GUATEMALA CITY, Guatemala (March 7, 2003) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team drew 1-1 with El Salvador on Friday night at Estadio Mateo Flores in Guatemala City, Guatemala, maintaining their spot at the top of the four-team qualifying group. The U.S. will clinch a berth in the FIFA Under-17 World Championship with a win against Guatemala on Sunday at 1 p.m. local time (2 p.m. ET). The draw pushed the USA’s unbeaten streak in qualifying matches to 12 games, dating back to August 26, 1996.
The U.S. will go into their deciding tilt on Sunday without starting midfielder Brian Grazier, who will have to sit out Sunday after receiving two cautions in tonight’s match.
“We took a point out of a game where we didn’t play our best,” said U.S. head coach John Ellinger. “We knew going into qualifying in Central America that it would be difficult, and I’m sure we will face a very fired up and very determined Guatemalan team on Sunday. However, after two games we are still at the top our group and we’ve put ourselves into a good position to qualify on Sunday.”
The U.S. are in that spot thanks to Guillermo Gonzalez, the USA’s leading scorer, who was able to find the net on a night where the U.S. didn’t fire on all cylinders.
Gonzalez, who was at the heart of some of the USA’s best chances tonight, created the goal minutes after forcing Denis Salinas into the most difficult of his three first half saves. In creating the goal Gonzalez danced past two players on the left wing as he cut to the middle of the field and then slotted the ball to a cutting Eddie Gaven, who was promptly brought down in the penalty area.
Gonzalez calmly finished what he started from the penalty spot, shooting to Salinas’ right as the goalkeeper dove left. The halftime whistle blew moments after the ensuing kick-off.
However, Salinas played well on the night, recording five saves, including the save on a Gonzalez blast moments before the U.S. goal and a sprawling save on a well-struck Gonzalez free kick in the second half. Salinas was the busier of the two players between the post, making five saves, while U.S. goalkeeper Phil Marfuggi recorded just three saves in the match.
Christopher Dulce, who came off El Salvador’s bench in the 31st minute, caused the U.S. danger throughout the match and helped his squad equalize in the 62nd minute. Dulce’s free kick from 23 yards out forced Marfuggi into his best save of the match, and Josue Guardado pounced on the rebound, firing it into the net from point-blank range.
Freddy Adu, who stole the show in the USA’s opening win, was a marked man tonight, but he did electrify fans with his only effort of the first half, bringing the ball down out of the air with one touch and with his second turning and firing an overhead bicycle kick straight at Salinas from 20 yards.
Brian Grazier had one of the USA’s best chances in the first half, when he tried to redirect a free kick inside the six-yard box, but Salinas got in the way and the ball deflected to Jonathon Spector. The U.S. centerback skied his attempt high.
The U.S. may miss the presence of Grazier on Sunday, who had played every minute of every 2003 international prior to his 84th minute ejection. Grazier was shown his first yellow in the 23rd minute as he broke up a counterattack in the midfield, and in the 84th minute he was shown his second caution, this one just 10 yards from where he received his first.
In the evening’s second match, Jamaica came back from a 2-0 deficit to post a dramatic 3-2 win over Guatemala. Jamaica score midway through the second half and then equalized in the 89th minute, before the gamewinner came in added time.
NOTES: The U.S. wore white jerseys, shorts and socks, while El Salvador countered in all blue … The U.S. has now posted a 5-0-1 record against El Salvador in qualifiers, outscoring El Salvador 24-3 in those six matches ... John Ellinger made one change in the side that shutout Jamaica on Wednesday, sending out Chris Germani as a left back to replace Kyle Helton, while El Salvador made two switches in their first eleven … The FIFA Under-17 World Championship is scheduled for August 13-30, 2003, in four venues across Finland.
- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report -
Participants: U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team vs. El Salvador
Competition: CONCACAF Under-17 Qualifying Tournament
Location: Estadio Mateo Flores; Guatemala City, Guatemala
Date: March 7, 2003
Weather: Cool, clear; 71 degrees
1 2 F
United States 1 0 1
El Salvador 0 1 1
USA – Guillermo Gonzalez (penalty) 48th+ minute.
SLV – Josue Guardado 62.
USA - 1-Phil Marfuggi; 6-Chris Germani, 3-Jonathon Spector, 5-Brandon Owens (capt), 16-Adrian Chevannes (2-Kyle Helton, 75); 7-Brian Grazier, 15-Corey Ashe (captain), 10-Guillermo Gonzalez (17-Daniel Szetela, 88), 8-John DiRaimondo; 11-Freddy Adu, 4-Eddie Gaven.
Subs not used: 9-Michael Harrington, 12-Steven Curfman, 13-Jamie Watson 14-Julian Valentin, 18-Quentin Westberg.
SLV - 1-Denis Salinas, 2-Guillermo Parada, 4-Jose Henriquez, 7-Adan Larios (capt), 9-Carlos Calderon (8-Christopher Dulce, 31), 10-Rodolfo Ayala, 11-Diego Henriquez, 15-Henry Gomez, 17-Jose Reyes (12-Josue Guardado, 46), 18-Ricardo Hernandez, 20-Oscar Garcia.
Subs not used: 3-Aristides Chinchilla, 5-Jose Montes, 13-Joel Serrano, 16-Jose Ochoa, 22-Edwin Driotis
Shots 12 16
Saves 3 5
Corner Kick 8 5
Fouls 16 18
Offside 0 1
SLV – Carlos Calderon (caution) 22nd minute.
USA – Brian Grazier (caution) 23.
USA – Jonathan Spector (caution) 60.
USA – Brian Grazier (caution) 84.
USA – Brian Grazier (ejection) 84.
Team GP W L T GF GA Pts
USA 2 1 0 1 4 1 4
Jamaica 2 1 1 0 3 5 3
El Salvador 2 0 0 2 3 3 2
Guatemala 2 0 1 1 4 5 1
Team GP W L T GF GA Pts
USA 3, Jamaica 0
Guatemala 2, El Salvador 2
USA 1, El Salvador 1
Guatemala 2, Jamaica 3
El Salvador vs. Jamaica 11 a.m. CT
USA vs. Guatemala 1 p.m. CT