US SoccerUS Soccer
Corey Baird

U-17 MNT Faces Portugal with Chance to Win Second Straight Nike International Friendlies Title


LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2012) – The 2012 Nike International Friendlies have seen their fair share of dramatics through two rounds of matches, setting up a very straightforward scenario for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team on Sunday in the final match of the competition.

A win against Portugal and the U-17 MNT will earn its second consecutive championship in the annual tournament which is celebrating its 10th edition this year.

Rubio Rubin, the 2012 U.S. Soccer Young Male Athlete of the Year, has been a key performer for the USA during the tournament, scoring three goals and assisting on three more in the first two matches – an event-opening 4-4 draw against Brazil and a 4-1 win against Turkey on Friday night. Also helping the U-17 MNT to the brink of a second championship are defender Shaquell Moore, who put in a strong 90 minutes against Turkey, forwards Alan Winn (two goals) and Ahinga Selemani (one goal) and goalkeeper Evan Louro (90 minutes and nine saves in win against Turkey).

The U.S. has the added benefit of going up against a Portugal team that it has already faced once this year – a 1-0 loss on April 5 at the Mondial Minimes tournament in La Chaize le Vicomte, France. Much of the Portugal squad the U.S. faced in France has traveled to the Nike International Friendlies, including tournament standouts Rui Moreira, Sergio Ribeiro, José Postiga and Ricardo Carvalho – all of whom started the last match against the USA.

Postiga, who is the younger brother of Portugal National Team and Zaragoza forward Hélder Postiga, has scored two goals in two games during the tournament.

Portugal’s road to the cusp of the championship started with a near disastrous opening match against Turkey, a team the U.S. beat 4-1 on Friday. After grabbing a lightning fast 3-0 lead in the opening 21 minutes of the tournament-opening match on Wednesday, Portugal slowed the tempo and watched that lead evaporate as rapidly as it was built when Turkey came rushing back into the match and was able to tie the score at 3-3 by halftime. Fortunately for Portugal, Moreira bagged the game-winning goal in the 50th minute and this time the lead held up.

The second match of the tournament pitted Portugal against Brazil and this time it was Portugal that was forced to play catch-up. Brazil took a 1-0 lead in the first minute of first-half stoppage time, but Portugal fought back and poked in the game-tying goal from Postiga in the 74th minute, following up on a bicycle kick that hit the frame.

Experienced and confident, the U.S. roster features eight players that have been a part of the Nike International Friendlies during last year’s competition including a strong core group of Residency veteran players in Rubin, Louro, Moore, defender Conor Donovan and midfielder Junior Flores. Facing the same predicament last year – needing a win against Brazil in the final match to lift the trophy – Rubin got the U.S. off to a fast start with a goal in the second minute before Brazil equalized in the 16th minute. The U.S. wouldn’t be denied, however, as Tyler Turner and Wesley Wade (off a Junior Flores assist) scored in the first half to give the USA a 3-1 lead that would last the rest of the match.

Seven starters from that match (Rubin, Moore, Donovan, John Requejo Jr., Christopher Lema, Flores and Corey Baird) could potentially start on Sunday against Portugal, perhaps providing a stabilizing and supportive presence for the players going into the final match for the first time.

After four exciting matches, it all comes down to Sunday night. Turkey, due to its two earlier losses, is officially out of contention for the title, but Brazil – which has two points from two draws – still has a chance if things fall its way.

Should Brazil defeat Turkey by four goals or more, it will make up the goal differential between it and the USA and force the decision to go to tiebreakers if the U.S. draws against Portugal.

2012 Nike International Friendlies Tiebreaker Rules

Here is a quick rundown of the tiebreaker rules ahead of Sunday’s final matches.

Should two or more teams be equal in points after having played all their matches, their positions shall be decided by the following:

  1. Goal difference in all matches;
  2. Greatest number of goals scored in all matches.

If two or more teams are equal on the basis of the above criteria, their rankings will be determined as follows:


  1. Greatest number of points obtained in the matches between the teams concerned;
  2. Goal difference resulting from the matches between the teams concerned;
  3. Greater number of goals scored in the matches between the teams concerned;
  4. Drawing of lots by the Nike International Friendlies Tournament Committee.


2012 Nike International Friendlies Standings

GP

W

L

T

GF

GA

GD

PTS

USA

2

1

0

1

8

5

3

4

POR

2

1

0

1

5

4

1

4

BRA

2

0

0

2

5

5

0

2

TUR

2

0

2

0

4

8

-4

0

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