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U.S. Under-17s 3, Red Bulls U-18 1: A look back

It was a cool night in Newark as a few hundred soccer enthusists (and a handful of college coaches) converged on the campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology to catch a glimpse of the future of American soccer, and the show was worth the trip.

No, there weren't tons of highlight-reel plays, but some good, tough soccer between the U.S. Under-17 national team and the New York Red Bulls Under-18 academy team. The U.S. team came to the New York area as a reward for qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup, and they got the chance to face a tough opponent while they were here.

U.S. coach Wilmer Cabrera didn't skimp on showing off some of the country's best young talents, including Joseph Gyau, Earl Edwards, Sebastian Lletget, and the fastest rising star of the age group, Jack McInerney. The Red Bulls had their own future stars as well, with Widner St. Cyr and Walter Hines headlining the local squad.

Here is a closer look at the match, the goals and the standouts:

The U.S. team needed all of four minutes to open the scoring when midfielder Jared Watts powered home a header off a Lletget corner kick. Watts, a defensive midfielder who normally isn't mentioned when discussing the U.S. team's top players, was one of the standouts on this night, bossing the midfield and serving as a sharp-eyed and tough-tackling defensive midfielder who definitely has a pro future. Watts is headed to Wake Forest, which means he could end up replacing MLS rookie Sam Cronin, a development sure to have ACC coaches less than thrilled.

The U.S. team's top stars, Gyau and McInerney, weren't able to impose themselves against a tough Red Bulls defense, but you could still see the skill that both players possess. Gyau showed a feathery touch and scary acceleration, even if he did rely on his right foot a bit too often and failed to create any real scoring chances.

McInerney had a much better night. The star of the U.S. team's successful qualification to the World Cup with five goals, the Georgia-born striker scored in the second half and nearly set up a second with a perfectly-timed through-pass that his teammate botched.

The Red Bulls salvaged some pride late in the second half when defender Shiroc Jean-Baptiste sent a perfect long pass to Hines, who slotted home a perfect finish from 12 yards out to make the score 2-1. The U.S. team answered a minute later when Andrew Craven, the player who wasted McInerney's perfect pass, made up for it with a powerful strike from 15 yards out to make the final score 3-1.

The night began with a split squad from the U.S. Under-17 team facing the Red Bulls Under-16 team. Red Bulls academy alumnus and Under-17 standout John Agudelo served as the star of that match, looking very impressive in leading the U.S. attack in what finished a 1-1 tie. Agudelo nearly found a late game-winner, but his header blasted off the post in the closing minutes.

Some overall thoughts: While you can't take TOO much away from a friendly like this, the match did allow us to get a glimpse of some of the country's best teenagers. While McInerney, Watts and Lletget stood out, defenders Zachery Herold and Tyler Pollack also impressed. On the Red Bulls side of things, goalkeeper Sheldon Parkinson and Jean-Baptiste stood out.

One player who didn't have the impact some were hoping for was St. Cyr, the University of Maryland-bound playmaker spent most of the match playing up top and struggled to have a serious impact on the match, something that may not have left a good impression on Red Bulls head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who was paying close attention to St. Cyr, a player considered a potential candidate to eventually be signed straight to the senior team.

Hines actually proved to be more of a factor than St. Cyr on the night. The St. John's striker showed good speed and shiftiness, even if he did try one too many moves on multiple occasions. His finish on the goal was classy and capped a good overall showing.

Did you have a chance to watch the match? If so, what players stood out for you? Are you a U.S. fan excited about the talent on the Under-17 team? Eager to see the Red Bulls start signing academy players like Agudelo, Widner and Hines?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Ives, so you don’t think any of those guys have stud potential? 4 years means 20 or 21 for many of them which isn’t all that young to become an internationally star like many of us have been hoping for from this cycle.

    I’d say Earl Edwards is a freak and has only been in goal for 4 years. He could really be something special.

  2. Sebastian Lletget has been training with West Ham’s academy for the past 3 years and will join them full time after the U-17 World Cup. He can’t join them full time until he turns 16 due to FIFA’s rules.

  3. General question:

    Does anyone know if any of these U-17s will be heading to European Team Acadamies? We know that Jerome, Renken and Gyau have trained overseas.

    Anyone know if we’ll see them at Arsenal, Bayern, etc. (ala Simek and Spector) in the near future?

  4. Here’s the US Under-17 starting lineup vs. the Red Bull U-18:







    Stefan Jerome came in for Gyau at halftime.

    I’d say the back-line was solid for the U.S., with Pollack, Zavaleta and Harold all impressing. The wingers didn’t really do much for me aside from being quick and constantly pressuring.

    As for any of these kids being ready for the U.S. national team. Not at all. I’d say you won’t see any of these kids getting a cap for AT LEAST four years. It’s just way too early and none of these kids are physical freaks who are already way ahead of the game development-wise. Guys like Gyau and Lletget have great skill, but they still have a long way to go.

    Will Agudelo sign? I’d say Agudelo is at least three years away from getting on an MLS field, and is more likely to be someone you look for come 2012. He’s a nice prospect, but is still very young and raw. It’s nice to see kids this young being talented and facing tough competition, but we’ve got to keep these things in perspective.

  5. Can you give lineups for any of the games?

    for USA U-17 it sounds like:


    Kitchen? Zavaleta? Gil?

  6. I have to agree with Sonic, way too early to talk about senior cap with this group of u-17’s

    I was also at the matches last night and I was impressed with the center defense of the US team

  7. Was at this game last night, Agudelo impressed, Ives whats your over/under on him getting signed from the academy, then actually making a start?

  8. Big difference between McInerney and the rest of the U-17’s and Wolcott, number one being Walcott had already been a professional player for some time before his call up. Why does everyone insist on capping a youth international after a nice run of play? I guess to answer your question, no….that will not be happening.

  9. Ives

    Any chance one of these kids like McInerney could be called up to the Nats anytime soon kinda like a theo walcott with england in 2006?


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