The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team started the 2017 U17 World Cup with a 3-0 win over India on Friday.
The game was never really in doubt as USA could’ve named the number at the start against lesser competition from the host side, which was competing in their first FIFA event as a country.
Star forward Josh Sargent tagged the first goal with a kick from the spot in the 30th minute. An India defender tripped Sargent inside the box after he pushed the ball between the player’s legs. Sargent was calm on the finish from the penalty kick for his first goal from the competition.
Despite passing the air out of the ball in the first 45 minutes of the game, the U.S. struggled to generate chances against the defensive India. U.S. only managed two shots on goal even though most of the half was played in India’s defensive half.
U.S. struggled to execute the plan that the coaching staff had designed for the opening game. The passing through the lines was not sharp enough as too many balls were played into the feet of the opposition. The other area of concern for the U.S. was the inadequate delivery from the channels from the outside backs. Neither Jaylin Lindsey nor Chris Gloster had a strong opening half in the attack as the quality of the crosses was lacking - and the timing of the runs did not match up to the service.
Despite the U.S. struggles, they were always in complete control of the proceedings. The players executed the game plan better in the second half, as the passing was a bit more precise while the movement off the ball helped open up more chances.
Andrew Carleton had the first chance of the second half when he combined with Ayo Akinola and stepped past a few defenders at the top of the box with an excellent first touch after quick passing with Akinola. However, the India goalkeeper came up big with a great save on a low shot from Carleton to the far post.
Minutes later, USA struck their second goal of the game when center back Chris Durkin pulled off an athletic finish after India failed to clear a corner kick from Blaine Ferri. It was Durkin’s third goal in his U.S. U17 MNT career.
India had its best spell of the game after the second goal as the host side tried to open up in the attack and push numbers forward. In the 81st minute, India nearly pulled one back with a chance off of a corner kick that hit the crossbar.
U.S. exploited India on the break after the ball hit the bar with a quick strike thanks to a great pass from substitute George Acosta and a cool finish from Carleton for the third goal of the game.
Justin Garces recorded the shutout in goal for USA with only one save. USA will look to build off this opening win with their second game of Group A play on Monday at 4:30 a.m. (PT) against Ghana.