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U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team Opens CONCACAF Championship Campaign With 5-0 Win Against Cuba

TIJUANA, Mexico (April 21, 2009) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team opened its 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship campaign with a 5-0 win against Cuba on Tuesday evening at Estadio Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico. Forward Jack McInerney scored twice and added two assists while Luis Gil, Stefan Jerome and Sebastian Lletget each tallied once to put the U.S. atop Group A.

For McInerney, the goals were his fifth and sixth of the year in five international games. He now has 13 career international goals in 21 games played. He also assisted on Jerome’s opening goal in the 31st minute and Gil’s 63rd minute goal.

The U.S. will next face Canada on Thursday, April 23 at 4 p.m. PT in a match that fans can follow live on’s MatchTracker. With Canada and Honduras playing to a 1-1 draw in the first game of the night, the U.S. has sole possession of first place in Group A with three points and can clinch a berth to the 2009 FIFA Under-17 World Cup with a victory against Canada.

“At first we were a little hesitant, but as the game went on we took control and created opportunities,” said U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team head coach Wilmer Cabrera. “We took advantage of the opportunities that we had. We were very focused on the game and we had several good training sessions. We had a good victory but we can’t take anything away from Cuba, they were a great opponent and we must keep our heads in the game against Canada and Honduras.”

Despite the heat, the game began at a frantic pace as both teams looked for an early advantage. The U.S. had the better of the chances early on, with McInerney smacking a shot off the post in just the fourth minute. He and his teammates continued to pressure the Cuban defense for much of the first half, spraying a handful of shots on and around the Cuban goal.

It seemed like it was not going to be McInerney’s day as he hit the post for just the second time in the 31st minute, but the ball caromed in front of the net for an on-rushing Jerome, who had a simple finish from close range.

Just minutes later, Jerome drew a foul down the left wing to set up the USA’s second goal off a Gil free kick. The right-footed midfielder drove a ball into the box for McInerney and the Alpharetta, Ga., native hit a powerful header from close range, giving goalkeeper Odisnel Cooper no chance.

Even with the 2-0 lead, the American attack didn’t rest, staying on the attack and keeping Cuba under pressure. Five minutes before halftime, Lletget added his name to the score sheet with a great individual effort. With a lot of traffic in the box, Gil took a shot that was blocked out towards the top of the penalty area. Lletget brought the ball down and turned away from pressure before curling a shot inside the far post to put the U.S. up 3-0 before halftime.

Halftime provided the only relief for Cuba, as the U.S. picked up where they left off in, striking for the fourth time on the night just three minutes into the second half. Gil, the youngest player on the roster, carried the ball into the box and slipped a ball through for McInerney, who did the rest, finishing inside the near post.

After setting up two goals, Gil finished off the scoring by notching one of his own in the 63rd minute. McInerney was able to run down a long diagonal service from midfield, and with a nice individual effort, dribbled his way into the penalty area forcing the Cuban ‘keeper out of position. With the goal open, McInerny’s touch got ahead of him and Gil was able to step in front to tap the ball into the net from two yards out. 

Earl Edwards was not called upon to make a save against the Caribbean champions, who had scored 29 goals in their six preliminary games to earn their place in Tijuana. The U.S. continued its unbeaten record against Cuba at this level, improving its all-time record against the island nation to 3-0-2.

The 2009 CONCACAF U-17 Championship will mark the first time since 1996 that a regional champion is crowned. The U.S. has won the championship twice at this level, in 1983 and 1992. When the qualifying tournament was held as two groups in separate venues, the U.S. won its group four times (2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007).

The top two finishers in Group A advance to the semifinals of the tournament and earn half of CONCACAF’s four berths to Nigeria. They will also cross over to play one of the top two teams from Group B, which is made up of Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago. The semifinals will be played on April 29, with the final and third place match played on May 2.

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team holds the distinction of being the only team in the world to have qualified for every single FIFA U-17 World Cup (previously the FIFA U-16 World Tournament).

Match: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Cuba
Date: April 21, 2009
Competition: CONCACAF Under-17 Championship
Venue: Estadio Caliente; Tijuana, Mexico
Kickoff: 4 p.m. PT
Attendance: TBA
Weather: 90 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary:   1   2    F
USA                              3   2    5
CUB                              0   0   0

USA – Stefan Jerome (Jack McInerney)    31st minute
USA – Jack McInerney (Luis Gil)                 34
USA – Sebastian Lletget                              40
USA – Jack McInerney (Luis Gil)                  48
USA – Luis Gil (Jack McInerney)                 63

USA: 1-Earl Edwards; 3-Tyler Polak, 6-Jared Watts, 2-Eriq Zavaleta, 4-Perry Kitchen; 8-Alex Shinksy (15-Carlos Martinez, 64), 5-Marlon Duran, 20-Sebastian Lletget (13-Joseph Gyau, 70), 10-Luis Gil; 7-Stefan Jerome (19-Andrew Craven, 75), 9-Jack McInerney
Subs not used: 11-Dustin Corea, 14-Zachary Herold, 17-Juan Agudelo, 18-Spencer Richey,
Subs not available: Emilio Orozco, Nicholas Palodichuk
Head Coach: Wilmer Cabrera

CUB: 1-Odisnel Cooper (12-Yeimi Guerra, 44); 13-Alejandro Marquez, 15-Yadien Ortiz, 4-Daniel Cantero, 3-Yordan Exposito; 14-Dayron Blanco (16-Ricardo Pena,77), 10-Luis Portal, 5-Liosvel Hernandez, 18-Ovaldo Lemus, 20-Osdany Soto (17-Humberto Ruig, 58)
Subs not used: 2-Yandry Prieto, 6-Over Urgelles, 8-Raydel Fernandez, 11-Randy Lizama
Head Coach: Alexander Gonzales

Stats Summary: USA / CUB
Shots: 16 / 2
Shots on Goal: 11 / 0
Saves: 0 / 6
Corner Kicks: 6 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Alex Shinsky (caution)         47th minute
CUB – Ovaldo Lemus (caution)     88

Referee: Raymond Bogle (JAM)
Assistant Referee 1: Mark Sullivan (JAM)
Assistant Referee 2: Dion Niel (JAM)
Fourth Official: Paul Delgadillo (MEX) Man of the Match:
Jack McInerney