By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team were just three minutes away from securing a place in the 2015 FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to wait a few days longer for another chance to qualify.
With the U.S. U-17s ahead and defending for their lives, CONCACAF U-17 Championship host country Honduras scored a late header to tie the game, forcing the U.S. to settle for a 2-2 draw with Honduras. The draw keeps the U.S. U-17s atop Group A with 10 points, and a win on Wednesday against Jamaica will clinch the USA a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Buoyed by a big crowd at the Estadio Francisco Morazon in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, Los Catrachos were the first to get on the scoreboard.
In the 16th minute, a corner kick was partially headed clear outside of the box to the right of goal. Victor Matamoros controlled the loose ball off his chest, and in one swift motion, hit a dipping volley that evaded U.S. U-17 goalkeeper Will Pulisic for the opening goal.
But it wasn’t long before the U.S. U-17s hit back. With their strongest group of players in the lineup, minus Christian Pulisic, who was available off the bench after picking up a knock in the last match, it was a player who doesn’t normally score the goals that had the finishing touch.
U.S. forward Joe Gallardo played Josh Perez into the box down the left channel in the 23rd minute. Perez beat his defender and played a low ball across the box. It was slightly behind midfielder Luca de la Torre but he adjusted his body and re-directed the ball into the net with a back-heel flick of his left foot, tying the score.
Nine minutes later, it was Perez giving the U.S. the lead. Forward Haji Wright played a one-two in the box and centered the ball towards Perez at the penalty spot. Wright’s cross deflected off the legs of a Honduran defender but still bounced Perez’s way. Perez was the quickest to react and the left-footed player placed a right-footed finish past Honduras goalkeeper Michael Perello.
In the second half, Honduras began to press more and more, trying to get the tying goal.
After making a few saves on some shots from outside of the box, Will Pulisic was beaten in the 87th minute. A Honduras free kick was lofted into the box, and David Sanchez got his head – or possibly shoulder – on the ball and looped it over Pulisic’s head in for the game-tying goal.
There was more drama late as Brandon Vasquez, who replaced Gallardo in the 73rd minute after the latter suffered an injury, was played through on a breakaway and was pulled down outside of the box, leading to a straight red card for Erick Arias.
The U.S. though couldn’t take advantage of the man advantage with only about three minutes of stoppage time on the clock, instead settling for a draw and a chance to qualify for the World Cup on Wednesday.
Here’s a look at the USA’s lineup:
USA: 1-Will Pulisic; 2-Matthew Olosunde, 4-Alexis Velela, 5-Hugo Arellano (capt.), 3-John Nelson (17-Pierre Da Silva, 82); 6-Eric Calvillo, 8-Luca de la Torre (18-Tyler Adams, 67), 20-Alejandro Zendejas; 11-Josh Perez, 9-Joe Gallardo (19-Brandon Vazquez 73), 7-Haji Wright
Subs Not Used: 10-Christian Pulisic, 12-Kevin Silva, 13-McKinze Gaines, 14-Tanner Dieterich, 15-Danny Barbir, 16-Thomas McCabe
Head Coach: Richie Williams
Here are the game highlights:
What do you think of this result? Disappointed the U.S. didn’t hold onto the lead? Think the result is fair? Which players stood out to you?
Well, most people here are wrong. There have not been many US youth teams like this assemblage of players. Look at the way the players express themselves – look at the quick and deadly build up that preceded de la Torres cheeky backheel goal. Look at the way the team responded after going down 1-0 early on to the host team. That’s called character, that’s called skill. The individual expression and confidence on display from this team is, quite frankly, pretty much unparalleled. Olosunde has arguably been the best player of the tournament – not a single mention because apparently no one is watching close enough. When have the US ever had a 17 year old right back that could play as effectively and confidently as this kid, regardless of the level? He’s been PHENOMENAL. Pulisic, de la Torre – very technically gifted, and de la Torre even has a deceiving burst of speed as well. Pulisic can see and execute the passes that only elite midfielders have in their repitoir. Josh Perez is a fuckin bullet, explosive and agile, close control and a sense of urgency. He’s in the conversation when discussing the very best talent on this team. The result against Honduras was disheartening, but no one has mentioned the fact that Honduras was bunkered in by the 19th minute. They had 4 players up top spaced along the half line. The rest of the team was hunkered inside their half, behind the front four. The US still threatened time and time again with cool, calculated passing and tremendous movement off the ball. How about the ball velela played out of the back, over the top to Haji Wright? How about the ensuing world class (nothing short) run from Wright as he beat 2 or 3 Honduran defenders before muffing the cross? Some of you guys, a lot of you, don’t want closely enough. I hate klinsmann for a multitude of reasons, but it’s only natural that whatever he is trying to instill on our program would initially manifest at the youth level… And I love and hate to admit it, but the signs are there… This team can play with anybody in the world their age. They’ve proved it, they look it, and they play with confidence and gusto. Enjoy it.
They are fun to watch and I agree that Perez is special. I wish we could see more of them. Not many games available to view and it’s rare that they pull all their top players in at the same time. De la Torre, to me at least, has been a surprise as all we ever heard about was Pulisic and Wright. Hopefully, they take care of business the rest of the way because they absolutely have the chops to do so.
Home field advantage is real. San Pedro Sula is about the most god-forsaken place in the western hemisphere. A draw there is nothing to be alarmed about, and Honduras will always pull out all the stops against the USA.
Wow to that first Honduras goal…beauty
“were just three minutes away from securing a place…”
No, they weren’t. Can we get rid of this formulation? They were 6 minutes away. Stoppage time is real. They were 3 minutes away when Vazquez got dragged down on a breakaway just outside the box.
Some of the brightest players for this team have picked up injuries during the tournament. C. Pulisic is perhaps the most important, but Gallardo was taken off for an injury and Nelson whom I think was the most consistent defender left with what seemed to be at least a minor injury. Perez took a few nasty challenges but seemed to weather them fine, however those kinds of knocks can wear a player down when games come in quick succession.
Nelson did one-time find himself out of position to defend and had race back and attempt a desperation tackle that failed, He was left off the hook when the attacker failed to capitalize, that is the only time in 3.5 games he looked to be beat. His presence on the left for the US has been effective at keeping the opponents from exploiting that side.
Would have been nice to wrap up qualification here but the overreaction from some posters is pretty hilarious. Mexico just had a similar result against Canada; I guess they’re in crisis too.
I went back to the comments and I just can’t find the overreaction you talk about. Can you point me to it?
“The inability to hold on to a lead is, unfortunately, is becoming a trait of US Men’s teams…I thought this team had the technical skills, tactical skills and philosophy to keep possession and choke off a game. ”
“Pretty much as expected. Look good against weak opposition but rather average against tougher opposition ”
“As much as people hype this group there s really nothing there to be overly excited about ”
“Even if this group is somewhat special you can’t expect them to show it with an MLS alumnus as their manager”
3 of the quotes are yours.
Well played Sir!
Yeah, I mean you basically wrote off a team 17 year olds on the basis of a draw away from home against one of the better teams in the region in a game where they didn’t even have their best player. I’d say that’s overreacting.
Please read post above. IMO: Your left arm seems fine, it’s the rest of you I’m worried about.
This was the game were they’re supposed to show how superior they are. Looking good against weak opposition is easy. Good players show up for this and if your “best player” is missing then somebody else steps up. Did anybody?
I’m not blaming all on the players. Bunkering at halftime with a 2-1 lead is an invitation for disaster and shows a weak mentality. If not now when?
Would you say the same about Mexico then? They’ve basically had the same run of results the US has had except their draw was against a weaker side.
But Mexico doesnt have an American coach so the assumption is they will be fine. They probably just ate some bad chicken of something.
It was a tough game and a draw is okay. When I looked at the schedule, I anticipated beating all the other teams in the group and drawing Honduras; that is still going as expected. It was a hostile crowd and Honduras was playing with unbelievably high energy throughout the match, particularly in the second half. All that being said, it basically took a lucky bounce off a player’s shoulder for Honduras to get a result. I was concernce with the lack of possession in the last 30 minutes, but the team seemed to wilt late, much like the senior team did in Chile. In the end, they got the result and almost stole a win; things are still looking pretty good for the squad.
Pretty much as expected. Look good against weak opposition but rather average against tougher opposition. As much as people hype this group there s really nothing there to be overly excited about.
Coaching is about what’s expected. Even if this group is somewhat special you can’t expect them to show it with an MLS alumnus as their manager.
They have actually played a lot tougher teams over the past year or 2 and have beaten/out played them. This team has out played the top European and South American sides, at this level inconsistency is the norm so take it for what it’s worth. There is really no point in looking at the whole team, the goal is to be able to look back in 5-7 years and have a handful of these guys playing at a high level. If that happens, this U-17 class was a success.
The inability to hold on to a lead is, unfortunately, is becoming a trait of US Men’s teams.
I thought this team had the technical skills, tactical skills and philosophy to keep possession and choke off a game. From the highlights, Honduras looked like they were the more dangerous team in the 2nd half, even being a man down.
Anyone watch the game? What happened in the 2nd half? Is the US that dependent on Christian Pulisic?
Honduras only went down a man in stoppage time. We controlled the game for long stretches, but parked the bus after the 70th minute. Haji Wright was poor, and Richie Williams made some tactical mistakes in the second half that cost us.
Haji Wright was very poor. The match would have been 3-1 if he had taken the numerous opportunities seriously that he had in the second half. He looked disinterested.
I would attribute the draw to coaching ineptitude.
This idea of parking the bus and trying to protect a 1 goal lead for 20 minutes is to blame for the 2nd Hoduras goal. If you give any team any unlimited number of chances they will score. It is pathetic that the US team were not able to continue possessing the ball in the final 20, if they did so we would have won.
Have any of you ever coached or taught 17 year olds? They are still developing. They have steamrolled weak competition and held on for a draw against a tough opponent on their home field with a strong crowd.
a) Please submit your resumes to the USSF if you think you are better qualified than Williams.
b) Name the foreign coach who should succeed Williams
Thanks, now I don’t have to say that. Arm chair coaches. Playing defensively the last 20 minutes is what 90% of coaches do to preserve a lead, and it is something the team should be able to do to see out the game. Plus, Honduras had to pull down what would have been the winning goal to preserve the draw. This is an okay result.
As a disclaimer I should note that Williams was probably the most intelligent player I have ever gone against. Directly matched up against him at least 12 times. Unflappable and even keeled as they come. Ideal player and he appears to me to be an ideal coach.
As for those who desire a foreign coach, I have spoken with one of the most successful American players of all time, played in a number of European leagues at the highest level and earned a number of national team caps. We spoke about the differences between successful American coaches and European coaches (he has played for some of the best of all time) and he told me that American coaches would be laughed out of Europe because of the approach American players require – constant support and compliments, whereas the brutal, impersonal nature of European coaches would quickly lead to team dissatisfaction in the US. Worth thinking about as we scream for a foreigner.
I suppose you have the same thing to say about this loss to Jamaica……..the fact is we have 320 million people, Honduras has 8, Jamaica has 2,75. we have highly rated prospects in top European academies, and we lose games against countries 1/100th of our size. We need better coaching