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Under-17 World Championships

Americans storm into world semifinals with 3-2 win over Mexico.

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Saturday, November 20, 1999) -- The United States is in the semifinals of the FIFA Under-17 World Championships for the first time, defeating Mexico today 3-2 in a quarterfinal before 7,483 at New Harbor Stadium this afternoon.

The U.S. semifinal match in Christchurch will be against the winner of tomorrow's Australia-Qatar quarterfinal.

The U.S. spotted Mexico an early 1-0 lead, then jumped ahead 3-1 with first-half goals from DaMarcus Beasley and Jordan Cila, and an early second-half strike by Kyle Beckerman. The American effort was also helped by goalkeeper D.J. Countess, who stopped a penalty kick, and inspired defensive play of Oguchi Onyewu.

"I can't put it into words right now," said head coach John Ellinger from New Zealand. "This team has been together for so long, that to get to this point is just so rewarding. It's up for grabs now for any of the semifinalists, but I like the match-ups we've been presented with, and if we win on Wednesday (Tuesday night in the U.S.), we just need one more."

Mexico went ahead 1-0in the third minute on a goal by Hector Vallejo in the third minute after U.S. defender Seth Trembly was unable to clear a ball through the penalty area. It fell into the six-yard box for the Mexican forward to hit home.

Things looked even more bleak for the Americans in the 20th minute when Kellen Kalso, playing for the defender Alexander Yi, suspended for yellow card accumulation, was whistled for a penalty kick after clipping the legs of Ricardo Sanchez in the box. Sanchez took the PK, but Countess extended to his left and parried the Mexican captain's shot safely away.

"We knew that Mexico was a team that liked to press and come at you early. And they got the one chance and put it away," Ellinger said. "We were disappointed at that point and then when they got the penalty, we were in trouble. But D.J. (Countess) making that save was the rallying point for us. All we needed was a spark, and getting two goals before the end of the first half was a great advantage at the break, especially after what happened early on."

In the 37th minute, Beasley took a pass from midfield from Trembly, controlled the ball off his chest 30 yards out from goal and then turned, carried and hit a one-time, looping left-foot strike across his body from 25 yards out that tucked just inside the far right post. For that goal and controlling play in the midfield for 90 minutes, Beasley earned his second "Man of the Match" in the Americans' four outings so far.

Just six minutes later, Cila ran onto a misplayed ball in the Mexican defense and was able to dribble free into the Mexican penalty area. Faced with a one-on-one with Adolfo Cabrera, Cila easily beat the Mexican keeper on the dribble to slot a shot into an empty net to give the U.S. a 2-1 advantage.

Three minutes into the second half, Beckerman, a midfielder, headed home a six-yard shot after some nifty footwork by Onyewu, who freed himself to make his cross with some nifty footwork on the right end line.

Mexico cut the margin to 3-2 on a corner kick in the 70th minute which forward Yared Yanez poked Countess.

The U.S. had permitted the first goal three times in its four games, but come away with two victories and a tie in those matches.

United States 3, Mexico 2

United States - D.J. Countess, Nelson Akwari (captain), Oguchi Onyewu, Seth Trembly, Kellen Kelso (Adolfo Gregorio 74), Kenny Cutler, DaMarcus Beasley, Kyle Beckerman, Bryan Jackson, Landon Donovan, Jordan Cila (Abe Thompson 81); Mexico - Adolfo Cabrera, Felix Grijalba (Edgar Lopez 58), Julio Bracamones, Mario Perez, Ernesto Parada, Hector Vallejo, Juan Estrada, Ricardo Sanchez (captain), Aaron Galindo, Gustavo Ramirez (Geraldo Hernandez 72), Yered Yanez.

Mexico - Vallejo (Estrada) 3;
United States - Beasley (Trembly) 37;
United States - Cila (assist not available) 43;
United States - Beckerman (Onyewu) 48;
Mexico - Yanez (assist not available) 70.

Yellow card cautions: United States - Donovan 92+, Thompson 93+; Mexico - Sanchez 23, Aguao 86, Perez 86.

Referee: n/a. Assistant referees: n/a. Attendance: n/a. Weather: n/a.

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