Photo by John Dorton/ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Aegean Cup.
Facing four-time defending champions France in the opening match of the international Under-16 tournament in Turkey, the U.S. squad defeated their European opponents, 2-1, with goals scored by forward Joe Gallardo and midfielder Christian Pulisic.
From the opening whistle, USA forward Haji Wright proved to be a handful for the France defense, using his pace and power to get in behind the defenders at multiple opportunities. In the 31st minute, Wright used his speed to burst past his defender, taking the ball to the byline before crossing in to the middle to a wide-open Gallardo, who tapped home with ease.
U.S. goalkeeper Kevin Silva made a number of saves, including one on a penalty kick and the ensuing rebound. However, the Bethlehem, Penn. native couldn’t stop Arnaud Nordin’s directed toe poke inside the six yard box as France tied the score in the 69th minute.
Wright picked up his U.S. teammates in the 80th minute, using some shifty moves to force his defender to take him down in the box, earning the USA a penalty kick. Pulisic, the U.S. No. 10, stepped to the spot and made no mistake, freezing the France goalkeeper in his place.
With the win, the U.S. U-17s move up to second place in Group B, one spot behind Norway, who defeated Scotland 3-0 and lead the U.S. on goal difference. The USA returns to action on Tuesday with a game against Norway.
Here are highlights of the match:
What do you think of this result? What stood out the most to you? Impressed with Wright’s pace and power?
Share your thoughts below.
A friend in Turkey tells me that our boys are giving the Norwgians a sound whooping. Anybody have news or deets?
US won 5-2. Not sure about any specifics.
Elijah Rice, McKinzie Gaines & Nick Taitague scored their 1st international goals for U17 #USMNT. Christian Pulisic added his 2nd of the Cup
The kid can play http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChJSUHsQ7bE
FYI, Wright hired an agent to try and get him signed in Europe after his performance in the Nike tournament:
Nicholas Taitague is very good believe me hope he makes u-17 world cup squad
Ok I believe you. If u say so.
He has been under the watchful eye of Man U for sometime. I believe he is a year younger than the guys in this group, but he has been doing well.
Is the USA U17 team playing in a U16 tournament?
U17 for next cycle so U15s and U16s.
It seems like this current crop of U-17’s might be the one takes the entire USMNT program forward a step. They seem to be fearless and unintimidated by the mystique of footballing powerhouse countries.
And I heard the U-13 group is even better!!!!! We are set for the next two world cups!!!
You gotta see the U-9s…
The U-5’s all have a six legs, three heads, and a turbo fart to blow past defenders.
I hear the U-1’s have all kicked holes out of their mother’s wombs, while juggling at least 1,000 times with their own umbilical cords that were rolled up into balls
Post of the century!
France looked terrible!
Another great win for the Jrs.
is this Richie Williams’ team?
Impressive. Thought Wright was very selfish early on in the highlights but made good on the assist to Gallardo, great build-up.
Awful PK from France. Wow.
And, calm/cool from Pulisic.
I like it.
I’d love to see guys like Haji, Guido, and Gallardo getting called into the senior team post World Cup. And imagine if Klinsman was able to talk a zelalem into declaring for the US. the possibilities are very bright.
I think you are vastly underestimating the gap between this level and senior level.
This is the U16 team. I’m thrilled at what they have done, but let’s have a bit more perspective than to think these kids even belong on the field with the senior USMNT.
Well it could be far worse, we could be playing 8 or 9 guys behind the ball, waiting to counter and even worse playing an English style of football.
Instead we are now down playing success at the youth level following wins against traditional powers while playing attacking soccer. If nothing else it’s progress.
Putting several carts in front of several horses.
1. These are kids still. Promising for sure, but 16 years old, and are not all that close to being on an MLS field, much less the national squad. Sometimes stars emerge and continue form this age group (a la Donovan), but most don’t.
2. There’s more to Zelalem playing for the US than Klinsi talking him into it. From what I’ve read, he’s not all that close to US citizenship.
Isn’t his dad (who still lives in the US) trying to get citizenship? I thought I heard that somewhere.
yeah…I read that a while ago.
ya, very impressive performances this winter but this is not professional level soccer. if these kids can keep moving at the pace they are at MLS & 2016 Olympics should be their goals.
Man, every time we see Haji, he looks like a man among boy, dominated with his pace and strength. It’s important for these kinds of physical marvels to keep challenging themselves and keep learning new skills as they develop and not just rely on their tools and running past people. I’d imagine he’ll acquire a ton of European interest. I hope he gets in a good system.
How often have u17 players gone straight to Europe and made it to the first teams? Not too many. I hope he goes the route of Bradley, Altidore, and others by playing in MLS for a few years before crossing the pond.
Without an EU passport, it’s hard to get there before age 18. Some players have moved with their families, but it’s tough for most (even Ben Lederman’s dad can’t find work because of the passport issue).
First teams as a u17? That’s crazy talk. Lots of guys go to Hoffenheim, etc and go through their development systems, though. I see Haji is listed as being in LA Galaxy’s academy. Does that mean they have his rights?
The reality is that MLS teams can’t really hang on to their players from their academy’s if they get an offer from abroad. They don’t sign contracts to preserve their amature status for college so if someone wanted to swoop in once he turns 18 there is nothing the Galaxy can do to keep him here if the offer is too big to match/beat.
Also I know lots of guys go to Hoffenheim etc. but who has broken out yet? Joe Gyau had lots of promise, but I don’t think he’s cracked the 1st team yet. Others have not done well there either. I wonder what these guys could do if they came back to MLS and played some 1st team ball. The track record for young Americans developing in MLS is much better than in Europe
Landon went through Leverkeusen’s system, I think, JOB came through Ajax. Pelosi is coming through Liverpool, Spector Man U. Obviously all our Germericans came through Euro academies. Been a while since a big name American came out of a Euro academy. I think it’s a tough adjustment and not for every kid.
All of the American guys you mentioned didn’t really stick with the first team except O’Brian. I really hope these guys see the trend and change it.
totally agreed…sign with the Galaxy Haji…don’t get greedy! plenty of time for that!
If he is the guy wearing #7 in the video, this was his own highlight show. Fantastic running at and by defenders.
Wright is in the LA Galaxy academy, which means he’s at least training with MLS level coaches and could sign as a homegrown player. Doesn’t mean he wouldn’t sign with a European club though.
Bruce better sign him up to homegrown contract. If haji continues to show well in the tourney, he could be snatched up by a euro team. This way the galaxy can get something in return.
I get your point, but I do think a spell early on in a European academy might be good for a guy with such great tools. I worry he will become too used to just pushing the ball ahead and running to catch it.
and the word is that his little brother is even better.
I’m cautious abou the little brother comment, remember they said the same about Manning, Vick, claussen, etc.
I always think about Richard Williams telling everyone that Venus’s little sister is the one to watch out or. I guess there are enough examples to prove either side.
It was also said acurately about Jamar Beasley.
To be fair, Eli Manning has won two super bowls so he’s not exactly a bust.
and his parents were seen leaving a hotel room together near the stadium, I heard the latest offspring of the clan will be the best!
(my point is, give me a break claiming the new soccer savior even before he plays)
No one claimed he or anyone was the new savior. The reality is the best players in many sports are identified at very young ages. It’s what professional scouts and people paid to identify future players do.
Yea I think it is a bad thing to hype young players, and the reality is that a very small few will make it, but youth tournaments draw interest from fans and people who enjoy watching the development of teams and countries.
Nice to see that we have some players of size out there. Usually at the U17 level our team is undersized comparatively. Hopefully the team can keep it up and play well consistently because at the U17 level there seems to be such a parody of play from one game to the next.
Whatever the problems with our youth development are, undervaluing size is not one of them.
No, but compare our last U20 team to the France U20’s that won the U20 World Cup. It is just nice to see some different sized athletes joining US soccer instead of just the smaller players.
I think if anything there is an over emphasis on size, speed and athleticism and an under emphasis on technique, tactical awareness etc. I think it’s getting better but the problem is still there.
Paul Pogba was just a beast in the last U -20 tournament for France and left a lasting impression with his size and speed.
I agree with slowleftarm.
The US has overemphasized size, speed and athleticism in the past but now that Germany has caught on, the rest of Europe, like France and Belgium is catching on too
Do you mean parody (games are so different from each other to be a joke) or parity (gaves are very even) Unfortunately, both make sense in the sentence so I can’t be sure.
The main reason we were always undersized when I played in U16 and U18 international tournament was that the average age of our opponents was 23. Let’s just say, Hawaii isn’t the only place in the world that has birth certificate issues…
Nice one BBB