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Disappointing performance from U17 MNT

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: December 7, 2015

BRADENTON, Florida - The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team lost to Brazil 3-0 on Sunday in the finale from the 2015 Nike International Friendlies. 

England won the tournament earlier in the day with a 2-2 draw against the Netherlands. England found the equalizer in stoppage time, which took some of the suspense out of the night cap between the U.S. and Brazil. A loss for England would’ve opened the door for the U.S. in the finale, but the draw gave England seven points from the competition, which was enough to claim the title. England finished with seven points from three games after defeating the U.S. 3-2 and Brazil 2-0. 

It was all wishful thinking for the U.S. anyway. Much of the conversation around the Nike Friendlies for the past week was about the team that Brazil brought to the tournament. The team was described as a second unit or B team, as the best group from this age group was involved in a tournament in Colombia this week. 

Brazil did not seem particularly interested in the tournament either. The team showed up a day before the first game against Netherlands. Cramping was an issue in the first game and Brazil finished the contest with 10 players. At one point on Friday in Brazil’s second game, Brazil allowed England to pass the ball back and forth between the defense without any pressure even though they were trailing. 

The lack of competitiveness from Brazil through the first two games may have had some effect on the U.S. mentality in Sunday’s game. However, Brazil’s mentality was clearly different on Sunday from the opening whistle. The Brazilian side looked hungry to end the tournament with a win from the last game. 

Two goals in the first half and another in the second sent the Brazilians home with three points against the home team. The U.S. finished with one win from three games at the Nike Friendlies. The home team ended with a negative three goal differential. 

U.S. U17 MNT 0-3 Brazil 

The night started with ominous terms. U.S. defender Jake Arteaga went down in the first minute with a head injury from an off-the-ball incident. It did not get much better from the side throughout the night. 

Arteaga took six minutes to get his head wrapped. Meanwhile, the U.S. played down a man in an already weakened defense that started with only three in the back. Defensive midfielder Chris Durkin dropped into a center back role in Arteaga’s absence. 

Brazil had one good chance to take advantage of the man advantage in the sixth minute when Brazil worked a movement down the left side of the U.S. defense. The attacker played in the ball in to the center of the box for a teammate. Alexander Budnik made the save on the attempt. 

Arteaga was back on the field in the seventh minute and immediately called into action. Arteaga blocked a shot from 10 yards out with his first action on the field. 

The U.S. had a look at the opener in the 10th minute when Andrew Carleton linked up with Josh Sargent down the left side. Sargent played it back to Carleton as he was being tackled. Carleton cut in and ripped a shot from the top of the box, but his attempt went well over the bar. 

U.S. continued to pry at the sides of the Brazil defense throughout the first half. Jaylin Lindsey played a through ball to Ayo Akindola down the right side. Akindola raced past his defender and then ripped a shot at the far post, but he missed the frame. 

The U.S. struggled to link up through the midfield in the opening half, but it was especially apparent in the first 15 minutes. Head coach John Hackworth asked for more movement from that group, but none of them seemed comfortable in their roles. 

Brazil took advantage of the unbalanced U.S. side in the 19th minute. A giveaway on left side opened up the U.S. for Brazil on a quick attack. Nathan Soares gained control of the ball and then played a switch to Brenner Souza who finished into the upper corner of the net. There was nothing Budnik could do on the goal. The U.S. defense afforded Souza too much space inside of the 18-yard box, which allowed him to get off the shot. 

There minutes later, Brazil doubled the lead with Souza providing the assist. The forward turned Arteaga and then raced down the right side. He hit a cross to the far post for an easy tap in for Andrade. 

Brazil nearly made it 3-0 right before half when a Brazilian midfielder smashed a shot from well outside the 18-yard box that crushed the crossbar, but did not cross the goal line. 

U.S. had a chance to cut the deficit in the 39th minute when Adrian Villegas played in a free kick into the box, but it was just out of the reach of Tim Weah and the U.S. went into the break down 0-2.   

Hackworth altered the formation in the second half with Durkin dropping into the center back role and then the rest of the squad forming into a 4-1-4-1. 

The switch did not alter much in the flow of the game as it continued to be one broken sequence after another due to fouls or miss hit passes. 

Brazil had the first good chance of the second half when Souza broke free of the defense and had a shot at finishing from 12 yards out, but Souza got it all wrong and ended up clearing the ball. 

Brazil made it 3-0 in the 63rd minute when Marco Antonio delivered a great cross to the second post that Helio Junio volleyed home. 

U.S. had some chances late with substitute George Acosta trying an ambitious shot in the 69th minute from 40 yards out. Acosta was trying to catch the goalkeeper off his line and nearly did it, but his shot was just wide of the goal. 

Sargent drew a foul at the very top of the 18-yard box in the 77th minute. Acosta hit the crossbar on the set piece. 

The best chance of the game for the U.S. came in the 79th minute when Sargent turned his defender and then went in 1v1 against the goalkeeper. Sargent went around the goalkeeper but took an extra second to compose himself. That brief lapse allowed a Brazilian defender to recover and then block Sargent’s shot off the line. 

Sargent had one more chance in stoppage time when he blocked a clearance from the goalkeeper after the forward’s touch got away from him. His block went out for a throw-in. 

Moments later, the referee put an end to a forgettable showing from the U.S. side at the Nike International Friendlies. 

U.S. U17 MNT Starting XI: Alexander Budnik; Kelee Cornfield-Saunders, Jaylin Lindsey, Jake Arteaga; Chris Durkin; Tim Weah, Chris Goslin, Adrian Villegas, Andrew Carleton; Ayo Akinola, Josh Sargent 

Substitutes: Tonny Temple for Weah (41’)

George Acosta for Akindola (57’)

Bryan Perez for Lindsey (57’)

Arturo Vasquez for Temple (67’)

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