U.S. U-17s Ready for Crucial Match Against Uruguay Tomorrow, Nov. 16
AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Monday, November 15, 1999) - The U.S. U-17s can control their destiny in the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship when they play Uruguay tomorrow night, Nov. 16, in the last match of Group A play. A U.S. win over Uruguay assures the team a spot in the quarterfinals as the top team from Group A. If the U.S. ties, they can advance as the second-place team, if Poland loses, ties or defeats New Zealand by one goal provided Poland has less total goals for than the USA in group play. The U.S. can lose to Uruguay, and advance as the second-place team, if Poland ties or loses against New Zealand. If Poland defeats New Zealand by one goal and the U.S. ties Uruguay, and Poland and the USA have identical goal differential and goals for, than FIFA Officials will flip a coin between the U.S. and Poland to see who advances as the runner-up team.
The U.S. U-17s extended their unbeaten streak to 22-matches with their 1-1 draw against Poland, improving their record to 18-0-4 over the last 15 months. Since the USA's last match in the first-round in Egypt '97, a 4-0 win over Austria, the U.S. U-17s are 3-0-3 in FIFA U-17 competitions which includes the 1999 CONCACAF qualifying tournament and the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship.
Uruguay is an opponent that the U.S. U-17 team has never faced on the youth level. Considered to be one of Uruguay's best-ever youth teams, the Uruguayan's drew 1-1 against Poland in their opening match and then hammered hosts New Zealand 5-0.
Uruguay is lead by their captain Horacio Peralta who is one of Uruguay's most promising youth players. Peralta is skillful, scores goals and is known to try and dribble through the rival team all by himself. In the world championship Peralta has two goals. Uruguay midfielder Ruben Olivera scored three goals at the CONMEBOL qualifying tournament including the tournament's 'best goal' against Argentina.
After the second round of group match play at the world championships Paraguay is the only team that secured themselves a spot in the quarterfinals The top two teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals that will begin on Nov. 21-22.
(NON) INJURY REPORT: The U.S. escaped any major injuries against the physical and strong Polish team. Players sustained a few small knocks and bruises in the course of the game against Poland but all players are expected to be available for the match against Uruguay on Wednesday evening.
DONOVAN AMONG LEADING GOAL SCORERS: U.S. U-17 all-time leading goal scorer Landon Donovan scored his second goal of the world championships against Poland which makes him tied with six others with two goals. Spain's Aitor and Ghana's Ibrahim Attiku lead all goal scorers with three goals. Donovan has 34 career U-17 goals in 36 matches.
THREE OFFICIAL AWARDS AT FIFA U-17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:
The three official awards for the 1999 FIFA U-17 World Championship are as follows:
JOHN ELLINGER (U.S. U-17 Head Coach)
"They are a very technical team with outstanding individual skills. In the first two games they have shown that they can get in behind defenses with threw balls, long balls and dribbling. Defensively we will have to have a solid performance and stop their penetration."
On how well the team is prepared:
"We have played Paraguay twice, who plays a very similar style to Uruguay. It is just a matter of confidence right now. Uruguay is playing very well and they are fighting for a spot in the quarterfinals as well. We need to play well for a full 90 minutes."
DELVIN COUNTESS (U.S. U-17 goalkeeper)
On Uruguay's scoring power:
"We definitely know about their captain Horacio Peralta. They like to shoot from 18-yards out. What we need to do is eliminate those chances in the defensive third and pray that our front-runners get the job done. We have prepared for this for two-years and this is what we have trained for."
LANDON DONOVAN (U.S. U-17 forward)
On the U.S. team's expectations:
"We have to win the game. We need to break them down defensively and create scoring chances. In the last two games we have played well in the second-half but we have yet to play consistently throughout a match. We know what is at stake and this team thrives under pressure."
OGUCHI ONYEWU (U.S. u-17 defender)
On his role and what to expect from Uruguay:
"I am eager to get into the next match and get the result that we need to get through to the next round. Uruguay is a very good team and we will need to do the little things right both defensively and offensively. The goals we have given up so far have been the result of mental lapses."