KINGSTON, Jamaica (Tuesday, May 1, 2007) -- Striker Ellis McLoughlin, the United States' top scorer, will miss the next two matches of CONCACAF Men's Under-17 Final Round Qualifying Group B as a penalty for the red card he was issued in the Americans' 3-0 shutout of Trindad & Tobago in their opener.
McLoughlin, who scored the second goal against T&T at National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, was sent off for throwing an elbow in the 80th minute with his team ahead 2-0. After the first red card of his career, McLoughlin will be suspended for Wednesday's meeting with Canada and Friday's game with Jamaica, then eligible to return for the finale Sunday against Costa Rica.
"We lost our best attacking player, no question," U.S. coach John Hackworth said of a player who has 12 goals in 32 outings against international opponents and also has three assists. "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."
A victory against Canada tomorrow will go a long way toward the Americans' qualifying for the Under-17 World Cup August 18-September 9 in South Korea. The top three teams from this four-match round robin advance, along with Haiti and Honduras, the top two from Group A, giving CONCACAF, the region of North America, Central America and the Caribbean, five teams in the world tournament.
Costa Rica and Canada battled to a 0-0 draw in last night'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) bring up the rear with no points.
Three U.S. players received yellow cards in the opening match -- defenders Sheanon Williams and Mykell Bates, and striker Abdusalam Ibrahim. A second yellow card in Group B brings a one-match suspension.
The U.S. is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous under-17 world championships, the same number as Costa Rica (five), Canada (four), Jamaica (one) and Trinidad & Tobago (one), the other Group B entrants have combined. T&T didn't have to qualify as host of the 2001 event, while Canada wasn't required to go through qualification as host of the first world tournament in 1987.
Canada is looking to qualify for the world championships for the first time in 12 years. In addition to 1987, Canada played for the world title in 1989, 1993 and 1995.
Costa Rica advanced to five of the last six U-17 world championships, qualifying for the first time in 1995 and missing only 1999. Jamaica's only appearance came in 1999.
Since CONCACAF split its qualifying into two groups, the Americans have finished first in their group each time -- 2001, 2003 and 2005. Prior to that, the U.S. won its group in 1983 and 1992.
The U.S. and Canada have played twice in the past two years with the U.S. coming away with 2-1 and 1-0 victories in September 2006 at its home field in Bradenton, Fla. Ibrahim scored the opening goal in the 2-1 victory with Ryan Finley, who is not on the qualifying roster, scoring the game-winner. Defender Brandon Zimmerman's only career international tally was the difference in a 1-0 triumph two days later.
Earlier this year, the U.S. under-17s edged Canada's U-20s 1-0 in Bradenton with McLoughlin netting the decisive strike.
Since 2006, the U.S. under-17s are 10-1-2 against CONCACAF opponents, including games against under-20 and under-21 sides.
The majority of Hackworth's 20-man roster were born in 1990, but five were born in 1991. Among the younger players, goalkeeper Zac MacMath was the most impressive with two of his four saves coming with sprawling dives. Midfielders Greg Garza and Ibrahim also started from the younger class, with midfielder Nick Millington and Bryan Dominguez entering as reserves in the second half.