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U-17 Men Defeat Canada, 2-1, at CONCACAF Group B Qualifying Tournament

KINGSTON, Jamaica (May 2, 2007) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team defeated Canada, 2-1, on Wednesday evening in their second match in Group B of the 2007 CONCACAF Final Round Qualifying Tournament at the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.

In a see-saw affair, it was the U.S. that came out dominating with an almost flawless performance in the first half, which included goals from Billy Schuler and Mykell Bates. Early in the second half it appeared it would be more of the same, but the Canadians roared back with a tenacious fury and cut the USA’s lead in half when forward Cederic Carrie scored in the 54th minute. Canada continued to attack a tiring U.S. backline, but goalkeeper Zac MacMath and his defenders were able to hold on for their second victory in as many games.

With the victory, the U.S. was the only team to earn the maximum six points in their first two games and jumped into first place in five-team Group B, but the hold on the top spot was short-lived. Costa Rica, playing in their third match, defeated Jamaica, 1-0, to give them seven points, moving the U.S. to second place (with a game in hand).

The top three teams earn a berth to the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, and the U.S. can clinch a spot with at least a draw against Jamaica on Friday, May 3. The match kicks off at 8 p.m. ET and fans can follow the match live on’s MatchTracker. The U.S. is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous FIFA U-17 World Cups. The 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup will take place in South Korea from August 18 to September 9.

The U.S. could actually qualify for the World Cup before playing another minute. If Canada and Trinidad & Tobago draw in the early match on Friday, the U.S. would secure at least third place with six points. Canada would end up with five points, while Trinidad & Tobago could only earn as much as four points if they won their final match.

“We came out and executed our game plan very well in the early going, but you’ve got to finish a couple of those other opportunities we had,” said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth. “If we would have gotten the third goal, I think we would have made it easy on ourselves and now it’s done. Canada played well and give them credit for never giving up. Overall, I’m extremely pleased with six points from our first two games. We’re in a great spot, so now we have to battle through our tired legs and get ready for Jamaica.”

The U.S. were without the services of leading scorer Ellis McLoughlin, who was suspended for two games after receiving a red card late against Trinidad & Tobago. On Tuesday, CONCACAF reviewed the incident deemed it a malicious foul, requiring the two game suspension.

The loss of McLoughlin forced Hackworth to make a few changes to his roster, pushing Abdusalam Ibrahim from right midfield to forward and replacing the open spot with Alex Dixon, who earned his first start at the qualifying tournament. Tommy Meyer also got his first start in central defense alongside Bates, pushing Daniel Wenzel to central midfield with Jared Jeffrey.

Canada actually created the first attack as the speed of Carrie seemed to surprise the U.S. and he got free down the right side and sent in a dangerous cross that was cleared out for a corner by Bates. Carrie once again got behind minutes later, this time on the left side, but his shot was off target.

After squelching that early pressure, the U.S. dominated possession and controlled the tempo for the rest of the half. Pushing forward into the attack, Ibrahim and Schuler had room to run and were continually being fed through balls from Jeffrey and Wenzel, giving them each good looks on target.

The first U.S. goal came off a turnover in Canada’s defensive half in the 10th minute. Defender Sheanon Williams took the ball away along the right sideline and quickly dribbled forward and cut inside before slipping the ball forward for a streaking Schuler. The forward, who just recently joined the U-17s in January, held off his defender inside the penalty area and hit a low drive past onrushing goalkeeper Adam Street and into the left corner for his first international goal with the U.S.

In the 20th minute, Schuler had a great chance to put the U.S. up by two when Alex Nimo served in a cross from the right flank and he had an uncontested header, but his attempt went high over the bar.

A few minutes later, the U.S. got two chances to score their second goal, as they ran the exact same set play off a corner kick. On the first attempt, the play worked to perfection as the end result was Ibrahim ripping a shot from the top of the box, but Street was up to the challenge getting low to make the save before the rebound was cleared out for another corner.

The U.S. ran the same exact play, although not as smoothly. Nimo played a short corner to Wenzel, who served the ball to the corner of the penalty area for Ibrahim to hit first time. Unlike Wenzel’s low service on the first attempt, this one was high and Ibrahim struggled with a tough volley out of the air. His shot was off target, but as everyone pushed up, Bates perfectly timed his delayed run and met the ball at the left corner of the six-yard box and finished past Street.

The U.S. looked to slam the door with a third goal and it was Schuler once again up to the task just a couple minutes later when this time he was able to put a Nimo cross on goal with his head, but Street stretched to his left and got just enough to parry it wide.

Throughout the first half, and much of the second, Wenzel pushed all the right buttons from his defensive midfield position. The Federal Way, Wash., native was intelligent and creative all night which, by the final whistle, would earn him Sierra Mist Man of the Match honors.

“We preach every day that this is the kind of soccer we want to play, but very rarely when you get in an international competition, especially in qualifying, does that type of soccer come out,” said Hackworth, who’s been with the U-17s since 2002. “We were sitting on the bench saying, 'It can’t get any better,' but we took things for granted from there, which happens with young kids. But if we can sustain the level of play we had in the first half, you couldn’t ask for much more.”

The second half started as it ended, with the U.S. continuing to control possession and push into the attack in the first five minutes, but soon the tide would turn to their northern neighbors.

A tough challenge by defender Brek Shea earned him a knock to the head and, while still trying to shake off the blow, Canada forward Jarek Whiteman took advantage. Receiving a quick throw-in along the right sideline, Whiteman surprised Shea and was able to get around him and tip-toe along the endline inside the box. With MacMath protecting the near post, Whiteman dropped the ball back to the penalty spot where Carrie ripped a one-timer into the net to bring Canada back into the match.

While the U.S. was still able to possess the ball for long spans, Canada was much more active moving forward, especially Whiteman, who was a handful for the rest of the final 30 minutes of play.

In the 70th minute, Canada crossed the ball into the penalty area and the ball where it pinballed before falling to Whiteman on the right side. He tried to drop it back to Oliver Lacoste-Lebuis, but it was just out of his reach. The attempted clearance by the U.S. was deflected and fell back to Whiteman in the box, but his 16-yard blast went wide left.

Nimo had a chance to score his third goal of the tournament in the 73rd minute, when Jeffrey found him along the right flank with a long ball from midfield. The lightning-quick midfielder got inside the penalty area, but his drive soared over the bar.

Whiteman once again put the U.S. on their heels when he got around Brandon Zimmerman on the left sideline. Dribbling along the endline, he looked to slip it across the area similar to Canada’s first goal, but this time no one was there to finish it off.

MacMath came up big for the U.S. with five minutes remaining when Mohamed Sylla got past Williams. Carrie had the ball in midfield and slipped a pass through for Sylla, who held off Williams and ripped a 17-yard shot toward the right corner, but MacMath was able to stretch out and push it wide.

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

Participants: USA vs. Canada
Competition: CONCACAF Group B Qualifying Tournament (Final Round)
Location: National Stadium; Kingston, Jamaica
Date: May 2, 2007
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees

Scoring Summary:
             1     2     F
USA      2     0    2
CAN      0     1    1

USA – Billy Schuler (Sheanon Williams) 10th minute
USA – Mykell Bates (Abdusalam Ibrahim) 23.
CAN – Cederic Carrie (Marek Whiteman) 54.

USA: 18-Zach MacMath; 2-Sheanon Williams, 3-Mykell Bates (Capt.), 5-Thomas Meyer, 15-Brek Shea (16-Brandon Zimmerman, 57); 19-Alex Nimo, 8-Jared Jeffrey, 6-Daniel Wenzel, 20-Alex Dixon (17-Gregory Garza, 65); 11-Abdusalam Ibrahim, 13-Billy Schuler (7-Nicholas Millington, 82).
Subs not used: 1-Josh Lambo, 4-Howard Turk, 10-Byran Dominguez 12-Brendan King, 14-Jesse Paredes.
Not Available: 9-Ellis McLoughlin

Head Coach: John Hackworth

CAN: 1-Adam Street; 13-Williams Hyde, 3-Daniel Tannous (Capt.), 5-Adam Straith, 21-Erick Leal (11-Kyle Porter, 70); 16-Colin Parenteau-Michon (14-Mohamed Sylla, 46), 7-Marcus Johnstone, 6-Philippe Davies, 4-Oliver Lacoste-Lebuis; 9-Jarek Whiteman, 17-Cederic Carrie (15-Gagandeep Dosanjh, 84).
Subs not used: 8-Devin Gunenc, 10-Randy Edwini-Bonsu, 12-Oleksandr Semenets, 18-Drew Beckie, 20-Julien Latendresse-Levesque.
Not available: 2-Greg Smith

Head Coach: Stephen Hart

Statistical Summary:
Shots 10 / 12
Shots on goal 6 / 7
Saves 6 / 3
Fouls 11 / 7
Corner Kicks 6 / 3
Offside 4 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Brek Shea (caution) 18th minute

Referee: Roberto Garcia (MEX)
1st Assistant: Hector Delgadillo (MEX)
2nd Assistant: Juan Zumba (SLV)
Fourth Official: Luis Rodriguez (PAN)

Sierra Mist Man of the Match: Daniel Wenzel