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U.S. U-17 MNT Draws Ecuador, 2-2; Fails to Advance to Second Round of CONMEBOL Youth Tournament

  • Preston Zimmerman and Jeremy Hall Score Goals for the USA
  • Ecuador Scores Twice in Second Half, Notching the Tying Goal in the Final Minutes of the Match
  • U.S. Finishes in Third Place in Group B with One Point

ENCARNACION, Paraguay (Saturday, September 18, 2004) – The U.S. Under-17 ’88 Men’s National Team failed to advance to the second round of the Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16 Tournament this evening after drawing 2-2 with Ecuador in their final Group B match at Estadio Villa Alegre in Encarnacion, Paraguay.

With the draw, the U.S. finishes third in Group B with one point, ahead of Ecuador with a better goal differential (-2 to –4). The U.S. needed a victory to put themselves in position to advance to the quarterfinals as the second best third place team. Now, the result between Mexico and Venezuela in Group C will determine which of those two teams will take that final slot.

The U.S. made it appear a victory was likely as they came out firing in the early stages and took the lead in the 11th minute when Preston Zimmerman put his one-timer past Ecuador goalkeeper Manuel Mendoza. The U.S. was unable to take advantage of numerous attempts on goal during the rest of the first half, including a point blank attempt by Zimmerman, and were fortunate to go into the break up a goal as a diving save by Bryant Rueckner and the crossbar kept Ecuador from finding the equalizer.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Ecuador was able to make it even after defender Richard Edgar was called for a foul in the box and Jhonatan Monar finished from the spot. In the 72nd minute, Jeremy Hall, starting his first game of the tournament, was able to put the U.S. back ahead heading home from close range, but Ecuador struck back once more three minutes from time as Felipe Caicedo knocked home a loose ball off a free kick.

“This was a game we should have won,” said U.S. Under-17 head coach John Ellinger. “It’s disappointing to lose the lead twice in the match, knowing we needed a win to advance. We have no one to blame but ourselves as we had a number of opportunities to score and put ourselves in position to advance. We need to step up our play because we shouldn’t be leaving Paraguay with just one point from three matches.”

Ellinger went with a slightly different starting lineup as Hall started on the right wing in place of Blake Wagner and Drew Yates got his first start in place of Carlos Borja, who received a red card in the Uruguay match. The slight change energized the U.S. as they were the better team on the night, especially in the first half, as the midfield play improved and allowed forwards Quavas Kirk and Zimmerman to get the ball often in the attack. The scoring duo had their best game of the tournament, creating havoc for Ecuador’s backline and creating scoring opportunities. The U.S. only outshot Ecuador 14-10, but had more quality chances on goal than
their opponent.

Zimmerman gave the U.S. the lead in the 11th minute, finishing a cross from Eric Lichaj. The attack started off a free kick from the right sideline as Hall played it short to Lichaj and he served the ball into the penalty area finding Zimmerman who had lost his marker. The forward knocked the ball out of the air with his right foot, not getting much power behind it, but placing it perfectly past Mendoza and just inside the right post.

During the next 20 minutes, the U.S. held most of the possession and continued to push into the attack, creating most of their opportunities up the right flank to serve in dangerous crosses. Kirk, Hall, and Nikolas Besagno took strikes, but they were either wide or easily saved by Mendoza.

In the 31st minute the U.S. had a golden opportunity to double their lead, but a bad bounce on the rugged field took it away. Kirk tackled the ball away on the right sideline and dribbled up the flank to the endline before threading a low ball to the back post to a wide-open Zimmerman inside the six-yard box. Just before the ball reached Zimmerman’s feet, the ball took an odd bounce and he did what he could to get a foot to it, but by then Mendoza was able to get over in time to keep it out of the net.

Ecuador almost made the U.S. pay immediately, as a minute later U.S. defenders didn’t challenge Caicedo and the tall, lanky forward unleashed as well-struck shot at the top of the box, but Rueckner managed to fully stretch out to his left and get a piece on it.

In injury time of the first half, Ecuador again came close as Monar ripped a shot from 25 yards out that banged off the crossbar.

Ecuador finally did break through in the 57th minute after being awarded a penalty shot. On the play, Edgar chased down Miguel Cortez as he raced onto a through ball in the right side of the area. When Cortez collected the ball and turned into Edgar, the two collided and fell to the ground. The official pointed to the spot and Monar finished to the left side of the goal.

Soroka had an opportunity to put the U.S. ahead again in the 64th minute as a bad clearance by Ecuador across the goalmouth fell to him near the left post, but his header sailed over the frame. Six minutes later, he looked to score again, but his strike from 20 yards out went wide left.

In between Soroka’s chances, Ecuador failed to capitalize on a defensive mistake by Joel Smith. The center back raced ahead to cut off a pass, only to whiff and give Ecuador numbers in the attack. Cortez ran onto the loose ball and pushed it to a wide-open Monar on his right, but Monar blew the chance knocking it high over the bar.

Hall looked to be the savior in the 72nd minute when he nodded home from close range for his first international goal with the U-17 MNT. The ball was deflected out of the area after a U.S. free kick and Soroka ran it down on the left flank before turning and serving in a ball to the back post and an unmarked Hall headed past Mendoza to put the U.S. up 2-1.

Hall’s heroics, and the USA’s hopes of advancing, would be dashed with three minutes remaining as Caicedo was able to toe-poke a deflected cross past Rueckner. Cortez send in a ball from the left sideline into the crowded box and it deflected off a couple players before falling to Caicedo, who was able to stretch out his leg and just get a touch to it before Rueckner could get to it.

The U.S. pushed forward for one last chance and Zimmerman came inches from taking over the role as hero in injury time, but he couldn’t finish from close range. Kirk had gotten free on the left flank and served in a ball to the back post for Hall, who smartly headed it back across to Zimmerman, but the forward’s strike went over the bar.

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

Participants: U.S. Under-17 ’88 Men’s National Team vs. Ecuador
Competition: Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16
Location: Encarnacion, Paraguay
Date: Sept. 18, 2004
Weather: Cool, 65 degrees

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

USA – Preston Zimmerman (Eric Lichaj)                    11th minute
ECU – Jhonatan Monar (penalty kick)        57th
USA – Jeremy Hall (Ryan Soroka)                               72nd
ECU – Felipe Caicedo                 87th

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Joel Smith, 4-Eric Lichaj, 5-Richard Edgar, 7-Ofori Sarkodie; 17-Jeremy Hall, 14-Drew Yates, 16-Nik Besango (12-Michael Dal Pra, 87), 11-Ryan Soroka; 6-Quavas Kirk, 9-Preston Zimmerman
Subs not used: 2-Patrick Richards, 8-Michael Stephens, 13-Blake Wagner, 15-Eddie Ababio, 18-Brian Perk, 19-Amaechi Igwe, 20-Matt Armstrong.
Unavailable: 10-Carlos Borja

ECU – 1-Manuel Mendoza; 2-Jorge Majao, 4-Edison Carcelen (14-Raul Canelos, 78), 5-Christian Ruiz (17-Carlos Rodriguez, 70), 6-Carlos Castro; 7-Ider Quintero, 8-Miguel Cortez, 10-Gabriel Rejifo, 13-Jefferson Villacis; 9-Felipe Caicedo, 11-Jhonatan Monar.
Subs not used: 3-Cristhian Minda, 12-Leonardo Leon, 15-Renan Baez, 16-Andres Justicia, 18-Santiago Gimenez, 19-Daniel Maldonado, 20-Alex Cabascango.

Statistical Summary:       USA     ECU
Shots                                    14         10
Shots on goal           8           5
Saves                                     2           6
Corner Kick                          4           5
Fouls                                    17         18
Offside                                   0          3

Misconduct Summary:
ECU – Edison Carcelen                      50th minute
USA – Preston Zimmerman (caution)                     60th
USA – Nikolas Besagno (caution)                           84th

Referee: Carlos Lopez (Colombia)
1st Assistant: Juan C. Bedoya (Colombia)
2nd Assistant: Nelson Servian (Paraguay)
4th Official: Ricardo Grance (Paraguay)

Group B Final Standings
Team                 P    W    L    D    GF:GA     GD     PTS
Argentina          3     3     0     0       7:1          +6        9
Uruguay            3     2     1     0       3:3            0        6
USA                  3     0     2     1       3:5           -2        1
Ecuador             3     0     2     1       3:7           -4        1

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 2, Ecuador 2
Uruguay 0, Argentina 2