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U-17 MNT To Wrap Up Group Play on Saturday vs. Ecuador in Paraguay

U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Notes
Encarnacion, Paraguay
Sept. 17, 2004


After dropping their first two matches to Argentina 2-1 and Uruguay 1-0, the U.S. sits in third place in Group B of the Campeonato Sudamericano de Futbol Sub-16 Tournament with zero points, ahead of Ecuador by virtue of a better goal differential (-2 to –4). The U.S. will need a win in their final group match against Ecuador on Saturday night to gain three points and put them in position for a chance to move onto the quarterfinals. Kickoff has been moved ahead to 5 p.m. ET at Estadio Villa Alegre in Encarnacion.

With just one game left for all 12 teams in the tournament, three teams have already secured advancement to the quarterfinals with five teams still left to be determined. In Group B, Argentina and Uruguay are moving on as they both have two wins for six points, the head-to-head match-up on Saturday determining which team will finish atop the group. Brazil is the clear leader in Group C, and possibly the tournament, at this point with another dominating 5-1 performance over Mexico on Thursday night after blowing out Venezuela 6-2 in their first match to put them through with six points. In the other Group C match, Venezuela bounced back from their shellacking to snag a 1-1 draw with Colombia, who sits in second place with four points. Group A is a little more muddled as each team has come away with a win and a loss in their first two matches, giving Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia and Peru each three points.


The U.S. first needs to get a victory and secure three points and then may need a couple things to go their way in the other groups to finish as one of the top third place teams and advance to the second round. With many scenarios still plausible with the final group games to be played over the three days, here is what would most benefit the USA, assuming they defeat Ecuador: In the Group A matches tonight having Paraguay (3 points, +2) win big over Bolivia (3 points, +1) to lower Bolivia´s goal differential, and Chile (3 points, 0) defeat Peru (3 points, -3), keeping Peru with a lower goal differential than the U.S. 2) In Group C, the match that matters the most is Venezuela (1 point, -4) vs. Mexico (0 points, -5). A draw between the two teams would be the best situation as neither would have more than two points and the U.S. would advance. A Mexican victory by a low margin would also benefit the U.S. as they would end up with three points, but a worse goal differential.

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

Group B Results/Schedule

Sunday, Sept. 12
Uruguay 2, Ecuador 1
Argentina 2, USA 1

Wednesday, Sept. 15
USA 0, Uruguay 1
Argentina 3, Ecuador 0

Saturday, Sept. 18
USA vs. Ecuador
Uruguay vs. Argentina


For the U.S. to move onto the quarterfinals it will need to find a way to improve on their last performance against Ecuador, a 1-1 draw, just over a month ago at the Copa Telefonica Tournament in Peru. In their first meeting, the U.S. outplayed Ecuador, putting 12 shots on goal to the South American team’s seven, but were actually behind for most of the match. Christian Ruiz found the back of the net in just the fourth minute for Ecuador and the U.S. wasn’t able to find the equalizing goal until the 75th minute when Preston Zimmerman struck off a pass from Ofori Sarkodie. A minute later, goalkeeper Bryant Rueckner came up big with a penalty kick save to secure the U.S. would finish second in the four-team tournament.

U.S. Under-17 ‘88s Men’s National Team vs. Ecuador
Copa Telefonica 2004
Estadio Mansiche; Trujillo, Peru
Aug. 14, 2004

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

ECU - Christian Ruiz                                                             4th minute
USA - Preston Zimmerman (Ofori Sarkodie)                          75th

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 4-Eric Lichaj, 7-Ofori Sarkodie; 5-Richard Edgar (12-Michael Dal Pra, 60), 10-Kevin Alston (20-Gabriel Farfan, 60); 14-Kyle Nakawzawa (3-Carlos Borja, 25), 11-Ryan Soroka (19-Michael Farfan, 71), 16-Nik Besango; 9-Preston Zimmerman, 15-Eddie Ababio (2-Michael Balogun, 25), 6-Quavas Kirk.
Subs not used: 8-Michael Stephens, 13-Blake Wagner, 17-Jeremy Hall, 18-Evan Newton.

ECU: 1-Leonardo Leon; 3-Christian Minda, 4-Edison Carcelen, 6-Jorge Majao, 13-Carlos Castro; 2-Ider Quintero, 8-Miguel Cortez, 11-Gabriel Renfigo (20-Jhonatan Monar, 62), 15-Christian Ruiz; 7-Felipe Caicedo, 19-Renee Baez (9-Santiago Jimenez, 58)

GOALKEEPERS (2): 18-Brian Perk (Santa Margarita, Calif.), 1-Bryant Rueckner (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.); DEFENDERS (7): 10-Carlos Borja (Anaheim, Calif.), 5-Richard Edgar (Mechanicsville, Md.), 17-Jeremy Hall (Tampa, Fla.), 4-Eric Lichaj (Downer’s Grove, Ill.), 2-Patrick Rickards (Sacramento, Calif.), 7-Ofori Sarkodie (Huber Heights, Ohio), 3-Joel Smith (Irvine, Calif.); MIDFIELDERS (7): 20-Matt Armstrong (Phoenix, Ariz.), 16-Nikolas Besagno (Maple Valley, Wash.), 12-Michael Dal Pra
(Bronxville, N.Y.), 19-Amaechi Igwe (Belmont, Calif.), 11-Ryan Soroka (Langhorne, Pa.), 13-Blake Wagner (Tampa, Fla.), 14-Drew Yates (Pasadena, Md.); FORWARDS (4): 15-Eddie Ababio (Tampa, Fla.), 6-Quavas Kirk (Aurora, Ill.), 8-Michael Stephens (Woodridge, Ill.), 9-Preston Zimmerman (Pasco, Wash.).

1-Manuel Mendoza, 2-Jorge Majao, 3-Cristhian Minda, 4-Edison Carcelen, 5-Christian Ruiz, 6-Carlos Castro, 7-Ider Quintero, 8-Miguel Cortez, 9-Felipe Caicedo, 10-Gabriel Renjifo, 11-Jhonatan Monar, 12-Leonardo Leon, 13-Jefferson Villacis, 14-Raul Canelos, 15-Renan Baez, 16-Andres Justicia, 17-Carlos Rodriguez, 18-Santiago Gimenez, 19-Daniel Maldonado, 20-Alex Cabascango.

Midfielder Carlos Borja will be unavailable for the USA’s final group match as he received a red card near the end of the Uruguay match.  Four other U.S. players are also holding yellow cards going into the team’s match with Ecuador. Nikolas Besagno, Preston Zimmerman, Eric Lichaj and Amaechi Igwe received cautions during the first two matches and if any of the four are booked against Ecuador they will be forced to sit the USA’s quarterfinal match, if they qualify. Four players are holding yellow cards for Ecuador – Gabriel Renjifo, Ider Quintero, Miguel Cortez and Cristian Minda. All cautions received in any of the three group games will be cleared if the USA advances to the quarterfinals, as they do not carry on to the second round.


The U.S. once again morning practices on Thursday and Friday as they get set to take on Ecuador in their third and final group match. This morning the U.S. spent time working on footwork and passing before moving on to a game of possession. The practice ran a bit longer than usual as the team finished with a game of 10v10 on a full field, playing two balls simultaneously in a game up to 11. The projected starters ended up winning the match, but not until after a 30 minute battle.

When the team first arrived to its hotel in Encarnacion, the thought of taking a dip in the outdoor pool was the last thing on the players minds as the cold and rainy conditions kept them nestled in their rooms. In a week’s time, the weather has taken a complete 180 with sunny skies and warm temperatures now the norm in the southern Paraguay city. Taking advantage of the weather, trainer Jacob Joachim put the players through a pool workout to rejuvenate their tired and sore legs after two games.

With not much to do at the team’s hotel, the players have gotten a bit stir crazy and have started to entertain themselves by playing practical jokes on each other and trainer Jacob Joachim. The biggest feud, all in fun of course, is probably between Preston Zimmerman and Joachim as they each sabotaged each other in one way or another. Joachim has put fruit loops in the pockets of Zimmerman´s warm-up jacket and wrapped his pillow in plastic wrap, while Zimmerman´s best retaliation may have just been putting a glob of IcyHot on Joachim´s bald head two different times as he was playing a video game on Ofori  Sarkodie´s computer that he’s become addicted to over the past few days.

One thing that was given quite a bit of airtime here in South America was the resignation of Argentina head coach Marcelo Bielsa and the subsequent hiring of Jose Peckerman. Bielsa’s press conference earlier this week was televised live and was translated by the Spanish-speaking staff members, team manager Alex Miranda and team doctor Dan Romanelli. In an interesting note, Hugo Tocalli, who was coaching the Argentina’s U-16 squad here in Paraguay, was named Peckerman´s first assistant and had to fly back to Argentina last night. After a trip to the city, U.S. coaches John Ellinger and Peter Mellor bid congratulations to Tocalli near the front doors of the hotel as the coaches have been acquaintances for many years.

Brazil leads all teams in the tournament with 11 goals in two games.

Brazilian Kerlon leads all scorers with three goals through the first two matches. Ricardo, also of Brazil, and Joan Miguel Noe of Bolivia are a goal behind with two each.

Two teams in Group B, Uruguay and Argentina, along with Colombia are tied in the tournament for the least goals allowed after two games with only one each.