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U.S. U-17s Clinch Place in FIFA World Championship with 3-0 Win Over Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (Sunday, March 9, 2003) -The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team qualified for their record 10th consecutive FIFA World Championship with a 3-0 win over Guatemala today at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala.  Freddy Adu led the way with one goal and an assist, and Phil Marfuggi recorded 11 saves and his second shutout in three qualifying matches as the U.S. finished at the top of Group A with two wins and a draw.

The U.S. are the only nation to qualify for all 10 world championships at this age group, and John Ellinger’s squad ran their unbeaten streak in qualifying matches to 13 games, dating back to August 26, 1996.  The 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship will be held in Finland from August 13-30, 2003.

“Our guys came out today and did exactly what they needed to do to win,” said U.S. head coach John Ellinger.  “I have all the faith in the world in our players, and I knew that if they played like they can play then we would be fine.  We put on a great team performance out there, and now we get to celebrate this and then turn our focus to Finland.”

Eddie Gaven set up DiRaimondo for the decisive finish in the game’s 43rd minute, laying the ball off to his right just as DiRaimondo entered the penalty area.  DiRaimondo took a touch to get into the area and then fired a low right-footed shot that found the back of the net from 14 yards.

The U.S. took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and John Ellinger made two changes at the interval, sending on forward Jamie Watson and midfielder Steve Curfman to replace Guillermo Gonzalez and Corey Ashe.  The fresh legs came up big as the game opened up in the second period, with Guatemala pushing for an equalizer and the U.S. searching to add to their lead. In all, the teams combined for 24 second-half shots.

The U.S. was up to the challenge as Marfuggi and his defense recorded their third shutout in the last four internationals.  Marfuggi made 11 saves, but his best save came in the 50th minute, when Luis Cos’ shot deflected off of Jonathan Spector’s back and Marfuggi had to sprawl back to his right to catch the ball.  He also made three big saves in a five-minute span of the second half with the score still knotted at 1-0.

“Anytime you get two shutouts in three matches you have to be pretty happy,” said Jonathan Spector.  “Today Phil came up with some big saves, but overall it was our performance as a team that made the difference.  We knew what he had to do to play well today, and we came out and did it.”

Adu, who nearly gave the U.S. a 2-0 lead twice in the second half, converted on his third opportunity, when Gaven set him alone with the goalkeeper in the 72nd minute.  Danny Szetela played the ball to Gaven, and Gaven’s quick touch forward put Adu into position to shoot past the goalkeeper from seven yards out.

Although he only scored once, Adu provided many more highlights.  In the 55th minute he beat six defenders on a swerving run into the penalty area, only to fire his shot off the underside of the crossbar.  Twelve minutes later he beat three defenders into the area, only to be dispossessed by Jerez.

Jamie Watson wrapped up the scoring for the U.S., tallying after Adu set him up in the box with only the goalkeeper to beat.  Watson didn’t miss, rocketing the ball into the net for his 10th career Under-17 goal in just 18 appearances.

DiRaimondo and Adu joined Guatemala’s Jonny Brown as the leading scorers of the tournament, with each tallying two goals.  Adu also added two assists.

Despite giving up three goals, Guatemalan goalkeeper Ricardo Jerez could be proud of his efforts between the posts, recording five saves, all of the difficult variety.  Adu forced him into diving saves with a right-footed rocket in the 7th minute and then a well-struck left-footed shot in the game’s dying moments.

Szetela, who played a tremendous game in place of suspended Brian Grazier, was unlucky not to add his name to the scoresheet, having to watch Jerez produce a great save in the first half, and then seeing his effort in the 77th-minute rattle off the post.  Watson also found the post moments before scoring.  In all, the U.S. had three efforts hit either the post or crossbar.

In the day’s first match, Jamaica put themselves in to the CONCACAF play-off courtesy of a dramatic 1-1 draw with El Salvador.  Jamaica’s Marlon Benbow scored on a free kick from 45 yards out with less than a minute remaining in the match.  Jamaica will next play a home-and-home playoff against the second-place finisher from CONCACAF Group B (Canada, Costa Rica, Cuba and Mexico).

NOTES:  The U.S. wore their blue jerseys, shorts and socks, while Guatemala countered in all white … The U.S. kicked off to start the match ... Only Quentin Westberg and Julian Valentin did not see time in the tournament … The U.S. finished with the most goals for (7) and least goals against (1).

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

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Guatemala
Competition:  CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament
Location:  Estadio Mateo Flores; Guatemala City, Guatemala
Date:  March 9, 2003; 1 p.m. local time kick-off
Weather: 84 degrees; sunny, clear

Scoring Summary:
                       1st  2nd  Final
United States   1     2         3
Guatemala       0     0         0

USA - John DiRaimondo(Eddie Gaven)  43rd minute.
USA - Freddy Adu (Eddie Gaven)  72.
USA - Jamie Watson (Freddy Adu)  89.

1-Phil Marfuggi; 6-Chris Germani  3-Jonathon Spector, 5-Brandon Owens (capt), 16-Adrian Chevannes; 15-Corey Ashe (12-Steven Curfman, 46), 10-Guillermo Gonzalez (13-Jamie Watson, 46), 17-Daniel Szetela, 8-John DiRaimondo (9-Michael Harrington, 73); 11-Freddy Adu, 4-Eddie Gaven.

Subs Not Used: 2-Kyle Helton, 14-Julian Valentin, 18-Quentin Westberg

Not Eligible:  7-Brian Grazier


GUA - 1-Ricardo Jerez, 3-Diego Chicas, 4-Edson Arriola, 15-Hector Alarcon; 2-Fredy Veniura, 8- Luis Cos, 5-Juan Carlos Gonzalez (18-Marbel Aragon, 69), 11-Luis Alay (14-Jose Catalan, 52), 10-Jose Contreras (capt); 7- Perez Lisandro (16-Jean Lopez, 78), 9- Jonny Brown.

Subs not used:  6-Chonay Otto, 12-Zavala Aguilar, 13-Pineda Johann, 17-Junior Zuniga,


Statistical Summary:
                USA     GUA
Shots          19         15
Saves          11         4
Corner Kick  5         6
Fouls           21         12
Offside          5           0

Misconduct Summary:
GUA – Hector Alarcon  (caution) 6th minute.
GUA – Luis Cos (caution) 31.
GUA – Edson Arriola (caution) 63.
USA – Jonathan Spector  (caution) 69.

Referee:   Marcos Rodriguez
AR #1:         Edgar Mora
AR#2:         Hector Delgadillo
4th Official:    Alejandro Jimenez

Team          GP   W   L   T   GF GA  Pts
USA             3    2    0   1    7    1      7
Jamaica        3    1    1   1    4     6     4
El Salvador   3    0    0    3    4    4      3
Guatemala     3    0    2   1    4    8     1

March 5
USA 3  Jamaica 0
Guatemala 2   El Salvador 2

March 7
USA 1  El Salvador  1
Guatemala   2  Jamaica  3

March 9
El Salvador  1 Jamaica   1
USA 3  Guatemala  0