the full MNT during World Cup qualifying. You got a close up look of the Under-20 Men as they qualified for the FIFA World Youth Championship. Now it’s the U-17s turn to let you into their world as they traverse the difficult qualifying road in the not-so-friendly confines of Costa Rica. In the latest installment, which will be available later today, get a look at the USA’s opening win against El Salvador and, if you missed it, check out the in-depth interview with head coach John Hackworth as he talks about the qualifying tournament the day before the team left for Costa Rica.

Forward Omar Gonzalez got his first international cap with the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team last night against El Salvador when he came on for forward David Arvizu, who was suffering from leg cramps. The 6-foot-4 forward was productive in the attack and towered over the El Salvador defenders, providing the U.S. with a deadly target on free kicks and corners.

After their 3-0 victory against El Salvador, U.S. head coach John Hackworth turned his attention to Cuba and this morning gave a firm reminder to the players not to be looking ahead to what could be a potential deciding match against Costa Rica. Hackworth explained how in the 2003 qualifying tournament the U.S. was in a similar situation. Coming off a 3-0 victory against Jamaica, the U.S. went into their match against El Salvador overconfident and subsequently had their toughest match, luckily getting a penalty kick for a 1-1 draw.

U.S. head coach John Hackworth is now 5-0-0 in international matches since taking over the U-17s last year, getting victories over Canada (3-1), Australia twice (2-0 and 4-1), Haiti (4-0) and El Salvador (3-0).

A few of the U.S. players picked up some slight nicks during their match against El Salvador, but none of the injuries were serious and everyone is at 100 percent for the match against Cuba.

Two U.S. players picked up cards in the match against El Salvador. David Arvizu and Amaechi Igwe were both given cautions during the same sequence in the first half. Arvizu tried to slow down Jersson Gaytan as he dribbled on the right flank by pulling his jersey, but he got free and the referee played advantage until Igwe took Gaytan down with a tough tackle. The referee showed the two U.S. players a yellow card for their actions. If either player receives a yellow card in the match against Cuba they will be suspended for the final match against Costa Rica.

U.S. assistant coach Raul Diaz Arce’s popularity with the Central American press was evident last night before the beginning of the match, as photographers were clicking away with their lens fixed directly on the former El Salvador national team player. The odd part was, Diaz Arce was in a section reserved for press and team administrators that was behind the team benches (which are actually dugouts) at the top row of the stadium. So instead of taking photos of the teams as they were walking out to the field and listening to their national anthems, a few photographers were faced towards the fans in the stadiums to take pictures of Diaz Arce.

The 2005 CONCACAF Group B Qualifying Tournament will be contested from May 17-21 among Mexico, Canada, Haiti and Honduras in Mexico. The winners of Group A and Group B will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship to be played from September 15-October 2 in Peru. The two second-place finishers will play a home-and-away playoff series for the third and final CONCACAF berth for the world championship.

Asia (3) – The only confederation that has completed its qualifying tournament, having played in Japan last September. China won the tournament, while DPR Korea and Qatar also advanced to the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.

South America (3) – In a surprising upset, Argentina did not make the final round of the South American qualifying tournament after falling 4-3 to Peru in their final first round match. Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Uruguay will battle for the final two spots from April 13-17 as Peru automatically qualifies as host.

Europe (3) – The draw for the final eight teams was held last week with the host Italy drawing Turkey, Belarus and England in Group A, while Group B consists of Israel, Switzerland, Croatia and the Netherlands. The qualifying tournament will take place in Italy from May 3-14, with the top three finishers advancing to Peru.

Africa (3) – The eight-team final qualifying tournament will take place in Gambia from May 7-21 with the top three teams advancing to the World Championship. In Group A is Gambia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Ghana, while Nigeria, South Africa, Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe will face-off in Group B.

Oceania (1) – The final round qualifying tournament kicked off on April 2 and the final on April 15 will be between Australia and Vanuatu.


The U.S. will have their hands full with a solid Cuba team that has been impressive during qualifying. Cuba boasts an organized squad with loads of speed up front,  and the U.S. defense will have to be at their best to get their second straight shutout of the qualifying tournament. The engine of the team is midfielder Alberto Gomez, who is a great playmaker and will be a player the U.S. will have to be aware of during the entire 90 minutes.
GOALKEEPERS (2): 1-Jose Selles (Las Tunas), 21-Yosnel De La Luz (Provincia Habana);
DEFENDERS (6): 2-Jesus Montes (Pinar del Rio), 3-Miguel Angel Lopez (Provincia Habana), 4-Denis Suarez (Cienfuegos), 13-Yuri Alberto Altabas (Provincia Habana), 14-Armando Trejo (Las Tunas), 18-Yorlenis Lara (Guantanamo);
MIDFIELDERS (6): 5-Yasmany Jesus Bernal (Cienfuegos), 6-Yannier Martinez (Villa Clara), 8-Alberto Gomez (Guantanamo), 15-Osmany Torres (Camaguey), 16-Felix Guerra (Granma), 17-Dayan Gonzalez (Sancti Spiritus);
FORWARDS (4): 7-Luis Alberto Villegas (Villa Clara), 9-Leonardo Vila (Santiago de Cuba), 10-Adrian Hernandez (Ciego de Avila), 11-Onay Alberto Martinez (Ciudad Habana).
Head Coach: Manuel Rodriguez

After falling in their first match 3-0 against the host Costa Rica, Cuba is in dire straits and will be playing with nothing to lose, as a defeat on Thursday to the U.S. would eliminate Cuba’s chances from advancing to the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.

April 12, 2005 - Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordereo; Heredia, Costa Rica -2005 CONCACAF Qualifying, Group A

Costa Rica   3 Jean Carlos Solorzano 14’, Guillermo Guardia 42’, Jean Carlos Solorzano 56
Cuba             0

CRC: 1-Alfonso Quesada; 3-Rudy Forbes, 4-Fernando Paniagua, 5-Carlos Chacón, 6-David Calvo, 7-Roberto Carillo (15-Esteban Rodriguez, 74), 10-Luis Diego Cordero (14-Carlos Sandoval, 66), 11-Jean Carlos Solarzano (9-Julio Cesar García, 76), 13-Celso Borges, 19-Guillermo Guardia, 20-Kendall Waston.

CUB: 1-José Selles; 2-Jesus Montes (13-Yuri Alberto Altabas, 74), 3-Miguel Angel Lopez, 4-Denis Suarez, 6-Yannier Martinez (11-Onay Alberto Martinez, 63), 7-Luis Alberto Villegas, 8-Alberto Gomez, 10-Adrian Hernandez, 14-Armando Trejo (18-Yorienis Lara, 57), 15-Osmany Torres, 16-Felix Guerra.

Cuba has advanced to the FIFA World Championship twice, becoming the first Caribbean nation to move onto the world stage when they qualified in 1989, the last year before it moved from a U-16 to U-17 competition. In the CONCACAF qualifying tournament in 1988, Cuba advanced to their first World Championship by winning the final round despite losing 1-0 to the U.S., who also advanced. Cuba and the U.S. tied for first with four points each, but Cuba won the group with a better goal differential (+4 to +1). At the ’89 FIFA World Championship in Scotland, Cuba lost their first two matches to Bahrain and Scotland by identical 3-0 scores before picking up point in a 2-2 draw against Ghana. The last time Cuba advanced to the FIFA World Championship was two years later in 1991 when they finished third behind Mexico and the U.S. in the final round of CONCACAF qualifying in Port of Spain, Trinidad. At Italy ’91, Cuba didn’t win a game as they lost their opening match 2-1 to Ghana and then got spanked 7-2 by Spain before finishing with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay.

Cuba advanced to the final round of CONCACAF qualifying by winning the Caribbean Football Union Group D First Round, and then downing Trinidad & Tobago in a two-game Second Round Series. In the first round, Cuba snagged three shutouts, winning all three of their games against Bermuda, Guyana and St.Vincent & The Grenadines by a score of 3-0 in September of last year. Cuba then secured their spot in the final round by eliminating Trinidad & Tobago 6-2 on aggregate last year in the Caribbean Zone Second Round Series 1. After taking the first-leg 3-1 at the Estadio Pedro Marrero in La Habana on Nov. 26, the Cubanos won the second leg by the same score on December 10 over the host Soca Warriors at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.

The U.S. and Cuba have met four times in qualifying with the U.S. holding an undefeated 3-0-1 record. Three of the matches have been shutouts, the only time Cuba scored was a 1-1 draw in Group 2 on March 28, 1991. The U.S. actually met Cuba twice in the 1991 qualifying tournament as the teams also faced off in the final round in a 1-0 win for the U.S. The first meeting between the countries was in the final round in 1988, a 1-0 win for the U.S. The last meeting was in 1992, the U.S. getting its third shutout in a 2-0 victory. The matchup on Thursday evening will be the first meeting between the two countries since the event changed in 1999 to a final round qualification consisting of two groups of four, each in a different venue, with the top team from each group progressing to the FIFA World Youth Championship. The third and final CONCACAF berth is decided between the two second-place finishers who meet in a home-and-away series playoff.
U.S.-Cuba Qualifying Results
Date                      Result Location
Aug. 23, 1992      USA 2, Cuba 0 Santiago, Cuba (final round)
March 28, 1991   USA 1, Cuba 1 Arima, Trinidad (first round)
April 2, 1991        USA 1, Cuba 0 Port of Spain, Trinidad (final round)
Nov. 25, 1988      USA 1, Cuba 0 Port of Spain, Trinidad (final round)

Cuba forward Onay Alberto Martinez is the player holding a yellow card coming into the match against the U.S. Martinez was booked in the 88th minute in Cuba’s opening match of the tournament against Costa Rica.

"Jeremy great job. That was a big-time save."
-- U.S. Under-17 head coach John Hackworth joking with midfielder Jeremy Hall while showing clips from the team's opening match of the qualifying tournament against El Salvador. Hall unintentionally blocked a shot by forward Preston Zimmerman off a corner kick that probably would have been a goal in the first half.