The U.S. U17s certainly seemed to enjoy themselves during their trip to Turkey this month.
The tournament marked the first official event since John Hackworth was named the group’s full-time coach following the Nike Friendlies. If we were unsure as to what we were planning on seeing, well, the narrative took a pretty severe detour over the Anatolian Peninsula.
But it didn’t get them over the final hump.
The U.S. staked out impressive victories over Greece (2-1) and Belgium (2-0) before meeting the hometown Turks in the final. Turkey rushed out to a 2-0 lead the U.S. couldn’t surmount, but give Adrian Villegas credit for creating enough space to get this goal on target. Even if it did bounce in front of the keeper before going in.
If you were looking for an auspicious start to a cycle, you could do worse than the final of an international tournament.