BRADENTON, Florida - The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team bounced back on Friday with an impressive 2-1 win over the Netherlands on the second day of play from the 2015 Nike International Friendlies.
Joshua Sargent scored the game-winning goal in the second minute of stoppage time. Adrian Villegas scored the opener in the fourth minute. Netherlands equalized in the 62nd minute off a penalty kick goal.
The U.S. sits in a tie for second place at the event after the win. England is in first place with six points after defeating Brazil 2-0 on Friday. England battles Netherlands at 3 p.m. on Sunday. The U.S. takes on Brazil in the final game from the event.
U.S. U17 Men’s National Team 2-1 Netherlands
Again, the U.S. started the game with a bright start and a ton of energy. This time, the bright eyes and crisp movement was rewarded in the early stages.
Winger Tonny Temple (IMG) snuck in down the right side of the field and ripped a shot at a tight angle that the Netherlands deflected out for a corner kick.
The ensuing corner kick bounced out to James Sands who played it wide to Villegas. The Portland Timbers prospect worked his way to the end line with a slick piece of dribbling. Villegas hit a cross low and hard at the mouth of the goal. His effort skipped off the wet grass and took a slight deflection on its way into the net.
“It was an interesting game,” U.S. U17 MNT head coach John Hackworth told TopDrawerSoccer after the game. “We came out and looked good. We did what we wanted to do. We got the goal and then, typical of young kids, we dropped right away. That wasn’t our game plan and it allowed Holland back into the game.”
Goalkeeper Justin Garces (Weston FC) dominated the rest of the half with a number of saves.
“For the next 35 minutes, it was tough,” Hackworth said. “Justin Garces makes a couple of big time saves in that first half to keep the lead for us.”
Garces first call to action came in the 15th minute when he made a nice diving save on a shot from the right side of the 18-yard box. Garces pushed the shot out for a corner kick.
The goalkeeper benefitted from a miss from the Netherlands in the 17th minute. Garces waited on a cross and a Netherlands forward beat him to the ball. The forward’s header missed the frame of the goal though.
In the 28th minute, Garces punched away a free kick for a corner kick. On the following play, Netherlands had a chance at the doorstep for the equalizer. Garces made a great diving save to keep it out.
U.S. had a quality movement in the 33rd minute when the attack stalled with Villegas on the left wing. The Timbers prospect decided to recycle the play and a quick switch of the point of the attack opened up the Netherlands on the wings. Right back Jaylin Lindsey took advantage of the space and raced down the side before hitting the end line and hit it back across the goal. Lindsey overcooked the cross and it went sailing over everyone.
Garces had to make one more save in the first half when Netherlands got in down the left side of the U.S. defense. The goalkeeper came up with another save and the U.S. defense cleared the rebound. The U.S. took the 1-0 lead into the break.
“We made some adjustments at halftime,” Hackworth said. “We talked about if we can put them under pressure if they are going to play long. We talked about the little things. I was proud of the response in the second half because we played much better.”
Center forward Ayo Akinola had a look at doubling the lead in the 46th minute. The play started with a free kick service into the box. The goalkeeper punched it away and it set up perfectly for Akinola at the top of the box. The Toronto FC forward ripped a volley at the goal, but it sailed just a foot too high in what would have been a spectacular goal.
Netherlands caught the U.S. on a beautifully executed counterattack three minutes later, which resulted in a clean shot from inside the 18-yard box, but the attacked shanked his shot wide of the goal.
Garces made another save in the 60th minute when he tipped a headed shot over the bar following a corner kick.
Netherlands found the equalizer in the 62nd minute. Sands tried to push a ball out of the box with his chest, but the ball caught his shoulder area, which resulted in a somewhat controversial handball call from the referee. Netherlands converted the kick from the spot to put the reams back on level terms.
In the 65th minute, Hackworth turned to his bench and brought on Timothy Weah, Kelee Cornfield-Saunders, and Sargent, who would end up as the hero of the night.
“When we made some changes, the changes made a real positive impact,” Hackworth said. “We gave up a heartbreaker the other night [vs. England] in extra time and tonight we were fortunate to get the winner.”
In the second minute of stoppage time, Sargent became the hero of the night. Netherlands headed the ball back on a clearance attempt. Sargent held off his defender and then turned to goal. He put the defender behind him and then ripped a perfect shot into the upper corner of the net for the game-winner.
Hackworth spoke about the positive contributions of two players who made their debuts on the night.
“You look at Justin Garces who got his first start at any level for the U.S. National Team,” Hackworth said. “AJ [Arturo Vasquez] gets his first start as well. You got two guys who have never played a game for the U.S. at any level. This is real for them. Those two guys were really good in the game. Vasquez was solid all the way through and Justin [Garces] made some great saves. Those kind of things are what this process is about. To see them take this opportunity and take advantage of it is important.”
Hackworth said he is going to continue to work with the team on how he wants them to play throughout the whole game before Sunday’s finale.
“We want to play a style and a type of soccer that we’ve been playing for the last year,” Hackworth said. “We’ve put it together in bits and pieces, but we haven’t been consistent. We will go back and emphasize those things.”
Substitutes: Andrew Carleton for Ferri 52'
Timothy Weah for Temple 65'
Kelee Cornfield-Saunders for Vaughn 65'
Josh Sargent for Villegas 65'