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U-17 '91 MNT Defeat Czech Republic in Ballymena

BALLYMENA, Northern Ireland (April 24, 2007) - The U.S. Under-17 '91 Men's National Team scored three goals in the second half to overcome a two-goal deficit against the Czech Republic in their second match of the Ballymena Intenational Tournament in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

With the dramatic come-from-behind victory, the U.S. is tied with the Republic of Ireland atop Group B with four points and a plus-one goal differential. The two countries will face-off for the group title and a spot in the championship match on Wednesday, April 25. The U.S. and Ireland met less than three weeks ago at the 35th Mondial Minimes International Tournament in France, with Ireland winning the match, 2-1.

This game was billed as one of the matches of the tournament and it did not disappoint. The Czechs, the current holders of the David Cairns Memorial Trophy, stormed into a two goal first-half lead, but the States battled back and scored three second-half goals to claim all three points.

The U.S. and the Czech Republic had met in the final the past two years of the Ballymena Tournament and this group match had the feeling of a final with some fantastic play by both countries.

The Czechs dominated the first half with two goals, but the U.S. actually escaped with just a two-goal deficit as one shot caromed off the post and two were cleared off the line. The opening goal came in the 25th minute when Vaclav Vasicer from close range, and the reigning champs didn’t wait long to double their advantage as four minutes later Petr Kucera slipped a ball past Cody Mizell.

The match was turned on its head when the U.S. came out in the second half with more energy and Dersu Abolfathi buried a close range effort in the 53rd minute. Ryan Finley created the opportunity by defeating his defender with a nice step-over from the left flank before crossing the ball into the penalty area where buried it into the net.

Abolfathi was in the mix for the equalizing goal in the 71st minute as he dribbled inside his defender before playing the ball to an overlapping Kofi Sarkodie inside the box. The defender took a touch before being taken down to earn a penalty kick. Sarkodie took the spot kick himself, blasting it past the ‘keeper.

The winning strike came with just two minutes from time and started with the goalkeeper, Mizell, whose clearance down the field was run onto by Finley. With a nice touch he was past the ‘keeper and tapping the ball into the open net.

In Group A, Northern Ireland jumped back into contention for the title with a 2-1 victory over Israel, but they'll need some help as Finland sits atop the group with four points after a scoreless draw against Switzerland. Northern Ireland will face Switzerland, while Finland takes on Israel on Wednesday, April 25.  

The U.S. has never won the Ballymena International Tournament, coming up short four times in the championship match out of five overall appearances. In 2000, the U.S. finished fourth, but since has reached the final the past four consecutive years in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006 only to fall to Israel (1-2), Switzerland (3-4 in penalties), Czech Republic (0-1) and Czech Republic again (0-1).  

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

Participants: USA vs. Czech Rep.
Competition: Ballymena International Tournament
Location: Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Date: April 24, 2007
Weather: Overcast, 55 Degrees

Scoring Summary:
               1     2      F
USA       0     3      3
CZE       2     0      2 

CZE – Vasicer Vaclav                                      25th minute
CZE – Kucera Petr                                           29.
USA – Dersu Abolfathi (Ryan Finley)           53.
USA – Kofi Sarkodie (penalty kick)               71.
USA – Ryan Finley (Cody Mizell )                  79.

USA: 1-Cody Mizell; 15-Korey Veeder (12-Parker Walsh, 69), 17-Chad Barson, 9-Aubrey Perry, 8-Kofi Sarkodie: 5-Amobi Okugo, 10-Scott Caldwell, 4-Dersu Abolfathi,13-Eder Arreola (11-Cooper Barham, 49); 14-Ben Speas 16-Ryan Finley (3-Gale Agbossoumonde, 80)
Subs not used: 18-Rafael Diaz, 2-Zarek Valentin, 6-Hasani Sinclair, 7-Ade Akinsanya
Head Coach: Brian Maisonneuve

CZE: 1-Kulovany Vojtech; 3-Murin Ondrej, 5-Ramba Jaroslav, 12-Jelen Karel, 13-Kmoch Jaroslav; 10-Kucera Petr, 14-Pruckner Lukas, 15-Kolarik Petr, 18-Rein Filip (8-Picha Jakub, 63); 11-Boril Jan, 17-Vasicer Vaclav (9-Stourac Jakub, 41)
Subs not used: 16-Sebek Jan, 2-Muller Petr, 4-Kaizar Patrik, 6-Farmacka David, 7-Zabraha Jiri,
Head Coach:

Statistical Summary:
                                 USA      CZE
Shots                        12         13  
Shots on goal           7            5
Saves                         3            4
Fouls                          6          27
Corner Kicks             8            7
Offside                       3             1

Misconduct Summary:
CZE – Murin Ondrej (caution)                 56th minute

Ballymena International Tournament Standings

Group A

Teams GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
Finland 2 1 0 1 3 1 +2 4
Northern Ireland 2 1 1 0 3 4 -1 3
Switzerland 2 0 0 2 2 2 0 2
Israel 2 0 1 1 3 4 -1 1

Monday, April 23
Finland 3, Northern Ireland 1
Switzerland 2, Israel 2

Tuesday, April 24
Northern Ireland 2, Israel 1
Switzerland 0, Finland 0

Wednesday, April 25
Northern Ireland vs. Switzerland
Finland vs. Israel

Friday, April 27
Placement Matches vs. Group B

Group B

Teams GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
Republic of Ireland 2 1 0 1 3 2 +1 4
USA 2 1 0 1 4 3 +1 4
Scotland 2 0 0 2 2 2 0 2
Czech Republic 2 0 2 0 3 5 -2 0

Monday, April 23
USA 1, Scotland 1
Republic of Ireland 2, Czech Republic 1

Tuesday, April 24

USA 3, Czech Republic 2
Republic of Ireland 1, Scotland 1

Wednesday, April 25
USA vs. Republic of Ireland
Scotland vs. Czech Republic

Friday, April 27

Placement Matches vs. Group A