The U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team stamped its ticket to the World Cup Quarterfinals with an emphatic 5-0 victory against Paraguay on Monday in New Delhi, and while offensive leaders Josh Sargent and Andrew Carleton both found the back of the net, the hat-trick performance from Tim Weah stood out in the USA’s first Knockout Round win at the tournament since 1999.
The son of 1995 World Player of the Year George Weah got the scoring started with a nifty 18th minute finish off a pass from Ayo Akinola, which took the USA into halftime leading 1-0. That set the stage for what could be the goal of the tournament thus far. After receiving a pass from Indiana Vassilev on the left, Weah cut inside and hit a swerving shot that he made look effortless as it whipped past sprawling Paraguay ‘keeper Diego Huesca in the 53rd minute.
“I don’t know what to say,” Weah remarked when asked about the goal. “I just cut back and my striker instinct told me to hit it. It ended up being a beautiful strike. Without the pass coming from [Indiana Vassilev], I wouldn’t have created the space to score this goal. I really thank him. I don’t score a lot of beautiful goals, most of my goals are tap ins – a striker’s real goal – but today I’m just so excited to have scored a brilliant goal.”
After Carleton and Sargent helped put the game out of reach, Weah then buried the game’s final strike in the 77th minute.
“This young man did it all,” head coach John Hackworth said of Weah following the match, “and the [second] goal by the way is not ‘brilliant’, it’s world class. I’m sure a lot of people are taking notice.”
If they weren’t already, they are now. Having signed his first professional contract with French giants Paris Saint-Germain in June, the younger Weah has begun to make his own name. On Tuesday, he became the first U.S. male player at any level to record a hat trick during a Knockout Round game at a FIFA World Cup. He’s also just the third American player to score a hat trick at the U-17 event, following in the footsteps of Judah Cooks (1993) and Freddy Adu (2003).
The performance came on the heels of the USA’s disappointing 3-1 defeat to Colombia on Friday, a game in which Weah played just the final three minutes after starting the side’s first two group matches.
“Sometimes if I don’t start, I come off the bench and do my job, so whenever I’m out there, whenever I’m starting, I come out there and try to give it my all,” said Weah. “I praise God today and I thank Coach Hackworth for starting me because if not for all of that, I would not have gotten the hat trick, which gives me three goals in four matches. I thank Andrew Carleton and the whole team for working with me and getting the win.”
- READ MORE: Five Things You Should Know About Tim Weah
For his part, Hackworth was pleased with how the team bounced back from last Friday’s loss.
“I alluded to the fact yesterday that I thought my team had played five [out of six] really good halves,” he said. “I always thought they’ve had a really good response when they come back from a performance that’s not up to our standards.”
Hackworth’s side now awaits the winner of Tuesday’s match between England and Japan in Saturday’s Quarterfinal in Goa. A victory in that match would see the USA move on to the Semifinals for just the second time and first since the 1999 team, featuring the likes of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley, achieved the feat.Read more
PREVIEW: USA, Paraguay Clash in 2017 U-17 World Cup Round of 16 | 10:30am ET | FS2, Telemundo en Vivo
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team will look to advance to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup when it meets Paraguay on Monday, Oct. 16, at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, India. The match will be broadcast on FS2, and Telemundo En Vivo (telemundodeportes.com) with kickoff set for 10:30 a.m. ET. Fans can also follow the match on twitter at @usscocer_ynt.
The USA finished third in Group A, after handling host India (3-0), defeating Ghana (1-0) and falling in its final match to Colombia (3-1). Meanwhile, Paraguay enters the match after finishing first in Group B with a 3-0 record, including victories over 2017 Africa U-17 Cup of Nations Champions Mali (3-2), New Zealand (4-2) and Turkey (3-1).
U.S. U-17 head coach John Hackworth detailed how the USA would approach the Round of 16:
“This team has character. We have some values that we stand by. These are still 16 and 17-year-old boys that this experience, the quality of the competitor that we faced today is always going to be a huge test for them. But we just have to go back to the process that we’ve done to get here. We’ve always been a team that has learned from our mistakes, and we certainty made our mistakes in that second half. So, I hope that our team does what we normally do. We’ll get ready for whatever opponent we face and try to advance in this tournament.”
FIRST TIME ENCOUNTER
In the 16 previous U-17 FIFA World Cups, the USA and Paraguay have never faced each other. The closest the matchup came to fruition was in 1999, when both Paraguay and the United States reached the quarterfinals. The USA went on the beat Mexico 3-2 while La Albirroja ended their best ever U-17 World Cup run, falling to eventual Champions Brazil, 4-1.
HISTORY AFTER THE GROUP STAGE
Thursday’s Round of 16 game vs. Paraguay will mark the eighth time that the USA will enter the initial knockout round, and first since 2011, when Germany ended the USA’s run, a 4-0 loss in the Round of 16. Overall, the USA have posted a 1-7 record in the first post-group stage knockout round, falling to Qatar (1991), Poland (1993), Brazil (2003), Netherlands (2005), Germany (2007, 2011) and Italy (2009). The lone victory came in 1999 when the USA defeated Mexico 3-2 in the Quarterfinals before falling to Australia and Ghana in the Semifinals and Third-Place match, respectively.
Paraguay will look to earn its first ever victory in the second stage of the tournament in their first knockout match since 1999.
LEANING ON THE EXPERIECE AND LEADERSHIP OF JOSH SARGENT
Josh Sargent, who most recently played in the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, become the second player in U.S. Soccer history to compete in both Men’s youth World Cups in the same calendar year, a feat first achieved by feat Freddy Adu in 2003. Sargent’s opening goal vs. India set another record, this time as the only player to score in both youth World Cups in the same calendar year. He also joined an elite group of Youth National Team players to score in both major tournaments, a list that includes Adu, Jozy Altidore and Taylor Twellman.
Wearing the armband for his like-age U-17 counterparts in the FIFA U-17 World Cup, you can expect teammates to look to Sargent for leadership and composure during the team’s win-or-go-home game against Paraguay. After the team’s defeat to Colombia, Sargent had the following to say about how the team would bounce back in the Round of 16:
“It’s going to be hard and everybody is going to reflect on it, but it’s important that we move on and prepare ourselves the best that we can for our next match. You are going to have setbacks in life, especially in your soccer career, but it’s how you overcome those setbacks. I know this team will be very well prepared to give it our all the next game.”
During the U-20 World Cup, Sargent had a breakout performance, earning the competition’s Silver Boot with four goals and an assist. His two-goal performance in the team’s opening group game against Ecuador went into the record books as he eclipsed Jozy Altidore as the youngest U.S. player to score at the FIFA U-20 World Cup at 17 years, 91 days. After scoring his fourth goal of the tournament in the Round of 16 against New Zealand, Sargent tied Taylor Twellman (1999), Eddie Johnson (2003), and Jozy Altidore (2007) for most goals scored by a U.S. player at a FIFA U-20 World Cup. Sargent was also a dominant force at the CONCACAF U-17 qualifying tournament in Panama, finishing third in the Golden Boot standings with five goals while also earning tournament Best XI honors.Read more