The U.S. Under-18s outgunned Canada 28-5, hit three posts and ended the game with a two- man advantage, but could only muster a 0-0 draw against the Under-18 team of our neighbors to the North. In other competition, the U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team came up short in their comeback against the Oregon State Select team, losing 2-1, while the Under-16 Women's team was defeated 3-1 by the undefeated USASA West Region team.
The final round of games for the three teams will be spaced between the USASA's Men's and Women's Championship games tomorrow. The following are summaries of the three U.S. games.
U.S. Under-18 National Team 0, Canada Under-18 National Team 0
It was one of those days for the U.S. Under-18 National Team, who dominated their opponent from end to end, only to a walk away with a 0-0 draw with Canada's Under-18 National Team. Although recording an amazing 28 shots, the Americans were thwarted by three shots that hit posts, six shots that were blocked by defenders in the penalty box and a solid 11-save performance by Canada 'keeper Cole Straub.
"We were a bit unlucky not to score," said U.S. head coach Mitch Murray. "Canada did a great job of packing it in. Our guys need to learn to solve organized defenses like that."
The U.S. barrage of shots started from the opening whistle, as the fiesty U-18s notched four shots and earned two corner kicks in the game's first two minutes. The most dangerous of those shots caromed off the right post, setting an early tone of near-misses that would carry throughout the match. Luck would fail the U.S. again in the 20th minute when defender Leonard Griffin's surprise blast ricocheted off the inside of the post, only to be quickly cleared along the goalline. Another golden scoring opportunity came in the last minute of the 40-minute shortened half as wily forward Carlo Espinosa's mid-air volley sailed just wide of the near post.
The second half would feature more of the same, but this time with a two-man advantage. Canada defender Adam Braz was sent off for a nasty foul tackle just outside the box as a U.S. player raced toward the endline. Twenty minutes later, defender Kareem Morgan was sent off for his second yellow card to reduce Canada to eight field players. With Canada employing a bunker defense that continuously clogged the penalty box, the U.S. would register 19 of its 28 shots but couldn't find the net. "It was a battle just to stay in the game," said Canada coach Ray Clark. "I'm just proud that our boys were up to the challenge."
Oregon State Select 2, U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team 1
In a game that also featured two ejections from the opposing team, the U.S. Under-17 National Team came up just seconds short in their frantic comeback versus the Oregon State Select team, losing 2-1 despite an 84th minute strike by defender Seth Trembly.
Resting four normal starters (including goalkeeper Delvin Countess and Trembly) at the start of the match and missing three other key players (including superstar forward Landon Donovan), the U-17s would beat themselves in the first half, yielding a penalty kick rebound goal and an own goal to find themselves down 2-0 at halftime.
After an Oregon player was dumped by a U.S. defender in the penalty box, midfielder Matt Domingo would tap home the penalty kick rebound to stun the Americans in the 26th minute. Defender Brandon McNeil's original shot was saved by 'keeper Steve Cronin as he dove right, but the ball bounced at a weird angle back across the goal, where it went uncleared and was finished by Domingo.
When lightning accompanied the evening's steady rain, the game was temporarily suspended in the 38th minute. With an opportunity to come back strong from the delay, the U.S. would concede a morale-killing own goal less than a minute back into the match when defender Kellen Kalso accidentally redirected a cross past Cronin into the U.S. net.
After successive red card ejections in the 54th and 71st minutes crippled the Oregon Select team, Kalso would help to redeem himself when Trembly was able to knock home the rebound of his shot in the 84th minute. The U.S. owned the last 10 minutes, earning an incredible seven corner kicks in the process, but could not produce the equalizer with its barrage of late chances.
USASA West 3, U.S. Under-16 Women's National Team 1
Second-half substitute Megan Horvath proved to be the difference in tonight's contest, scoring two goals to lead the undefeated and seasoned USASA West Region team (3-0-0) past the youthful U.S. Under-16 Women's National Team, 3-1. Midfielder Leslie Osborne scored the lone goal for the U.S. off a Magan Tarpley assist in the 50th minute after forward Shavna Rohbock had put the West up 1-0 on an unassisted goal in the 37th minute.
The last round of games is tomorrow, with the U.S. Under-18s taking on the Oregon State Select team and the U.S. Under-17s taking on the Canadian Under-18 team. Meanwhile, the U.S. Under-16s will have their hands full when they face the Sacramento Storm, who have posted a 2-0-1 record and outscored opponents 7-3 in their first three matches.
In other festival action tonight, the USASA West team shocked the previously unbeaten South squad by a whopping 6-0 margin to win Group A with a 2-1-0 record and superior goal differential (8-3), while the USASA East team edged the Midwest, 4-2, to take the top spot in Group B. The USASA West and East will battle for the USASA Men's Championship tomorrow at 8 p.m. (PT), with the South and Midwest facing off for third place at 5:30 p.m.
On the women's side, the USASA South slipped by the Midwest, 3-1, and the Storm edged the USASA East, 3-2. The USASA West and South teams will meet for the USASA Women's Champ-ionship tomorrow at 7 p.m. (PT), while the USASA Midwest and East will fight for third place at 5 p.m.