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Under-17's Face Jamaica Today


Jamaica will be without one of their regular starters for the qualifying opener, after midfielder Christopher Williams received a red card in their final Caribbean qualifier against Republica Dominicana. Williams received a one-match ban, and the left-sided player will be sorely missed as he took the majority of Jamaica’s free kicks and set pieces from the left side.


Prior to Tuesday’s training session, the U.S. squad spent 20 minutes walking around the Estadio Mateo Flores, the venue where the team will play all three qualifying matches. The U.S. players seemed pleasantly surprised by the condition of the grass on the field, as well as the width of the playing field. The playing surface is surrounded by a large track, which should somewhat dampen the crowd noise on the field.


Guillermo Gonzalez – called ‘Memo’ by his teammates – has quickly become a favorite with the media in Guatemala. Gonzalez, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy in the 2003 MLS Super Draft, has been a hit with the Guatemalan and the El Salvadoran media in large part because of his fluent Spanish. However, the journalists were equally excited by the chance to talk about local hero – and Memo’s new teammate in L.A. - Carlos Ruiz, the Guatemalan striker who starred in MLS in his debut season. While the media pressed Gonzalez for details, ‘Memo’ simply stated that he looked forward to playing with a great player like Ruiz.


Following a brief walk around the stadium field, the U.S. team hopped back on their bus and ventured across town, where they went through an hour-long training session. After going through an extended warm-up with trainer Jacob Joachim, the team did some technical work and then played a possession game under the watchful eye of Coach Ellinger. The team concluded their practice with 14 minutes of free time. Guillermo Gonzalez, Steven Curfman, Freddy Adu and Daniel Szetela worked on their free kicks, while Jamie Watson and Eddie Gaven practiced finishing inside the penalty area. Others milled about the field using the time to work on crosses, some drove balls back-and-forth and others juggled. While the field players worked on possession and technical skills, U.S. goalkeeper coach Peter Mellor put Quentin Westberg and Phil Marfuggi through drills on one end of the field to ensure their sharpness for tomorrow’s match. On a field behind one of the goals, a group of locals engaged in a spirited 14 v 14 soccer game. As the U.S. team exited the field and walked to the bus, they were greeted by taunts from the locals, who seemed to have a decent grasp of certain English words.


The U.S. players will have the chance to sleep in a bit on Wednesday, as the team will enjoy a late breakfast on game day. The players will then go for a brief walk-and-stretch, and are then off all afternoon until the pre-game meal. The team is scheduled to depart for the stadium around 4 p.m., as CONCACAF mandates that each team arrive at the stadium 90 minutes prior to kick-off.


Duwayne Kerr, Erron Brown, Richard Kentish, Marlon Benbow, Andrew Fraser, Keneil Moodie, Tristan Cunningham, Kevon Elliott, Kemar Munroe, Seon Giveans, Ricardo Cousins, Phillip Hall, Christopher Williams, Anthony Christie, Steven Morrissey, Ricardo Ximinies, Donovan Miller, Bryan Bayliss

U.S. Under-17s By the Numbers

2 - Number of losses the U.S. team had in their final 25 matches of 2002

6 - The number of teams that will be qualified for Finland 2003 after the tournament finishes on Sunday (Joining Korea, Yemen, China, Australia and Finland)

10; 3 -  The goals the U.S. scored and conceded at the 2001 Under-17 qualifying tournament in St. Louis

21-5-6 - U.S. All-time Record in CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying (prior to 1991, it was an Under-16 event)

30 - Number of shutouts recorded by the U.S. Team since January 1, 2002

40 - Number of wins the U.S. team recorded in 2002, a U.S. Soccer record

70, 76 - The minutes the U.S. scored in against Jamaica in the 2001 qualifying tournament

76 - Number of games the U.S. Under-17s have played since January 1, 2002