U.S. Crush Kiwis to Advance to U20 World Cup Quarters
U.S. Crush Kiwis to Advance to U20 World Cup Quarters avatar

A pair of goals less than a minute apart by Jeremy Ebobisse and Brooks Lennon broke open what had been a tight game for the United States and sent the Americans on the way to a 6-0 victory over New Zealand and onto a quarterfinal matchup against Venezuela.

The Americans were clearly the better team from the start at Incheon Stadium controlling possession and creating chances while the Junior All Whites seemed content to defend and hope to head home from a cross or set piece.

The young Americans started slow but ended with at bang. (Alamy Photos)

The Young Yanks eventually did make the breakthrough on a 32nd-minute goal that was first credited to emergency fullback Justen Glad before being added to the already robust account of 17-year-old sensation Josh Sargent.

The goal was the fourth of the tournament for Sargent, as the St Louis Gallagher’s product joins Eddie Johnson, Taylor Twellman, and Jozy Altidore at the top of the list of American goal scorers at a single U20 World Cup.

With three starters sidelined with yellow card suspensions and Gedion Zelalem out for the tournament with an injury picked up in the opening game Ramos was forced to switch from his favored 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation.

Ramos reinstated Tommy Redding at center back beside captain Erik Palmer-Brown and turned to Justen Glad at right fullback. The absence of Derrick Jones, who established himself as a regular in the side after taking over for Zelalem forced Ramos to rely on Tyler Adams and Eryk Williamson in the center of the park and tireless duo successfully took on the work of three men.

Jeremy Ebobisse got the nod up top along with Sargent and while the 2017 Portland Timbers draftee was slow to get into the match he arrived in style with a blasted goal in the 64th minute when he took a pass from Sargent and turned and fired the U.S. into a 2-0 lead. Less than a minute later Lennon ran onto an exquisite chip from Williamson before beating the New Zealand keeper to make it 3-0, beginning the rout in earnest.

The U.S. added goals from Glad, this time it stood, and substitutes Auston Trusty and Lagos Kunga to secure the largest margin of victory for the American men at a U20 World Cup since a different group of Americans defeated Turkey by the same score at the 1993 tournament in Australia.

Next up for the U.S. is a quarterfinal match against a well rested Venezuela side who have had their feet up since topping Japan two days ago, albeit in extra time.

Venezuela has yet to concede a goal in this tournament having beaten Germany 2-0, Mexico 1-0 and Vanuatu 7-0 in group play before eliminating Japan. And before you dismiss that touchdown over Vanuatu consider that the South Pacific Island nation lost to both Mexico and Germany in close 3-2 encounters.

In other Round of 16 results Portugal knocked off the home team, South Korea, 3-1, Uruguay edged Saudi Arabia 1-0, Zambia sent Germany packing 4-3 after extra time, Mexico needed an 89th-minute goal to nip Senegal, England got a brace from Everton youngster Ademola Lookman to defeat Costa Rica 2-1, and Italy knocked off tournament favorites France 2-1.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 5 6
NZL 0 0 0

USA – Josh Sargent (Justen Glad) 32th minute
USA – Jeremy Ebobisse (Josh Sargent) 64
USA – Brooks Lennon (Eryk Williamson) 65
USA – Justen Glad (Brooks Lennon) 76
USA – Auston Trusty (Sebastian Saucedo) 84
USA – Lagos Kunga (Luca de la Torre) 90+3

Lineups:
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 3-Danny Acosta (2-Auston Trusty, 76), 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (capt.), 4-Tommy Redding, 6-Justen Glad; 20-Luca de la Torre, 8-Tyler Adams, 7-Eryk Williamson, 15-Jeremy Ebobisse (11-Sebastian Saucedo, 79); 19-Josh Sargent, 17-Brooks Lennon (13-Lagos Kunga, 79)
Subs not used: 9-Emmanuel Sabbi, 12-James Marcinkowski, 21-Brady Scott
Not available: 10-Gedion Zelalem, 14-Aaron Herrera, 16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 18-Derrick Jones,
Head coach: Tab Ramos

NZL: 1-Michael Woud; 3-Sean Liddicoat, 5-Hunter Ashworth (18-Sapreet Singh, 65), 6-Joe Bell (16-Callum McCowatt, 82), 8-Moses Dyer (capt.), 9-Noah Billingsley (11-Henry Cameron, 53), 13-James McGarry, 14-Jack-Henry Sinclair, 15-Reese Cox, 17-Logan Rogerson, 19-Myer Bevan,
Subs not used: 2-Dane Ingham, 4-Luke Johnson, 7-Connor Probert, 12-Cameron Brown, 20-Lucas Imrie, 21-Conor Tracey
Not available: 10-Clayton Lewis
Head coach: Darren Bazeley

Stats Summary: USA / NZL
Shots: 19 / 6
Shots on Goal: 10 / 0
Saves: 0 / 4
Corner Kicks: 10 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 10
Offside: 0 / 3

Misconduct Summary:
NZL –Henry Cameron (caution) 80th minute

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NWLS Roundup
NWLS Roundup avatar

Houston Dash (2-5-0) 0-2 Seattle Reign (3-1-3)

The big story of the week was in Houston, where thankfully we seem to be headed toward a happy ending after Dash striker/fullback Rachel Daly collapsed just as the final whistle blew to end the Seattle Reign’s 2-0 road win over Houston.

NWSL should never have scheduled a game at the time and Daly’s scare should never have happened. (ISI Photos/ Will Thorne)

Daly was taken to the hospital and thankfully released that same night, later tweeting that she was on the mend. Good news to be sure but the league knows that scheduling afternoon games in Houston sun might not be the brightest idea and released this statement.

“The safety of our players is always our top priority and due to the high temperature today in Houston, we implemented water breaks to provide additional opportunities to help the players stay hydrated.” the statement said.

“Prior to the season, we also worked with the Dash on scheduling any nationally televised afternoon games earlier in the year in an attempt to avoid the summer heat that unfortunately we experienced today.

We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future.”

The England international’s collapse and subsequent recovery rightly put all other news surrounding the game in the, em, shade and there were some interesting ones.

Saturday’s victory brought Seattle’s all-time record versus Houston to 9-0-0. The win was the first this year on the road for the Reign. And then there was this…

Waldbrum Hopes Dashed

On the Monday morning following that 2-0 loss to Seattle, Houston announced that coach Randy Waldbrum would be leaving the club. The phrase mutual agreement was used but with the Dash having compiled a three plus year record of 19-39-13 under their now ex-coach while never having qualified for the playoffs, it is worth wondering just how “mutual this decision really was.

Waldrum will leave imminently. (ISI Photos/Trask Smith)

Waldbrum is the only coach the Dash have known and with a pair of NCAA titles on his resume with Notre Dame, Waldbrum seemed well qualified for NWSL success. Still, as if to compound all the losing, Waldbrum picked a fight with superstar Carli Lloyd last year when Lloyd didn’t report back to the Dash quickly enough for the coach’s liking following the Olympics.

Why make this move now? Perhaps the imminent end of Lloyd’s Manchester City adventure and her coming return to Houston had something to do with the timing?

FC Kansas City (3-2-2) 3-2 vs Washington Spirit (1-5-1)

With Mallory Pugh receiving the first start of her NWSL career it was almost as if Sydney Leroux felt the need to remind everyone that she was once the bright young U.S. National Team star on the rise. If that was message was on the KC striker’s mind then consider Saturday’s win over Pugh and the Spirit can be considered message delivered.

Leroux celebrates scoring with her teammates. (ISI Photos/Amy Contras)

Leroux missed all of last season while taking care of some personal business, namely starting a family with Sporting Kansas City striker Dom Dwyer. Leroux had already slipped down the U.S. WNT pecking order with Pugh, Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, and perhaps Christen Press pushing past her and leaving the 27-year-old down the list in a fierce battle for national team minutes.

U.S. WNT coach Jill Ellis hasn’t forgotten, however, naming Leroux to the national team squad for the team’s upcoming European matches and Saturday’s NWSL Player of the Week performance won’t have done Leroux’ chances any harm.

Chicago Red Stars (4-2-1) 3-2 vs North Carolina Courage (5-3)

A 4-0 start had some fitting the North Carolina Courage for a championship crown in this, the club’s first season since moving south from Western New York where still known as the Flash they went out as NWSL titlists. Then the Courage hit a bit of snag, dropping a 3-1 decision to Orlando but it is the Chicago Red Stars that really seem to have North Carolina’s number, with Saturday’s win its second in two weeks over the still first place club.

Chicago jumped to a 1-0 lead on Danielle Collaprico’s 27th-minute tally before the Courage grabbed an equalizer deep into added time when Abby Erceg headed home a Samantha Mewis corner kick.

Vanessa DiBernardo in action against North Carolina.  (ISI Photos/Daniel Bartel)

The home team stretched that lead to 3-1 via Alyssa Mautz and Vanessa DiBernardo but NCC wasn’t prepared to go quietly, causing some nervous moments for the home fans after Debinha’s 82nd-minute free kick goal.

The result gives Chicago 13 points, just two behind table-toppers North Carolina. Sky Blue FC are level on points with 13 but like the Courage, Sky Blue has played eight games, one more than Chicago.

Sky Blue FC (4-3-1) 2-1 vs Orlando Pride (1-3-3)

Sky Blue kept their record perfect at home, moving to 3-0-0 at Yurcak Field in Piscataway, New Jersey with Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Orlando Pride in front of 3,451 fans. The win allowed Christy Holly’s side to keep pace with Chicago while closing ground on first place North Carolina.

Maya Hayes (L) scored the game winner. (ISI Photos/Robyn Walsh McNeil)

Sky Blue spotted the Pride an early one-goal lead when Jasmyne Spencer fired home from Camila who spotted Spencer after taking a pass from Matra in the 18th minute.

But the home team never panicked, pulling level just before the break on a Sam Kerr goal. The second half was a tight affair with a 1-1 draw looking like a good bet until Maya Hayes converted from Kerr’s set up.

Portland Thorns (3-1-3) 2-0 vs Boston Breakers (2-3-2)

In front of a massive crowd of 18,637 the Portland Thorns raced out to a 2-0 lead inside of five minutes and that was all the scoring in the game, and all the scoring the home team would need to top the Boston Breakers by that 2-0 scoreline.

Portland’s Henry scored fro the long range. (ISI Photos/Craig Mitchelldyer)

It was actually a bit of bad luck on the Breakers part when a Nadia Nadeem corner kick skimmed off of defender Julie King for an own goal in the first minute of play. When French international Amandine Henry found the target with her long range effort in the game’s fifth minute it would be all the scoring that the Thorns would need.

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Arena Names Roster for June Qualifiers
Arena Names Roster for June Qualifiers avatar

The June World Cup Qualifiers are here and Bruce Arena has called in 27 players to continue the job he was hired to complete, getting the U.S. MNT to the World Cup.

The U.S. emerged with a 6-0 home win over Honduras and a 1-1 draw at Panama from the Arena’s first two matches back at the helm in March, a pattern the coach would gladly accept against Trinidad and Tobago, June 8, at Commerce City, Colorado, and Mexico, at the Azteca, June 11.

Wood returns to the squad. (ISI Photos/Steven Limentani)

Jermaine Jones is the only regular unavailable to a U.S. side otherwise fortified by the return of Fabian Johnson, Bobby Wood and DeAndre Yedlin, all unavailable through injury in March.

Despite Jermaine Jones’ assertion that no one in the U.S. player pool could replace him, Acosta was already making a push to to do just that with his impressive play for FC Dallas this season, now with the Galaxy veteran unavailable Acosta may be set to start in the biggest game(s) of his burgeoning international career.

Arena could also elect to slot Geoff Cameron into the midfield beside Michael Bradley, the Stoke man played extensively as a defensive midfielder for the Potters this season. Chicago Fire veteran Dax McCarty is having another fine year in MLS and is another option.

Arena has named 11 defenders to this roster, so he has options if he plays Cameron further up the field. John Brooks is expected to man the left center back role alongside Cameron or Omar Gonzalez. Arena can choose from DeAndre Yedlin and Tim Chandler at right fullback and Jorge Villafana and DaMarcus Beasley on the left flank.

Fabian Johnson is a versatile player. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

At 35 Beasley looks like a veteran backup that Arena knows will not flinch if called on, and with Fabian Johnson being named in the midfield Villafana looks like he has earned the coach’s confidence and the starting job.

Michael Bradley, Fabian Johnson, and Christian Pulisic seem like locks to start in the midfield, with Acosta, Nagbe, Alejandro Bedoya, and McCarty all pushing for time. Paul Arriola is most likely a bench option.

Up front Arena will have to fit three players into two spots, with Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Bobby Wood vying for playing time while Jordan Morris looks like a late game speed option.

Arena will have a chance to sort some of this out when the U.S. face Venezuela at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on Saturday, June 3.

The U.S. currently lie 4th in their group whilst Mexico are sitting at the top. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

After four games the U.S. is fourth in the World Cup Qualifying Group, the Hex. Mexico tops the group with 10 points followed by Costa Rica, with seven and Panama with five. The Americans are next with four points, the same points total as Honduras, although the U.S. lead Honduras by six on goal difference.

Trinidad and Tobago sit at the bottom of the Hex, although the U.S. shouldn’t take the Soca Warriors lightly. Similar to the U.S. T&T had a poor start to the Hex, falling by a combined 5-0 to Costa Rica and Honduras in November before rebounding in March with a 1-0 win over Panama before playing Mexico close in a 1-0 defeat to Mexico at the Azteca.

Three of the six nations qualify directly for the World Cup next summer in Russia, with the fourth place team qualifying for a playoff battle with the fifth place qualifier from the Asian Football Confederation.

U.S. MNT Roster By Position (Club; WCQ Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (4): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 13/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 0/0), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids; 35/0), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (11): DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo; 33/6),Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City; 11/1), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin/GER; 3/0), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City/ENG; 20/2), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER; 3/0), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca/MEX; 14/0), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas; 0/0), Tim Ream (Fulham/ENG; 4/0), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna/MEX; 2/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 6/0), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City; 17/3)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; 2/0),Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana/MEX; 2/1),Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union; 8/0), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC/CAN; 33/6), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach/GER; 15/1), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers; 5/0), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 38/18)

FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC/CAN; 36/16), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC; 38/18), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 3/0), Bobby Wood (Hamburg/GER; 8/4)

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10 Man U.S. Ties Saudi Arabia to Top Group F
10 Man U.S. Ties Saudi Arabia to Top Group F avatar

The U.S.A. advanced to a Round of 16 matchup with New Zealand with this morning’s 1-1 tie against Saudi Arabia, topping Group F as Senegal and Ecuador played to a 0-0 draw in a match played simultaneously with the U.S. game.

Today’s results assure that Senegal and Saudi Arabia will join the Americans in moving on to the U20 World Cup KO rounds, although the U.S. victory was a costly one with Cameron-Carter Vickers, Derrick Jones, and Aaron Herrera all unavailable to Tab Ramos for Thursday’s Round of 16 match versus the Kiwi’s.

The U20’s got what was needed to top the group. (Alamy Images)

The Americans did well to tough out this result in South Korea despite playing the entire second half with 10 men after the card happy referee sent Cameron-Carter Vickers to the showers just before the intermission.

Real Salt Lake’s Liverpool loanee Brooks Lennon gave the Americans the lead when he alertly pounced on a rebound from Luca de la Torre’s shot in the 40th minute.

U.S. wonderboy Josh Sargent found de la Torre after taking a centering pass from Tyler Adams and when de la Torre’s effort was parried Lennon was first to the loose ball.

The Young Yanks knew that they were set for the KO rounds coming into the game but a win would clinch the top spot in the Group, a task that became much more difficult for the Americans when CCV was shown the line in the 45th minute for what seemed to be a routine challenge.

Led by a captain’s performance by center back Erik Palmer-Brown the U.S. appeared likely to hold out for the victory until Abdulelah Almari lost his mark on a corner kick and powered a header past Jonathan Klinsmann in the U.S. goal in the 74th minute.

EPB was not at fault for the Saudi equalizer and the Sporting KC man stood tall in the closing minutes to assure that his team would emerge with the valuable point, avoiding Mexico and setting up that June 1 showdown with New Zealand.

Also advancing to the Round of 16 were England and South Korea from Group A, Venezuela, Mexico, and Costa Rica from Group B, Group C representatives Zambia, Portugal, and Costa Rica, Uruguay, Italy, and Japan from Group D, undefeated and unscored upon France, as well as New Zealand from Group E, and the U.S. Senegal, and Saudi Arabia from Group F.

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It’s Sargent Again as U.S. Beat Senegal in U20 World Cup
It’s Sargent Again as U.S. Beat Senegal in U20 World Cup avatar

The legend of 17-year-old Josh Sargent continues to grow and his price tag continues to rise as the St. Louis Scott Gallaghers club man scored the lone goal in today’s 1-0 U.S. victory over Senegal at the U20 World Cup in South Korea.

Senegal came into this match at the top of Group F after defeating Saudi Arabia 2-0 in the first group game while the Americans battled Ecuador to a 3-3 draw in match one. Coach Tab Ramos made two changes to his starting 11 against the Lions, staying with Derrick Jones, who filled in admirably when Gedion Zelalem was injured versus Ecuador and dropping Tommy Redding for Cameron Carter-Vickers.

Sargent was a standout for the U17’s and is carrying on his trait with the U20’s (ISI Photos/Casey Brook Lawson)

It was a blow for Redding but the Orlando man was at least partly to blame for both early Ecuador goals before settling well. Ramos stayed with fullback Aaron Herrera, the other culprit on those Ecuador goals, in all likelihood because he did not have a CCV level replacement waiting in the wings to replace the University of New Mexico star.

The other change for the U.S. for game two was visible from the start and that change was the team’s attitude. After conceding in the fifth and seventh minutes against Ecuador the need for a better start was obvious and the Young Yanks were up for Senegal from today’s opening whistle.

Midfielders Brooks Lennon, Luca de la Torre, and striker Sargent were high pressing to good effect early, the center of the park was well covered with Tyler Adams, Eryk Williamson and Jones doing yeoman’s work and the back four was the picture of solidity.

Right fullback Herrera proved worthy of his second chance, Danny Acosta was impressive once again on the left flank and Carter-Vickers and captain Erik Palmer-Brown were imperious for 90 plus minutes in front of Jonathan Klinsmann, as the goalkeeper with the famous father bounced back well after Monday’s difficulties.

It was the type of match where everyone played well for the U.S. and so the Americans fully deserved to go ahead on Sargent’s wonderful goal in the 34th minute. The build-up began with a nice entry pass by Herrera to Adams, who played a deft touch to de la Torre. The Fulham product found Sargent in the center of the box and Sargent did the rest.

The heady youngster received the ball with his back to goal and spun away from a defender before firing a perfect left-footed shot to the back of the Senegal net. Already the youngest American ever to score at a U20 World Cup, Sargent now has three goals in the first two games of the tournament, just one behind Altidore, who he passed for the youngest ever title, Taylor Twellman, and Eddie Johnson, for the most goals at a U20 World Cup by an American.

It has been quite a whirlwind for Sargent, who scored five goals earlier this month to lead the U.S. to qualification for the U17 World Cup this fall in India and to earn a call up to the U20 team. It is safe to say that Sargent can handle the step up as the Americans look ahead to game three Sunday morning against Saudi Arabia.

After playing the first two matches in the city of Incheon, the U.S. makes the short trip south to Daejeon to face the Saudi’s on Sunday, who surprised Ecuador earlier today, beating the Group F favorites 2-1 after dropping the opener to Senegal.

This win puts the U.S. on top of the group and in a strong position to advance as one of the top two teams in the group or, if they falter, as one of the top four third-place finishers.

Sunday, May 28: U.S. vs Saudi Arabia
Daejeon World Cup Stadium; Daejeon, Korea Republic – FS1, Telemundo

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 0 1
SEN 0 0 0

USA – Josh Sargent (Luca de la Torre) 34th minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 3-Danny Acosta, 16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (capt.), 14-Aaron Herrera; 7-Eryk Williamson (6-Justen Glad, 84), 8-Tyler Adams, 18-Derrick Jones; 17-Brooks Lennon, 19-Josh Sargent (15-Jeremy Ebobisse, 90+4), 20-Luca de la Torre (13-Lagos Kunga, 90)
Subs not used: 2-Auston Trusty, 4-Tommy Redding, 9-Emmanuel Sabbi, 11-Sebastian Saucedo, 12-James Marcinkowski, 21-Brady Scott
Head coach: Tab Ramos

SEN: 1-Mouhamed Mbaye; 3-Jean Ndecky, 2-Waly Diouf, 6-Mamadou Diarra (capt.), 4-Souleymane Aw; 5-Cavin Diagne (20-Akhibou Ly, 76), 17-Krepin Diatta, 19-Bamba Kane; 11-Ibrahima Ndiaya, 10-Aliou Badji (12-Habib Gueye, 79), 7-Ibrahima Niane
Subs not used: 8-Moussa Ba, 9-Mouhamed Pouye, 13-Alioune Gueye, 14-Ousseynou Niang, 15-Mamadou Mbaye, 16-Lamine Sarr, 18-Souleye Sarr, 21- Idrissa Ndiaye
Head coach: Joseph Koto

Stats Summary: USA / SEN
Shots: 8/14
Shots on Goal: 3/2
Saves: 2/2
Corner Kicks: 6/8
Fouls: 18/16
Offside: 0/3

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Aaron Herrera (caution) 7th minute
SEN – Bamba Kane (caution) 60
SEN – Mamadou Diarra (caution) 86
SEN – Ibrahima Ndiaya (caution) 88

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U.S. U20’s Snatch Late Draw in World Cup Opener
U.S. U20’s Snatch Late Draw in World Cup Opener avatar

Fresh off of leading the U.S. team to qualification for the U17 World Cup this autumn in India Josh Sargent scored twice today to set the stage for Luca de la Torre’s 94th-minute equalizer in a crazy 3-3 draw versus Ecuador at the U20 Mundiales in South Korea.

It has been a wild U20 tournament from the start and the U.S. and Ecuador played their part with today’s thriller as the Young Yanks rebounded after falling behind 2-0 to the highly regarded South American runners-up after less than seven minutes had elapsed.

Tab Ramos had to reorganise his defense due to injuries. (ISI Photos/Michael Janosz)

Injuries to Justen Glad and Marlon Fossey forced coach Tab Ramos to reorganize the U.S. defense, which had been so solid in the CONCACAF World Cup Qualifiers, and the early results were not promising to leave the Americans with a hill to climb.

Orlando center back Tommy Redding, excellent in that U17 tournament where he played between Glad and Fossey, was victimized on both goals. The Americans eventually settled down, aided in large part by an unfortunate injury to one-time wunderkind Gedion Zelalem.

Zelalem was forced off in the 32nd minute, replaced by midfielder Derrick Jones. Jones doesn’t have the pedigree of Arsenal man Zelalem and when Jones’ paperwork came through to allow the Ghana-born Philadelphia Union product to suit up for the U.S. Bruce Arena did not declare Jones ready to contribute to the senior squad, as Jurgen Klinsmann famously did of Zelalem.

But Jones’ introduction proved just the tonic that the U.S. needed and minutes after his intro Jones broke up an Ecuador attack and fed Luca de la Torre who found a streaking Sargent in a dangerous position and the 17 year old did the rest to halve the U.S. deficit in the 36th minute.

Jones, de la Torre, and Tyler Adams were giving the U.S. plenty of possession in the middle of the park and with Brooks Lennon providing a threat on the right wing the Americans were in the ascendancy and fully deserved the equalizer that came when Sargent headed home Lennon’s superb cross in the 54th minute.

Jones played a big part in that goal too, again breaking up the Ecuador attack before finding Adams with a nice outlet pass. Adams shuttled the ball to Lennon and the Liverpool to Real Salt Lake loanee teed it up just so for Ramos’ youngest player to score his second goal of the match.

Klinsmann was too casual in play and wash punished by Ecuador.(ISI Photos/Douglas Zimmerman)

But the Americans proved unable to handle prosperity, surrendering the lead 12 minutes later when keeper Jonathan Klinsmann got a bit too cute in possession, coughing the ball up to gift Bryan Cabezas with his second goal of the match, presenting Ecuador with the lead.

Then for the second time in this match, the Americans showed resilience and were ultimately rewarded when the 18-year-old de la Torre pounced on a poor Ecuador clearance following a dangerous Lennon cross, to finish coolly in the 94th minute.

Next up for the U.S. is a tough matchup against Senegal who sits atop Group F after today’s 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia while Ecuador get the easier round two game versus the Saudi’s. The top two finishers in each group advance to the next round as will the best four third place finishers.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
ECU 2 1 3

ECU – Herlin Lino (Washington Corozo) 5th minute
ECU – Bryan Cabezas (Jhonny Quiñonez) 7
USA – Josh Sargent (Luca de la Torre) 36
USA – Josh Sargent (Brooks Lennon) 54
ECU – Bryan Cabezas 64
USA – Luca de la Torre 90+4

Lineups:
USA: 1-Jonathan Klinsmann; 3-Danny Acosta, 4-Tommy Redding, 5-Erik Palmer-Brown (capt.), 14-Aaron Herrera; 7-Eryk Williamson (13-Lagos Kunga, 72), 8-Tyler Adams (11-Sebastian Saucedo, 85), 10-Gedion Zelalem (18-Derrick Jones, 34), 17-Brooks Lennon, 19-Josh Sargent, 20-Luca de la Torre
Subs not used: 2-Auston Trusty, 6-Justen Glad, 9-Emmanuel Sabbi, 12-James Marcinkowski, 15-Jeremy Ebobisse, 16-Cameron Carter-Vickers, 21-Brady Scott
Head coach: Tab Ramos

ECU: 1-Jose Cevallos; 4-Kevin Minda, 6-Pervis Estupiñan, 7-Washington Orozco (19-Jordy Caicedo, 77), 8-Wilter Ayovi (17-Joao Rojas, 57), 9-Herlin Lino, 10-Bryan Cabezas, 15-Jordan Sierra (capt.), 16-Jhonny Quiñonez (14-Renny Jaramillo, 89), 18-Feliz Torres, 20-Luis Segovia
Subs not used: 2-Angelo Preciado, 3-Joel Quintero, 5-Juan Nazareno, 11-Yeison Guerrero, 12-Gian Terreros, 13-Jonnathan Bravo, 21-Gabriel Carabali
Head coach: Jose Rodriguez

Stats Summary: USA / ECU
Shots: 6 / 12
Shots on Goal: 5 / 5
Saves: 2 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 3
Fouls: 12 / 11
Offside: 1 / 2

Misconduct Summary:
ECU – Washington Corozo (caution) 74th minute
USA – Derrick Jones (caution) 80

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FIFA U20 World Cup Opens With a Few Surprize Results
FIFA U20 World Cup Opens With a Few Surprize Results avatar

The United States men’s U20 World Cup journey begins Monday in South Korea with a matchup against a highly rated Ecuador team missing key players to injury and unavailability.

The Young Yanks landed in South Korea as CONCACAF Champions and hoping to at least equal the 2015 American team’s quarterfinal run that saw the U.S. bow out of the tournament on penalty kicks versus eventual champions Serbia. Youth tournaments are notoriously tricky to handicap, however, consider that Serbia failed to qualify.

England celebrating their goal (Compliments of @thefa.com)

Or take a look at Saturday’s stunning opening day results. England earned its first win at a U20 World Cup since 1997, beating six-time champion Argentina 3-0. That is so long ago that 17-year-old rising star Michael Owen was England’s goalscorer in that long ago 1-0 win over Mexico.

The game also was notable for the referee’s use of video review to hand Argentina’s Lauturo Martinez a straight red for what would have otherwise been an unseen elbow to England’s Fikayo Tomori.

Argentina had controlled much of the play to that point but was unable to convert that advantage into goals while England took its chances.

Germany can’t match Argentina’s success rate at the U20 level, having claimed the prize just once back in 1981 when it was called the FIFA World Youth Championship. Still, Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Venezuela registers as an upset as does seeing the Germans at the bottom of the Group B table behind Venezuela Mexico, and Vanuatu.

Yes, Vanuatu. Playing in its first ever FIFA tournament match the South Pacific island nation came oh so close to shocking Mexico and picking up a point, falling on an El Tri goal deep into stoppage time.

Trailing Mexico 2-0 by the 25th minute the underdogs showed tremendous character to fight their way back into the match with goals from Bong Kolo and Ronaldo Wilkins in the 52nd and 62nd minutes.

Mexico kept its nerve and Edson Alvarez scored the winner four minutes into added time to claim the win for the favorites setting up a fascinating second round in Group B when Germany face Mexico and Venezuela take on the tournament darlings from Vanuatu.

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NWSL Roundup
NWSL Roundup avatar

Mallory Pugh’s decision to begin her professional career with the Washington Spirit was the big story of the weekend and then on Monday news broke that a union has been formed to represent the league’s non-allocated players.

Mallory Pugh talks to the media at Washington Spirit’s press conference. (ISI Photos/Tony Quinn)

In a press release, the group states, “we are proud to announce the official formation of the National Women’s Soccer League Players Association. We, the Non-Allocated Players of NWSL, vow to build on the opportunity that has been afforded to us, as well as work to achieve those goals that have not yet been attained.

Membership into the NWSL Players’ Association is available to all active non-allocated players in the league, as well as all amateur players currently on NWSL rosters.”

In between, there was plenty of on-field action, so let’s have a look at this week’s NWSL Roundup.

Home teams listed first.

Orlando Pride (1-2-2) 3-1 vs North Carolina Courage (4-1)

Normally we like to honor chronology in our Roundup but when we have a match that features one team’s first loss and another’s first win we are willing to break protocol.

And that is just the scenario that played out Sunday evening in Orlando when the Pride handed the previously perfect Courage their first loss of the 2017 season while the home team picked up its first W of 2017.

The decisive action of the match occurred during frantic three-minute flurry from minutes 49 through 51 that saw three goals somehow squeezed into that tiny window of time.

Chioma Ubogagu celebrating her goal. (ISI Photos/Jeremy Reper)

The hosts opened the scoring first through Chioma Ubogagu, who finished from a defense eluding cross from Ali Krieger and then from Camila from a Jamia Fields helper.

The Courage showed the, well, courage to battle back from that one, two punch, answering with a Debinha blast on the 51-minute mark after Orlando’s goals went into the book in the 49th and 50th minutes.

We had to wait seven minutes for the next decisive moment of the game which came when North Carolina captain Abby Erceg committed a second bookable offense and was shown to the sideline, leaving the Courage chasing a one-goal deficit with just 10 players.

The result was settled in the 82nd minute when burgeoning supersub Jasmyne Spencer finished from Marta, a reverse of last week when Spencer assisted on Marta’s inaugural NWSL tally.

With that out of the way, let’s get back to Saturday’s results.

Seattle Reign (2-1-2) 6-2 vs Washington Spirit (1-3-1)

If ever a team was in need of a marketable star in the mold of Mallory Pugh it is the 2017 Washington Spirit as we saw in Saturday’s drubbing at the hands of the Seattle Reign.

In fairness to the Spirit, they ran into something of an unstoppable force on Saturday at Seattle’s Memorial Stadium in the person of Nahomi Kawasumi, who would finish the match with a personal tally of four assists, a league record, and one goal.

But the 2011 World Cup winner was hardly alone, Kawasumi combined particularly well with one of her international rivals, first scoring from a perfectly placed pass off the boot of U.S. star Megan Rapinoe in the 69th minute before returning the favor to tee up Pinoe two minutes later.

Rapinoe looks back to her best. (ISI Photos/Jane Gershovich)

It really was an overwhelming display by Seattle with Christine Nairn, Beverley Yanez, and Lindsey Elston adding goals of their own to Rapinoe’s brace and Kawasumi’s finish.

Seattle was in irresistible form versus Washington and not even Pugh would have figured to turn the tide, then again, she couldn’t have hurt.

Houston Dash (2-3-0) 1-3 vs Sky Blue FC

Lifetime sent their camera’s down to Houston for Saturday’s Game of the Week only to see the Dash fall to a 3-1 defeat to New Jersey-based Sky Blue.

Sky Blue were just too strong for Houston. (ISI Photos/Trask Smith)

The Sky Blue attack was paced by Australian star Samantha Kerr who played a part in all three of the visiting team’s goals. First with the game knotted at zero Kerr took a boot to the face to earn her side a penalty kick in the 33rd minute. With Kerr having done the hard part, Sarah Killion put the pk away and Sky Blue was on their way.

Kerr then assisted in a more conventional manner when she set up Leah Galton to give the Blues a two-goal advantage and then after Poliana halved the Dash deficit in the 76th minute, Kerr quashed any comeback hopes the home team may have harbored when she turned finisher three minutes from time.

FC Kansas City (1-2-2) 0-0 vs Portland Thorns (2-1-2)

Settling for draws can be a dangerous habit in soccer as points left on the table have a way of coming back to haunt teams when the tabulations are made at season’s end.

FC Kansas City and the Portland Thorns may be contemplating that math after the two sides played to a 0-0 tie Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri after each of the clubs had also drawn its previous match.

Adrianna Franch made and amazing save to hold on to a point for her team.(ISI Photos/Thad Bell)

Both sides had chances to break the deadlock on Saturday and Kansas City star Sydney Leroux must still be wondering exactly how Adrianna Franch was able to get a glove to her 65th-minute chance from point blank range.

The final roll of the dice fell to Portland in the 90th minute but FCKC defender Yael Averbuch came up with a big clearance from a goalmouth scramble to send both sides home with a point a piece – and a potential math problem.

Chicago Red Stars (2-2-1) 1-1 vs Boston Breakers (2-2-1)

Talk about evenly matched. In the final match of the NWSL weekend, Chicago and Boston finished all even at 1-1 to find themselves tied up in the standing with seven points.

Neither team could separate itself on Sunday, although the home team did have its chances. After falling behind on birthday girl Rose Lavelle’s second goal of the season in the 69th minute- Happy 22nd! – Chicago drew level when Christen Press headed home in the 89th minute on a fine Sofia Huerta cross.

Press should have finished her chances. (ISI Photos/Daniel Bartel)

It was the first of the season for Press but Lavelle’s U.S. international teammate could well have finished her day with a hat trick. In the 78th minute, Press had a blast at goal from a rare indirect kick inside the 18-yard box after a Boston back pass to keeper Abby Smith.

Press’ shot caromed off of someone in the crowded Breakers goal to safety. Then, after her late leveler, Press had a chance four minutes into added time but was unable to beat Smith.

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NWSL Sprits Raised as Mal Pugh Signs With Washington
NWSL Sprits Raised as Mal Pugh Signs With Washington avatar

The National Women’s Soccer League recorded one of the biggest victories in its five years when news broke this weekend that 19-year-old U.S. WNT star Mallory Pugh has elected to begin her professional career in the league as a member of the struggling Washington Spirit.

So Pugh has committed to playing in the NWSL (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Fans of the top flight American women’s league have been holding their collective breath for almost a month since the dynamic forward announced that she would leave UCLA for the paid ranks without having played an official game at the collegiate level.

After a winter of wheeling and dealing Pugh’s rights were held by Washington, a team Pugh was widely believed to have no interest in playing for.

Speculation suggested that Pugh would attempt to force a trade of her rights, perhaps to Portland, a rumor that appeared to have legs given that Pugh had come close to joining the Thorns last year before she broke off talks and committed to UCLA. Europe was also an option with high rollers PSG frequently mooted as a potential landing spot for the dynamic young talent.

Pugh’s ultimate decision to remain in the U.S. and to allow her professional home to be determined by the league’s Distribution Ranking Order (DRO) comes after an offseason that saw several U.S. WNT team stars begin the campaign playing in Europe and while the move abroad is temporary for Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, Washington lost Crystal Dunn when she left the Spirit on a permanent deal to sign with Chelsea in January.

Pugh’s flair and clinical finishing is much needed by the Spirit. (ISI Photos/Mike Lawrence)

Having also traded U.S. WNT team defender Ali Krieger during the offseason a snub from Pugh would have been a bitter pill to swallow for a Spirit club that sits in last place in the league following Saturday’s 6-2 defeat in Seattle.

Washington’s 1-3-1 record and -5 goal differential suggests that even Mal Pugh won’t be enough to turn the Spirit around but where there is hope there is life and Pugh certainly brings a ray or two of hope not just to Washington but to the entire league.

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NWSL Roundup and U.S. Soccer Announce Summer Tournament
NWSL Roundup and U.S. Soccer Announce Summer Tournament avatar

Before we get to all of the on-field action from week four of this NWSL season let’s take a look at the new international women’s tournament coming to the U.S. this summer.

Marta (R) and co will put on a fine display for the West Coast fans. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

The Tournament of Nations featuring the United States, Japan, Australia, and Brazil is coming to the west coast this summer. Like the SheBelieves Cup, the tournament will be played out in three doubleheaders across three cities. The event will be run on the same system as the SheBelieves with each team playing the other three and the champion decided by total points.

Unlike the SheBelieves Tournament which was held in early March, before the NWSL season, this event comes smack dab in the middle of the 2017 season, even if the schedules don’t exactly overlap.

The league has a full schedule on July 22, five days before the tourney kicks off and resumes on August 4th, the day after the conclusion of the Tournament.

It seems very likely then that clubs will be without their international stars for the games on the August 4 and 5, and possibly for the July 27th matches, depending on the national team’s training schedules.

Another international story with bearing on the league involves Allie Long and tampering and twitter.

U.S. Soccer has filed tampering charges after Lyon owner Jean-Michel Aulas sent this message to the Portland Thorns midfield star:

Thorns owner Merritt Paulson took umbrage and fired back with this tweet of his own:

This was not the first time the French club has used this gambit, recall that Lyon successfully wooed Alex Morgan away (temporarily) from Orlando and apparently U.S. Soccer felt it was time to nip this practice in the bud, hence the tampering charges.

But let’s turn back to the action on the field. Home teams listed first.

Chicago Red Stars (2-2) 2-0 vs. Houston Dash (2-2)

Sweet revenge for the Red Stars as they reversed the result from the team’s opening day encounter in Houston. Julie Ertz, formerly Johnston, followed an own goal with her second tally of the season to secure the win as the U.S. WNT defender continues to impress in a midfield role.

Julie Ertz continued to be on the score sheet. (ISI Photos/Daniel Bartel)

Houston won’t be happy with the result but will be glad that Ertz’ fellow national teamer Morgan Brian clocked 18 minutes off of the bench after missing time with a right MCL sprain.

Washington Spirit (1-2-1) 4-3 vs. Sky Blue FC (1-2-1)

After a difficult offseason begat a difficult start to the 2017 campaign the Washington Spirit finally picked up its first win of the season in a 4-3 thriller that went right down to the wire.

Francisca Ordega was women of the hour. (ISI Photos/Jose Argueta)

Washington’s Nigerian forward Francisca Ordega was the woman of the hour, well the 90 minutes, scoring two goals, assisting on another, and forcing the remaining goal when her shot resulted in an own goal.

It was quite a game for the Spirit who had scored just one goal coming into the match and Ordega wasn’t the only Spirit star to shine.

Goalkeeper Stephanie Labbe came up with a huge stop in the fourth minute of added time to stop Kelley O’Hara’s free kick, denying the U.S. international a chance to add to her goal and assist and more importantly saving Washington’s first win of 2017.

Portland Thorns ( 2-1-1)2-2 vs. Seattle Reign (1-1-2)

Seattle star Jessica Fishlock got this Cascadia derby off to a thrilling start when she beat Adrianna Franch from 25 yards to spring the Reign out to a first-minute lead.

Fishlock scored the opener for Seattle. (ISI Photos/Sam Ortega)

Fishlock seemed to catch Franch off guard with that early strike but unfortunately for Seattle Franch would not be the last keeper fooled by the midfielder on this day. 36 minutes after her opener Fishlock put one past Reign netminder Haley Kopmeyer when she slid in to attempt a defensive clearance only to see her shot beat her own keeper for a game-tying own goal.

Seattle would regain the lead just two minutes later through Merritt Mathias but Lyon target Allie Long scored an 82nd-minute equalizer to send the local rivals home with a point apiece.

Boston Breakers (2-2) 0-1 vs. North Carolina Courage (4-0)

Seeking to match its 2016 win total in just the fourth week of the 2017 season Boston welcomed undefeated North Carolina to town only to fall to a 1-0 defeat thanks to a league record 33rd goal scored by Jessica McDonald.

McDonald’s 32nd minute strike put the Courage striker on top of the all-time goals list for the fifth year league and Sabrina D’Angelo and her league-best defense did the rest, racking up its third shutout.

FC Kansas City (1-2-1) 1-1 vs Orlando Pride (0-2-2)

In a battle of struggling teams, neither side could separate itself as KC and Orlando finished level on Sunday at Children’s Mercy Field in Kansas City, Missouri.

Marta scored her first goal in the NWSL. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Orlando looked to be headed for its first win of the season when the immortal Marta scored the first goal of her NWSL career in the 73rd minute. Orlando’s goal came from some nicely worked combination play involving Kristen Edmonds and Jasmyne Spencer.

But the home team had other ideas, equalizing 11 minutes later from a wild goalmouth scramble following a Yael Averbuch free kick. The goal might have been scored by half a dozen players who were hacking at it but the credit went to Erika Tymrak, the first goal FCKC has scored since week one.

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Ramos Names Roster for U20 World Cup
Ramos Names Roster for U20 World Cup avatar

Coach Tab Ramos named 21 players to the U.S. roster for next week’s U20 World Cup in South Korea and as expected Christian Pulisic is not among them.

Tab Ramos did not include Pulisic in his squad. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

No, despite being listed as part of the preliminary U.S. roster released in April, the 18 year old Hershey, Pennsylvania product was always expected to be too busy with obligations to his club team Borussia Dortmund, and Bruce Arena will not want to overtax his rising star with June’s World Cup Qualifiers just around the corner.

Still, Ramos has shuffled the deck somewhat on his CONCACAF Championship winning side, adding Tottenham defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem, and Josh Sargent who steps up an age group fresh off of leading the U.S. to World Cup Qualification with his five-goal effort at the just completed U17 CONCACAF Championships.

That still leaves the bulk of the team that claimed a first ever U20 CONCACAF title for the U.S. in Costa Rica in March returning for a chance at bigger game. Ramos bypassed some big names to maintain faith with this group, although the U.S. coach may have run into trouble with clubs declining to release certain players.

Clubs are not required to release players for the U20 World Cup and it seems unlikely that none of Schalke’s three young Americans, Weston McKinnie, Haji Wright, or Nick Taitague, would have been called in by U.S. Soccer.

Justin Glad (R) put a fine perforce in for the U20’s in Costa Rica. (ISI Photos/John Dorton)

Ramos still has plenty of talent at his disposal, particularly at center back where Justen Glad and Tommy Redding are back after the pair’s star turn in Costa Rica and will be augmented by Erik Palmer-Brown, who captained the CONCACAF winning side from central midfield and the highly rated Carter-Vickers.

Carter-Vickers and Glad are both, however, struggling with injuries.

The roster includes nine MLS players, with Real Salt Lake dominating with a quartet of callups in Brooks Lennon, Danny Acosta, Sebastian Saucedo, and Glad.

The U.S. open’s Group F play on May 22 versus Ecuador, followed by games against Senegal three days later before closing the first round against Saudi Arabia on May 28. The top two finishers in each of the six groups advance to the knockout rounds along with the top four third place teams.

GK: Jonathan Klinsmann (University of California; Newport Beach, Calif.), J.T. Marcinkowski (Georgetown; Alamo, Calif.), Brady Scott (De Anza Force; Petaluma, Calif.)

DEF: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; Salt Lake City, Utah), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur FC; Westcliff-on-Sea, England), Marlon Fossey (Fulham FC; Surbiton, England), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; Tucson, Ariz.), Aaron Herrera (University of New Mexico; Las Cruces, N.M.), Erik Palmer-Brown (Sporting Kansas City; Lee’s Summit, Mo.), Tommy Redding (Orlando City SC; Oviedo, Fla.)

MID: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; Wappingers Falls, N.Y.), Luca De La Torre (Fulham FC; San Diego, Calif.), Derrick Jones (Philadelphia Union; Philadelphia, Pa.), Eryk Williamson (University of Maryland; Alexandria, Va.), Gedion Zelalem (Arsenal FC; Bethesda, Md.)

FOR: Jeremy Ebobisse (Portland Timbers; Bethesda, Md.), Lagos Kunga (Atlanta United FC Academy; Tucker, Ga.) Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Emmanuel Sabbi (Unattached; Columbus, Ohio), Josh Sargent (St. Louis Scott Gallagher Missouri; O’Fallen, Mo.), Sebastian Saucedo (Real Salt Lake; Park City, Utah)

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With U17 World Cup Spot Already Set, Mexico Top U.S.
With U17 World Cup Spot Already Set, Mexico Top U.S. avatar

Having already secured a trip to India for October’s U17 World Cup the U.S. won’t be too upset by dropping Sunday’s CONCACAF U17 title match to Mexico on penalty kicks after the rivals played to a 1-1 tie in regulation time.

The Young Yanks may look back with some regret on conceding Mexico’s equalizer two minutes into added time but the object for John Hackworth’s group was to qualify for the age group World Cup and the Americans accomplished just that, and they did it in style.

The U17’s had an overall very successful tournament.(ISI Photos/Casey Brooke Lawson)

Prior to Sunday’s result the U.S. had enjoyed a perfect CONCAF Tournament, defeating Jamaica, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras, and Cuba without having dropped a point, receiving an inspired performance from Josh Sargent throughout while players like Andrew Carleton, Ayo Akinola, Tim Weah, and Gold Glove winning keeper Justin Garces to name but a few stepped up when needed.

Defeating Mexico for the first time at this level was a highlight for the Young Yanks, who came so close to repeating the achievement on Sunday.

Despite falling just short of matching the U.S. U20’s recent CONCACAF title Hackworth’s group will head to the age group World Cup in October full of confidence that this can be the group to take aim at the famous Class of ‘99 that featured Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Oguchi Onyewu, and Kyle Beckerman.

That group finished fourth and was comprised of players from the first U.S. Soccer Residency class at Bradenton, Florida while the current group is the final one with U.S. Soccer having decided to end the Residency program.

The U17 MNT will now prepare for the 2017 FIFA U17 World Cup, set for Oct. 6-28 in India. John Hackworth’s side will learn its group opponents when the draw takes place July 7 in Mumbai.

The United States, Mexico, Honduras, and Costa Rica are the four CONCACAF nations to qualify.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 0 1 1
MEX 0 1 1

USA – Andrew Carleton (Tim Weah) 62nd minute
MEX – Carlos Robles (Daniel Lopez) 90+2

Penalty Summary:
USA: Josh Sargent (goal), Tim Weah (goal), Chris Goslin (goal), Akil Watts (missed), James Sands (goal)
MEX: Daniel Lopez (goal), Carlos Robles (goal), Jairo Torres (goal), Alexis Gutierrez (goal), Roberto De La Rosa (goal)
U.S. loses 4-5 in PKs

Lineups:
USA: 1-Justin Garces; 2-Jaylin Lindsey, 4-James Sands, 5-Arturo Vasquez, 3-Chris Gloster; 8-Blaine Ferri (17-Bryan Reynolds, 80), 6-Chris Durkin, 14-Chris Goslin, 7-Ayo Akinola (19-Tim Weah, 56), 9-Josh Sargent (capt.), 11-Andrew Carleton (13-Akil Watts, 86)
Subs not used: 10-George Acosta, 12-Carlos Dos Santos, 15-Zyen Jones, 16-Taylor Booth, 18-Indiana Vassilev, 20-Adrian Villegas
Head coach: John Hackworth

MEX: 12-Cesar Lopez; 2-Adrian Vazquez, 3-Carlos Robles, 4-Luis Olivas (capt.), 5-Raul Sandoval (15-Andres Catalan, 7); 7-Jairo Torres, 16-Marco Ruiz (19-Cesar Huerta, 23), 8-Alexis Gutierrez, 11-Andres Perez (20-Alfonso Alvarado, 53); 10-Roberto De La Rosa, 9-Daniel Lopez
Subs not used: 1-Andre Alcaraz, 6-Luis Gamiz, 13-Haret Ortega, 14-Alan Maeda, 17-Carlos Guerrero, 18-Victor Reyes,
Head coach: Mario Alberto Arteaga

Stats Summary: USA / MEX
Shots: 12 / 19
Shots on Goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 3 / 3
Corner Kicks: 1 / 8
Fouls: 19 / 16
Offside: 0 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Tim Weah (caution) 83rd minute

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MLS – Big 5
MLS – Big 5 avatar

1) El Guaje Stays in the Picture

New York City FC has announced that 2016 MLS MVP David Villa, nickname-The Kid, or El Guaje- has extended his contract with the team for one more year, tying the team’s first ever signing to the Bronx-based club through 2018.

Love them or loathe them NYCFC got one thing right from the start and that was making Villa not only the club’s first Designated Player but the first player to sign with the team.

Villa extend his stay in the MLS. (ISI Photos/Michael Lawrence)

Last season’s MVP Award stands out when contemplating Villa’s two-plus seasons with NYC but that bauble, however much it meant to the World Cup winner, is just the tip of the iceberg.

Villa’s on field performance has been noteworthy but anyone that has been able to spend any time around NYCFC has to be just as impressed with the captain’s many less obvious contributions.

For example, as the team’s best and most visible player Villa took it upon himself to learn English before his second season, choosing to conduct interviews in the unfamiliar tongue.

Villa also regularly talks up the quality of the league, as he did in his remarks upon being voted MVP: “I’m very proud to represent NYC FC and to receive this award,” Villa said then. “It’s a big day for me because this is one of the things I said I wanted to do when I came here two years ago. This is an important day in my career – this is an important moment for me. This award is for the best player in this amazing league which has many quality players so this is a very happy and proud day for me.”

Villa has led from the front since signing with the club, choosing to move to New York months before the club’s inaugural season, unlike fellow DP Frank Lampard, since retired, whose decision to extend his stay with Manchester City called his commitment to his new team into question and may well have cost NYCFC a shot at the playoffs in year one.

All of which is to say, smart move NYCFC.

2) Stadium News

Like the old saying goes, “I’ve got good news and bad news, which do you want to hear first?” The bad news? Ok.

New England Revolution proposed deal to build a new stadium has collapsed.(ISI Photos/Tim Bouwer)

The New England Revolution’s proposed deal to build a stadium on University of Massachusetts land in the city of Boston has collapsed, sending the Kraft family back to square one while the Revs continue to play in cavernous Gillette Stadium 25 miles from downtown Boston and the urban experience that has become the model that virtually all MLS teams clubs are aiming for.

With the recent groundbreaking on a stadium for DC United, the Revolution are now the last surviving MLS original with an appropriately sized home to call its own.

For the good news, we head to St Petersburg, Florida where the good citizens of that city have voted to approve a referendum that would allow for the renovation of Al Lang Stadium, home of the NASL Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Rowdies owner Bill Edwards would foot the bill for the reno while also picking up the expansion fee of at least $150 million. The lack of public money (we’ll see) is likely the main reason the measure passed, unlike in St. Louis where Joe Public said no thanks to a referendum that would have cost taxpayers $80 million.

With 12 cities still in the running for three expansion slots, assuming Miami remains viable, Tampa/St. Pete has no guarantee of acceptance from MLS but this move is certainly a step forward for the city’s bid.

3) Midweek action

Two matches graced the MLS schedule on Wednesday evening with the home teams prevailing in both matches. Sporting KC pitched a 2-0 shutout against the New York Red Bulls with Dom Dwyer accounting for both SKC goals a feat that Sebastian Giovinco equaled up in Toronto as the Atomic Ant led TFC to a 2-1 victory over first-place Orlando SC.

Toronto will be thrilled to see Seba hitting peak form after a slowish start to the season by the 2015 MLS MVP. Giovinco now has five goals on the season for a share of the TFC scoring lead with Jozy Altidore who picked up an accidental assist on Gio’s first goal.

Dom Dwyer has made a positive start to his season. (ISI Photos/Bill Barrett)

In Kansas City, newly minted American citizen Dwyer also brought his 2017 goals tally to five but special mention should be made of the performances of Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles and SKC playmaker Benny Feilhaber.

Sporting could well have added three or more goals to its total if not for the heroics of Robles in the net with Feilhaber among the NYRB keeper’s robbery victims at Children’s Mercy Park.

Feilhaber also put on the best passing display Kansas City fans have seen since Lenny Dawson was tossing pigskins across the river in Missouri on the way to leading the Chiefs to glory in Super Bowl IV.

4) A Quartet of U.S. Strikers Filling it Up

With an eye on the busy upcoming international schedule it might be instructive to take a look at the MLS goal scoring chart and why not start in Kansas City where, as we see in our previous item, there is a new U.S. striker candidate for Bruce Arena to consider. In three full seasons with Sporting KC, English-born Dom Dwyer has scored 22, 12, and 16 goals and is off to a solid start in 2017 with five.

Juan Agudelo tops the U.S. capped players in goals.  (ISI Photos/Al Sermeno)

New England’s Juan Agudelo currently tops all U.S. MNT eligible players with six goals, just one behind Houston’s Mexican attacker Cubo Torres for first place in MLS and just one less than the career-high seven he scored in 2016. Rivers of ink have been sacrificed writing “Next Big Thing” articles about Agudelo since he burst onto the scene as the youngest U.S. goal scorer in an international match (since displaced by Christian Pulisic) when he scored as a 17-year-old versus South Africa in 2010.

Agudelo’s career hasn’t panned out as hoped but we live in hope that this could be this long-awaited breakout season. Gifted both physically and technically the Colombia-born attacker is just two years older than Jordan Morris but the clock is always ticking.

The least discussed member of this fearsome foursome is shaking the twines with expansion side Minnesota United FC, five times so far in 2017, the same number as David Villa, Jozy Altidore, Diego Valeri, and Dwyer.

Ramirez has made little of the jump from the NASL, where he earned the nickname Superman for his goalscoring exploits, appropriately scoring the club’s first MLS goal in a brutal 5-1 loss at Portland in the team’s league debut.

Ramirez has since added goals in the Loons first draw, a 2-2 tie at Colorado, two more in the club’s first MLS win, 4-2 home to Real Salt Lake, and one more in a 2-2 draw in Houston.

And while Ramirez continues to do all this under the radar, goals get noticed and if the big striker keeps filling the net, attention will be paid.

The last of this quartet Jozy Altidore is in a different position to the rest, with the TFC striker having long since established his bonafides with the national team. What Altidore needs is to put a complete season together to justify the big money that Toronto paid out to entice him back to MLS.

Already third on the U.S. MNT all-time goal chart with 37 goals Altidore has put up solid if not spectacular numbers in two seasons in Toronto. 12 goals in 2015 and 10 last year are nothing to sneeze at but might not be quite the bang for the considerable buck that TFC was hoping for.

So far so good for the powerful striker in 2017, now if his hamstrings can hold up maybe the third season will be the charm for both Altidore and Toronto.

5) Rumors

Finally, who doesn’t like a juicy rumor, or two?

Both rumors involve big money, high profile L.A.F.C. so rev up the hype machine. Set to take to the field of play in 2018, L.A. still has no coach. Bob Bradley has been mentioned. Sigi Schmidt’s name has also been bandied about and both make sense but a new name emerged this week with SI’s Grant Wahl throwing Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the former Columbus Crew star into the mix.

Schelotto in action for Columbus Crew in 2010. (ISI Photos/Rick Osentoski)

Schelotto knows the league well enough, having been named the MVP and the MLS Cup MVP in 2008 and he has been coaching successfully in his native Argentina since his retirement, currently at Boca Juniors, so pressure shouldn’t be an issue.

On the playing side, Jeff Carlisle at ESPN has linked Real Sociedad’s Mexican star Carlos Vela with LA2. The ex-Arsenal man would likely be a big hit with the Mexican supporters in Los Angeles, so this one bears watching.

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U.S. Men Take Big Step Toward India and U17 World Cup
U.S. Men Take Big Step Toward India and U17 World Cup avatar

Another brace from Josh Sargent led the dominant Americans to a 3-0 win over Honduras today bring the U.S. one big step closer to qualifying for the U17 World Cup this October in India.

Up next for the unbeaten and untied Americans (4-0-0) is Cuba, beaten 7-1 by Honduras on Monday. Needing just a win, tie or a loss by four or fewer goals versus Cuba on Friday the Young Yanks have all but punched their ticket to the 2017 U17 World Cup this October in India.

Josh Sargent continues to shine for the U17’s. (Courtesy of @ussoccer)

Honduras elected to sit back and try and frustrate John Hackworth’s U.S. side Wednesday evening and it worked to an extent, limiting the Americans to a 1-0 halftime lead. The lead should have been more but the U.S. struggled to find a way through the thicket of Honduran defenders packed into the 18-yard box, finally capitalizing when the Los Catrachos defense somehow lost sight of Sargent five yards from goal on a free kick leading to the lone score of the opening stanza.

Trailing by a goal Honduras opened things up just a bit in an attempt to equalize but paid the price when first Ayo Akinola and then Sargent found space behind its defense to wrap up the game.

The two second half goals were strikingly similar with Blaine Ferri’s lob finding Sargent while George Acosta’s delicate chip was tracked down by Akinola. The goal scores did the rest and for those keeping track at home Sargent now leads Akinola 5 goals to four for the team lead.

Locked in a battle for midfield playing time with the more robust Chris Goslin, Acosta began the match on the sideline as Hackworth elected to go with Goslin versus the physical Hondurans and Acosta was only on the pitch a short time before connecting with Akinola.

Given that the top two teams in each of the two Classification groups advance to the World Cup things appear to be all but settled in favor of the U.S. and Honduras in Classification Group D but remain a bit tighter in Group E where Costa Rica topped hosts Panama 2-1 in Monday’s opener.

Panama needed a win over Mexico in Wednesday’s late game to have any chance of seeing India this autumn with the group wrapping up play Friday when Mexico and Costa Rica square off.

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
HON 0 0 0

USA – Josh Sargent (Andrew Carleton) 26th minute
USA – Ayo Akinola (Blaine Ferri) 69
USA – Josh Sargent (George Acosta) 82

Lineups:
USA: 1-Justin Garces; 2-Jaylin Lindsey, 4-James Sands, 5-A.J. Vasquez, 3-Chris Gloster; 6-Chris Durkin (16-Taylor Booth, 87), 14-Chris Goslin (10-George Acosta, 69), 8-Blaine Ferri; 7-Ayo Akinola, 9-Josh Sargent (Capt.), 11-Andrew Carleton (19-Tim Weah, 83)
Subs not used: 12-C.J. Dos Santos, 13-Akil Watts, 15-Zyen Jones, 17-Bryan Reynolds, 18-Indiana Vassilev, 20-Adrian Villegas
Head coach: John Hackworth

HON: 1-Carlos Banegas; 3-Axel Gomez, 4-Cristian Moreira (Capt.), 5-Alexander Bahr, 15-Emilio Campos; 6-David Cardona, 7-Gerson Chavez, 11-Luis Palma, 20-Cristian Madrid; 9-Patrick Palacios (19-Kenneth Martinez, 90), 14-Carlos Mejia
Subs not used: 12-Jordy Castro, 2-Osbed Perez, 8-Everson Lopez, 10-Joshua Canales, 13-Gustavo Vallecillo, 16-Bayron Varela, 17-Cristian Contreras, 18-Santiago Cabrera
Head coach: Jose Francisco Valladares

Stats Summary: USA / HON
Shots: 18 / 6
Shots on Goal: 7 / 4
Saves: 4 / 3
Corner Kicks: 3 / 0
Fouls: 13 / 10
Offside: 6 / 0

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Goslin (caution) 6th minute
HON – Carlos Banegas (caution) 24
HON – Patrick Palacios (caution) 84

 

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