BRENT LATHAM - Monday, October 26, 2009
Spain vs United States
Under-17 World Cup - Monday October 26, 2009
Sani Abacha Stadium
A disappointing United States fell in the opening match of the Under-17 World Cup, despite having a lead and a man advantage the entire match.

The US got off to a dream start when defender Sergi Gomez hauled down Jack McInerney just outside the 18 as he was in clear on goal. The Barcelona defender saw red and the US was looking at 89 minutes with a man advantage.

Just two minutes later McInerney improved matters further for the Americans. Off an innocuous looking throw-in, Marlon Duran was caught in possession outside the box and popped a ball high into the air towards the area.

McInerney went up strong to challenge Spanish 'keeper Edgar, who let loose of the ball on the goal line, allowing McInerney to knock it in.

Short-handed Spain took the initiative almost immediately from there, with Real Madrid playmaker Pablo Sarabia switching over to the left flank. Seventeen minutes in, he made a zigzagging run past the American defense, eventually feeding a teammate who was in an offside position.

Sarabia would do it again five minutes later, as his run down the left flank was rewarded, and he fed a cross to Borja, who despite being clearly offside, finished to equal matters in the 22nd minute.

Spain would strike again minutes later on a moment of pure class by the Real Madrid midfielder. American defender Justin Watts whiffed on a bouncing ball freeing Borja down the right, from where he sent a long cross towards a streaking Sarabia. Sarabia took one touch on the run then slammed the ball into the roof of Earl Edwards' net to put Spain up.

"They reacted very well, they had ten brilliant minutes, and they put themselves in a good position," US coach Wilmer Cabrera evaluated of the Spanish team's comeback following the game.

"When they had the options they were clinical with the options and with the finishing, and that's why they're at the level they are."

The Americans would have a golden chance to re-tie the score in the 38th minute when Stefane Jerome put himself in alone on Edgar, but his full speed half field run ended when he touched the ball too far past the goalkeeper and could not finish from an angle.

Alex Shinsky had a final chance as time ran out in the first half when he sliced into the box, only to sky his shot well over the Spanish net.

Cabrera was pleased with the resilience of his team after losing the lead, but admits that the inability to quickly nullify their disadvantage against a ten-main Spain ultimately fell upon their own shoulders.

"After that our kids started to react, put pressure and to come back. They did a good job, dropping a little bit more and we created chances, but couldn't score."

Cabrera made a couple of changes at the half, hoping to sure up the back by bringing on Eriq Zavaleta for Kitchen, and taking off Jerome for Victor Chavez.

The first real action of the second half would come in the 64th minute when Chavez was put in clear, but with all the time in the world to finish, he fired right at Edgar and the score remained 2-1.

The Americans dominated the possession the rest of the half but could never find an equalizer, their momentum stymied by Spain's delaying techniques and lights at Sano Abacha Stadium which could not stay on, breaking the Americans' momentum and leaving them thoroughly frustrated on a humid night in Kano.

"It was a good game, [however] different circumstances because we're not used to having to stop two times because of the lights," Cabrera admitted of the technical disruptions to the game.

Even fifteen minutes of stoppage time were not enough for the Americans to overcome the determined Spanish defense, as the Americans had all of the ball but could never put away their chances against the short-sided Spanish.

"With ten men they were able to hold us, to hold a team coming after them for 89 minutes," Cabrera concludes of the quality of the Spanish opponents. "They scored two goals, we scored just one, so they beat us at this point."

A disappointed Cabrera and team will now regroup for their second match Thursday in Kano against Malawi, who played well but fell to the UAE 2-0 in the earlier game of the day at the stadium.
Bill B.
Tuesday October 27, 2009 2:14 pm
No worries (I'm actually encouraged by the way this team played - controlled the ball for the vast majority of the game) - sort of reminded me of the senior men's game against Spain in the Confederation's Cup --- the better team lost to counterattacks.
Tuesday October 27, 2009 10:56 am
Jose, I believe you're the one that must have watched a different game. Other than the two chances Spain had (one of them only a half chance yet the strike was superb) that they finished they really didn't do much but pack it in the back. We had control of the ball for long stretches of the match and had the edge in possession by no small margin. We missed two one on ones with the keeper and several other good opportunities to score that needs to be addressed but as far as keeping the ball we did well from the get go. The main problem with this game was a lack of technical skills that we can thank youth soccer coaching for, where players are encouraged to play as a team instead of develop some skill and flair. Hopefully as more MLS teams develop true academies we will start to see young players that have skill on the ball rather than the few exceptions to the rule we have now.

Though our most technically skilled player did try to do too much, (looked like he was trying to emulate Clint Dempsey's performance against Brazil in the Confederations Cup where he lost the ball in bad places doing pointless moves) hopefully Gil pans out though.
Tuesday October 27, 2009 10:06 am
Marking in the back was shotty at critical times. Poor foul choices and misplaced passing only helped shed more light on Spain's superior skill and mentality (just listen to the game's announcer as he would have already handed spain the title if it were in his hands). Once again US soccer as a whole has shown that it's mental awareness in front of the goal is more a matter of chance than formality as we seen with Spain's surgical finishing. It would have been nice to get that offside goal back or even at least an acknowledgement of the fact. The referees are not to blame with this game or any other, ever. We had the chance and blew it. Again. And Again. In any case, it will one day be nice to know that if we do ever manage to succeed as a country in the soccer world, it won't have been from any helping hands.
Tuesday October 27, 2009 9:18 am
They did dominate possession and the second half. Just look at the stats. It's clear as day. What came down to the lost was (once again) the lack of finishing. Pretty common theme for American teams. I thought most of the players looked good and played well, but when it mattered, they choked. Jerome, Chavez, Gil, McInerney, Shinsky and a few others all should have scored (McInerney, being a 2nd goal).

Having said all of this, I don't doubt our ability to beat UAE and Malawi. If one of them can hold Spain to a tie, that would be even better. Hopefully the boys can pull out of this group easily.
Trevor Smith
Tuesday October 27, 2009 12:09 am
Despite some hustle, creative play, energy from the backs flying up the wings, the center was worse than useless. Luis Gil not only showed no creativity and vision, his individual decisions on the dribble were reckless and his passing was dangerous. With Gil giving the ball away in the defensive middle he stifled many attacks before they could get going and with many of the attacking players getting forward some of his negative passes placed our defenders under pressure rather than the Spanish.

Marlon Duran showed to be an excellent playmaker and pace-setter in the first half and the introduction of Dominick Sarle in the second was also positive, but I hope Coach Cabrera replaces Gil with Sarle for the Malawi selection.
Monday October 26, 2009 5:18 pm
No we dont have a long way to go. Their game is far superior than those of past WC's. The problem was strategy. It's good to attack, but after being a goal up and facing 10, they stilled pushed, leaving holes at the back.Stupid! They should have settled and wait for the counterattack cuz spain had no choice but to push forward. THIS IS THE PERFECT SITUATION to defend and counterattack!!!
Monday October 26, 2009 5:08 pm
Hey Brent ,,you say that the americans has the possession and dominated the second half ,,did you watch another game???our team has no chance against 10 players from spain,, the only american player that was at the level of spain was Gil, and this team been training for months ,,
Charlie G.
Monday October 26, 2009 5:00 pm
Ouch...not much good to take from this one. Hope all the players forget this one quickly. Even up a man, they looked out-manned - Spain was bigger, stronger, better on the ball and more organized. The differences between development opportunities/training in this age group in the US and overseas seem shockingly clear...we have a long way to go.

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