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U17 MNT performance still full of holes

Published: March 3, 2011

Can the current version of the U17 Men’s National Team take on the world?

From what was seen in Jamaica last week, probably not.

The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team will enter the 2011 FIFA U17 World Cup as CONCACAF Champions, after capturing the crown Sunday night in Montego Bay.

The U.S. defeated Canada in overtime, 3-0, with goals by Nathan Smith, Andrew Oliver, and Alfred Koroma, to capture is first CONCACAF Championship at the U17 level.

The win might be a boost of confidence for the team, but the U.S. performance didn’t do enough to boost my expectations of success for when the World Cup rolls around

elite boys youth club soccer player mobi fehrMobi Fehr
Wilmer Cabrera’s U.S. team went undefeated in the tournament, although it needed overtime on two occasions. Looking at the overall scope of the tournament, it simply wasn’t a strong performance.

Offensively there were some bright spots. Andrew Oliver, Alfred Koroma, Alejandro Guido, and Marc Pelosi did well for the team as they were able to slice and dice through defenses.

The match against El Salvador was the best example.  Several crafty moves helped the United States find itself with fantastic looks at goal. Most were missed, forcing the aforementioned overtime, but it did bring some indication of attacking prowess. Of course, finishing is part of attacking prowess. There are no style points in soccer.

It’s the rest of the team that is worrisome. Aside from center back Mobi Fehr, who had key tackles and was able to disrupt the opposing attackers successfully, there was very little support.

The U.S. was on its heels for the first 20 minutes in the opening game against Cuba.

The team allowed the Cubans to attack from the flanks, a weakness that the American side showed throughout the entire tournament. The U.S. was lucky not to go into the dressing room 1-1 at halftime after Cuba had struck the post.

Kellyn Acosta was outplayed as an outside back, both against Cuba and Panama. Andrew Souders made some pivotal mistakes in the back, allowing Canada to have good looks at goal, especially early when his mistake could’ve cost the U.S. the championship.

The midfield didn’t do much to help the defense either. There wasn’t much fluidity on transitions, which on several turnovers left the team with three and sometimes two players defending.

Playing from the back also didn’t work for the Americans. They failed to find space and create smooth progressions up the field. Most often than not, the team was dependent on long crosses so that the speed of Oliver could create an opportunity in the box.

Looking at the goals against Canada, the first was a bomb from Smith, a nice one, but more luck than skill.

The second goal was off a long throw-in by Jack McBean to an open space to Oliver could use his speed to fly by the defense and juke the goalkeeper for an open net.

The third was on a counter-attack towards the end of the second overtime after Canada was pushing to create something offensively.

Against top South American and European teams, if the U.S. fails to create any offensive chances on the ground, it won’t have much success.

The U.S. U17 MNT can’t revel in its CONCACAF championship for long, since much preparation is still needed to be ready for the World Cup.

U.S. U17 MNT CONCACAF Championship Roster (Courtesy of U.S. Soccer):

GOALKEEPERS (2):
Kendall McIntosh (Mustang Academy; Santa Rosa, Calif.), Fernando Piña (Houston Dynamo; Houston, Texas) 


DEFENDERS (6):
Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas; Plano, Texas), Joseph Amon (South Carolina United FC; Summerville, S.C.), Zach Carroll (Vardar; Grand Blanc, Mich.), Mobi Fehr (Tokyo Verdy 1969; Tokyo, Japan), Nathan Smith (Cal Odyssey; Clovis, Calif.), Andrew Souders (Crew Soccer Academy; Amherst, Ohio)

MIDFIELDERS (7):
Jordan Allen (Empire United; Rochester, N.Y.), Matthew Dunn (FC Köln; Dallas, Texas), Alejandro Guido (Aztecs Premier; Chula Vista, Calif.), Marc Pelosi (De Anza Force; Sunnyvale, Calif.), Esteban Rodriguez (Cosmos Academy West; Palmdale, Calif.), Tarik Salkicic (Strictly Soccer; Pinellas Park, Fla.), Dillon Serna (Colorado Rapids Academy; Brighton, Colo.)

FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Arsenal FC; Chula Vista, Calif.), Alfred Koroma (Solar Chelsea SC; Arlington, Texas), Jack McBean (LA Galaxy; Newport Beach, Calif.), Andrew Oliver (Westside United; Indianapolis, Ind.), Mario Rodriguez (Central Aztecs; North Hollywood, Calif.) 


 
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