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Gaines hat trick leads U17s to win

Article Written by Brad Snook
Published: March 13, 2014
U.S. U17 MNT 3 - 2 UP Men's Soccer
Lonestar's McKenzie Gaines powered the U.S. U17 Men's National Team to a 3-2 win over Portland on Monday. Courtesy of Portland Athletics.

PORTLAND, Ore. — Orrin Gaines (Lonestar SC) put on a show for all in attendance on Wednesday night, scoring all three goals as the U.S. U17 Men's National Team defeated Portland 3-2 at Merlo Field. 

It was a back-and-forth battle to start the match as both teams came out with energy, but it was the Pilots who had the two best chances in the early going. Freshman All-American Eddie Sanchez slipped a ball in to Matthew Coffey in the 4th minute at the corner of the six-yard box, but U.S. keeper William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers) was able to make the save. Then in the 14th minute, a ball over the top from Portland’s left back Conor Johnston found his twin brother Rory in alone, but again Pulisic came up big with a kick save at the top of the penalty box.

MORE: U17 MNT draws vs. Seattle U18s | Top U.S. performers vs. Seattle | Top performers vs. Portland

A six-minute stretch late in the first half saw a flurry of activity as Portland’s Steven Corbett had a header cleared off the line by U.S. defender Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy) in the 32nd minute. Two minutes later Gaines opened the scoring for the U.S. U17s when he dribbled inside from the right wing and buried a left-footed strike from 25 yards out into the lower left hand corner of the net.

Pulisic was called upon to make a phenomenal save in the 38th minute to keep Portland off the board. A cross was delivered in from the right side found Sanchez alone at the corner of the six-yard box, where his flying scissor kick off the volley was goal bound before the keeper parried it out for a corner kick.

The Pilots got on the board on the ensuing corner kick. Defender Tanner Dieterich (TN Soccer Club) misplayed a clearance and put the ball into the back of his own net to tie the score at 1-1. The two teams went into halftime tied.

U.S. head coach Richie Williams moved Gaines from the right wing over to the left for the second half, and it didn’t take long for the move to pay dividends. Ten minutes into the second half, Gaines bagged his second of the night off an assist from Nicholas Taitague (Richmond Strikers). After he received the ball on the left wing, Gaines dribbled inside, dragged the ball across his defender, beat his man down the end line, and slotted the ball away in the far corner of the net to make it 2-1 U.S. 

A cross from Rory Johnston in the 68th minute hit the hand of the defender Adams in the box, resulting in a penalty kick for the Pilots. Sanchez powered the penalty kick down the middle to level the score at 2-2. 

Portland had a great chance to take the lead in the 79th minute when a corner kick found Derek Boggs at the back post, but Pulisic again made a great reflex save to deny the header and keep the game tied.

The game winner came in the 85th minute, when Gaines received a pass at the left corner of the penalty box, again beat his man, and curled a shot into the far corner of the goal, completing his hat trick and sealing the 3-2 victory for the U.S. U17 National Team.

The game marked the second of a three game tour of the Pacific Northwest for the U.S. U17 National Team. On Monday, they played to a scoreless draw with the Seattle Sounders Reserves/U18 team. The team will stay in Portland, and play against the Portland Timbers Reserves/Academy team on Monday.

United States U17 National Team: 3

University of Portland: 2

U.S. Starting XI:

William Pulisic (Richmond Strikers); John Nelson (Internationals), Tanner Dieterich (TN Soccer Club), Hugo Arellano (Chivas USA Academy), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls Academy); Thomas McCabe (PDA), George Braima (Crew Soccer Academy), Nicholas Taitague (Richmond Strikers); Pierre Da Silva (New York Soccer Club), Eric Matzelevich (Bethesda-Olney), Orrin Gaines (Lonestar SC)

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