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U.S. Under-17 Men' National Team Ties Nigeria 1-1 in Final World Championship Preparation Match in England

MANCHESTER, England (August 9, 2003) - In the team’s last match before the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team tied Nigeria 1-1 this afternoon at Carrington Training Center in Manchester, England. The U.S. will leave tomorrow (August 10) for Lahti, Finland, the location for all three of the team’s first round games.

Nigeria struck first in the 25th minute, but the U.S. found the equalizer four minutes before the half as John DiRaimondo jumped on a loose ball in the penalty area and blasted it into the upper right of the goal. The two teams were evenly matched, as both sides were able to push forward for a number of good looks on net. Both the U.S. and Nigeria each finished with 14 shots on goal.

The U.S. played without regular starters Freddy Adu and Corey Ashe, both of who are nursing injuries from the team’s last game against Manchester United. The decision to not play the starters was a precautionary move and both will be able to play in the first game against South Korea in the World Championship.

The U.S. had the first scoring opportunity in the 8th minute as forward Jamie Watson just missed from 22 yards out after a nice overhead pass from midfielder Guillermo Gonzalez. Watson let the ball bounce in front of him and then hit a one-timer that dipped just over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, U.S. ‘keeper Phil Marfuggi got his first test of the day, diving to his right to knock away a drive from Awwalu Aminu from 20 yards out. Throughout the match, Marfuggi was able to come up with big saves and finished with five on the day.

The U.S. kept the pressure on Nigeria’s backline and Watson had a similar opportunity as before, this time getting the feed from Brian Grazier. Watson’s ran onto the ball, but his low strike went barely wide of the left post.

After a few more opportunities by both teams that either went wide or were easily collected by the ‘keepers, Nigeria got on the board with a quick strike that started from the backline. A long ball was sent in from back and headed forward to Promise Issac, who looked to be in an offside position. No call was made and Issac accelerated toward the ball, dribbling forward into the box ahead of the U.S. defense and slipped it past Marfuggi.

The U.S. continued to pepper the Nigerian goal, finally getting the equalizer from DiRaimondo in the 39th minute. Eddie Gaven gave a through ball to Watson, who collected the ball around the 18-yard line and took a quick shot. His shot deflected off the two defenders in front of him and kicked just to the left. DiRaimondo ran onto the ball, pushed it left around a sliding defender and crushed the 14-yard shot into the upper right side of the goal.

Four minutes into the second half, Nigeria almost capitalized on fluke goal as Chinedu Ogbuke hit the crossbar. Ezekial Bala had gotten behind the U.S. defense and rushed in on goal, but Julian Valentin was able to get back and knock the ball clear. Ogbuke collected the ball, raced up the right side of the penalty area and sent in a cross that floated toward the goal and hit the crossbar.

In the 15th minute, the U.S. and Nigeria both got their best chances of the second half in a flurry of action on goal. The U.S. pressured first starting the attack from a long ball delivered from left midfield by Kyle Helton. Gonzalez made a nice one touch ahead to a streaking Watson, who ran onto the ball and had just the keeper, Ambruse Vanzekin, to beat. Vanzekin made a great save and knocked the ball back out towards the 18-yard line. Watson chased the ball down with Vanzekin on his heels and played the ball ahead to Gonzalez on the left side of the penalty area. With Vanzekin out of position Gonzalez ripped a shot, but it was deflected away by a defender.

Directly after the U.S. onslaught, Nigeria caught the U.S. in a quick counter attack as a long ball was sent overhead to a streaking Bala. Already behind the U.S. backline, Bala took the ball to the right side of the penalty box and ripped a shot, but Marfuggi was able to collect the shot without too much trouble.


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

Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Nigeria
Competition: World Championship Preparation Match
Location: Carrington Training Center
Date: August 9, 2003
Weather: Warm; 75 degrees

Scoring Summary:
                      1st 2nd Final
United States    1    0     1
Nigeria              1    0     1

NIG – Ezekiel Bala 25th
USA – John DiRaimondo 39th

USA –1-Phil Marfuggi; 5-Brandon Owens (16-Adrian Chevannes, 46), 3-Jonathan Spector (14-Julian Valentin, 46); 4-Eddie Gaven, 12-Steve Curfman, 6-Chris Germani, 8-John DiRaimondo (2-Kyle Helton, 46), 7-Brian Grazier, 17-Daniel Szetela; 10-Guillermo Gonzalez (9-Michael Harrington, 72), 13-Jamie Watson (19-Jacob Peterson, 72)
Subs not used: 18-Quentin Westberg, 28-Steven Sandbo, 11-Freddy Adu, 15-Corey Ashe

NIG – 1 Ambruse Vanzekin; 2-Awwalu Aminu, 6-Echezona Anyichie, 4-Omoh Attah (7-Emmanuel Sarki, 20), 18-Morufu Adetoro; 15-Chamberlain Ekrebe, 14-Kolawole Anubi, 10-John Mikel, 11-Chinedu Ogvuke; 9-Promise Isaac, 8-Ezekiel Bala (13-Solomon Okoronkwo, 75).

Statistical Summary:
Shots 14 14
Saves 5 6
Corner Kick 3 3
Fouls 12 21
Offside 3 3

Misconduct Summary:
NIG – Omoh Attah (caution) 12th minute
NIG – John Mikel (caution) 56th
USA – Steve Curfman (caution) 56th
NIG – Awwalu Aminu (caution) 64th
USA – Danny Szetela (caution) 81st
NIG – Solomon Okoronkwo 90th