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U.S. U-17s building momentum, confidence after taking down tough Ghana team

After toppling India, 3-0, in their opener, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team faced their first real test on Monday. The match against Ghana could seal their spot in the knockout round while putting the U.S. in the driver’s seat in Group A play.

The U.S. took care of business in a narrow win over Ghana. It was a match that did prove a significant test for John Hackworth’s side, who cruised, 3-0, in their opener against hosts India.

It was a battle that went all the way into the second half when Ayo Akinola fired the game-winning goal, sealing a perfect start to group play for the U.S. team.

“We have momentum going on,” said goalkeeper Justin Garces, who made several big saves early in the second half. “We continue to feel confident in ourselves. We’ve been strong and smart and I feel like that’s going to carry on to the next game and we’ll perform and get the result we want.”

Largely, Monday’s match went according to plan for the U.S. Ghana is an athletic, fast, talented side, one that had plenty of ways to hurt the U.S. defense. The Black Stars had topped Colombia, 1-0, in their opener, making Monday’s clash a vital one when it came to group supremacy.

The first half was largely played at a U.S. pace. They were calm, patient and composed, maintaining a bulk of the possession while picking spots to generate chances. Blaine Ferri fired a few shots from range, but it was Josh Sargent’s close-range header that was blocked off the line that was the best U.S. chance of the opening half.

In the second half, momentum shifted as Ghana took control. The Ghanaian team took possession themselves and repeatedly threatened the U.S. backline. Chris Durkin broke up several attacks in the midfield while Garces had a few big stops to keep Ghana off the board early in the second half.

It was Durkin that helped spur the game’s game-winning sequence with tackle in midfield. Akinola proceeded to bully his way through the defense, firing a shot far post.

“They were a strong and physical team. They were very fast,” Garces said. “They used that to their advantage going down the line. They caused some moments in the game where we were lacking focus but, overall, I feel like we countered that really well.”

“It’s an exciting moment,” Akinola added, “but knowing that, we have one more game to play. I’m really just focused on that right now. ”

Next up for the U.S. is a match against Colombia, who defeated India in their second group stage match. One would expect a rotated U.S. team, but Akinola says the focus will not change. The U.S. wants to finish top of the group and build momentum for a potential knockout round run to come.

“We want nine points out of this group,” Akinola said. “That’s our main focus.”


  1. Whe should not ,be so sad,we have the youngs boys wining and wining,and Usa is in a World
    Cup In India,and can win the world champion would be a dream,but the boys want to shine.
    I am from la Paz,bcs Mexico,whit spain roots my mom from spain my dead father mexican
    But like manny mexicans I am whit the Usa always,suffer in loses and happy whit wins
    Excuse my poor english,but i am learning litle by litle in order to write for Usa

  2. Mexico and Honduras lost to england 3-2,and Honduras nothing of nothing,only the USA
    is shining like never Ghana is powerfull more than england so the concacaf is in the
    shoes of u17 usamnt the only concacaf leader and new faces for the future in 4 year more they will be 21 year old,is not bad,the young are putting the example god bles this kids

  3. The only way to save US Soccer is for MLS limiting foreign players to 4 per team and 3 on the field. We are not England, we are not Germany. Instead we are developing, strengthening and polishing in our own league the players who later beat us in CONCACAF.

  4. USA is a favorite to make the QF and in some books the semifinal already. This is a good group of kids and Ghana is one of the more athletic sides they could have faced. Mali is still alive and they are pretty spectacular. As we saw tonight anything can happen and take nothing for granted.

  5. The US really grinded out this result – Ghana was a strong side. If the US can get a good knockout round draw they can go far. That being said I was a little disappointed with Andrew Carleton and Timothy Weah – they were very poor offensively – and Weah didn’t seem like he wanted to put in any defensive work. Carleton at least was getting back. For two players that are supposed to be ‘big’ players for the US in the future I hope this was just one poor game and they pick it up on Thursday.


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