LAKEWOOD RANCH, Florida – A three-goal, second half surge led the U.S. U17 MNT to a 4-1 win over Turkey in the second game of the Nike Friendlies Friday night.
After entering the half tied 1-1, the U.S. scored three times in the game’s final 20 minutes, as Shaquell Moore, Alan Winn and Rubio Rubin found the back of the net to turn a tight affair into a rout.
“I thought we were a little bit slow out of the start,” head coach Richie Williams told TopDrawerSoccer.com after the game. “We had some guys that haven’t played together before, mostly newer guys who are trying to fit in. I think we were a little tentative early on and just didn’t want to make a mistake.”
Williams made nine changes to the starting lineup from Wednesday’s 4-4 tie against Brazil, and Turkey could have scored two goals within the game’s first ten minute, as goalkeeper Evan Louro made some impressive saves to keep the United States even at the time.
Mukwelle Akale eased the team’s nerves with a nice goal in the 24th minute, trapping and finishing a chipped pass from Rolando Munoz to open the scoring. With the lead, the U.S. started to dominate possession and fashion more chances – though Turkey got one back right before the break.
An even second half was altered completely when Williams sent on Winn, Rubin, Corey Baird and Benjamin Swanson midway through the second half.
First, Moore scored from the PK spot when Baird was fouled in the box in the 71st minute. Winn and Rubin then scored one and set up the other to put the game out of reach and secure a comfortable win.
“The second half we brought in our other guys, we came together, it finally clicked and that’s when we got our three goals,” midfielder Cameron Lindley said.
With the win, the U.S. U17s sit in first place at the Nike Friendlies, two points ahead of Brazil and Portugal, which tied 1-1 earlier in the day.
Notes & Observations
It’s hard to classify this as the “B” team, but in some ways the starting lineup reflected the players who might be considered backups. The forward trio of Akale, Ahinga Selemani and Sebastian Elney struggled at times – despite Akale’s well-taken goal, he missed grabbing a second off a great pass from Lindley early in the second half. Despite that miss, Akale is certainly a promising prospect, and it’s clear why he’s highly rated by the U.S. technical staff.
Speaking of Lindley, the Indiana United Fire midfielder – who was in residency last semester before deciding to stay at home for this fall – was arguably the man of the match. He was all over the field, cover ground box-to-box, making attacking runs, doing it all in going the 90 minutes. An injury plagued Lindley throughout some of the summer and into the fall, but he said things were starting to feel better after the game.
One of Lindley’s partners in the midfield was Emerson Hyndman, currently playing in Fulham FC’s Academy in London. It was a relatively quiet 60 minutes for the 16-year-old, who was also playing a different spot than he usually does for his club side – Hyndman says he usually plays deeper in the midfield, while he was in the No. 10 spot for the U.S. U17s. It’ll be interesting to see how he continues to develop abroad and if he ends up playing a part with the U17s in World Cup qualifying.
U17 MNT Starting Lineup