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U.S. U-17 Men's National Team Defeats Costa Rica, 3-2, in International Friendly in Lancaster, Calif.

LANCASTER, California (May 26, 2003) - The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team downed Costa Rica 3-2 in an entertaining friendly this morning at Lancaster Soccer Complex in Lancaster, California. The match was the third between the two squads this year, with the U.S. capturing its first victory over Costa Rica.

Eddie Gaven, Freddy Adu and Guillermo Gonzalez all scored for the U.S. in the game, which was part of the triangular friendlies played in Lancaster the past few days between the three teams that qualified from CONCACAF for the Under-17 FIFA World Championship (U.S., Mexico and Costa Rica). The U.S. played Mexico yesterday, falling 2-1 in a rough game, bringing the team’s overall international record this year to 6-2-2. This was the last match for the Under-17s before they travel to Busan, Korea for an international youth tournament on Tuesday night.

"We came out and played better today than we did against Mexico," U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Ellinger said. "Costa Rica gave us a good game and we had to do everything we could to hold on for the victory. Overall, I’m pleased with our players performance and think these games will help us get ready for the World Championship in August."

Gonzalez got the game-winner for the U.S. in the 78th minute, finishing a breakaway with a deft left-footed strike past on-rushing Costa Rican goalkeeper Daniel Cambronero and into the lower-left corner of the goal. Gaven had the assist, finding Gonzalez wide open on the right side of the pitch and placing the ball to him quickly, which enabled him to take advantage of the defensive breakdown and put the U.S. up 3-1.

Two minutes earlier, Adu had given the U.S. a one-goal lead after finishing off a beautiful dribbling showcase with a well-placed shot into the left side of the goal. Collecting a back pass from Gonzalez on the left flank, Adu quickly beat two defenders as he pushed the ball to his right towards midfield, near the top of the penalty area. The last Costa Rican defender couldn’t slow Adu as he pushed it to his right one more time to get around him and then opened his body towards the goal and calmly slipped the ball past Cambronero into the left side of the goal with his left foot.

Gaven got the first goal of the game in the 30th minute on a wicked shot that hit the iron twice before crossing the goaline. Fellow midfielder Michael Harrington slipped a perfect pass threw the Costa Rica defense just inside the left side of the penalty area to an onrushing Gaven, who collected the ball in stride and then rocketed a shot that hit the underside of the cross and then the inside of the far post before deflecting in for the 1-0 lead.

In the 63rd minute, Costa Rica was able to tie the game 1-1, scoring after the U.S. defense was unable to clear a corner kick from danger. Defender Kenny Parks collected a pass on the corner kick near the top of the penalty area and pulled the trigger, but mis-hit the shot and it rolled into a crowd of players in the box. The ball got knocked around until defender Pablo Guzman got the ball with his back to the net, turned and nailed a shot into the top left of the goal past a diving Phil Marfuggi.

After goals by Adu and Gonzalez, Costa Rica made the game interesting when Alonso Elizondo received a pass from his teammate after making a diagonal run from left to right that enabled him to get behind the U.S. defense. Elizondo was able to beat Marfuggi, ripping a shot into the upper-left of the net to get within a goal, 3-2. The U.S. was able to hold onto the victory though as the whistle blew moments later.

The U.S. continually put pressure on the Costa Rican defense during the game, especially in the first half when the team had three good looks on goal. Adu had the first opportunity, ripping a shot from left side of the penalty area that Cambronero had to knock away from the near post. In the 33rd minute, midfielder Steve Curfman blasted a shot off the left post from about 30-yards out. The final threat of the half came when Jacob Peterson got past his defender on the right flank, dribbled into the penalty area and found Jamie Watson who’s first shot was deflected. He got the rebound back, but his second shot was saved by a sprawling Cambronero.

In the 23rd minute of the game starting U.S. defender Adrian Chevannes went down after twisting his ankle while dispossessing a Costa Rican forward who had gotten behind the U.S. defensive line. Chevannes is getting x-rays on the ankle and is day-to-day.

This was first win for the U.S. against Costa Rica in three attempts this year. The two teams faced each other twice in Costa Rica during late January, with Costa Rica taking the first game 2-1. In the second match, neither team could find the back of the net as the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

Late on Tuesday night the U.S. will leave for Busan, Korea to play in the Busan International Youth (U-17) Tournament. The Korean Football Association invited the U.S. to play in the tournament, which will commemorate the one-year anniversary of the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup. The KFA invited all three teams from Group D at the 2002 World Cup, which included Poland, Portugal and the U.S. Portugal was unable to participate, leaving Argentina to take their place as the fourth and final team.

The tournament will serve as preparation for the U.S. before it plays in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Finland this August 13-30. The Korea Republic and Argentina both qualified for Finland by winning their respective qualifying tournaments.

Mexico and Costa Rica battled to a 0-0 tie earlier on Saturday night (May 24).


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

Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. Costa Rica
Competition: Friendly
Location: Lancaster Soccer Complex; Lancaster, Calif.
Date: May 26, 2003
Weather: Warm; 70 degrees

Scoring Summary:
1st 2nd Final
United States           1     2     3
Costa Rica               0    2     2

USA – Eddie Gaven (Michael Harrington) 30th minute
CRA – Pablo Guzman 63rd
USA – Freddy Adu (Guillermo Gonzalez) 77th
USA – Guillermo Gonzalez (Eddie Gaven) 78th
CRA – Alonso Elizondo 89th

USA – 1-Phil Marfuggi; 2-Kyle Helton, 3-Jonathan Spector, 5-Brandon Owens, 16-Adrian Chevannes (23-Jacob Peterson, 26, 10-Guillermo Gonzalez, 71); 12-Steve Curfman, 19-Jay Denny (20-Jose Gomez, 46) 9-Michael Harrington (Christian Jimenez, 46), 4-Eddie Gaven (15-Corey Ashe, 80); 11-Freddy Adu, 13-Jamie Watson (8-John DiRaimondo, 71).
Subs not used: 6-Chris Germani, 7-Brian Grazier, 18-Stephen Sandbo

CRA – 1-Daniel Cambronero; 3-Daniel Barbosa, 7-Josimar Cespedes, 16-Jorge Morales (12-Kenny Parks, 46), 9-Yherland Porras (13-Giancarlo Garcia); 10-Jorge Varela (17-Jose Delgado, 74), 5-Ariel Araya, 8-Walter Ruiz (2-Leonardo Arce, 74), 11-Pablo Guzman; 19-Oscar Araya, 20-Jose Gonzalez (15-Alonso Elizondo, 74)

Statistical Summary:
Shots                10     5
Saves                 4     6
Corner Kick        8      1
Fouls                  7    22
Offside               2      4

Misconduct Summary:
CRA – Daniel Barbosa (caution) 56th minute
CRA – Walter Ruiz (caution) 66th
CRA – Josimar Cespedes (caution) 76th