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U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Gets 2-0 Victory Over Australia in Opening Match of 2004 Nike Friendlies

    * Ryan Soroka and Ofori Sarkodie Score Goals Five Minutes Apart for U.S. in First Half
    * John Hackworth Gets First International Victory Since Being Named U-17 Head Coach
    * Younger Under-17 MNT Also Snag Victory With 2-1 Comeback Win Over Houston Texans
    * Game to shown on Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. ET on Fox Sports World and re-aired on Dec. 14 at 2 a.m. ET.

BRADENTON, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2004) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team got two goals five minutes apart in the first half as they cruised to a 2-0 victory over Australia this afternoon on the opening day of the 2004 Nike Friendlies at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. With the field surrounded by fans and players participating in the four-day event, midfielder Ryan Soroka unleashed a bullet into the upper left corner in the 33rd minute and Ofori Sarkodie doubled the lead five minutes later, heading home a corner kick over the outstretched hands of Australian goalkeeper Ben Cheyne.

The match against Australia will be aired on Fox Sports World on Dec. 11 at 5 p.m. ET, and re-aired on Dec. 14 at 2 a.m. ET.

“I thought we played well in the first half and put Australia on their heels from the early going,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth. “We weren’t as attack-minded in the second half, but we continued to stifle their attack and keep them at bay for almost the entire game. It was a great match to kick of the Nike Friendlies and the players are looking forward to competing against some talented teams over the next few days.”

The victory marked the first official win for Hackworth since being promoted to the Under-17 head coaching position in the middle of November. Hackworth also led the U-17s to a 3-1 victory over Canada on Oct. 25 while acting as the interim head coach at the time.

After a number of close calls, the U.S. finally got on the board in the 33rd minute on a rocket by Soroka that gave the Aussie ‘keeper no chance. Midfielder David Arvizu collected the ball in midfield and pushed the ball upfield, drawing three defenders to him near the top of the box. With a deft touch, he pushed the ball out wide right to Soroka cutting toward goal from the wing. Soroka, who had taken a couple looks earlier from deep, unleashed a laser that knuckled into the top-left side netting to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead.

Playing with confidence and continuing to pressure Australia’s backline, the U.S. struck again off a corner kick five minutes later. Kyle Nakazawa crossed in a ball to the back post where both Ofori and Nikolas Besagno rose for the open header, but it was Ofori who had the better position to head it home over Cheyne, who had come off his line a bit in an attempt to knock the dangerous service away.

“Coach Hackworth gives me the freedom to go forward, so any chance I get to put one away for the team, I’ll jump at it,” said Sarkodie. “I was just able to beat Nik (Besagno) to the ball and bury it into the net.”

With a 2-0 lead, the U.S. was able to concentrate on shutting down the Australian attack, which at times looked dangerous in the first half. In a two minute span, midfielder Matthew Mullen had two excellent chances but both were snuffed out by stellar defensive efforts. In the 19th minute, Daniel Miller broke free down the right sideline and served in a dangerous low cross into the box that Mullen tried to finish, but Blake Wagner was able to deflect it over the goal. A minute later off a corner kick, the ball fell to Mullen at the top of the box and his low strike veered toward the left corner, but Soroka was there to clear it off the line.

The second half was less entertaining as both teams seemed to struggle in the muggy conditions. While the pace of the match slowed and the number of opportunities on goal diminished, it was the U.S. that was the better team on the day, outshooting Australia 15-7 and dictating the flow for most of the match.

Australia’s last chance of the game was probably its best when David Williams’s attempt from 22 yards found the crossbar in 87th minute.

In the younger U.S. Under-17 MNT’s match against the Houston Texans earlier in the day, Peri Marosevic notched a dazzling strike in the first half and Eric Avila knocked in a rebound in the second half to give the U.S. a 2-1 come-from-behind victory. Marosevic chested down a cross from Patrick Rickards before volleying the ball out of the air past the helpless ‘keeper in the 38th minute to make it an even affair. In the second half, Avila got free and ripped a shot on goal that the ‘keeper got a piece of, but the striker was able to follow up on the rebound and bury it in the back of the net for the game-winner.

The U-15 MNT also came away victorious in their opening match of the four-day event. Playing up in the Under-16 division, the U.S. got two goals from Kirk Urso in the first half and goals from Brandon Tarr and Rodrigo DaSilva in the second half for a dominating 4-0 win over the Houston Texans.

A total of 31 games were played in the opening day of the four-day event. For a complete list of results from all of today’s matches at the 2004 Nike Friendlies, log onto and click on the 2004 Nike Friendlies competition page.

U.S. Soccer’s Nike Friendlies is an annual competition in which the best youth soccer clubs around the United States in the U-16, U-17 and U-18 age divisions are invited to the IMG Academy in Bradenton for a high-level four-day event which stresses quality soccer and player development over wins and losses. Standings are not kept during the competition, in which each team plays four 80-minute games over the four days.

This evening, Nike is hosting a welcoming reception for all  66 teams participating in the event this year. At the reception, U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach Bruce Arena and U.S. Soccer Under-17 Residency graduate Freddy Adu are scheduled to speak.

U.S. Soccer will also host a Coaching Symposium and a Premier Referee Academy as part of the Nike Friendlies extended weekend. The Coaching Symposium will last two days starting tomorrow, Dec. 3, and features sessions led by Arena, Hackworth, U.S. Soccer’s Director of Advanced & International Referee Development Esse Baharmast and U.S. Men’s National Team Fitness Coach Pierre Barrieu. More information about the symposium is available at

Match-up:  U.S. Under-17 MNT vs. Australia
Date:  Dec. 2, 2004
Competition:  International Friendly
Venue:  IMG Academy Park – Bradenton, Fla.
Kickoff:  2 p.m. (ET)
Attendance: 500
Weather: 72 degrees; sunny, muggy

Scoring Summary:    1    2    F
USA                                2    0    2
Australia                         0    0     0

USA – Ryan Soroka (David Arvizu)            33rd minute
USA – Ofori Sarkodi (Kyle Nakazawa)            37th

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 4-Eric Lichaj, 7-Ofori Sarkodie, 10-Carlos Borja, 13-Blake Wagner (20-Gabriel Farfan, 69); 16-Nikolas Besagno (23-Anthony Ampaipitakwong, 60), 14-Kyle Nakazawa, 33-David Arvizu (26-Eddie Ababio, 60); 6-Quavas Kirk (21-Amaechi Igwe, 80), 9-Preston Zimmerman (17-Jeremy Hall, 85), 11-Ryan Soroka.
Subs not used: 18-Evan Newton, 3-Kevin Alston, 30-Joel Smith, 31-Ernest Mariscal

AUS: 1-Ben Cheyne; 2-Scott Weidenbach (17-Andrew Myles, 75), 3-Dean Piemonte, 4-Wade Oostendorp Power, 5-Matthew Spiranovic (13-Will Thom, 46); 6-Leigh Broxham (12-Tayfun Buyukkopru, 46), 7-Matthew Mullen (15-Robbie Kruse, 61),10-Kaz Patafta (19-Ian Graham, 72), 11-Matt Park (16-Matt Dobbin, 46); 8-David Williams, 9-Daniel Miller (14-Brendan Maroney, 46).
Subs not used: 14-Brendan Maroney, 18-Chris Davis, 20-Daniel Visevic

Stats Summary:     USA    AUS
Shots                           15         7
Saves                            2         4
Corner Kicks                6         3
Fouls                           20       19
Offside                          7         3

Misconduct Summary:

Referee: Riza Milliken (USA)