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U.S. Under-17 National Team

After feeling sting of late loss to Mexico, U.S. U-17s look forward to World Cup

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team met their goal. After cruising through the first five games of the CONCACAF U-17 Championships, the U.S. is bound for this fall’s World Cup, where they can now test themselves against the very best in the world.

Still, that doesn’t make Sunday’s defeat any easier. Any loss hurts, and any loss to Mexico hurts even a bit more, but the way and manner in which the U.S. U-17s lost Sunday’s CONCACAF final will hurt for a long, long time.

Up a goal in stoppage time, the U.S. was just moments away from lifting the region’s trophy, joining the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team in winning a 2017 CONCACAF crown. Then, in the 93rd minute,¬†Carlos Robles broke through, heading past U.S. goalkeeper Justin Garces for the last-gasp equalizer.

The ensuing penalty kicks proved a back and forth affair until Akil Watts’ miss in the fourth round as Mexico went a perfect five-for-five to shock a U.S. team that defeated them, 4-3, less than two weeks prior.

“It stings. There’s no way to take this kind of result,” said U.S. head coach John Hackworth. “That said, I’m proud of these young men. I’m proud of my staff. I’m proud of the way we performed in this tournament. We need to walk out of here with our heads held high and understand that we have some more work to do to win championships in the future.”

Hackworth will have plenty of positives to sift through in the coming weeks. The U.S., by and large, was the tournament’s most dominant team, cruising to five straight wins heading into Sunday’s finale. The team road a defense that allowed just six goals through six matches, with three of them coming in the group stage shootout against Mexico.

The attack, led by Josh Sargent, Andrew Carleton and Ayo Akinola, proved dangerous throughout, even if they fell a bit short on Sunday. Still, they got the goal required as Timothy Weah combined with Carleton to take care of a defensive blunder and give the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 62nd minute.

Fortunately for the U.S., Garces, who earned the tournament’s Golden Glove award, made saved after save. Eventually, Garces was left helpless as Robles’ header soared into the back of the net and rapidly began the U.S. team’s downfall.

“It’s extremely tough for the group,” said midfielder Chris Durkin. “Going 93 minutes up and then you finally concede and you go to PKs and lose, but we met our first goal, which was to qualify for the World Cup and we’re obviously extremely happy for that. That’s the big challenge to come. We’re fully focused on that goal.”

Until then, though, Sunday’s loss will marinate. A U.S. team that was largely dominant was just seconds away from a remarkable achievement, and the feeling of losing it all in the blink of an eye will likely linger until the team departs for India this fall.

In some ways, it may be a helpful tool, a motivating factor. In some ways, the U.S. fell short, failing to meet one of their goals. But now, the bigger picture is just a few months away from kicking off and the U.S. is confident they’ll be more than ready.

“We’re going to let this loss burn inside us for a little bit,” Durkin said, “but then we’re going to move on and focus on the World Cup.”

7 comments
  • I scored three goals in one game

    Only watched a few of their games but this seems to be one of the more talented u17 teams the US has had

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    • Nassick

      That’s kind of sad to hear considering they’re not good enough to win CONCACAF.

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      • I scored three goals in one game

        Considering that the only time they have ever won it was in 2011, I really don’t see how that is sad.

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      • I scored three goals in one game

        * recently, I don’t go back to the 90’s where they won it I think twice.

        Like

      • Panda

        Incorrect, Nassick. These U.S. U17s are definitely good enough to win Concacaf. The problem is, so is Mexico. The final could have gone either way.

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  • Helium-3

    Yeah, USA dominated Mexico in this game and somehow Mexico scored in the 91′ off a header. We should learn time wasting tactics like the Mexicans.

    This is a very talented team in terms of technical ability and speed. Hopefully they will go far (semis) in the U-17 World Cup.

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  • dn

    Of course, the U17s didn’t want to lose (I’m bummed for them). If they had to, I’m glad it was in a championship match with territorial bragging rights on the line against Mexico. They were already WC qualified. The team will learn from this loss and (hopefully) strengthen their emotional and game development when given similar situations in the future. This type of situation is exactly what the Young Nats collectively need as they progress to full fledged MNT members.

    Like

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