photo by John Dorton/ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
BOCA RATON, Fla. – Soony Saad scored in the first half and Jack McInerney added a goal early in the second to give the United States U-20 national team a 2-0 victory over Canada in a friendly at Lynn University on Thursday.
The goals were two of the highlights in a rather uneventful game that mostly consisted of physical play, hard fouls and ugly set pieces.
No matter how hard the match may have been to watch at times, the United States, missing several of its top players, will gladly accept the win as it was the first in its last seven matches.
"These games are always good exercises for us," said U.S. coach Thomas Rongen. "We can look at some new players, we continue to build a team for qualifying and getting a positive result against Canada is always pleasing. At the end of the day, at our level, winning is important and it's part of the learning process as well, so I was quite pleased with that."
Canada started the match well, putting pressure on the American backline for the first 20 minutes, but never really threatened, even with Jaineil Hoilett's runs down the left flank.
The Americans overcame their slow start, partially due to the strong play of centerback Sebastien Ibeagha, and were able to find the back of the net in the 33rd minute.
Receiving a pass from the left wing, Saad turned his defender before rifling home a shot that sailed over Canadian goalkeeper Roberto Stillo and into the sidenetting at the far post to make the game 1-0.
The United States doubled its lead just four minutes after halftime when Ibeagha knocked a long ball down the field that sent McInerney through on goal. With Stillo charging towards him, McInerney cleverly hit a floated chip shot over the Canadian.
The Americans almost added a late third, but substitute Omar Salgado had his penalty kick saved. Salgado struck the ball poorly on the shot in the 90th minute, attempting to place it left but leaving it to close to center for Stillo to swat away.
"There was not really any outstanding performances," said Rongen. "It was a well-managed game, let's put it that way. I thought physically and emotionally, just from the mentally standpoint, we were very good during the game. Areas where we need to improve is can we play a little bit better, can we play faster, can we create more chances, and tactically within the system too, I think we can do a better job actually, and that will come over time."
The United States U-20 national team will close out 2010 with another friendly against Canada on Dec. 18 at Lynn University. Expect Rongen to field a different-looking U.S. team for that one, with players like defender Gale Agbossoumonde and midfielders Amobi Okugo and Joseph Gyau likely to start.
"Come Saturday, we'll get some different players a look," said Rongen. "Basically, we have two teams here. So one team played today and a whole new starting eleven will play on Saturday."
USA Starting XI:
Kevin Piedrahita; Ben Sweat, Sebastien Ibeagha, Eric Schoenle (Perry Kitchen, 68'), Kory Veeder; Steven Evans (Joshua Gatt, 78'), Conor Shanosky (Amobi Okugo, 78'), Dylan Mares (Alex Molano, 64'); Jack McInerney, Adrian Ruelas (Omar Salgado, 75'), Soony Saad (Joe Gyau, 78').
Canada Starting XI:
Roberto Stillo; Ashtone Morgan, Doneil Henry (Chris Suta, 89'), Darrick Bassi, Sean Hart, Roger Thompson (Jonathan Osorio, 61'); Jaineil Hoilett, Kevin Cobby (Matt Stinson, 68'), Ethan Gage; Niall Cousens (Jerome Baker, 75'), Nicholas Lindsay.
What do you think of the U.S. U-20 team winning 2-0 over Canada? Expecting the Americans to win again on Saturday? Think McInerney and Saad should start up top again? Who else do you hope starts on Saturday?
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