US SoccerUS Soccer

U-17 MNT Defeat Canada 3-2 in Blain, Minn.

*  Eddie Ababio Scores the Winning Goal in the 65th Minute in His First International Match
* U.S. Comes From Behind Twice to Take First of Two Matches They Will Play Against Canada
* U-17s Next Match Against Cruz Azul Youth Team on Monday, July 19 at 7:30 p.m.

BLAINE, Minn. (July 17, 2004) – Eddie Ababio scored the winning goal in his first international match to give the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team a 3-2 win over Canada on Saturday evening in front of 2,525 fans at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. The U.S. came back to tie the match twice before Ababio scored the game winner in the 65th minute, just a few minutes after coming on as a reserve.

The U.S. will next face another older youth team from Cruz Azul, a famous club team in Mexico, on Monday, July 19 at 7:35 p.m. in Blaine, before facing Canada once again a day later.

The U.S. came away with the win despite playing against an older Canadian squad as the U.S. roster is mainly filled with players born in 1988, while Canada’s squad is primarily players born a year earlier in 1987. U.S. head coach John Ellinger did start six ‘87s, putting goalkeeper Marcus Rein, defender Julian Valentin, and midfielders Adam Sloustcher, Danny Szetela, Eric Avila and Dax McCarty on the field. 

“I was very proud that our guys came away with a victory against an older, more experienced squad tonight,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “They showed a lot of composure by coming back from behind twice and then finding the game winner in the second half. It was a competitive match and I’m sure it will be when we face them again in a couple of days.”

The U.S. was the better team on the night, even though they didn’t play their best defensive game as both of Canada’s goals came after mishaps in the three-man backline. The U.S. offense made up for it though, as Szetela, who just two days earlier signed with MLS, led the attack, winning a number of tough tackles and distributing the ball to speedy forwards Quavas Kirk and Ryan Soroka. The U.S. outshot Canada 16-9, putting 11 of those shots on frame.

Canada struck first in the 23rd minute after a poor back pass to U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Rein by defender Ofori Sarkodie. Masumi Turnbull pounced on the loose ball as Rein came in to challenge him at the top of the box and the bounced off the two players before falling to the feet of Turnbull, who slotted the ball into the open net.

The U.S. struck back five minutes later as Sarkodie made up for his earlier gaff, heading home a Soroka corner kick to the far post past Canadian goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The U.S. won the corner after Szetela won a ball in midfield and quickly fed Kirk on the right flank. The lanky forward used a burst of speed to get a step on his and dribble into the box, where he ripped a shot from a tough angle that the ‘keeper parried over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Soroka weighted a perfect ball to the back post where Sarkodie rose above his marker and headed the ball down across the goalline, sneaking it past a defender who’s attempted clearance was too late.

Early in the second half, Mike D’Agostino gave Canada the lead once again as the U.S. was unable to clear a loose ball out of the area. Alex Elliot collected the ball on the left side near the top of the box and cut into the center of the area, getting off a shot that hit off Rein’s chest and then deflected off a defender high into the air. D’Agostino met the ball in mid-air just inside the 18-yard line and hit snap header into the upper-right side of the goal. 

Despite going down a goal for the second time, the U.S. continued to demonstrate it was the better team on the night, holding most of the possession and breaking down Canada’s long ball tactics. In the 58th minute, the U.S. showed its skilled play with a beautiful combination on the right flank that provided the U.S. with their second equalizer on the night. Off a free kick on the right sideline, Danny Szetela fed Dax McCarty, who quickly dribbled into the midfield before slicing a ball through to Carlos Borja inside the box. Borja crossed the ball across the goalmouth to a wide-open Kirk, who buried the ball into the open net.

The game winner came in the 65th minute when Ababio scored after coming on just a few minutes earlier. On the goal, McCarty headed on a long ball from midfield to a streaking Ababio, who timed his run perfectly after shaking his defender. The striker, who just joined the U-17s last month after gaining his U.S. citizenship after being born in Ghana, calmly collected the ball and slipped it past the ‘keeper. 

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

Participants:     U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Canada
Competition:     Friendly – Fire & Ice Series
Location:    National Sports Center; Blaine, Minn.
Date:    July 17, 2004
Weather:    Warm and overcast, 75 degrees

Scoring Summary:    1st    2nd    Final
USA                                 1       2         3
CAN                                 1       1         2

CAN – Massimo Di Ioia (Masumi Turnbull)        23rd minute
USA – Ofori Sarkodie (Ryan Soroka)                28th
CAN – Mike D’Agostino (unassisted)                49th
USA – Quavas Kirk (Carlos Borja)                     58th
USA – Eddie Ababio (Dax McCarty)                 65th

USA: 18-Marcus Rein; 3-Julian Valentin, 4-Eric Lichaj (5-Richard Edgar, 38), 7-Ofori Sarkodie; 10-Dax McCarty, 20-Danny Szetela, 16-Nik Besango, 15-Eric Avila (19-Eddie Ababio, 62), 2-Adam Sloustcher (9-Carlos Borja, 46); 6-Quavas Kirk (14-Jeremy Hall, 80), 11-Ryan Soroka.
Subs not used: 1-Bryant Rueckner, 8-Michael Stephens, 12-Michael Dal Pra, 13-Kevin Alston, 17-Taylor Hoss.

CAN: 1-Asmir Begovic; 11-Masumi Turnbull, 6-Kyle Bartkus, 3-Kent O’Conner, 2-Robert Kerek; 5-Joey Loreth, 10-Kerr McLeod, 7-Tosant Ricketts (14-Olivier Babineau, 86); 4-Mike D’Agostino, 9-Alex Elliot (17-Thomas McLean, 85), 15-Massimo Di Ioia.
Subs not used: 8-Will Johnson, 12-Mark Cuevas, 13-Jason Devenish, , 16-Hector Contreras, 22-Adam Catley.

Statistical Summary:       USA      CAN
Shots                                      16            9    
Saves                                      3             9       
Corner Kick                           5             2        
Fouls                                      15           17     
Offside                                   2             1       

Misconduct Summary:
CAN – Masumi Turnbull (caution)             36th minute
USA – Ryan Soroka (caution)                  67th
USA – Carlos Borja (caution)                   87th

Referee: Troy Coors (USA)
Assistant: Dustin Downs (USA)
Assistant: Peter Balcunas (USA)
4th Official: Franco Leto (USA)