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Adu Scores in 89th Minute to Lead U.S. to Thrilling 2-1 Victory Over Sierra Leone in FIFA U-17 World Championship

* Adu Notches 89th Minute Goal to Put U.S. Through to Quarterfinals
* Goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi Comes Up Big With Six Saves in Second Half to Stifle Sierra Leone
* U.S. Will Face Spain in Third and Final Match in Group D on Wednesday, August 20

LAHTI, Finland (Sunday, August 17, 2003) – An 89th minute goal by forward Freddy Adu gave the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team a spirited 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone this afternoon at Lahti Stadium in Lahti, Finland, clinching a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship. The U.S. will face Spain in their third and final game in Group D on Wednesday, August 20 at 8 p.m. local time / 1 p.m. ET.

While the U.S. is assured to finish either first or second in Group D and advance into the quartefinals, it is still too early to know who they would face. The winner of Group D is scheduled to take on the second place finisher in Group C, while the second place finisher in Group D will face the winner of Group C. The teams competing in Group C are Brazil, Portugal, Yemen and Cameroon.

“Sierra Leone was a handful today and I think we did well to get a win against such a strong side,” said U.S. Uncer-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger. “They had our backs up against the wall a lot of the time, but we were able to get the strike from Freddy at the end to make the difference. It’s good to know we’ve advanced, but we still have to concentrate on Spain, which will be a tough test.”

Adu’s finally notched the game-winning goal just after getting hammered by the Sierra Leone defense and getting taken off the field on a stretcher. Goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi sent a goal kick the length of the field towards the head of Eddie Gaven just over the centerline. Gaven couldn't get up for the ball, and it bounced once before forward Jamie Watson got his head on the ball, directing it right instride to Adu who was joining the play just to the left of midfield. Adu shielded the last defender before dribbling left around keeper Patrick Bantamoi and slotting the ball into the open net. The strike gives Adu four goals in two games.

Before Adu’s goal, Marfuggi was the star of the match as he kept the U.S. equal with 10 saves. Throughout most of the match, the U.S. got out-gunned by Sierra Leone as they were able to pressure down the flanks to knock in dangerous crosses and also ripped numerous shots from outside the penalty area. Sierra Leone controlled most of the possession during the match and ended up taking 25 shots, 12 of which were on goal.

The U.S. had the first chance early into the contest, but midfielder Corey Ashe’s drive went over the crossbar. Eddie Gaven started the attack by winning a 50-50 ball in midfield and heading it forward to Jamie Watson. Watson pushed towards the goal on the right side of the penalty area and unselfishly laid the ball off to his left to a wide-open Ashe about 15-yards from goal.

Sierra Leone was only able to sneak one by Marfuggi in the 32nd minute to go up 1-0. Running with Obi Metzgar as he brought the ball up the right sideline, Jonathan Spector slid in for the tackle, but the ball squirted out towards the endline. Metzgar stayed on his feet, collected the ball and dribbled towards goal before slipping a low pass in to Alimamy Sesay, who was able to tuck the ball into the net from close range.

The U.S. continued to pressure after going down as Corey Ashe got open a number of times down the left sideline and swerved in dangerous crosses, but most were handled well by Bantamoi.

In the 42nd minute, Brandon Owens almost had his second goal in two games after towering high for a John DiRaimondo corner kick and heading it down toward the lower left corner. Bantamoi was up to the task again though as he just touched it off the line.

Two minutes later, Adu looked to be taken down in the penalty area after a collecting the ball off a quick restart, but no call was made. As the U.S. bench clamored for a call, the players kept the pressure on, keeping possession in Sierra Leone’s defensive half.

Right before the half, the U.S. was finally awarded for its good spell of pressure when a penalty kick was awarded for a take down by Bantamoi. Adu had lost the ball near the top of the box and Eddie Gaven ran on to the loose ball and touched it past Sierra Leone’s defenders. As Bantamoi came out, Gaven touched it to his left and the keeper clipped him as he went by. Guillermo Gonzalez finished the penalty, slotting it to the lower-left side as Bantamoi barely moved.

In the second half, Sierra Leone continued to belt shots from all over the pitch. In the 78th minute, substitute Sheriff Suma hit the crossbar after a nice leave from Alimamy Sesay at the top of the 18-yard box. Two minutes later, Sesay almost knocked in a shot of his own off a cross from the right side by Emerson Samba. Sesay had made a nice run to the near post, but his flick attempt went wide right.

Then in the 83rd minute, Marfuggi came up with his biggest save as he knocked away Metzgar’s blast at the top of the box. After the initial shot, Sierra Leone continued to pepper the goal as blue shirts filled the penalty area, but they couldn’t slip one past.

Adu was knocked around in the second half by the Sierra Leone defense, getting tackled numerous times as he tried to push forward. Twice Adu looked to be fouled inside the penalty area, but no call was made. The forward was hit so many times, at one point he was taken off on a stretcher after a collision. In that instance, Adu was given a yellow card for diving, despite the fact it looked as though he had been clipped.

In the 76th minute, Adu almost put the U.S. in front. He collected along the endline to the right of the goal in the penalty area. With a few quick stepovers, he went around Lansana Bayoh, and curled the ball past the keeper, but defender Hassan Sesay was able to clear it off the line.

In the match following the U.S., Spain defeated the Korea Republic 3-2. With a win or tie vs. Spain on Wednesday the U.S. will win Group D and would play the second place team from Group C in the quarterfinals. A loss to Spain would mean a second-place finish and a match up with the Group C winner in the quarters.


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

Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Sierra Leone
Competition: 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship
Location: Lahti Stadium; Lahti, Finland
Date: August 17, 2003
Weather: Sunny and warm; 70 degrees

Scoring Summary:
                          1st 2nd Final
United States 1     1     2
Sierra Leone 1     0      1

SLE-Alimamy Sesay (Obi Metzgar) 32nd minute
USA – Guillermo Gonzalez (penalty kick) 45th
USA – Freddy Adu (Jamie Watson) 89th

USA–1-Phil Marfuggi; 3-Jonathan Spector, 5-Brandon Owens, 12-Steve Curfman (2-Kyle Helton, 76), 15-Corey Ashe, 17-Daniel Szetela, 8-John DiRaimondo, 10-Guillermo Gonzalez (7-Brian Grazier, 70 ), 4-Eddie Gaven; 13-Jamie Watson, 11-Freddy Adu (16-Adrian Chevannes, 90).
Subs not used: 18-Quentin Westberg, 19-Jacob Peterson, 28-Stephen Sandbo, 14-Julian Valentin, 9-Michael Harrington, 6-Chris Germani

SLE-1-Patrick Bantamoi; 2-Daniel Taylor (4-Mohamed Koroma, 33), 3-Umaru Bangura, 5-Hassan Sesay, 6-Mohamed Kamara; 8-Alimamy Sesay, 10-Samuel Barlay, 11-Obi Metzger, 14-Lansana Bayouh (13-Emerson Samba, 74); 16-Ibrahim Khalil Tahini (19-Sheriff Suma, 58), 18-Kalie Jalloh.

Statistical Summary:
                          USA SLE
Shots                    6 12
Saves                  10 4
Corner Kick          6 9
Fouls                    5 18
Offside                  3 1

Misconduct Summary:
SLE-Lansana Boyoh (caution) 37th
SLE-Obi Metzger (caution) 38th
USA-Corey Ashe (caution) 73rd
USA-Freddy Adu (caution) 84th
SLE-Hassan Sesay (caution) 85th

Group D Standings
                         GP  W D L GF GA ± Pts.
USA                    2 2 0 0 8 2 +6 6
Spain                  2 1 1 0 6 5 +1 4
Sierra Leone     2 0 1 1 4 5 -1 1
Korea Republic 2 0 0 2 3 9 -6 0

Group D Results / Schedule
Thursday, August 14
USA 6, Korea Republic 1
Sierra Leone 3, Spain 3

Sunday, August 17
USA 2, Sierra Leone 1
Spain 3, Korea Republic 2

Wednesday, August 20
Sierra Leone vs. Korea Republic 5:30 p.m local time / 10:30 a.m. ET
USA vs. Spain 8 p.m. local time / 1 p.m. ET