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U.S. tumbles out of the U17 World Cup

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: October 23, 2015

The U.S. is out of the 2015 U17 World Cup. 

The U.S. lost 4-1 to Chile on Friday in the final game of Group A play from Vina Del Mar. The U.S, took the lead in the 10th minute, but was crushed in the second half and suffered its second loss of the World Cup. 

The U.S. scored the opening goal when Vazquez finished off a disjointed movement. The play started when Alejandro Zendejas won the ball back on a clean challenge near the middle of the field. Zendejas played the ball to Christian Pulisic. A heavy touch from Pulisic allowed Chile to gain temporary control of the ball, but the high pressing from Luca de la Torre created a giveaway. De la Torre slipped it into Vazquez who fought through a challenge and then slotted home the opening goal from 12 yards out. 

Chile’s response came nine minutes later. The U.S. struggled to deal with a service from 35 yards out. Center back Daniel Barbir put the first touch of the ball with a touch to knock it down. A trio of U.S. players could not put the ball out of the danger zone and eventually Marcelo Allende hit a shot from the top of the box that took a slight deflection before sliding into the corner of the net. The goal was a glimpse at the issue of the defense. Williams employed two left center backs and a right center back at right back at the start of the game. 

It was a mix-match along the defense that was exposed on the second goal as well. Early in the second half, Gabriel Mazuela gave Chile the lead when he split the two center backs with his run off the ball inside of the 18-yard box. The slick surface allowed the ball to roll into Will Pulisic who slid off his line, but Mazuela’s trailing hand pushed the ball past Pulisic and the forward scored in the open net. The goalkeeper should have done better to keep hold of the ball, but it was a major blunder from the referee to miss the deliberate handling of the ball. 

Williams turned to the bench with his side trailing as he brought on Joe Gallardo for Barbir. The U.S. switched to a 4-4-2 with Gallardo and Vazquez up top. The move did not provide the response that Williams was seeking and the U.S. continued to misplay passes from the defensive line. 

Josh Perez and Haji Wright were the last two off the bench for Williams, but neither was able to put their mark on the game. U.S.’s hopeful play forward resulted in three shots on target in the last 15 minutes of the game - after only two shots on goal from the first 75 minutes - but none of the shots really challenged the goalkeeper. 

Chile put the final touches on the win in the 86th minute when Gonzalo Jara hit a sterling effort from the top corner of the box. Chile added one more in the dying seconds when Camilo Moya struck to put Chile up 4-1. The referee ended the game seconds later. 

The U.S. exits the World Cup with only one point acquired from group play. Williams’ second cycle as the head coach for this age group was only marginally more successful than his attempt in 2013 when he became the first coach in U.S. Soccer history to fail to qualify for the U17 World Cup. 

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