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U.S. Set to Face Italy in Round of 16 at FIFA U-17 World Cup


A NEW TOURNAMENT: After finishing second in Group E at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, the U.S. continues its run in the Round of 16 when they face Italy on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET). Despite an opening loss to eventual group winner Spain, the Americans bounced back for key wins against Malawi and United Arab Emirates to earn six points and a chance to play against the Group F winners. Wednesday’s game from Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna, Nigeria, can be seen live on ESPN360.com, and followed with ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker or at twitter.com/ussoccer.

U.S. U-17 World Cup Schedule
Date         Opponent    Time/Result             TV/U.S. Scorers    Venue
Oct. 26     Spain              1-2 L                   McInerney            Sani Abacha Stadium; Kano, Nigeria
Oct. 29     Malawi            1-0 W                  Shinsky                Sani Abacha Stadium; Kano, Nigeria
Nov. 1      UAE                 1-0 W                 McInerney            Gateway International; Ijebu-Ode, Nigeria
Nov. 4      Italy      4 p.m. (10 a.m. ET)        ESPN360.com       Ahmadu Bello Stadium; Kaduna, Nigeria

QUICK HITS:

  • The match will mark an appearance in the knockout round for the fourth consecutive event for the U.S. U-17s.
  • The current team will be looking to turn the tables after losses in their first knockout round game in the three previous events.
  • The Americans enter the game against Italy coming off two straight wins. The last time the U.S. won two consecutive games at this event was the opening pair in Peru 2005.
  • Earl Edwards has a shutout streak of 240 minutes since allowing the second goal against Spain in the 30th minute of the team’s opening match.
  • The two games since then were the eighth and ninth shutouts for the U.S. in 2009.
  • Before this tournament, the last time the U.S. recorded two straight shutouts in the U-17 World Cup was in Italy in 1991.
  • That tournament saw the U.S. win three straight games for the only team, including an opener against the host Italians.
  • The two teams have met once since then, in 2005, when goals from Ofori Sarkodie, Kyle Nakazawa and Ryan Soroka lifted the U.S. to a 3-1 win.
  • Defender Boyd Okwuonu and midfielder Will Packwood made both their international debut and U-17 FIFA World Cup debut for the U.S. against UAE.
  • Wednesday’s game will be the first for the U.S. on natural grass. Both Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano and Gateway International Stadium in Ijebu-Ode had artificial surfaces.
  • The 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup has seen 94 goals scored through the group stage, an average of more than 2.61 goals per game.
  • Goals have been hard to come by for many teams at the U-17 FIFA World Cup. Of the 24 teams, 14 complete group play averaging just a goal per game or less. Along with the U.S. and Italy who scored just one goal per game, Mexico, Brazil and the Netherlands also finished the group with three goals each.
  • Germany’s Lennart Thy leads the tournament with three goals, while Jack McInerney and 15 others have two goals leaving the race for the scoring awards wide open. Five of the players on two goals also have an assist, which McInerney does not to trail for the top scorer honors based on the assist tiebreaker.
  • Wilmer Cabrera has used all 18 of his field players in the tournament, with only reserve goalkeepers Spencer Ritchey and Keith Cardona yet to take the field.
  • Six players – McInerney, Edwards, Tyler Polak, Marlon Duran, Zachary Herold and Luis Gil have played every minute for the U.S.
  • Ten players on the U.S. roster have been in Residency since the fall semester of 2007: Andrew Craven, Duran, Edwards, Herold, Stefan Jerome, Perry Kitchen, Carlos Martinez, McInterney, Polak and Jared Watts.
  • The best-ever finish for both the U.S. and Italy at the FIFA U-17 World Cup is fourth place. Italy’s semifinal run was in 1987 in Canada, while the U.S. finished four in 1999 in New Zealand.
  • This is the third-consecutive event in which the U.S. faces a European team in the Round of 16, with the Netherlands and Germany knocking the U.S. out in 2005 and 2007, respectively.
  • Three of the USA’s five knockout stage losses have come to European teams, with Poland knocking the U.S. out in 1993. The other teams to beat the U.S. are Brazil (2003) and Ghana (1999).

LET THE KNOCK OUT PHASE BEGIN: Though all 16 teams are set for the second round of games at the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup, many came down to the wire as Brazil, Netherlands and UAE were all tied on points, goals for and goals against. The final tiebreaker before drawing of lots, FIFA Fair Play points, was necessary to determine UAE’s advancement into the next phase. With two perennial powerhouses knocked out early, it is up to other pre-tournament favorites to earn their place in Abuja. Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina are among those looking to add another illustrious trophy to its case.

Round of 16 Schedule
No.   Date      Match                                Time      Venue
37    Nov. 4    Argentina vs. Colombia       4 p.m.    Ijebu-Ode
38    Nov. 4    Turkey vs. UAE                  7 p.m.    Enugu
39    Nov. 4    Switzerland vs. Germany    7 p.m.    Lagos
40    Nov. 4   USA vs. Italy                  4 p.m.    Kaduna
41    Nov. 5    Spain vs. Burkina Faso       4 p.m.    Kano
42    Nov. 5    Iran vs. Uruguay                7 p.m.    Calabar
43    Nov. 5    Mexico vs. Korea Republic   4 p.m.    Bauchi
44    Nov. 5    Nigeria vs. New Zealand     7 p.m.    Abuja


EYEING THE ITALIANS: Italy rode wins against Algeria and Korea Republic, and a draw against Uruguay in the group finale to earn seven points and the Group F title to advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 1987 and only the second time overall at this event. Only Iran’s defense was more stingy than the Italians in group play, as Italy ranked second-best among the 24 teams by allowing one goal in three matches. They have yet to allow a goal from the run of play, as South Korea’s goal came from the penalty spot. Already advanced going into their third group match, Italy inserted five first-time starters against Uruguay and came away with a scoreless draw. Italy goalkeeper Mattia Perin, one of four Italy players to play every minute for the Azzurrini, will miss the U.S. match with a cut on his foot, according to FIFA.com. Franceso Bardi, who deputized for Perin at the UEFA U-17 Championship and appeared in one match, will likely take the gloves.

Italy Results
Date        Opponent            Result      Italy Scorers                                           Venue
Oct. 26    Algeria                1-0 W      Federico Carraro                                    Amadu Bello Stadium; Kaduna
Oct. 29    Korea Republic     2-1 W      Michele Camporese, Pietro Iemmello        Amadu Bello Stadium; Kaduna
Nov. 1     Uruguay               0-0 T       -                                                           Sani Abacha Stadium; Kano

Italy U-17 Roster by Position
GOALKEEPERS (3): 1-Mattia Perin (Genoa), 12-Francesco Bardi (Livorno), 21-Giacomo Venturi (Bologna)
DEFENDERS (7): 2-Felice Natalino (Inter), 3-Federico Mannini (Siena), 4-Vincenzo Camilleri, 5-Simone Sini (AS Roma), 13-Simone Benedetti (Torino), 14-Andrea Bagnai (Fiorentina), 15-Michele Camporese (Fiorentina)
MIDFIELDERS (7): 6-Lorenzo Crisetig (Inter), 7-Alessandro Scialpi (Genoa), 8-Alessandro de Vitis (Parma), 10-Stephan el Shaarawy (Genoa), 16-Leonardo Bianchi (Empoli), 19-Marco Fossati (Inter), 20-Federico Carraro (Fiorentina)
FORWARDS (4): 9-Giacomo Beretta (AC Milan), 11-Simone dell Agnello (Inter), 17-Alberto Libertazzi (Juventus), 18-Pietro Iemmello (Fiorentina)

WELCOME TO KADUNA: After opening the tournament and Kano and traveling all the way across the country to southern Ijebu-Ode to round out group play, the U.S. team has traveled back to the northern part of the country to open the knock out stage in Kaduna. The city of more than six million people features Ahmadu Bello Stadium, home of Kaduna United and Ranchers Bees. The host stadium for Italy’s first Group F throughout the group matches was built in 1964 and has hosted games at the 1985 African Youth Championship, the 1999 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the CAF Champions League. A recent upgrade has added four training fields, four new lockers rooms and a youth center to the facility.

ITALIAN HISTORY: Nigeria 2009 is only the sixth FIFA U-17 World Cup for Italy, but Wednesday meeting will mark their third against the U.S. at the event. In the previous meetings, the Americans picked up two wins – 1-0 in 1991 in Italy and 3-1 in 2005 in Peru. It’s not just at the U-17 level that but the two countries have a storied history in FIFA events. The sole meeting at a FIFA U-20 World Cup yielded a 3-1 Italy win at Netherlands 2005. At the senior level, the two nations have met in high-stakes competition twice in the past four years, as a famous 1-1 draw in group play was the only game Italy did not win en route to a 2006 FIFA World Cup title. Alessandro Del Piero played in that 2006 World Cup match, and also faced the U.S. at the 1991 Under-17 event. In 2009, they squared off at the FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, a game in which the U.S. took an early lead, but a first-half red card led the Italians to a 3-1 win with a man advantage. In 1990, the United States had qualified for its first FIFA World Cup in 40 years and was drawn into Group A with host Italy. The Americans put up a respectable performance in a 1-0 loss in their first chance on the world stage since 1950.

TWEETING ALONG: Follow the U-17 MNT in short form as they journey through Nigeria by keeping up to date on our official Twitter page at twitter.com/ussoccer.

BLOGFRICA: If you want to keep up with the team in longer form, including exclusive stories, interviews, photos and more, make sure to follow the YNT Blog. Click here to join the team along its journey through the knock out phase.

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