With Jurgen Klinsmann looking on, the United States U17 team defeated Brazil 4-1 in an ill tempered match to win the week long Nike International Tournament in Lakewood Ranch, Florida on Friday afternoon.
The Americans finished the event with a 2-1-0 record, losing 2-1 to Portugal in Monday’s opener, then going on to batter England 5-1, before clinching the event with yesterday’s victory over Brazil.
The young Yanks were first on the board through the dynamic Haji Wright in the eighth minute. Wright received a pass from fullback Matthew Olosunde near midfield, leaving Brazilian defenders in his wake and banging in the first of his two goals versus the Selecao.
U.S. goalkeeper Kevin Silva had been tested prior to Wright’s breakthrough and had come up big, but he lost a foot race with Marcelo de Souza in the 16th minute, leaving de Souza the simple task of shooting into an empty net for the equalizer.
The tie didn’t last long, just six minutes, in fact. Joe Gallardo put the Yanks back on top , scoring his fourth goal of the tournament on an assist from MVP Christian Pulisic.
Tempers had been simmering from the opening whistle, and they finally boiled over in the 40th minute when Brazil’s Evander da Silva took out Olosunde with a late tackle, earning a straight red.
Despite being a man down for the remaining 50 minutes, Brazil continued to attack, leaving gaps for the U.S. to exploit. Gallardo did exactly that in the 56th minute, finding tournament Christian Pulisic wide open in front of the Brazil goal to give the U.S. a 3-1 lead.
Brazil would go down to nine men in the 86th minute, but by then Wright had added his fifth goal of the week, good for the tourney’s Golden Boot, and the U.S. were on the way to a second Nike International Championship title in three years.
The game ended in odd fashion with the U.S. knocking the ball around as Brazil watched, the two sides allowing the clock to wind down after order had been restored in the aftermath of that late Brazil ejection.
The week was a big success for coach Richie Williams and his young troops, and beating Brazil with Jurgen Klinsmann in attendance shouldn’t be underestimated. Klinsmann’s brand new contract extension carries the additional title of Technical Director and it runs through the next World Cup, Russia 2018, leaving coaches and players alike in no doubt as to who they need to impress to further their national team ambitions.