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Pulisic’s late winner leads U.S. U-17s to Panama International Tournament title

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Christian Pulisic added another game-winning moment to his burgeoning list of career accolades.

The 17-year-old midfielder played the hero for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team on Sunday evening, taking on three Panamanian defenders and getting past all of them before firing home a left-footed blast that gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead in the 86th minute. The goal stood as the U.S. earned a 1-0 victory over Panama and were crowned champions of the Panama Under-17 International Tournament.

The goal was Pulisic’s 12th of the year with the U-17s, and came off a Haji Wright assist. Pulisic also thought he had scored earlier in the second half, but the goal was disallowed.

With the win, the U.S. improves to 15-5-1 in international matches during the calendar year. It also gives the U.S. their fourth title in the last ten months, following the 2013 Nike International Friendlies Tournament last December, the Aegean Cup title last January, and the Josip Katalinski International Tournament last April.

Here’s a look at the U.S. U-17’s starting eleven:

U.S. U-17 MNT: 1-Kevin Silva; 3-John Nelson, 5-Hugo Arellano (14-Daniel Barbir, 38), 4-Alexis Velela, 2-Matt Olosunde; 6-Eric Calvillo (capt.), 8-Luca de la Torre (18-Pierre Da Silva, 64), 10-Christian Pulisic; 11-Josh Perez (17-McKinze Gaines, 72), 9-Alejandro Zendejas (13-Tyler Adams, 90+2), 7-Haji Wright

Subs Not Used:12-William Pulisic,15-Tanner Dieterich, 16-Tommy McCabe , 19-Elijah Rice, 20-Keegan Kelly

Head Coach: Richie Williams

Here are the match highlights:


  1. I suggest you watch some of the games in which Haji has played as a center forward, for instance in the copa naciones when gallardo went down with a broken leg. He doesn’t look nearly as good. Haji has proven over the past two years that he can blow by other 15 and 16 year olds one v. one from the wing. In fact the u17s design their game to get Haji the ball in space so that he can turn and run. He is so good at it that he rarely looks up to pass or cut the ball back. As a center forward, he has shown his holdup play, passing, and situational awareness to be just average.

  2. Anyone else see a bit of Clint Dempsey in Pulisic? Not elite speed or size, but a born finisher who is fearless.

    Really excited about him. I agree that he might end up being better than Wright once they all mature. I hope he ends up signing at Dortmund, as has been rumored.

  3. Great goal.

    Amazing that the first “goal” was called back for “off-sides.” Awful and incorrect call. The CONCACAF home-town refereeing is in place for more than just the full team.

    Congrats to this team, as it looked like they won in front of a large, likely hostile crowd. Great experience for these kids.

    • I don’t think it was an offsides call. The AR waves his flag, indicating a foul, which I think was a handball. Not sure on the call, hard to say from the replay, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t for offside.

    • It looked like a correct offside call to me. At the time off the pass, Pulisic was offside. The Panamanian player never gained control of the ball.

      • i don’t think the call was offside but i’m pretty sure that was just a failed pass from the defender. which would mean no offside.

      • On second look, 100% not called offside. The AR points for “panama ball”, not towards the center, indicating where offsides would have been.

  4. Pulisic has elite-level smarts. He’s one of the only kids on this u17 team to consistently play as the smallest kid on the field from ages 8-14. He can kill you in many ways. I wouldn’t say he is as good with the ball, whatever that means, as Mukwelle Akale or fellow us u17 player Luca de la Torre (who has already made his debut for Fulham’s u21s). Haji Wright, I would argue, is far less of a prospect than either Pulisic or de la Torre; he’s a physical beast (6’3”) at the u17 level who has deceptively soft feet and a great shot, but he’s a head down player who glides past 16 year olds from the wing like its nothing. You heard that right! Richie Williams parks Haji on the wing and gets him turned and running towards kids half his size. When Haji goes to the middle he struggles, even in these u17 games. His passing is mediocre.

    • “whatever that means” means that he has a high level of technical ability. It’s kinda important at the higher levels, which essentially means anything that comes after beating Panama in a U-17 game. So, pretty much the kid’s entire career. U.S. players, say what you will, don’t have the technical chops that players from most other countries have. That has to change if we’re going to progress as a footballing nation. Lots of little guys are able to thrive because of their outstanding technical ability. There’s this little shrimp named Messi, for one…


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