BY ODEEN DOMINGO
PHOENIX — In the end, the U.S. U-17 boys national team just missed too much.
Composure, an injured Alejandro Guido (back), and opportunities.
The United States lost to Turkey, 2-0, in the Nike International Friendlies tournament final Sunday night at Reach 11 Sports Complex despite having a man advantage for the last 32 minutes of the match.
“We were too anxious,” U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera said.
The U.S. team finished third in the tournament with 4 points after going 1-1-1 on the weekend. The Americans finished ahead of Korea Republic (0 points) and behind Brazil (5 points) and tournament champion Turkey (7 points).
Turkey led 1-0 after the 17th minute but helped the U.S. in the second half after Turkish center back Tana Can Velioglu received a red card for a last-defender foul on U.S. forward Mario Rodriguez.
But the U.S. could not take advantage. The Americans could not consistently connect with each other in the final third or threaten with a solid scoring opportunity within 18 yards of the goal.
It’s disappointing for the US, which was outscored 1-0 despite having at least a one-man advantage for 45 minutes on the weekend. (In the scoreless tie against Brazil on Friday, the US had a man advantage after the 72nd minute then a two-man advantage after the 80th minute.)
The U.S. was also missing Guido, its starting central attacking midfielder, on Sunday. He aggravated a back injury early in the Brazil match and did not play against Turkey. Guido impressed in a 2-1 win over Korea Republic earlier in the week as well as in his short time against Brazil, showing good ball skills and vision. Without him on the field, the U.S. did not find any rhythm in its attack.
Turkey didn’t showcase beautiful soccer either but it used set pieces and its speed well to beat the Americans.
Turkey scored its first goal on a corner kick when Aykut Giler headed Fenerbahce youth academy star Recep Niyaz’s in-swinger off the far post and straight to Ahmet Yilmaz Calik, who headed the ball into an open net.
"They wanted it more than us," U.S. midfielder Nico Melo, who started ahead of Esteban Rodriguez on Sunday. "They were better on set pieces."
Turkey had several other chances at goal that U.S. goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh saved. But McIntosh, who was playing his first game in the tournament, made a mistake on Turkey’s second goal.
In the 71st minute, Enver Cenk Sahin outpaced Andrew Sounders 1v1 then beat McIntosh, who came off his line to charge Sahin near the left post, with one touch to get clear and another touch to score from a tight angle.
The U.S. had a great chance in the 60th minute when a long ball from the back Rodriguez chased it down, got to the ball first but was taken down by Turkish center back Tana Can Velioglu on a slide tackle from behind. Velioglu was the last defender and received a red card for the foul.
Marc Pelosi showed off his leg from long range on the ensuing free kick from 32 yards. But his shot attempt to the upper 90 of the goal was parried away in spectacular fashion by the diving Turkish goalkeeper Sercan Sen.
Turkey responded immediately after the red card, taking off midfielder Mehmet Erkut Senturk and replacing him with defender Burak Yilmaz. Cabrera countered, adding forward Daniel Flores for defensive midfielder Tarik Salkicic.
But neither that change nor one that sent Paul Arriola, another forward, in for defender Kellyn Acosta in the 83rd minute, was enough for the U.S. to find that elusive goal.