U.S. U-17s Down Host New Zealand in FIFA World Youth Championship Opener
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Wednesday, November 10, 1999) - The U.S. Men's Under-17 National Team overcame a tropical cyclone, a steady downpour and a determined New Zealand squad to open the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship with a 2-1 come-from-behind victory in-front of 14,000 fans at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.
The U.S. U-17s will have to play against UEFA runners-up Poland on Saturday, Nov. 13, without defender Oguchi Onyewu (Olney, MD) who received a questionable red card in the 94th minute. The U.S. will have defender Seth Trembly (Littleton, CO) for the USA-Poland match after he served a one game suspension for a red card he received against El Salvador in the last game of the home-and-away playoff series.
Tonight's victory over New Zealand extended the U.S. U-17 unbeaten streak to 21- matches with a record of 17-0-4. The undefeated streak, spanning 15 months and 1,970 minutes, began in Aug. 1998 and is the longest winning streak in U.S. Soccer's Men's National Teams program.
"Anytime you play the host nation especially in a world championship it is a game in its self. We played well enough to win but we did not play our best tonight," said U-17 head coach John Ellinger. "In the first half you had the battling element and we were very careless in our possession with the ball. In the second half we had the wind to our backs and changed our system to a 3-5-2. This team finds ways to win and they showed that tonight in these adverse conditions."
The "Junior All-Whites" struck first in the 16th minute when David Mulligan headed in a cross off a free kick that beat U.S. U-17 goalkeeper Delvin Countess (Sacramento, CA). The slippery surface created problems for both teams as they struggled to keep their footing and pace of the ball under control.
The USA's best chance to equalize in the first half came just before halftime when Landon Donovan (Redlands, CA) played a wall pass with teammate Kyle Beckerman (Crofton, MD) resulting in a threw ball to a streaking Bobby Convey (Philadelphia). Convey struck a hard, low shot that Kiwi goalkeeper Sacha Nathu deflected away with his foot at the last moment.
The U.S. received a break early in the second half when New Zealand goal scorer David Mulligan received his second yellow after a vicious tackle on Landon Donovan in the 50th minute.
Reduced to 10 men and with the wind in their face it is was only a matter of time before the USA overpowered New Zealand and took control of the game.
In the 69th minute U.S. U-17 substitute Abe Thompson (Fairfax Station, VA) evened the score at 1-1 after blowing by his defender and beating the New Zealand goalkeeper to the near post with low, right-footed shot. Following his goal, Thompson celebrated by sliding on his stomach and crashing head first into the side boards.
"This is one of the biggest goals I have ever scored," said Thompson. "In my celebration I kept sliding and couldn't stop and just crashed into the boards. I didn't care, it just felt good to score."
In the 74th minute U.S. U-17 all-time leading goal scorer Landon Donovan scored his 33rdcareer U-17 goal, in 36 matches, that gave the USA a much deserved 2-1 victory. "The play began on the left-side with Oguchi, who whipped in a cross with his right foot. From 10-yards out, I re-directed the cross with the inside of my right foot into the corner of the goal," said Donovan. At the conclusion of the match it was announced that U.S. U-17 midfielder Kyle Beckerman was named the FIFA U-17 'Player of the Match.' In the last eight U-17 international matches, Beckerman leads the team in scoring with eight goals and two assists. "I was very surprised to be named the man of the match. I didn't feel as if I had my best game but I am very honored," said Beckerman.
Next for the USA is its second Group A match against UEFA qualifying runners-up Poland on Saturday, November 13, here in Auckland. U.S. Soccer will provide live, online updates to that match on Friday night (U.S. time). Poland and Uruguay will play tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. The USA will conclude its first round games on Tuesday, Nov. 16, against perineal South American powerhouse Uruguay. The top two teams from each group of the four competing groups advance to the quarterfinals to be held Nov. 20-21.
1999 U.S. YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM GAME REPORT
|Participants:||U.S. Men's Under-17 National Team vs. New Zealand U-17 National Team|
|Competition:||V FIFA U-17 World Championship|
|Venue:||North Harbour Stadium (Auckland, New Zealand)|
|Date:||Nov. 10, 1999|
|Weather:||50 degrees - Windy and Rainy|
NZ - David Mulligan, 15,
USA - Abe Thompson, (DaMarcus Beasley), 68,
USA - Landon Donovan, (Oguchi Onyewu), 73.
USA - 1- Delvin Countess, 4-Nelson Akwari, 6-Greg Martin (8-Bryan Jackson, 46), 14-Oguchi Onyewu, 5-Alexander Yi, 3-DaMarcus Beasley (9-Adolfo Gregorio, 93), 15-Kyle Beckerman, 7-Kenneth Cutler, 11-Bobby Convey, 16-Jordan Cila (13-Abe Thompson, 63), 10-Landon Donovan.
NZ - 1-Sacha Nathu, 2-Julius Kolk (11-Brent Fisher, 46; 13-Daniel Trent, 83), 3-Sanjay Singh, 4- David Rayner, 5-Tony Lochhead, 7-David Mulligan, 8-Jeremy Christie (Capt.), 9-James Pritchett, 10-Allan Pearce, 12-Steven Turner, 14-Neil Jones.