U.S. U17s to face Brazil in Nike title match

U.S. U17s to face Brazil in Nike title match
December 3, 2011
 
Ever hear the expression, “screwing up a free lunch”?
 
Up a goal and a man, the U.S. U17 Men’s National Team had it made, but they somehow managed to turn a position of strength into a disadvantage.
 
Then they flipped the whole thing on its ear and stole a 2-1 victory from Turkey on Friday, giving them a chance to win the Nike Friendlies if they can prevail in Sunday’s final match against Brazil.
 
 
Here are five observations from a bizarre victory:
  1. See observation No. 1 from Wednesday’s match against France. For whatever reason, the Americans are at their best when things look the worst. They were minutes away from earning a disappointing tie, but just like Wednesday they flurried in the final minutes to paint a pretty face on what was far from a work of art. Wesley Wade directed a header in the box to Herber Mejia Flores who put in the game-winner in the 87th minute.
  2. Lineup changes: The U.S. showed a different look and new personnel on Friday. While the backline remained intact, midfielders Steven Echevarria and Jorge Calix along with strikers Corey Baird, Danya Kafai and goalkeeper Evan Louro found their way into the starting 11. The group looked a little less dynamic individually, particularly up top, and in the end it hurt their ability to put the Turks away. Strikers Wesley Wade and DeAndre Robinson were inserted early in the second half and brought the kind of energy that ultimately led to the win.
  3. No killer instinct: For the second straight match the U.S. took a 1-0 lead and then fell asleep. This time was much less forgivable. Turkey drew a red card in the first half and yet suddenly became the aggressors. They promptly scored the equalizing goal in the second half and were close to taking the lead on several occasions. For whatever reason, the Americans took control and then played like they didn’t want it. The pace slowed, there was no reversal of the attack and they completely let Turkey’s defense off the hook. The back line was heavily involved in the offense a couple days prior - Shaquell Moore and Tyler Turner come to mind - but showed little activity in this match. 
  4. Junior Flores is STILL the man: You want to know how to spot the alpha dog on team? Watch who the opposing defense responds to. In last year’s Nike Friendlies, Mario Rodriguez cemented his status as the “guy” when international defenders gave him extra special attention. Turkey was similarly handsy with Flores – and for good reason. Not only did he score the winning goal, but he also assisted Turner’s opening goal in the 18th minute. We have our star.
  5. His goal to keep: Lost in the match might be the performance of Evan Louro who showed well in his first Nike Friendly action. He got beat on a laser strike that you have to tip your cap to, but also kept his team in it when their efforts. He had to come off his line on a couple dicey plays that could’ve backfired, but he took the appropriate chances and it paid off.   
 
U.S. U17 Men’s National Team Lineup
 
D: Shaquell Moore, Conor Donovan, Tyler Turner, John Requejo
M: Steven Echevarria, Rubio Rubin, Junior Flores, Jorge Calix
F: Corey Baird, Danya Kafai 
Subs: Paul Christensen, Guyllain Kabala, Angel Heredia, Wesley Wade, DeAndre Robinson, Adonis Amaya, Kevin Politz, Dembakwi Yomba, Christopher Lema
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