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U.S. U-17s continue strong run with rout of Guatemala

JoshPerezUSU17MNT1-2015 (Mexsport)

By DAN KARELL

With several starters being rested, another player stepped up to record a man-of-the-match performance for the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team.

In the third match of the CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Honduras, the U.S. U-17s routed Guatemala U-17s, 4-1, with winger Josh Perez scoring a first half hat-trick to lead the USA. The win keeps the U.S. atop Group A with nine points.

Even with seven changes in the starting lineup from their last match, the U.S. U-17s needed only 10 minutes to get on the scoreboard.

When taking a free kick from the right side of the field, the left-footed Perez noticed Guatemala goalkeeper Gilder Lemus was off his line. Perez then curled an effort towards the near post that snuck just past Lemus for a goal.

Nine minutes later, after some nice combination play on the right side of the field, playmaker Christian Pulisic played a ball forward towards Perez. Perez,¬†attracting the attention of three different defenders on his run towards the box, fired a left-footed shot just inside the post again for the game’s second goal.

Perez, who was formerly in¬†Fiorentina’s youth academy, completed his hat-trick with a penalty kick in the 45th minute, after Pulisic was brought down in the box. The hat-trick is the second in the tournament for the U.S.

The hat-trick goal came after a string of saves from U.S. goalkeeper Will Pulisic on long-range Guatemala shots, and one short-range strike in the box that flashed off the crossbar.

Winger Pierre Da Silva added the U.S. U-17s fourth goal three minutes into the second half, taking a pass from Luca de la Torre in the box and slotting home.

Guatemala ended the U.S. U-17s perfect record with a pretty goal off the half-volley by Erick Soto in the 65th minute.

Perhaps a more worrying sign for the U.S. was that star player Christian Pulisic was substituted at halftime, after taking a hard challenge that led to the penalty kick. U.S. Soccer has yet to confirm the nature of the substitution and whether Pulisic is injured.

Here are the game highlights:

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What do you think of this result? Glad to see the U.S. dominating opponents through three games? What did you like about tonight’s match? What didn’t you like? Worried about Pulisic?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. Saw the Guatamala game.

    Calvillo, Pulisic, De la Torre, Perez were very good.

    I felt bad for the Guat left back who kept getting toasted by Perez. A very strong showing, although the first goal the goalie could have done better and the third was a penalty. Perez should have had a few assists but Pulisic shot right at defenders.

    De la Torre was very impressive. he had quite a few slick runs, slaloming around Guat like they were not there.

    Very dominant first half, although Pulisic the goalie did have to make a few tough saves.

    The game could easily have been 8-4 USA…

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  2. I saw half of the Cuba game, all of the T&T, and none of this game. I found both performances a little disappointing in terms of possession. I thought our players were significantly more technically skilled than both teams and would have liked to see more possession and one or two touch passing. I agree with Dennis’ assessment that perhaps the players were being a little selfish and trying show off their 1 v 1 skills too much. It is disappointing this happens when you have a player like de la Torre whose passing vision and distribution is so good. Against T&T we played very direct with little distribution out of the back but I have to think that was to avoid a turnover in the back since T&T was very athletic and playing very physical. Also agree with Dennis that left back John Nelson is a very smart defender and I think he is also one of their most constructive players in the attack.

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  3. Hopefully some the get players promoted to more Senior teams, and good to see individuals talent and chemistry between players.

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  4. Haji has 1 goal in three games and hasnt looked that good in any of them. He didnt play in the third so I guess its 1 goal in 2 games

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    • Looks like the defender that tripped him up in the box landed on Pulisic’s leg as they both went to ground. Pulisic instantly crumped and jerked his body in pain. Hoping it isn’t, but that smells like a knee ligament or cartilage thang – MCL, ACL, and / or meniscus tear.
      Hope it’s just a strain or a sprain.

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      • He did walk off. I did not see the trainers perform the usual test for an ACL tear so at least their initial thoughts were not that.

  5. Has anyone been watching the u17s play? I’m curious is they are keeping possession, playing the ball on the ground, playing the ball out if the back, etc

    Anyone seen enough to make some comments?

    What about the players? Who’s looked good (and not)?

    I’m surprised that Haji Wright isn’t scoring goals. He had been doing so well in the games leading to this tourney. I wonder if the defenses are more geared to him or is he not as sharp because he left the Galaxy academy.

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    • I have seen maybe two thirds of the time played. Missed most of the second half of today’s game. Their play has varied. They were clearly superior to Cuba in all aspects of the game; it was nice to see where the US players were actually more skilled than their opposition. Versus T&T, T&T game them trouble by high pressing and they didn’t play as well and didn’t do as a good a job possessing the ball. In the first half of today’s game, they looked very fluid and at times their passing was excellent. Most of the time they are playing out of the back. Their possession and ball control are very good for players so young. but you never know with players this young who is going to continue to develop and how much. But, at this point, it looks like there are 3 or 4 players with real promise going forward. I believe that Wright scored in the last game. Coach Williams sat down a lot of players for this game to save them for the match with Honduras which will probably determine the winner of the group. I am guessing that is why Wright did not play today. Since I missed the first couple of minutes at the start I didn’t hear if anyone sat out injured.

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    • I watched the first two games and just caught the last ten minutes or so of this one. I thought Haji Wright looked pretty good in the first game playing as the center forward. He was not very sharp in the second game aside from the goal. His touch hasn’t been great and neither has his passing. I’ve been very impressed with C. Pulisic and De La Torre. They are both playing at another level. Excellent vision, good motors, great skill. Pulisic nutmeged a Cuban defender with a great move on the wing in the first game. Something that you don’t see regularly with U.S. teams. Gallardo has been dangerous and has finished his chances pretty well. There’s a lot of speed and technical ability out there. These are the things that have stood out to me. I don’t think anybody has looked bad.

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    • I’ve watched all the games. Even though some would say the struggled a bit vs T&T, it seemed to be at least in part that too many US players were a bit full of themselves and tried to do too much 1v1. Even Puslic, who has been very good was a bit too selfish in that game. The pass by de la Torre on the last goal vs Guat. was great, he kept the ball until the defenders committed to him and then put the ball in front of Da Silva without giving away his intention at all.

      It is hard to pick out a defender who has had a bad game for the US and since so much of defending is about avoiding mistakes or inattention, that is a very good thing. While he has not been the flashiest players, I think left back Nelson was very solid in all his minutes; he never lost a foot race, mostly because he played smart enough to never be in a situation where he had to show what kind of speed he has. If he is fast, he will be a real solid player where ever he goes in the future.

      Wright just never seemed to find himself in many situations where his speed and skill would show itself. It may be different against Honduras who will likely try to play the US with more players committed to the attack, something that may also reveal more about the defenders.

      The keeper has not been called on often, but he has not made any obvious mistakes and has made a couple saves that were more than routine. The one goal was a great shot and I think he was unsighted a bit so he really had no chance on it. In the second game his distribution seemed to default to long punts, but in the other two games he was throwing the ball to open teammates.

      It is possible that the US coaches were worried about T&T’s physicality and wanted the players to play long balls rather than possess through the middle of the field where loss of possession can be costly and to dribble in attacking third to draw fouls. That might explain some of the more direct play and less possession by the US in that game. It was effective enough in winning the game even though the fans were dismayed with the lack of combinations and possession by the US.

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      • Someone I haven’t seen mentioned that was very good against Guatemala was Eric Calvillo (#6), who was in the holding midfielder role. He worked hard, controlled the tempo, and allowed Pulisic, De la Torre, and Perez to attack at will throughout. I was really impressed by his composure.

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