The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team finished third at the 24th International Youth Tournament of Vaclav Jezek in Prague, Czech Republic last week. USA defeated Iceland 4-0 in the third place game.
USA had a chance at playing in the championship after recording a 3-1 win over Russia and a 4-1 win over Hungary in the first two games of the event. In the final game of group play, USA lost 0-4 to Japan and finished second in the group.
In the consolation match on Saturday, U.S. cruised to a 4-0 win over Iceland in one of the final official games before the start of the U17 World Cup on Oct. 6. The U.S. opens the tournament against the hosts, India.
The tournament in the Czech Republic was a meaningful showcase for the players, as head coach John Hackworth called in a number of new players to the squad who were not part of qualifying.
CF Monterrey prospect Jacobo Reyes made a strong impression from the start with an assist in the opening game against Hungary. Timothy Weah, Andrew Carleton, and Joshua Sargent scored the goals in that game.
Hackworth shuffled the lineup in the second game against Russia and saw similar results in the final score. Christopher Goslin scored a banger and James Sands and Ulysses Llanez added the other goals off of assists from Alex Mendez and Alejandro Pereira respectively.
The dropped result against Japan should be a learning lesson for the group, as they ready for the spotlight in October. The response against Iceland leaves the coaching staff with some tough decisions on player selections for the World Cup.
LA Galaxy Academy’s Alex Mendez scored the opening goal in the win over Iceland on a long range blast that took a deflection off the back of a defender. Indiana Vassilev made it 2-0 for USA after a nice build-up that results in a shot from the center of the 18-yard box after a lay off from Pereira, his second assists of the tournament.
Vassilev netted his second goal of the game early in the second half after Llanez torched the right side of the Iceland defense before a blocked pass landed at Vassilev’s feet for the finish.
Pereira netted the final goal of the game off an assist from Blaine Ferri. Llanez was the main catalyst though as he drew three defenders to him before slipping the ball behind the defense for Ferri to cross it into Pereira for the easy finish.
Although the wide attack spots are very crowded in this age group, Llanez showed in the third place game that he definitely deserves consideration for a spot on the World Cup squad in India.