LAKEWOOD RANCH, Florida - The U.S. U17 Men’s National Team battled to a 1-1 draw against Brazil in the final game of the 2017 U17 Nike Friendlies. Brazil won the tournament after wins over the Netherlands and England in the previous two games. USA finished with an 0-2-1 record from the three games.
Brazil scored first in the 15th minute. Peter Stroud commit a foul about 40 yards from the goal. USA was in a zonal marking scheme and did not match up well in the key areas. Brazil scored on a header than Damian Las could not save.
USA controlled the ball for much of the first half, but did not generate many scoring opportunities. Gilbert Fuentes had a couple of looks from about 20 yards out, but both of his shots were blocked. Cade Hagan had the best shot of the first half in the 20th minute, but his effort went wide of the post.
In the second half, USA was by far the better side. The intensity and pace of the game picked up, which played to USA’s strengths in the attacking third. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez had the first chance of the second half when he linked up with Fuentes at the top of the box. The quick combination resulted in Ocampo-Chavez getting a shot on goal from 12 yards out, but the goalkeeper for Brazil was quick off his line and blocked the shot.
Diego Lopez entered the game for Hagan in the 52nd minute. He scored in the 54th minute.
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The FC Golden State forward scored on his first touch of the game. The play started on a corner kick from Fuentes. The San Jose Earthquakes playmaker delivered a great ball to Axel Alejandre who put a shot on frame. Lopez poked the ball past the goalkeeper and into the net.
In the 61st minute, Lopez nearly stole the victory for USA. The tall striker caught the Brazil goalkeeper being casual as they tried to swing the ball across the field. Lopez pressed hard and forced an awkward pass to the center back, who tripped up on his first touch. Lopez poked the ball off of him and drilled a shot, but it hit off the goalkeeper’s body.
USA had the run of play late in the game, but they could not find a final shot to make the difference in the game. Brazil came up with a couple of blocks, and effectively killed off some of the clock with dribbling to the corners.
In the final seconds, USA looked to have a chance to find the winner when they were given a free kick from 28 yards out, which is Gianluca Busio’s wheelhouse. However, Busio’s shot hit off the header of one of the defenders in the wall after they kept encroaching on the set piece. Busio and the USA squad were visibly frustrated that the referee allowed the wall to move within the 10 yards, and then the center referee blew the whistle to end the contest at 1-1.
This was the first event for the 2002 birth year players under the U17 moniker. This group will be preparing for the next two years for the 2019 U17 World Cup. In the immediate future, the group will get together again in January for a domestic camp in Florida.