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U.S. U17 MNT draw against Club Tijuana

Article Written by J.R. Eskilson
Published: July 11, 2014


CARSON, California — The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team played to a 1-1 draw against Club Tijuana U17 on Wednesday in the second scrimmage from the July camp at the National Training Center.

Head coach Richie Williams used the second game to get a look at a number of players as 20 players saw action in the contest. The youth national team acquitted itself well against a physical bunch from Tijuana that had some quality prospects.

Forward Eric Matzelevich scored the lone goal on a header early in the second half, which erased Tijuana’s opener from the first half.

The U.S. returns to the field on Saturday with games against Orange County Blues at 10 a.m. and LA Galaxy Academy on 12:30 p.m.

U.S. U17 Men’s National Team (1998/1999) 1-1 Club Tijuana U17 (1997/1998)

From the opening few minutes, it appeared Club Tijuana would boss the proceedings on the day as the youth national team struggled to get hold of the ball early in the game.

However, the U.S. absorbed the pressure and waited out the early spell of possession for the visitors. When the U.S. did gain control of the ball, there was a deliberate nature to the attack and the youth national team looked to capitalize early.

Weston McKennie’s delightful through ball against the flat Xolos backline to Kai Koreniuk in the 11th minute had the makings of the opener, but Koreniuk’s shot dribbled wide of the frame.

McKennie, playing as the attacking midfielder, had the next opportunity for the U.S. when he dribble through a few challenges 30 yards from goal before ripping a low shot at the goal. The Tijuana goalkeeper did well to block the shot and prevent any chance of an effort on a rebound.

MORE: U17 MNT draw OC Blue Stars | Top performers vs. Orange County | Top players vs. Xolos

Shortly before halftime, Tijuana found the opener. On a clearance that looked innocuous enough, a Tijuana forward beat both of the U.S. center backs to the ball and then sped past them into the welcoming green grass. With a churning engine and the bright eyes of a breakaway, the forward rounded William Pulisic’s challenge and finished into the open net.

Tijuana’s lead lasted until half when coach Williams and his staff made nine changes to the lineup. The new faces picked up the intensity and relied more on the wings to try to expose the Xolos defense.

U.S. regained level footing with the visitors six minutes into the second half when a scramble in the box led to a shot from Francisco Contreras. A few Tijuana defenders blocked the initial shot, but it fell kindly to Eric Matzelevich who headed into the net.

Goalkeeper Eric Lopez came up with a tremendous save late in order to preserve the draw. Lopez made a foot save after a Tijuana forward broke through the U.S. backline but struggled to gain control of the ball. The LA Galaxy keeper put his toe in the way and the ball deflected off the forward’s shin guard and harmlessly crossed the line for a goal kick.

The two teams settled on a 1-1 draw, which kept the U17s undefeated record intact to start the July camp.

U.S. U17 Men’s National Team XI vs. Xolos

First half: William Pulisic; Edwin Lara, Nikkye De Point, AJ Palazzolo, George Braima; Thomas McCabe, Kyle Gurrieri, Weston McKennie; Lucas Del Rosario, Kai Koreniuk, Orrin McKenzie Gaines

Second half: Eric Lopez; Edwin Lara, McKay Eves, Mattias Tomasino, George Braima; Jonathan Gonzalez, Brian Zelaya, Francisco Contreras; Devin Vega, Eric Matzelevich, Keegan Kelly

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