Under-17 World Championships
Americans finish fourth in world championship losing 2-0 to Ghana; Brazil takes title match 8-7 in penalties over Australia after 0-0 tie.AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Saturday, November 27, 1999) -- The United States under-17 men saw their 25-match unbeaten streak end today, falling 2-0 to Ghana in the third-place match of the FIFA World Youth Championship before 15,675 at North Harbour Stadium.
After the medal ceremony, the Ghanaians invited the Americans to join them on their victory lap, a gesture heartily appreciated by the crowd awaiting the title match.
Brazil took home the goal medals, needing an 8-7 preponderance in penalty kicks to dispose of Australia following an ugly 0-0 draw that saw few scoring chances through 120 minutes, but six yellow cards, four to the Brazilians.
The U.S. fell 7-6 in the semifinals in a penalty-kick tiebreaker to Australia in a game that went into the books as a 2-2 tie, bringing the American U-17s unbeaten streak to 25 matches (19-0-6). The fourth-place finish was the best for any age-level U.S. men's team since a semifinal appearance in the 1930 World Cup.
"I said it after our last game, and I've been saying it for two years now, this team is filled with so much heart and guts and determination that it is impossible for me to be any more proud of their effort in this tournament," said an emotional U.S. coach John Ellinger. "We did everything we could to get a goal tonight but it just wasn't to be."
For the fifth time in six games in the tournament, the U.S. surrendered the first goal of the match, with Pinpong Razak hitting a thunderous header from six yards out that caromed off the underside of the cross bar to make the score 1-0 in the 35th minute. The goal was set up by a perfect flicked header from Barnard Dong-Bortey off a corner kick from Ishmael Addo, who did well to force the corner off of the leg of U.S. defender Nelson Akwari just prior to the goal.
Ghana had a chance to double lead in the 75th minute, but a penalty kick by Addo was stopped by U.S. goalkeeper Delvin Countess with a strong, diving save to his right. Addo had set up the penalty with a powerful dribble into the right edge of the penalty area, where defender Alexander Yi brought him down from behind.
Nine minutes later, Addo did beat Countess with a brilliant strike from 10 yards out in the left side of the penalty area, hitting a rocket high into the net for his tournament-high seventh goal.
For Ghana, the third-place finish was small consolation for a nation which missed out on the championship game after twice winning the tournament and twice finishing second in the 1990s.
The U.S. was shutout for the first time in 30 matches, dating back to March.
"This team has planted the seeds for Project 2010," Ellinger said. "I believe that U.S. Soccer is well on its way to achieving the goals of better developing players to begin competing for a World Cup title in the next 10 years."
Ghana 2, United States 0United States - Delvin Countess, Nelson Akwari (captain), Alexander Yi, Adolfo Gregorio, Oguchi Onyewu, Kyle Beckerman (Abe Thompson 63), DaMarcus Beasley, Kenneth Cutler (captain), Bryan Jackson, Landon Donovan, Jordan Cila (Bobby Convey 77); Ghana - Banahene Owusu (captain), Emmanuel Nkrumah, Michael Donkor, Ibrahim Attiku, Pinpong Razak (Kwame Frimpong Pele 62), Nathaniel Lamptey, Razak Ibrahim, Anthony Obodai, Stephen Tetteh, Ishmael Addo, Bernard Dong-Bortey.
Shots: United States 10, Ghana 12. Saves: United States 10, Ghana 5. Corner kicks: United States 3, Ghana 6. Offside: United States 2, Ghana 1. Yellow card cautions: United States - Onyewu 44.
Referee: Tajaddia Fares (Syria). Assistant referees: Heinrich Mackay (Aruba), Seydou Traore (Mali). Attendance: 15,675 at North Harbour Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. Weather: n/a.