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U.S. Under-17 '91s MNT Tops FC DELCO at Development Academy Nike Friendlies

BRADENTON, Fla. (Dec. 6, 2007) - In their first game of the Development Academy Nike Friendlies, the U.S. MNT 91s earned a 2-1 victory over FC Delco, behind goals from Amobi Okago and Bryan Dominguez.

The USA’s 4-3-3 formation singled their intention to win the battle for possession in the center of park, however the early exchanges did not go according to plan for the 91s.

Perhaps nerves were getting the better of the young team, but credit must also be given to FC Delco, whose physicality and industriousness were upsetting the U.S.’s passing game. Early on, the midfield trio of Dominguez, Okago and Nick Millington struggled to unlock the Delco defense, who were disrupting the 91s with their strength and speed.

“We lost the ball unnecessarily early on,” said assistant coach Brian Maisonneuve, who took charge on the sideline for this game. “They put a bit of pressure on us, but for the most part our passing and receiving just wasn’t where it needs to be.”

In spite of their slow start, the U.S. fortuitously took the lead in the 18th minute. A clever free kick play created space for Okago, whose low drive took a deflection past the unfortunate Kevin McMullen in the Delco goal. With the lead, the U.S. began to settle down, and as they took possession more, their control over the game increased.

If the first goal was lucky, the second was much the opposite. Kofi Sarkodie released Greg Garza with a long through ball, and the winger’s quick feet were too much for the Delco defense. Skipping by one defender, Garza touched the ball into the box before he was bundled over by Delco defender Mark Fetrow. It was a clear penalty, and Dominguez stepped up to coolly dispatch the spot kick.

“After the goal we lifted our game,” said Maisonneuve, “we started playing a bit more, and we weren’t as careless with the ball. We limited their opportunities and defended well.”

The goal also galvanized Dominiguez, whose quick touches and passing wore out the tired Delco legs, and defensively the U.S. limited the Philadelphia club to speculative efforts and set pieces. Though Delco’s height advantage was commanding, they were left to rue their wastefulness on dead balls, and the halftime whistle blew with the U.S. leading 2-0.

In the second half, the U.S. was unwilling to sit on its two-goal cushion. Though they held most of the possession early in the half, but were still short of quality in the final third. After combining well with substitute Eder Arreola, midfielder Ben Speas had his shot well saved by the Delco goalkeeper.

Garza was the architect of a quick U.S. counter attack in the 75th minute. The Texan winger bounded forward into the Delco half at pace, and played Sarkodie an enticing ball across the top of area, but the defender’s hard shot was right at the grateful McMullen.

Despite their troubles up top, the U.S. was solid defensively, with Sarkodie marshalling the backline.

A late Delco goal created a bit of drama in the final few minutes. Forward Dante Pannell played a quick combination with fellow substitute Zachary Bove before whipping an enticing left footed cross into the box. Forward Dave Cassasanelli arrived in the box at the right time, to finish off the good attacking move.

Despite the late scramble, the result was out of reach for the Philadelphia side. The final whistle dropped the curtain on a deserved 2-1 win for the young U.S. team, who will face Real Colorado at 9 a.m. ET tomorrow.

Maisonneuve commended his team’s effort, but noted that it’s now up to the squad to become more clinical in the final third of the pitch. 

“Our spacing was good,” said the U-17 assistant coach, “and I think that our movement was set up in the right way. Everything just needs to be sharper, and the guys are aware of that.”

Sarkodie echoed his coach’s words, and stressed the need to be ready for tomorrow’s early game. “In the second half we came out with the mindset to press them. We wanted to get that third goal to win the game, but unfortunately it didn’t come.”

“We got the end result though,” said the defender, putting a positive note on his team’s good effort, “and now our mindset tonight is to cool down, rest our legs and get focused for tomorrow’s game.”

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

Participants: USA vs. FC Delco
Competition: Development Academy Nike Friendlies, Under-17/18 Competition
Location: IMG Academy; Bradenton, Fla.
Date: December 6, 2007
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees

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

USA – Amobi Okugo (Greg Garza)    18th minute
USA – Bryan Dominguez (PK)   26th minute
FCD – Dave Cassasanelli (Dante Pannell)  87th minute

USA: 18–Samir Badr; 6-Chad Barson, 2-Aubrey Perry, 4-Korey Veeder (17-Aaron Horton, 63), 3-Kofi Sarkodie (16-Joshua Sylva, 80); 7-Ben Speas, 8-Amobi Okago, 5-Nick Millington (14-Scott Caldwell, 55), 10-Bryan Dominguez (13-Pablito Cruz, 63), 11-Greg Garza (12-Gale Agbossoumonde, 80); 9-Ryan Finley (15-Eder Arreola, 55)

FCD: 1-Kevin McMullen; 3-Kevin Strunk, 14-Matt Heffernan, 18-Mark Fetrow, 8-Andrew Dodds (28-Dante Pannell, 80); 10-Andrew Trainor (5-Dave Cassasanelli, 64), 17-Nick Dundon, 26-Jordan LeBlanc (6-Zachary Bove, 88), 9-Joe Crowly (4-Tyler Patrizio, 86); 21-Kyle Ellis, 20-John Procope (13-Matt Margiotta, 46)

Statistical Summary:
Shots  14 5
Shots on Goal 9 3
Saves  3 7
Corner Kicks 9 2
Fouls  13 9
Offsides 3 1

Misconduct Summary:
FCD – Nick Dundon (caution)  17th minute

Referee: Edwin Jurisevic
1st Assistant: Marlene Duffy
2nd Assistant: Carlos Luna

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Kofi Sarkodie