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U-17 MNT Falls to Uruguay 1-0 in Group Play at Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16

* U.S. Hits Post in 10th Minute, But Can’t Find the Back of the Net
* Uruguay Scores on First Their First Shot in the 22nd Minute and Holds on For Win
* U-17s Need a Win in Final Group Match Against Ecuador on Saturday, Sept. 18 For Chance to Move On

ENCARNACION, Paraguay (Sept. 15, 2004) – The U.S. Under-17 ’88 Men’s National Team dropped their second match of the Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16 Tournament this evening with a 1-0 loss to Uruguay at Estadio Villa Alegre in Encarnacion, Paraguay. The loss is the second straight for the U.S. in the tournament as they sit in third place in Group B with zero points.

The U.S. was inches from taking the lead in just the 10th minute of the match as midfielder Blake Wagner’s header beat Uruguay goalkeeper Yonatan Irrazabal but hit the right post and bounced along the goal line before it was cleared off the line.

Twelve minutes later it was Uruguay that ended up scoring the eventual game-winner with their first shot on goal. U.S. midfielder Ryan Soroka and Gerardo Vonder Putten battled in the air for a cross from the left flank, the ball ending up falling to forward Elias Figueroa, who buried it past goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner from the penalty spot.

With only one game remaining in group play, the U.S. will need a win against Ecuador and probably some help to reach the quarterfinals by snagging one of the two spots allocated to the third place group finishers. The U.S. will face Ecuador on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 6:15 p.m. ET.

“This was a close game where we played well enough to win or at least tie, but in the end couldn’t pull it together for a result,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “We’re disappointed we didn’t leave tonight with at least a point because I think the way we played we probably deserved to see something for it. Now we know what we’re going to have to do and that’s defeat Ecuador in our final match to have any hope of moving on to the next round.”

The match was an even affair with each team creating about the same amount of chances on goal, Uruguay ending up with a slight shot advantage 11-9 (4-4 on goal). Neither ‘keeper was really forced into a great save at either end as both were saved by the woodwork in the first half.

The U.S., playing in a 3-5-2, was the dominant team in the early stages as they had two good chances in the first 10 minutes and were unlucky to score. In the second minute, Soroka pushed the ball up the right flank for Preston Zimmerman, who drilled a low cross back across the penalty area to Carlos Borja at the top of the box. Borja hit it first time off target to his right, but Quavas Kirk tried to re-direct it back towards goal only to see it go wide left of the frame.

Eight minutes later it appeared the U.S. was going to take their first lead during tournament after some great work by Zimmerman and Kirk on the right flank. Zimmerman lost possession along the right sideline, but hustled to get a piece of the defender’s clearance and allowing the ball to find Kirk nearby. Kirk quickly burst down the flank and sent in a driving cross to the near post where Wagner nodded the ball down, hitting the inside of the left post. The ball bounced across the front of the goal line and was quickly cleared out by a Uruguay defender.

During the first 20 minutes of the game, Uruguay’s attacking mode was quite direct as numerous times they tried to send Figueroa up the middle of the U.S. defense. Some well-placed through balls called for some good defending, which the backline of Ofori Sarkodie, Joel Smith and Eric Lichaj up to the task as they didn’t give an opportunity on goal.

Uruguay broke through in the 22nd minute off a quick throw-in from the right sideline deep in U.S. territory. The U.S. didn’t react quick enough and allowed midfielder Marcelo Gonzalez to collect the throw-in, turn up and put in a cross to the back post. Soroka tried to head the dangerous cross clear, but with Vonder Putten challenging him the ball deflected to Figueroa, who placed the gift past Rueckner.

Two minutes later, Uruguay almost doubled their lead when Vonder Putten knocked in a cross from the right and Figueroa’s header lofted over the reach of Rueckner and bounced off the crossbar. The ball bounced back in play and Carlos Flores pounced on the loose ball, but struck it with too much gusto, blasting it well over the bar.

Flustered, the U.S. didn’t struggled to get back into a rhythm and didn’t put another shot on goal until a minute before halftime after Wagner was fouled along the endline to the left of the penalty area. On the ensuing free kick, the ball was headed out and fell to Lichaj at the top of the penalty area, but his attempt went wide right.

Still trying to find the equalizer before halftime, Richard Edgar played a nice ball through to Kirk, who collected the ball inside the box, made a nice juke to get some space, but his shot from eight yards was blocked out by a defender.

In the second half, the U.S. struggled to find room and get behind Uruguay’s defense as they continued to move from a 3-4-3 to a 3-6-1 when defending. In the 54th minute, Zimmerman got his head to an chip by Sarkodie from the left side, but couldn’t put much on it as it bounced right to the ‘keeper.

A minute later, Figueroa just missed his second on the day when Flores put him through on the right and his strike went off the fingertips of Rueckner and just outside the left post. On the ensuing corner kick, Marin Diaz chased down the service at the back post, sliding in and hitting it out of the air wide right of the frame.

Uruguay’s only other attempt was in the 75th minute when Marcel Roman headed a ball in toward goal in a crowded penalty area, but Smith was there to clear it out of danger.

The U.S. had two more chances on the night by two second-half substitutes, but Jeremy Hall’s shot from 25 yards out in the 68th minute and Eddie Ababio’s volley from the left corner of the penalty area in the 88th went directly to the ‘keeper.

Borja was lost for the final group match in the 89th minute when he was given a red card for retaliating after he was tackled by Hugo Arismendi near the sideline. Borja attempted to get up quickly and win back the ball, but Arismendi held onto him, which went unseen by both the referee and his assistant. In an attempt to get free, Borja hit Arismendi in the leg and was ejected from the match.

- U.S. Under-17 ’88 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants: U.S. Under-17 ’88 Men’s National Team vs. Uruguay
Competition: Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16
Location: Encarnacion, Paraguay
Date: Sept. 15, 2004
Weather: Cool, 65 degrees

Scoring Summary:    1st      2nd      Final
USA                              0         0           0
URU                             1         0           1

URU – Elias Figueroa     22nd minute

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Joel Smith, 4-Eric Lichaj, 5-Richard Edgar (17-Jeremy Hall, 46), 7-Ofori Sarkodie; 13-Blake Wagner (19-Amaechi Igwe, 64), 10-Carlos Borja, 16-Nik Besango, 11-Ryan Soroka (15-Eddie Ababio, 74), 6-Quavas Kirk (capt.), 9-Preston Zimmerman
Subs not used: 2-Patrick Richards, 8-Michael Stephens, 12-Michael Dal Pra, 14-Drew Yates, 18-Brian Perk, 20-Matt Armstrong.

URU -  12-Yonatan Irrazabal; 3-Marin Diaz (capt.), 4-Gary Kagelmacher, 5-Alejandro Gonzalez; Marcelo Gonzalez, Anthony Paz, 15-Marcel Roman, 18-Hugo Arismendi; 10-Gerardo Vonder Putten (13-David Acosta, 81), 20-Carlos Flores (8-Damian Suarez, 68), 9-Elias Figueroa (19-Enzo Scorza, 90).
Subs not used: 1-Yai Fontes, 2-Yony Peralta, 11-Gustavo Aprile, 14-Alvaro Arias, 16-Vicente Olivera da Rosa, 17-Thiago Magnone.

Statistical Summary:       USA     URU
Shots                      9           11
Shots on goal     4            4
Saves                      3            3
Corner Kick                3            5
Fouls                      23          19
Offside                    3            2

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Eric Lichaj (caution)                        26th minute
URU – Hugo Arismendi (caution)               59th
USA – Amaechi Igwe (caution)                   77th
URU – Elias Figuera (caution)                     88th
USA – Carlos Borja (ejection)                     89th

Referee: Alicio Pena (Brazil)
1st Assistant: Altemir Hausman (Brazil)
2nd Assistant: Nelson Servian (Paraguay)
4th Official: Ricardo Grance (Paraguay)

Group B Standings
Team                 P    W    L    D    GF:GA     GD     PTS
Argentina          2     2     0     0       5:1          +4        6
Uruguay            2     2     0     0       3:1          +2        6
USA                  2     0     2     0       1:3           -2        0
Ecuador             2     0     2     0       1:5           -4        0

Group B Schedule

Sunday, Sept. 12
Uruguay 2, Ecuador 1
Argentina 2, USA 1

Wednesday, Sept. 15
Uruguay 1, USA 0
Argentina 3, Ecuador 0

Saturday, Sept. 18
USA vs. Ecuador
Uruguay vs. Argentina