The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team earned a point in their second match of the 2015 U-17 FIFA World Cup with a 2-2 draw against Croatia. The U.S. now take on the hosts Chile in their final match of Group A play at Estadio Sausalito in Vina del Mar on Friday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 and NBC Universo.
U.S. U-17 MNT head coach RICHIE WILLIAMS
Overall thoughts on the match:
“It was a tale of two halves. I thought we played very, very well in the first half. I’m very happy we scored two goals and created more chances. We spoke about the second half not necessarily sitting back and trying to get the third goal but right from the start of the half Croatia was pressuring us and we couldn’t hold the ball, we didn’t possess the ball. We had a couple occasions to counterattack and we just weren’t sharp with our passing to counter and potentially get a third goal. Credit to Croatia, they pushed hard, they pressured us and created chances and were able to get the tie.”
On the lack of possession in the second half:
“We possessed the ball very well in the first half and did very well but in the second half, I don’t know if we lost our composure. I don’t think they felt too comfortable but again in those situations when the other team is pushing hard, you have to get a hold of the ball and make a couple passes, potentially counterattack and we weren’t able to do it. That was obviously disappointing. They battled hard defensively and we were able to still come away with the draw and a point but that was something that obviously with some of the substitutions that we made and trying to hold on to the ball and possess the ball like we did in the first half.”
On the importance now of the third game against Chile:
“It’s a very important match. We’ll watch Chile play against Nigeria and then we’ll see the first match on Friday so we’ll know exactly what we need to do. More than likely we’ll need three points. Chile is a very good team as they’ve shown so far in the tournament. We’ll be ready for the game, we’ll prepare and be ready to take the field on Friday and advance to the knockout stages.”
On boosting the morale of the team:
“I told the players to keep their heads up, at the end of the day it’s a point. It’s the World Cup and it’s not easy, all the teams are good, especially our group. We have a very competitive group. So at the end of the day we got a point. We got zero points in the first game, a point now and if we keep improving into the third game, we’ll advance out of our group. We’ve got to keep our heads up, learn from it. If we can play like we played in the first half we’ll have success. They battled through it and at the end, it’s a good Croatia team so you ended up getting a point. You can’t be too disappointed with that.”
U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder CHRISTIAN PULISIC
On his goal and assist:
“I saw the ball bounce around and Luca played a great ball to me. I saw the defender fall and my eyes just lit up and I was one-on-one with the ‘keeper and I just tucked it away. For the assist, Josh played a great ball through and I knew I just had to put a good ball into the box and I got it in there and Brandon did a great job to put his head on it.”
On the importance of the point:
“We need a good result to move on and at least finish second in the group. We’ll learn from our mistakes and we’ll be ready to go in the next game against Chile.”
U.S. U-17 MNT midfielder TOMMY MCCABE
Overall thoughts on the game:
“Leading up to this game, we wanted to have a good reaction after the first game. I thought we started off well, got two goals which was important and I thought it was a good reaction from the first game.”
On the importance now of the match against Chile:
“We built off the first game by getting a point in the second game, so now we’re just trying to learn from our mistakes and keep this thing moving and get three points and move out of the group stage, because that was our ultimate goal, was to move on and go as far as possible, so we need a big game and a big response against Chile.”
U.S. U-17 MNT defender TYLER ADAMS
On the importance of gaining a point:
“It was definitely important. You can see from the other games that it’s such a tight group and to get any kind of point or any kind of result is definitely important. We were going for the three points but overall it was good to come out of the game with a point.”
On building on the positives of the draw:
“We were definitely looking for a reaction from our first game, getting a loss in the first game got us off to a bad start so we had to react to it and I think grabbing the point was important.”
VINA DEL MAR, Chile (Oct. 20, 2015) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National team bounced back from an opening game defeat against Nigeria, to tie Croatia 2-2 in its second group game at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. It was a tale of two halves, with the USA grabbing a pair of goals in the first half and Croatia responding with two of its own in the second half. Ultimately the USA defense was able to hold on for the point.
It was Croatia that came out as the attacking team, pressing the USA with dangerous possession that the young Yanks did well to disrupt in their defensive third. In the 20th minute, the U.S. broke away on a counter, which led to Luca De La Torre assisting on a Christian Pulisic goal. Twenty minutes later, it was Pulisic providing the helper, sending in a cross that Brandon Vazquez headed in to put the U.S. up 2-0.
In the second half, Croatia responded with two goals, from Karlo Majic and Luka Ivanusec and continued to press until the final whistle, putting two chances off the post and the crossbar in the game’s final seconds.
The U.S. moves to 0-1-1 with the draw and will conclude group play on Friday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. ET against host Chile, a match that will appear on FOX Sports 2 and NBC Universo.
A total of 24 countries are in Chile participating in the tournament. The top two teams in each group, as well as the best four third-place teams, advance to the Round of 16 on Oct. 28 and 29.
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA– Christian Pulisic (Luca De La Torre), 20th minute: Croatia pressured the U.S. defense for the first several minutes, but in the 20th the U.S. responded with a counter that led to the opening goal. Josh Perez started with it on the right and pressed ahead with pace, before centering to Luca De La Torre. De La Torre made a move near the top of the box and dished it over to Pulisic. Pulisic’s defender fell, which freed him to finesse a shot into the right corner to give the USA the lead. USA 1, CRO 0
USA– Brandon Vazquez (Christian Pulisic) 40th minute: From another counter, Pulisic attacked down the right sideline, sending in a long cross just before reaching the end line. The ball found Vazquez who jumped to it and headed in to put the U.S. up by two. USA 2, CRO 0
CRO– Karlo Majic, 65th minute: Croatia broke on an attack from the left and sent a long high cross into the box. As the Croatian offense and U.S. defense broke to it a pair from each side collided and the ball bounced off of them and fell at the feet of Majic, who took advantage of the opportunity and cut the USA lead to one. USA 2, CRO 1
CRO– Luka Ivanusec (Jospi Brekalo), 77th minute: Brekalo moved down the left side and positioned himself near the outside of the box. He made a darting move into the box and cut up to the top where he was freed to lay a pass off to Ivanusec, who slotted a throught through a defenders legs and in for a goal. USA 2, CRO 2 (FINAL)
Coming up Next: #USAvCHI on FOX Sports 2 and NBC Universo
Location: Estadio Sausalito – Vina Del Mar, Chile
Date: Oct. 23, 2015
-U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team Match Report-
Match: U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Croatia
Date: Oct. 20, 2015
Competition: 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup – Group A
Venue: Estadio Sausalito, Vina Del Mar
Kickoff: 5 p.m. local (4 p.m. ET)
Weather: 63 degrees; Sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
CRO 0 2 2
USA – Christian Pulisic (Luca de la Torre) 20th minute
USA – Brandon Vazquez (Christian Pulisic) 40
CRO – Karlo Majic 65
CRO – Luka Ivanusec (Jospi Brekalo) 77
USA: 1-Will Pulisic, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson; 20-Alejandro Zendejas, 11-Josh Perez (6-Eric Calvillo, 68); 8-Luca de la Torre (7-Haji Wright, 83); 10-Christian Pulisic, 15-Danny Barbir, 16-Tommy McCabe, 18-Tyler Adams, 19-Brandon Vazquez (9-Joe Gallardo, 75)
Subs Not Used: 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Auston Trusy, 12-Kevin Silva, 13-Alexis Velela, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 17-Pierre Da Silva, 19-Brandon Vazquez,20-Alex Zendejas, 21-Eric Lopez
Head Coach: Richie Williams
CRO: 1-Adrian Semper, 3-Borna Sosa, 4-Martin Erlic, (13-Luka Ivanusec, 44); 5-Branimir Kalaica, 6-Vinko Soldo, 7-Josip Brekalo, 8-Neven Durasek (16-Marko Gijra, 44); 9-Karlo Majic (17-Matko Babic, 83); 10-Nikola Moro (capt.), 11-Davor Lovren, 15-Marin Sverko
Subs Not Used: 2-Matej Hudecek, 12-Bruno Sutalo,14-Marin Karamarko, 18-Luca Pasaricek, 19-Ivan Delic, 20-Dino Halilovic, 21-Ivan Nevistic
Head Coach: Basic Dario
Stats Summary: USA / CRO
Shots: 6 / 27
Shots on Goal: 2 / 6
Saves: 3 / 0
Corner Kicks: 4 / 14
Offside: 0 / 0
Fouls: 9 / 15
CRO – Branimir Kalacia (caution) 24th minute
Referee: Enrique Caceres (PAR)
Assistant Referee: Eduardo Cardozo (PAR)
Assistant Referee: Juan Zorrilla (PAR)
4th official: Deniz Aytekin (GER)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: TBARead more
Tony Meola. Brad Friedel. Kasey Keller. Tim Howard. Brad Guzan … Josh Lambo?
As the goalkeeping scene in the United States took its shape 10 years ago, at one point that last name was a possible option to continue a strong lineage of men between the sticks for the U.S. Men’s National Team.
But on Sunday, Lambo wasn’t on a soccer field. Instead, he was on a football field converting two field goals and two extra points as the kicker for the NFL’s San Diego Chargers in their 27-20 loss away to the Green Bay Packers.
A Chicago kid who briefly lived in Wisconsin before entering U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency program, Lambo never could guessed he’d be in the hallowed Lambeau Field on a NFL Sunday. Back then as a 16-year-old in 2006, he impressed English Premier League side Everton so much that he was offered a contract with the club if he could gain a European passport.
The following year he ended up making the 2007 U-17 FIFA World Cup team, and after the side conceded seven goals in its two group losses to Tunisia and Tajikistan, Lambo found himself in goal for the final group game against a Belgium side that featured Eden Hazard and Christian Benteke.
With the U.S. needing a 2-0 win and some help to advance as they entered the final group match, Lambo recalls the blunt wisdom he received from U-17 Goalkeeping Coach Tim Mulqueen as he stepped on the field for warm-ups.
“Now Josh, no pressure here, but you need to pitch a shutout,” he told the young ‘keeper.
Not only did he keep the clean sheet, Lambo nearly opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.
“It had been raining and the field was slick,” said Lambo. “I had a free kick about 10 yards outside the box and launched it forward for Ellis McLoughlin. He had a defender right on him and he was pretty close to the top of the arc. It went over both their heads and their goalie – his name was Jo Coppens, he was 6’3” at age 17 – literally had to dive backwards and tip the ball over the bar to make sure it didn’t go in.”
Benteke was sent off in the 36th minute, opening the door for the U.S. in the second half as the late Kirk Urso tallied in the 63rd before Mykell Bates added the needed second goal eight minutes later. Though he didn’t get a goal, Lambo stood tall, making three saves while earning Man of the Match honors as the team advanced to a knockout round date with Germany.
The Round of 16 match proved tougher for the U.S., with Lambo making eight saves as his goal was kept under siege for much of the contest. His performance was so strong that following one furious German sequence which Lambo thwarted, Scottish referee Craig Thomson ran up and gave him a nod of acknowledgement for his effort.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Lambo remembered. “I sort of asked in my head if the referee had just done that.”
In the end, two second half goals from Richard Sukuta-Pasu canceled out Mykell Bates’ injury time consolation goal as the U.S. bowed out to Germany. Despite the defeat, Lambo was again named Man of the Match, returning home to prepare for his entry in Major League Soccer the following season.
Selected eighth overall by FC Dallas in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, Lambo knew he would have to bide his time for a few years as he sat behind the likes of Dario Sala, Kevin Hartman and former U.S. youth international Chris Seitz. Injuries and time spent away with the U.S. U-20 team at the 2009 FIFA World Youth Championships kept Lambo away from the field in his first few years with FC Dallas. He spent the season on loan with the NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2010 and could never seem to unseat whoever was starting for the club.
Having never made a first team appearance, Lambo moved on following the 2011 season. He spent time on trial with Sheffield United in England and D.C. United in early 2012. Offers from NASL clubs and the chance at being MLS’s Pool Goalkeeper didn’t do enough to catch Lambo’s interest either.
“Ultimately, I decided I was done with soccer,” he said.
Already with an associate’s degree earned while playing for FC Dallas, Lambo, still aged 21, made the decision to get a four-year college degree, but he also decided he wasn’t putting aside an athletic career.
That summer, his older brother put him in contact with old college friend Taylor Mehlhaff, who had been a kicker at the University of Wisconsin and spent the 2008 NFL season with the New Orleans Saints.
“He taught me how to kick,” said Lambo. “I spent a weekend with him in early summer 2012 and kind of modified my soccer swing and it clicked. It came pretty quickly to me. We made a bunch of tape, continued to work with each other throughout the summer and eventually Texas A&M eventually got a hold of my tape.”
Lambo got his acceptance at A&M and walked on to the football team that fall. After a year as a backup, he became the team’s starting field goal kicker in 2013 and quickly learned that while the disciplines between being a goalkeeper and soccer and kicker in football were different, the mentality was very much the same.
“As a goalie, you have to be on your ‘A’ game at all times,” Lambo said. “You can’t take a play off; you can’t have a bad play. You’re not a forward where if you take six shots and you score one, you’re still a hero. If I’m in goal and I take six shots and only save one, I’m going to lose my job. You have to be perfect every time. You have to go one for one every time or else the entire team is punished. It’s the same thing for me with football. I don’t get three tries to try and get a first down. I get one kick and I’m not allowed to miss, because the team gets penalized -- we’re leaving points on the field and we’re giving our opponents a better starting position.”
Lambo would go on to convert 21 of his 25 attempts in his two years with the Aggies, leaving College Station with the highest field goal percentage in school history (84%). While he didn’t go to Texas A&M with the intention of going pro again, his collegiate success did make NFL scouts take notice, with his time spent at FC Dallas also playing a part.
“My stats in college were pretty good, but I think a lot of it was the fact that I was older and I had already been a pro,” said Lambo. “There was less of a learning curve for me and that ended up being attractive.”
Lambo wasn’t picked during the 2015 NFL Draft in Chicago, but he did get a preseason invite to join the San Diego Chargers this past summer. In the end, the former goalkeeper beat out veteran kicker Nick Novak on both distance and accuracy, earning the job after a strong preseason.
Four weeks into the regular season, Lambo found himself in his first game-winning field goal situation. With the Chargers tied 27-27 with the Cleveland Browns, Lambo converted a 34-yard game-winning conversion as time expired, giving San Diego their second win of the season.
Through his time developing with U.S. Soccer, Lambo says he learned not to let pressure situations affect him, in either code of football.
“I remember saying that Tim Mulqueen put us through so much in practice and we had worked so hard and seen everything that whenever the games came they were fun, because it was nothing that we hadn’t seen at practice already,” said Lambo. “It’s the same thing with a game-winning field goal. I’ve hit countless amounts of 30-40 yard field goals. It doesn’t matter what the scoreboard says or how much time is left. It’s the same uprights, the same ball, the same snapper and holder who are the best in the business – it’s just another kick.”
Lambo is 11 for 13 through six weeks of the NFL season with the San Diego Chargers. While his focus is firmly on football, he says he follows his former sport quite closely, keeping up with old teammates like Brek Shea and recently visited the U.S. Men’s National Team during their stay in Southern California.
Eight years on from his own turn in the FIFA U-17 World Championships, he says he’ll keep close tabs on how this year’s team performs in Chile. As he does, he hopes the current crop of players takes in the experience more than he did.
“I was arrogant as a kid being with the National Team,” Lambo said. “I thought I was going to roll through the U17s, the U20s, get to the Olympic team and get to the full team and play in a World Cup. Obviously that didn’t happen for me, so I took a lot of those experiences for granted. What I would do now to be able to go back and take more pictures, make more stories with those guys for my team that I hardly talk to anymore, and write things down so I can go back and reminisce.
“There’s nothing like being out there, wearing the crest over your heart, hearing the anthem before you’re about to play the sport that you love. I would tell all those guys to take it in and enjoy it as much as they can. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. You can’t get it back.”Read more