"It is moments like this that you will never forget. It's not everyday you walk into Argentina's back yard and beat them at their passion" said U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach John Ellinger. "This is a very special moment and by far the biggest win of my coaching career. I am very proud of this team."
Argentina would have taken an early lead in the first minute had it not been for a tremendous save by Delvin Countess (Sacramento, CA) who deflected a breakaway shot by Argentinian forward Sergio Marclay.
Eight minutes later the U.S. team suffered a blow as central defender Alexander Yi (Easton, MD) had to leave the match after injuring his right knee and was replaced by Oguchi Onyewu (Olney, MD). The U.S. began the match without midfielder DeMarcus Beasley (Ft. Wayne, IN) who suffered a deep calf contusion in the USA's 3-2 win over Boca Jrs. youth team last Monday. Beasley is expected to return to training with the team next week in Bradenton, Fla.
Argentina struck first in the 17th minute when Sergio Marclay received a ball from midfield and lofted a 22-yard shot that beat U.S. goalkeeper Delvin Countess (Sacramento, CA).
Moments later co-captain and defender Nelson Akwari (Houston, TX) twisted his right ankle and had to leave the field to be taped. Playing with only 10 men U.S. defender Seth Trembly cleared a ball of the goal line preserving a one goal U.S. deficit.
Still down a man, USA's Bryan Jackson (La Canada, CA) threaded a ball through the Argentinian defense to the feet of a streaking Landon Donovan (Redlands,CA) who then beat two defenders and slotted the ball into the back of the net, evening the score at 1-1.
In a span of six minutes the USA conceded two goals before half. Argentina forward Emanuel Centurion headed a cross that hit the crossbar and bounced in at the 34 minute mark. His goal was followed by another header by teammate Lisandro Sacripanti six minutes later. The forward re-directed the ball off a cross that Countess, at full stretch, could only get a hand on.
The U.S. U-17s went into halftime down two goals and with out starting defenders Yi and Akwari. "I told the boy's at halftime not to give up and to do what it takes to get back into this game," U.S. Under-17 Head Coach John Ellinger. "I saw the determination in the eyes of every player and knew that the second half would be our half."
Indeed this was the case as the Americans took control of the game and used their speed on the flanks to initiate attacks, scoring three goals.
The historic three goal comeback began in the 54th mintue when super-substitute Adlofo Gregorio (Hilmar, CA) twisted and turned two Argentinian defenders before striking a low driven ball across the goal mouth. At full stride, a near-post running Donovan one touched the ball past the goalkeeper cutting the USA deficit to one goal.
"I knew I could beat my defender," said Gregorio. "I looked up and saw Donovan running to the near post. I knew if I could get him the ball he would put it in the net and he did."
Two minutes later Gregorio again sliced his way through two defenders and whipped a ball across to an awaiting Jordon Cila (Jericho,NY) who hit a right-footed one-time shot that found nothing but net.
The historic winning goal came in the 66th minute when Bobby Convey's (Philadelphia, PA) cross from the left side found Kyle Beckerman atop of the six yard box. Beckerman headed the ball into the upper-right corner giving the U.S. the lead and victory.
"I just wanted to prove myself to coach and try to earn a starting spot for 1999 CONCACAF qualifying," said Adolfo Gregorio. "My individual success will come from my team's success. Right now I just want to savor this moment and tomorrow begin thinking about qualifying."
The U-17s will be traveling to Montego Bay, Jamaica on Feb. 21 to participate in the 1999 CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament. The 1999 CONCACAF U-17 qualifying tournament has been broken down into two groups: Group A (Montego Bay, Jamaica) Costa Rica, Jamaica, Honduras and USA; Group B (San Salvador, El Salvador) Trinidad & Tobago, El Salvador, Mexico and Canada. The USA will begin qualifying against Costa Rica on Feb. 24, before playing Honduras on Feb. 26 and then concluding with Jamaica on Feb. 28. The top finisher from each group will qualify for New Zealand '99 and the runners-up will have a play-off for the third CONCACAF berth. The U.S. is the only country to have participated in all seven FIFA U-17 World Championships since the first tournament in 1985.
The U-17s have three scheduled practice games before leaving for qualification. The team will play on Feb. 11 against South Florida (Bradenton, Fla.), Feb. 13 against TBD (Orlando) and Feb. 18 against the Tampa Bay Mutiny (Tampa). Head coach John Ellinger is expected to release the 18-man roster a week prior to leaving for Jamaica.
1999 U.S. MEN'S UNDER-17 NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team vs. Argentina Under-17 Men's National Team|
|Venue:||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|Date:||February 4, 1999|
|Weather:||Sunny and Warm -- 75 degrees|
ARG - Sergio Marclay, (Sacripanti), 17,
USA - Landon Donovan, (Jackson), 29,
ARG - Emanuel Centurion, (Ahumada), 31,
ARG - Lisandro Sacripanti, (Leonardo), 40,
USA - Landon Donovan, (Gregorio), 54,
USA - Jordon Cila, (Gregorio), 56,
USA - Kyle Beckerman, (Convey), 66.
USA - 1-Delvin Countness, 4-Nelson Akwari (Capt.) (18-Kellen Kalso, 45), 8-Alexander Yi (14-Oguchi Onyewu, 9), 17-Seth Trembly, 6-Greg Martin, 5-Bryan Jackson (15-Adolfo Gregorio, 45; 14-Raul Rivera, 59), 20-Kenneth Cutler (Capt.), 15-Kyle Beckerman, 11- Bobby Convey (19-Danny Bolin, 83), 16-Jordon Cila, 20-Landon Donovan.
ARG - 1-German Lux, 2-Fernando Spinelli (Capt.), 3-Viector March, 4-Jose Perzan (13-Matias Fondato), 5-Nicolas Medina, 6-Gabriel Marra, 7-Sergio Marclay, 8-Oscar Ahumada, 9-Lisandro Sacripanti, 10-Emanuel Centurion, 11-Leonardo Ponzio.