KINGSTON, Jamaica (Monday, April 30, 2007) -- Midfielder Alex Nimo scored twice, including in the second minute, to power the United States to a 3-0 triumph over Trinidad & Tobago to open CONCACAF Men's Under-17 Final Round Qualifying Group B at National Stadium tonight.
Costa Rica and Canada battled to a 0-0 draw in tonight's first match, leaving both nations 1-0-1 with four points, while the U.S., coming off Saturday's bye, is 1-0 with three points. Jamaica (0-1) and Trinidad & Tobago (0-2) are yet to pick up a point.
After each entrant plays four matches, the top three finishers qualify for this summer's Under-17 World Cup in South Korea. Haiti and Honduras already qualified from CONCACAF Group A, giving the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean five teams in the world tournament.
The U.S. next faces Canada Wednesday night here, followed by games against Jamaica Friday and Costa Rica Sunday. "We're satisfied, but not satisfied," U.S. defender and captain Mykell Bates said. "We're very happy we got a 3-0 win and got a shutout, but the tournament is not over and we still have a job to do. Right now, this game is in the past and our main focus is Canada on Wednesday."
Nimo, who was born in Liberia, quickly staked the Americans to a lead. He ran onto a long ball from defender Daniel Wenzel on the right flank and cut inside with his first touch to get by backtracking defender Akeem Adams, who was left stumbling. Moving into the penalty area, Nimo had a shot blocked, but had the ball carom back to him. He took one last touch before beating goalkeeper Glenroy Samuel into the top netting from six yards out for a 1-0 advantage.
"Coach told me when we get it to go out wide for the quick switch and Wenzel had it and saw me," Nimo said. "I was wide open and took a touch in and saw Billy (Schuler) making a run so I tried to play it in. It got blocked but fell right to me so I just decided to go for it and took a shot on goal. I didn't know what to do since it was my first goal. I was relieved and really excited."
T&T then became the more aggressive side, pushing forward and finding room to serve crosses from the right flank. After American goalkeeper Zach MacMatch made a couple easy saves, T&T striker Daniel Cyrus took possession of a poor clearance in the 18th minute and launched a low blast that seemed headed for the left corner of the net. MacMatch dove for it and just managed to tip it wide with his right hand.
"It was a pretty strange match overall," U.S. coach John Hackworth said. "We scored early, which is good, but then we dropped into a defensive shell which wasn't good. We regained momentum in the game with some solid possession and got a second goal going into halftime with the game in control.
Midway through the first half, the U.S. began to gain control and increased its lead on a free kick in the 38th minute. The ball was touched to Greg Garza who sent it down the right flank for Williams. Williams carried to the end-line before crossing to forward Ellis McLoughlin, who had to reach back to get possession. With his next touch, he shot past Samuel for his 12th international goal and a 2-0 margin.
T&T battled back. In the 60th minute, Trinidad had it's best chance when midfielder Jean-Luc Rochford worked free on the right perimeter of the box, fought off three challenges and crossed into traffic at the top of the six-yard box. MacMatch got a hand on it and watched as his teammates blocked shots inside the area by midfielder Leston Paul and outside the box by reserve forward Sean Desilva.
Two minutes later, U.S. midfielder Adbusalam Ibrahim pushed the ball up the left sideline for defender Brek Shea. Shea deftly curled in a cross to Nimo who buried his shot six yards away to make it 3-0.
One down moment for the Americans came in the 80th minute when McLoughlin was sent off with a red card for throwing an elbow.
"We got the third goal in the second half and, as young kids are prone to do, I think we lost our composure a little bit by having a player thrown off and get three yellow cards," Hackworth said. "In the end, we did kill the game off, get our three points with a shutout. We think we can get stronger as the tournament goes on and that's what we're going to try and do.
"We lost our best attacking player. No question. He's our leading goal scorer and the most dangerous player on the field for us. It's going to affect us, but we have a deep team and hopefully some of the other guys step up.""
The U.S. is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous under-17 world championships.
United States 3, Trinidad & Tobago 0
Lineups: United States - Zach MacMath, Sheanon Williams (Howard Turk 67), Mykell Bates, Daniel Wenzel, Brek Shea, Alex Nimo, Jared Jeffrey, Greg Garza, Abdusalam Ibrahim (Nicholas Millington 65), Billy Schuler (Byran Dominguez 79), Ellis McLoughlin. Trinidad & Tobago - Glenroy Samuel, Ryan O'Neil, Akeem Adams, Akeem Adams, Micah Lewis; Marcus Joseph (Chad De Freitas 61), Chike Sullivan (Kevin Molino 31), Leston Paul, Jean-Luc Rochford, Stephan Knox, Daniel Cyrus (Sean Desilva 58).
United States - Nimo (unassisted) 2.
United States - McLoughlin (Williams) 38.
United States - Nimo (Shea) 62.
Shots: United States 10, Trinidad & Tobago 11.
Shots on goal: United States 5, Trinidad & Tobago 6.
Saves: United States 4, Trinidad & Tobago 2.
Fouls: United States 24, Trinidad & Tobago 11.
Corner kicks: United States 3, Trinidad & Tobago 3.
Offside: United States 1, Trinidad & Tobago 1.
Yellow card cautions: United States - Williams 24, Ibrahim 28, Bates 69; Trinidad & Tobago - Joseph 54, Paul 81.
Red card ejections: - McLoughlin 80.
Referee: Ruiz Bondilla (El Salvador).
Referee's assistants: Hector Delgadillo (Mexico), Juan Zumba (El Salvador).
Fourth official: Jose Guerrerro (Nicaragua).
Attendance: not reported at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica.
Weather: Warm, 80 degrees.
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