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U-17 MNT Falls to Mexico 2-1 In Lancaster, Calif.

LANCASTER, Calif. (May 25, 2003) - The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team fell 2-1 in a hard-fought friendly against Mexico this afternoon in front of about 1,200 mostly-Mexican fans at Lancaster Soccer Complex in Lancaster, California. The match was the first of two the U.S. will play at the complex before traveling to Busan, Korea for an international youth tournament this Tuesday. The U.S. will face Costa Rica tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The game was marred by numerous hard fouls dished out by the Mexican players, who racked up an astounding 29 fouls during the match and a strong crosswind, which limited the offensive opportunities for both teams. Despite Mexico’s rough play, it was the U.S. who gave up the only penalty of the game when central defender Jonathan Spector was called for a foul near the top of the box in the 23rd minute. Midfielder Julio Ceja Ochoa knocked home the penalty, giving Mexico the 1-0 lead at halftime. The U.S. struck back in the second half, getting a quick goal from forward Eddie Gaven off a free kick to tie the game. With five minutes left though, Mexico got an opportunistic goal as the U.S. defense lost its concentration on a quick restart, giving Mexico the victory.

Before Spector’s foul, the U.S. had several chances to clear the ball during Mexico’s first real offensive threat, but weren’t able to get a solid foot on the ball and get it out of danger. Mexico was able to take advantage, finding forward Rafael Murguia Mongalez just inside the box. He collected the ball and then fell to the ground after Spector bumped him from behind.  Midfielder Julio Ceja Ochoa knocked home the penalty for the 1-0 lead.

In the second half, the U.S. didn’t waste any time and put pressure on the Mexican goalkeeper from the get-go. In the 47th minute, midfielder Freddy Adu gave a perfect through ball to Corey Ashe, who ran on to the ball from the left wing and ripped a one-timer from 20-yards out that Mexican keeper Jose Cruz was just able to get a hand on and push over the crossbar.  The U.S. continued to pressure the Mexican defense and finally got the equalizer in the 62nd minute after receiving a free kick after Adu was fouled to the right of the penalty box. Guillermo Gonzalez sent in a curling service to the far post where Spector out-jumped Cruz, and headed the ball across the goalmouth to an unmarked Gaven, who easily tapped the ball into the open net.

Two minutes later, Ashe had another opportunity from almost the same spot as his first one in the opening minutes of the half, this time hitting the crossbar. Midfielder John DiRaimondo tried to collect the rebound, but couldn’t get off a clean shot and it was cleared by the Mexican defense.

In the 85th minute, Mexico got the game-winner off a quick throw-in, which caught the U.S. off-guard. After the quick restart, Mexico pushed a through ball to substitute Jose Alberto Santiago Varela, who outran three U.S. defenders for a one-on-one with goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi. Marfuggi almost made two great stops as he got a piece of Varela’s first shot, diving to his left to make the save. Varela was able to head the high rebound over Marfuggi, who reached back from his knees and got a bit of the ball, but not enough to stop it from going across the goaline.    

The U.S. offense struggled during parts of game as Mexico man-marked its two forwards, Adu and Gaven, who took the grunt of the punishment as Mexico continually fouled the U.S. players as they tried to build an attack an push forward. After keeping his yellow card in his pocket for most of the first half, the referee showed it five times to Mexican players during the second half.

The U.S. had some good opportunities in the first half, with DiRaimondo getting the best chance in the 33rd minute when he ripped a shot from just inside the penalty area that was destined for the lower-right corner, but was knocked away by a sprawling Cruz. Three minutes later, central defender Brandon Owens pulled the trigger form about 30-yards out, causing the keeper to reach up to his left to make the save and bring the ball in. Gonzalez also had two solid long-range blasts, one on a free kick, which sailed just over the crossbar.

The U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica are the three teams from CONCACAF that qualified for the FIFA Under-17 World Championship, which will be held in Finland on August 13-30.

Mexico and Costa Rica battled to a 0-0 tie earlier on Saturday night (May 24).

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

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Mexico
Competition: Friendly
Location: Lancaster Soccer Complex; Lancaster, Calif.
Date: May 25, 2003
Weather: Warm, windy; 70 degrees

Scoring Summary:

                                                1st     2nd     Final
United States                             0        1          1
Mexico                                      1        1          2

MEX – Julio Ochoa            24th minute
USA –  Eddie Gaven (Jonathan Spector)    62nd
MEX – Jose Varela              85th

USA – 1-Phil Marfuggi; 6-Chris Germani (13-Jamie Watson, 80), 3-Jonathan Spector, 5-Brandon Owens, 16-Adrian Chevannes; 7-Brian Grazier, 15-Corey Ashe, 10-Guillermo Gonzalez, 8-John DiRaimondo, 11-Freddy Adu, 4-Eddie Gaven.
Subs not used: 4-Jose Gomez, 2-Kyle Helton, 18-Stephen Sandbo, 20-Jacob Peterson, 9- Michael Harrington , 12-Steven Curfman

MEX – 1-Jose Cruz (Jonathan Dominguez, 74); 3-Oscar Barrios, 4-Luis Ramirez, 6-David Lagunes, 14-Diego Villa (13-Manuel Cagigal, 64); 5-Alberto Torres (17-Carlos Beirana, 85), 8-Diego Encarnacion, 10-Julio Ochoa (16-Pedro Vazquez, 80), 11-Emilio Navarro (7-Samuel Munoz, 74); 9-Rafael Mongalez (18-Jose Varela, 66), 2-Gerardo Zuniga (15-Vicente Meda)

Statistical Summary:
                        USA      MEX
Shots                  7            3
Saves                  1            5
Corner Kick        5            3
Fouls                   13         29   
Offside                 0           4

Misconduct Summary:
MEX – Luis Ramirez     (caution)     36th minute
MEX – Oscar Zuniga    (caution)     56th
MEX – Alberto Torres    (caution)     60th
USA – Corey Ashe     (caution)    66th  
MEX – Vicente Meda    (caution)     89th
MEX – Samuel Munoz    (caution)     89th
MEX – Pedro Vazquez     (caution)     90th