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U.S. Under-17s Open U.S. Soccer/Nike Friendlies With Win, Draw

BRADENTON, Fla. (Friday, December 6, 2002) – The second annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies kicked off today at the IMG Academy, and the U.S. Under-17s opened with a win and a draw on a surprisingly cold day in Bradenton, Fla.  The U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team has been split into two squads for this event – an older team made up primarily of players born in 1986 and a younger team made up primarily of players born in 1987 – with the older team competing in the Under-18 age group and the younger team in the Under-17 bracket.

The older U.S. Under-17 squad dominated play, but needed a late free kick goal by Guillermo Gonzalez to earn a 3-3 draw with a passionate and athletic Colorado Rush (players born in 1984 and 1985) team.  The younger U.S. Under-17s got their weekend off on the right foot with a 2-0 win over defending National Champions Atlanta Fire (players born in 1985 and 1986).

The younger U.S. team will face FC Delco tomorrow at 1 p.m., and the older U.S. Under-17s will follow today’s hard-fought 3-3 draw with a match against the Under-18 Houston Texans tomorrow at 3 p.m.  The U-17s fell behind the Rush early, giving up a 20th minute-opener.  Goalkeeper Quentin Westberg helped the U.S. draw even ten minutes later, when his punt opened up Corey Ashe behind the defense on the left side.  Ashe, who caused problems for the Rush all afternoon, got off a beautiful cross that Mike Harrington easily knocked into an empty net.

Again it was Ashe who did the work on the USA’s second score, this time crossing for halftime substitute Jacob Peterson to finish.  But four minutes after Peterson gave the U.S. the lead, the Rush pulled even after getting awarded a penalty kick.  The Rush converted from the penalty spot, and then took their second lead of the day with a goal one minute later.

The U.S. pressured the Rush for the majority of the match, outshooting the Rush 16-5, and was unlucky not to grab a third goal earlier in the match.  The deserved equalizer came just five minutes from the final whistle, when Guillermo Gonzalez’s 25-yard free kick took a slight deflection and ended up in the back of the Rush goal.  The goal was Gonzalez’s team-leading 24th of 2002.

The younger U.S. Under-17 squad took the field immediately after the 3-3 draw for their match against the Atlanta Fire.  The U.S. team quickly proved too much for the Fire, and in the match the U.S. team outshot the Fire 19-2.

After just missing with two great individual efforts in the first 10 minutes, Freddy Adu put his name on the score sheet in the 12th minute.  With the Fire goalkeeper setting up his wall, Adu stepped up to the ball and took a quick free kick that gave the goalkeeper no chance.  The goal was Adu’s 15th of the year, putting him second on the team just behind Gonzalez.

The U.S. continued to pound the Fire defense, forcing the goalkeeper into five saves in the first 15 minutes.  But the U.S. wouldn’t get on the board for a second time until the 49th minute, when red-hot striker Jamie Watson struck again.

Watson controlled a cross and unleashed a rocket from the left side of the box that quickly found the top of the net.  With that tally Watson has now scored in this last three appearances.

U.S. goalkeeper Marcus Rein was only forced into one save in the match, but it was a tremendous sliding save after a Fire forward had slipped behind the defense.  Rein came to the top of his box, where he sprawled out and was able to deflect the shot.

In other matches today, Sockers FC of Chicago topped the IMG Academy Team 2-0, scoring two goals without taking a shot.  The Under-17 Blackwatch (Fla.) SC squad battled to an entertaining 4-4 draw with the Bethesda Cannons and Finland’s Under-17 squad drew 0-0 with FC Delco’s Under-18 team.   The complete results from today’s action is listed below. 


The three-day National Youth Team Coaching Symposium got underway tonight, with two of Finland’s Youth National Team coaches, Jyrki Heliskoski and Timo Liekoski, discussing the state of Finland’s youth national teams and the Under-17 team’s preparation for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championship that will be held in Finland.  Heliskoski, the head coach of Finland’s Under-17s, discussed in detail the two-year process he is using to prepare his team for Finland’s first appearance in an Under-17 world championship.  Liekoski, who has coached in the U.S. Youth National Teams system, is the current U-15 and U-16 National Team coach in Finland.  He talked about the state of soccer in Finland and some of the unique problems facing the game in Finland.

Victor Bergonzoli, of Dartfish (USA) Inc., wrapped up the night’s events, demonstrating some of the new video technology that Dartfish has tailored for soccer.  DartFish is developing the latest in sports training software to visualize and analyze technical performance, and their products integrate video to its maximum potential in sports training.  Bergonzoli showed how that technology can be used on the soccer field.

Tomorrow night U.S. Soccer National Staff Coach Mike Haas will discuss the U.S. Under-14 National Team Program and how those players are being prepared for the future.  IMG’s Trevor Moawad will discuss mental preparation for elite athletes.  Moawad regularly works with world-class athletes, including the U.S. Under-17 MNT, on their mental conditioning. 

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

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs Colorado Rush
Competition:  2nd Annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies
Location: IMG Academy Park
Date: December 6, 2002

Games played with 40-minute halves
Scoring Summary:     1st  -  2nd  -  Final
USA                     1  -  2  -  3
COL                     1  -  2  -  3

COL – Rush #34 20.
USA – Mike Harrington (Corey Ashe) 30.
USA – Jacob Peterson (Corey Ashe) 53.
COL – Rush goal 57.
COL – Rush goal (penalty kick) 58.
USA – Guillermo Gonzalez 75.

USA:  18-Quentin Westberg; 26-Chris Germani, 3-Jonathan Spector, 5-Brandon Owens, 19-Kyle Helton; 15-Corey Ashe, 7-Brian Grazier, 14-Jose Gomez (23-Jacob Peterson, 41), 9-Michael Harrington; 10-Guillermo Gonzalez, 4-Eddie Gaven.

Statistical Summary: 
             USA   /  COL
Shots   16  /  5
Saves   2  /  6
Corner Kicks   4  /  0
Fouls   10   /  17
Offside    5  /  1

Misconduct Summary:
COL – Rush #9 33rd minute.
COL – Rush #17  35.
USA – Jonathan Spector (caution) 56. 

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

Participants:  U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs Atlanta Fire
Competition:  2nd Annual U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies
Location: IMG Academy Park
Date: December 6, 2002

Games played with 40-minute halves
Scoring Summary:     1st   -  2nd  -  Final
USA               1  -  1  -  2
ATL                0  -  0  -  0

USA – Freddy Adu  12th minute
USA – Jacob Watson 49.

USA:  Marcus Rein; 16-Adrian Chevannes, 29-Tim Ward (Chase Wileman, 41), 20-Julian Valentin, 6-Drew Harrison; 30-Stephen Curfman (22-Michael Bradley, 67), 21-Brian Mascarenas, 24-Danny Szetela, 8-John DiRaimondo; 11-Freddy Adu (Christian Jimenez, 67), 27-Jacob Watson. 

Statistical Summary: 
              USA   /  ATL
Shots   19  /  2
Saves     1  /  8
Corner Kicks    4  /  2
Fouls    9  /  9
Offside   2  /  0 

Misconduct Summary:
ATL – Fire 11th minute
USA – Tim Ward 35.

U.S. Soccer / Nike Friendlies
Friday, December 6
Game Results

IMG 0, Sockers FC 2

U.S. Under-17s 3, Colorado Rush 3

Bethesda Alliance 2, Gotshalks Nike NE Select 0

Syracuse Blitz 1, Bwatch (Fla.) 1

Richmond Strikers 3, Temple Terrace 0

Finland Under-17s 0, FC Delco 0

Dallas Texans 2, FC Delco 0

IMG 1, Richmond Strikers 1

U.S. Under-17s 2, Atlanta Fire 0

Bethesda Cannons 4, Bwatch (Fla.) 4 

IMG 1, FC Delco 0