LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Nov. 14, 2019) – The U.S. Under-16 Men's National Team scored two goals deep into stoppage time to overcome a two-goal deficit and record a dramatic 3-3 draw with the Netherlands in the teams’ opening match of the 19th annual Nike International Friendlies at the Premier Sports Campus on Thursday afternoon.
Second-half substitutes Kevin Paredes and Sota Kitahara scored during added time for the U.S. to wipe out a 3-1 disadvantage and leave the Dutch stunned and the hosts celebrating after earning a precious point in the round-robin competition. Kitahara's goal turned out to be the last play of the game.
The match was a lesson of patience and perseverance for both sides.
The Netherlands held possession from just about the opening kickoff, keeping the Americans in their end for the first 10 minutes.
The USA, however, struck first in the 11th minute as overlapping left back Jonathan Gomez drilled a left-footed shot off a right-wing cross from Mauricio Cuevas past goalkeeper Robin Roefs into the lower right corner for the 1-0 edge.
The Dutch did not take long to strike back as the visitors caused a turnover at midfield in the 14th minute. Playmaker Xavi Simons sent a through ball to a streaking Yusuf Barasi, who beat goalkeeper Gabe Slonina from 16 yards to knot the game at 1-1.
Despite the Netherlands holding much of the possession, the USA did a good job limiting the visitor’s opportunities in the first half.
Midway through the second half, the Netherlands took advantage of a USA injury to take the lead. Dante Sealy went down with a cramp some 30 yards from the American net as Solomon Bonnah picked up a loose ball. He quickly fed Simons, who found Dillon Hoogewerf on the right flank. Hoogewerf, a nuisance on that side for most of the match, crossed the ball to Bonnah, who scored into an empty net for a 2-1 margin in the 68th minute.
With the USA trying to push up for the equalizer, the Netherlands extended its lead to 3-1 in the 83rd minute. This time Myron van Brederode sent Simons a cross from the left side as Simons tallied from 12 yards.
It looked like an uphill battle, but the Americans refused to give up as they continued to create chances. Their efforts paid off three minutes into injury time. Kitahara smashed a shot off the right post, but Paredes was in the right place at the right time and slotted the rebound home to climb with 3-2.
As time was running out, second-half substitutes Jack McGlynn and Brian Gutierrez combined well before finding Kitahara in the middle of the box and the midfielder beat Roefs from close range for the stunning equalizer.
The U-16 USBNT next meet their U-17 USMNT counterparts on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Goal Scoring Rundown:USA – Jonathan Gomez (Mauricio Cuevas), 11th minute: The USA made the most out of its first scoring opportunity in the 11th minute. In fact, it was a clinic on how overlapping outside backs can be effective on the attack. Right back Mauricio Cuevas floated a cross from the right flank to an open left fullback Jonathan Gomez. With plenty of space, Gomez fired an 18-yard shot that goalkeeper Robin Roefs dove in vain to save. USA 1, NED 0
NED - Yusuf Barasi (Xavi Simons), 14th minute: Field general Xavi Simons sent a perfectly weighted through ball to a racing Yusuf Barasi, who knocked the ball past the outstretched, left arm of goalkeeper Gabe Slonina from 16 yards away to knot the game. USA 1, NED 1
NED – Solomon Bonnah (Dillon Hoogewerf), 68th minute: Solomon Bonnah started and finished the scoring sequence as the Dutch took advantage of an American injury with some quick thinking and passes. The USA's Dante Sealy went down with a left cramp some 30 yards from the goal. Bonnah picked up a loose ball and quickly fed Simons, who found Dillon Hoogewerf on the right side. Hoogewerf sent a cross to Bonnah, who put the ball into an empty net. USA 1, NED 2
NED – Xavi Simons (Myron van Brederode), 83rd minute: Xavi Simons earned a goal on a textbook left-wing cross from Myron van Brederode. Simons received the ball at the top of the 18-yard box, worked his way close to the penalty spot and slotted the ball home. USA 1, NED 3
USA – Kevin Paredes, 93rd+ minute: The Americans pushed up but never panicked as they cut the lead to 3-2. On the left side of the box, Sota Kitahara fired a shot that bounded off the right post. Kevin Paredes was there to slip the rebound into the net with two Dutch defenders descending on him. USA 2, NED 3
USA – Sota Kitahara, 94th+ minute: With very little time remaining, the USA continued to push up. Second-half subs Jack McGlynn and Brian Gutierrez found the magic with some quick passes before picking out Kitahara in the middle of the penalty area. Kitahara tallied from point-blank range past Roefs. USA 3, NED 3 FINAL
Key Saves & Defensive Stops:
NED – Robin Roefs, 72nd minute: Sota Kitahara, off a Kevin Pardes corner kick, forced Dutch goalkeeper Robin Roefs to make a reaction kick save to preserve a 2-1 lead.