US SoccerUS Soccer

U.S. U-17 MNT Fall to U-19 Cruz Azul 2-0 in Blaine

* U.S. Outplays Cruz Azul in First 25 Minutes, But Can’t Find the Back of the Net
* Juan Hernandez Tallies Goal and Assist to Lead Cruz Azul
* U-17s Next Match Against Canada on Tuesday, July 20 at 7:30 p.m.

BLAINE, Minn. (July 19, 2004) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team fell 2-0 to the older U-19 Cruz Azul, a Mexican club team, this evening in front of 2,235 fans at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn.

This was the second of a three-game series the U-17s will play in Blaine. The U.S. defeated Canada 3-2 on Saturday and will face their northern neighbors once again tomorrow (July 20) at 7:35 p.m. at the National Sports Center.

“We didn’t play our best match today, especially in the second half,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “I thought the guys did well in the beginning of the game, but after they scored their first goal we seemed to fall apart somewhat. I’m looking forward to our final match tomorrow and hopefully we can get our second win of the week.”

The U.S. was the better team in the first 25 minutes of the match, as Cruz Azul struggled to deal with Ellinger’s box midfield with Dax McCarty and Danny Szetela in front of Nic Besango and Carlos Borja. Azul was finally able to break through though in the 26th minute as Fernando Gonzalez headed home a cross from Juan Hernandez. Two minutes before halftime Hernandez scored a goal of his own, slotting the ball past Rein into the lower right corner and the U.S. never was able to recover.

The U.S. looked a bit outmatched during the game at times and struggled against a much older Cruz Azul squad that has two players that are on Mexico’s Under-20 Men’s National Team and a number that practice with the club’s first squad.

The U.S. created their first opportunity on goal with a nice build up on the right flank in the 10th minute. Right back Adam Sloustcher quickly took a throw-in just inside Cruz Azul’s half, finding Danny Szetela who immediately turned upfield and executed a perfect give-and-go with Ryan Soroka, before dribbling down the to the endline and sending in a cross to the near post. Eric Avila ran on to the service and got a head to it, but it deflected off a defender and went a foot over the bar.

Two minutes later, Cruz Azul took its first shot as Sloustcher’s clearance fell to midfielder Jullo Ceja near the top of the 18-yard box. Ceja’s one-timer was blocked by Julian Valentin and the rebound fell to Gustavo Santiago, but his attempt went well over the goal.

In the 23rd minute, Carlos Borja came inches from putting the U.S. in the lead with a nice individual effort. The midfielder collected the ball about 25 yards out on the left flank, cut inside to lose his defender and ripped a low shot from the top of the area that went just wide of the left post.

Cruz Azul notched its first goal of the evening three minutes later with their first shot on target. Hernandez ran onto a long ball on the left sideline and dribbled into space before lofting a ball to the far post to an unmarked Fernando Gonzalez, who headed it inside the right post past a diving Rein.

In the 42nd minute, Richard Edgar served in a free kick from the left flank and Szetela did well to flick it to the far post where Soroka challenged Javier Caso for the ball in midair, but the ‘keeper was able to knock it out for a corner.

A minute later, Cruz Azul doubled their lead as Alfredo Roa sent in a long ball from midfield to a streaking Hernandez, who had gotten behind Sloustcher near the top of the box on the left side. Hernandez was able to dribble in on goal and hold off Sloustcher before burying the ball into the lower right corner past Rein.

Ellinger made four changes in the lineup to start the second half, bringing in Erik Lehigh for Richard Edgar and Ofori Sarkodi for Sloustcher on defense, while taking out forwards Ryan Soroka and Eric Avila in exchange for Eddie Ababio and Quavas Kirk. It looked as though Kirk’s long strides and Ababio’s deft ball skills would give Azul’s backline troubles as they pushed forward into the attack, but the U.S. struggled to be creative in the final third and barely troubled Caso during the final 45 minutes.

The U.S. almost got one back with their best chance of the match in the 49th minute, but McCarty’s strike from 25 yards out only found the crossbar. Szetela played a quick free kick short to McCarty on his right and the midfielder unleashed from deep, but Caso was able to just get a fingertip on the ball, maybe keeping it out of the net as it then clanged off the frame.

The U.S. had a couple more attempts on goal, but didn’t force Caso into any trouble. On a corner kick in the 63rd minute, Danny sent in a ball to the back post where Valentin headed it down to Kirk, but the striker’s attempt went high over the bar. In the 79th minute, Borja got wide on the right side and curled in a ball for Ababio, but he couldn’t get much on his header and it bounced twice before Caso easily snagged it.

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

Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Cruz Azul U-18
Competition: Friendly – Fire & Ice Series
Location: National Sports Center; Blaine, Minn.
Date: July 19, 2004
Weather: Warm and overcast, 75 degrees

Scoring Summary:    1st    2nd    Final
USA                                 0        0         0         
Cruz Azul                         2        0         0     

CRZ – Fernando Gonzalez (Juan Hernandez)                 26th minute
CRZ – Juan Hernandez (Alfredo Roa)                              43rd        

USA: 18-Marcus Rein; 2-Adam Sloustcher (7-Ofori Sarkodie, 46), 3-Julian Valentin, 5-Richard Edgar (4-Eric Lichaj, 46), 13-Kevin Alston; 10-Dax McCarty (8-Michael Stephens, 83), 20-Danny Szetela, 16-Nic Besango (14-Jeremy Hall, 85), 9-Carlos Borja; 15-Eric Avila (6-Quavas Kirk, 46), 11-Ryan Soroka (19-Eddie Ababio, 46).
Subs not used: 1-Bryant Rueckner, 12-Michael Dal Pra, 17-Taylor Hoss

CRZ: 91-Javier Caso, 96-Manuel Mariaca, 113-Alejandro Castro, 95-Daniel Cervantes; 114-Miguel Casas, 47-Francisco Rosales, 107-Juan Hernandez (69-Hector Gutierrez, 80), 108-Fernando Gonzalez, 100-Gustavo Santiago, 94-Alfredo Roa, 104-Jullo Ceja (106-Aaron Silva, 65).
Subs not used: 90-Jesus Hernandez, 77-Ignacio Valdez, 48-Alberto Castaneda, 31-Saul Marron, 109-Jonas Figueroa, 111-Orbille Leon,

Statistical Summary:       USA      CRZ
Shots                                      10            9              
Saves                                      1             2                   
Corner Kick                            6             4                        
Fouls                                      10           14                 
Offside                                   0              3                    

Misconduct Summary:
CRZ – Manuel Mariaca (caution)               31st minute
USA – Julian Valentin (caution)                 35th
CRZ – Jullo Ceja (caution)                         40th
CRZ – Miguel Casas (caution)                  49th
USA – Nic Besango (caution)                    52nd
Referee: Terry Vaughn (USA)
Assistant: Jorge Oconitrillo (USA)
Assistant: Sac Avino (USA)
4th Official: Harrison Lake Homer (USA)