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U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes - July 18, 2003

U.S. Under-17 MNT Notes
St. Paul, Minn.
July 18, 2004

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team put on a show for the 2,525 fans in attendance at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn., last night as they came back twice to tie the game before getting the game winner from Eddie Ababio in the 65th minute for a 3-2 victory over Canada. It was Ababio’s  first-ever match with the Under-17s as he just joined the team last month, coming on in the 62nd minute before finding the back of the net three minutes later. Canada struck first in the 23rd minute, but five minutes later defender Ofori Sarkodie scored the second international goal of his career by heading home a Ryan Soroka corner kick. Starting the second half tied, Canada once again took the lead in the 49th minute as Mike D’Agostino hit a snap header off a deflection inside the penalty area. The U.S. found their second equalizer of the night in the 58th minute with a beautiful combination on the right flank. Off a free kick on the right sideline, Danny Szetela fed Dax McCarty, who quickly dribbled into the midfield before slicing a ball through to Carlos Borja inside the box. Borja crossed the ball across the goalmouth to a wide-open Quavas Kirk, who buried the ball into the open net. Seven minutes later, Ababio scored the final tally on the night running onto a flick header by McCarty that put him one-on-one with the ‘keeper, finishing into the lower corner.

Full match report here...

The U.S. trained for about an hour late this morning, with the starters from the match against Canada resting up, while the rest of the squad played 5v5 in a shortened-field with full-size goals. The U.S. will next face U-18 Cruz Azul on Monday (July 19) before going up against Canada for the second time on Tuesday (July 20), with both games being played at the National Sports Center and starting at 7:35 p.m. Head coach John Ellinger brought a 20-player roster for the three-game event as he continues to solidify his roster for the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament in Costa Rica in April 2005.
U.S. U-17 MNT Schedule
Date       Opponent       Venue                                Time (CT)           
July 19    Cruz Azul       National Sports Center    7:35 p.m.
July 20    Canada         National Sports Center    7:35 p.m.

DOING IT WITH A YOUNGER SQUAD: The U.S. came away with the 3-2 victory despite playing against an older Canadian squad as the U.S. roster is mainly filled with players born in 1988, while Canada’s squad is primarily players born a year earlier in 1987. U.S. head coach John Ellinger did start six ‘87s, putting goalkeeper Marcus Rein, defender Julian Valentin, and midfielders Adam Sloustcher, Danny Szetela, Eric Avila and Dax McCarty on the field, but Canada started all ‘87s. The U.S. will face another older squad when they go up against the Under-18 squad from Cruz Azul, most of the players being two or three years older than the U.S. squad. Two of the players on Cruz Azul are members of the Mexican Under-20 Men’s National Team and three practice with Cruz Azul’s first team. Ellinger is hoping the older, more experienced competition will benefit the U.S. as they continue to prepare for the CONCACAF U-17 Qualifying Tournament next April.

TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE FOR “FIRE & ICE” SERIES: Tickets still are still available for the remaining games between the U.S., Canada and Cruz Azul, nicknamed “Fire & Ice” by the National Sports Center by calling the National Sports Center ticket hotline at 763-792-7346 or through Ticketmaster at or (651) 989-5151. General admission tickets are $10, while VIP seating is $20. Tickets will also be available at the gate.

CRUZ AZUL-CANADA TONIGHT AT NSC: The U.S. U-17 coaches will take in the match between Canada and Cruz Azul this evening to get their first look at the Mexican youth team, which they will be playing on Sunday night. The match begins at 7:35 at the National Sports Complex.

DINNER AND A MOVIE: While the coaches are at the match, the players will be heading over to Olive Garden for dinner after checking out either “Dodgeball” or “Anchorman” at a nearby movie theatre earlier in the afternoon. It will be a welcomed trip out as the players have been mainly hanging out in their dorm rooms at Northwestern College.

QUALIFYING FOR THE U-17s SET: The U.S. Under-17 MNT found out their what their path to the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship will look like on June 6 when CONCACAF held the qualifying draws at the offices of the CONCACAF General Secretariat in New York. The final stage has the U.S. traveling to Costa Rica to play in Group A with the host, the Caribbean Zone Series 1 winner and the Central American Zone Series 1 winner (Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador) from April 12-16. In Group B, Canada will host with Mexico, Caribbean Zone Series 2 winner and Central American Zone Series 2 winner (Honduras, Belize or Panama). The group winners will qualify for the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship in Peru, while the runners-up will compete in a home-and-away playoff, with the winner earning the third and final CONCACAF berth.
Group A – TBD, Costa Rica (April 12-16)
Costa Rica
Group B – St. John, New Brunswick, Canada (May 19-23)
WOMEN’S NATIONAL TEAM MATCH FOLLOWS THE U-17s: After the U-17 MNT leaves Minnesota, the U.S. Women’s National Team will take its place as it will face Australia on Wednesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. CT at the National Sports Center in Blaine. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 as the U.S. women play their penultimate match before leaving for the 2004 Olympics in Greece. The match marks the 13th time the U.S. women have played in Blaine, Minn., the most games that any city in the United States has ever hosted.  The USA played in Blaine seven times in the 1980s and three times in 1990, followed by an 11-year gap until a 1-0 win against Canada in July 2001. The match carries some extra intrigue as it will preview the Aug. 17 meeting at the Olympics that pits these two countries together in the final match of Group G opening round play in Thessaloniki.


With his goal against Canada, Quavas Kirk now leads the U-17s with eight goals in 2004. The lanky striker also has two assists to lead all players with 18 points on the year.

The three goals scored against Canada were the most for the Under-17s in an international match since they came together last September.

The U.S. increased their international record in 2004 to 3-3-3 with the victory over Canada and 3-5-3 overall since last September.

The U-17s are now undefeated in their last five international matches (3-0-2), dating back to April 29 when they defeated Belgium in the opening match of the Ballymena International Tournament in Northern Ireland.

With his assist on the USA’s first goal of the game, Ryan Soroka upped his team leading assist total to five in 2004. Carlos Borja kept pace right behind him though with his assist to Quavas Kirk, still sitting in second with four assists on the year.

There were no major injuries suffered for the U.S. during the game against Canada. Defender Erik Lichaj did get a bit banged up on a tough tackle and was replaced in the 38th minute, but should be available for the USA’s next two matches.

Ofori Sarkodie’s header against Canada was his second international goal in three months as he scored his first to help the U.S. get a draw against Austria at the Ballymena International Tournament.

When forward Eddie Ababio entered the match against Canada as a sub, it marked his first ever time wearing a U.S. jersey. He joined the team last month and this was the first trip since the U-17s held a camp at the National Training Center at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., in early June.