KINGSTON, Jamaica (Wednesday, May 2, 2007) -- Striker Billy Schuler and defender Mykell Bates staked the United States to an early two-goal lead and the Americans managed to hold on for a 2-1 decision over Canada in a CONCACAF Men's Under-17 Final Round Qualifying Tournament Group B match at National Stadium tonight.
With the top three finishers in this five-nation round robin advancing to the this Under-17 World Cup August 18-September 9 in South Korea, the U.S. can clinch a spot with a draw or better here Friday against Jamaica or Sunday against Costa Rica. In Canada and Trinidad & Tobago draw in Friday's first game, the U.S. would book its berth in the world championship tournament.
Costa Rica is in first place at 2-0-1 with seven points, but the U.S. has a game in hand and trails by only a point at 2-0. Canada is in third at 1-1-1 with four points, while Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica are both without a point at 0-2.
"We came out and executed our game plan very well in the early going, but you've got to finish a couple of those other opportunities we had," U.S. coach John Hackworth said. "If we would have gotten the third goal, I think we would have made it easy on ourselves.
"Canada played well and give them credit for never giving up. Overall, I'm extremely pleased with six points from our first two games. We're in a great spot, so now we have to battle through our tired legs and get ready for Jamaica."
|CONCACAF Under-17 qualifying
||2 ||0 ||1
||7 ||3 ||0
||2 ||0 ||0
||6 ||5 ||1
||1 ||1 ||1
||4 ||4 ||2
||0 ||2 ||0
||0 ||0 ||4
|Trinidad & Tobago
||0 ||2 ||0
||0 ||0 ||5
Costa Rica 2, Trin. & Tobago 0
Canada 3, Jamaica 0
Canada 0, Costa Rica 0
United States 3, Trin. & Tobago 0
United States 2, Canada 1
Costa Rica 1, Jamaica 0
Canada vs. Trinidad & Tobago
United States vs. Jamaica
United States vs. Costa Rica
Jamaica vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Note: Top three teams qualify for Under-17 World Cup.
The U.S. was without Ellis McLoughlin, the team's leading scorer who was suspended for two games for throwing an elbow late in Monday's opening 3-0 shutout of T&T. The foul was ruled malicious by CONCACAF, the governing body for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
Coach John Hackworth shifted Abdusalam Ibrahim from right midfield to McLoughlin's spot on the front line, with Alex Dixon moving into the vacancy. Tommy Meyer also received his first start in central defense beside Bates, pushing Daniel Wenzel to central midfield with Jared Jeffrey.
After surving some early pressure, the U.S. dominated took control of tempo for the remainder of the first half. Ibrahim and Schuler had room to run and were fed through balls from Jeffrey and Wenzel.
The Americans capitalized on a Canadian error to take a 1-0 lead in the 10th minute. Defender Sheanon Williams stripped a ball loose on the right sideline and quickly carried forward, cutting inside before slipping the ball ahead to an advancing Schuler. The forward, who joined the fulltime under-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla., in January, held off his defender inside the penalty area and hit a low drive past charging goalkeeper Adam Street and into the left corner of the net for his first international goal.
In the 20th minute, Schuler had a great chance to expand the U.S. advantage when he was the recipient of a cross by his front-line mate Alex Nimo, but he shot well over the crossbar. A few minutes later, Street went low to save a shot by Ibrahim from the top of the box.
In the 23rd minute, Ibrahim was unable to fully get his head on a high cross, but Bates delayed his run and met the ball at the left corner of the six-yard box and beat Street to make it 2-0.
Soon after, Schuler took a cross from Nimo and put a header on goal, but Street was able to make the save.
The Americans started the second half well, but Canada soon began to control possession. A tough challenge by U.S. defender Brek Shea earned him a knock to the head and, while he was trying to shake off the blow, Canada forward Jarek Whiteman took advantage. Receiving a quick throw-in along the right sideline, Whiteman went by Shea and advanced to the end-line just inside the box.
With goalkeeper Zach MacMath protecting the near post, Whiteman dropped the ball back to the penalty spot where striker Cederic Carrie used his first touch to drill a ball into the net and narrow Canada's deficit to 2-1.
Whiteman continued to give the U.S. problems. In the 70th minute, Canada crossed the ball into the penalty area and the ball bounced off several players before falling to Whiteman on the right side. He tried to drop it back to Canada midfielder Oliver Lacoste-Lebuis, but just missed him, but the U.S. failed to cleanly clear the ball out. The ball wound up back on Whiteman's foot, but he missed wide left from 16 yards.
Nimo sent a shot from inside the box well high three minutes later.
MacMath came up big for the U.S. with five minutes remaining when he fully extended to turn away a 17-yard shot by Canada midfielder Mohamed Sylla.
"We were sitting on the bench saying, 'It can't get any better,' but we took things for granted from there, which happens with young kids," Hackworth said. "But if we can sustain the level of play we had in the first half, you couldn't ask for much more."