The USA remained perfect at the CONCACAF Under-17 qualifying tournament in Kingston, Jamaica, with a 2-1 victory over Canada on Wednesday night, setting the stage for the possibility of clinching a berth at the 2007 Under-17 World Cup on Friday night.
Like it did in its 3-0 win over Trinidad & Tobago on Monday, the USA jumped out to a quick lead against Canada with goals by Billy Schuler and captain Mykell Bates in the first 23 minutes. After a dominating first-half performance, the Americans let down, however, and Canada came storming back. A goal by Cederic Carriereduced the deficit in the 54th minute, but U.S. goalie Zach MacMath held off Canada, making a game-saving stop onMohamed Sylla with five minutes remaining.
"We preach every day that this is the kind of soccer we want to play, but very rarely when you get in an international competition, especially in qualifying, does that type of soccer come out," said Coach John Hackworth. "We were sitting on the bench saying, 'It can't get any better,' but we took things for granted from there, which happens with young kids. But if we can sustain the level of play we had in the first half, you couldn't ask for much more."
Without leading scorer Ellis McLoughlin, who was serving the first of a two-game suspension, Hackworth pushed FC Dallas draft pick Abdus Ibrahim from right midfield to forward and replaced Ibrahim with Alex Dixon. Tommy Meyer also got his first start in central defense alongside Bates, pushing Daniel Wenzel to central midfield with Jared Jeffrey.
The Americans can clinch a berth at this summer's Under-17 World Cup in South Korea if Canada and Trinidad & Tobago tie in the first game on Friday or if the USA beats or ties host Jamaica in the nightcap. The USA meets group leader Costa Rica, which beat Jamaica, 1-0, on Wednesday night, on Sunday. The top three teams qualify for the U-17 World Cup. The USA is the only country to qualify for all 11 previous tournaments.
May 2 in Kingston
USA 2 Canada 1.Goals: Schuler 10, Bates; Carrie 54.
USA -- MacMath, Williams, Bates, Meyer, Shea (Zimmerman, 57), Nimo, Jeffrey, Wenzel, Dixon (Garza, 65), Ibrahim, Schuler (Millington, 82).
Canada -- Street, Hyde, Tannous, Straith, Leal (Porter, 70), Parenteau-Michon (Sylla, 46), Johnstone, Davies, Lacoste-Lebuis, Whiteman, Carrie (Dosanjh, 84).
Yellow card:USA -- Shea 18.
Referee:Roberto Garcia (Mexico).
1. Costa Rica 7 pts (3 games)
2. USA 6 pts (2 games)
3. Canada 4 pts (3 games)
4. Jamaica 0 pts (2 games)
4. Trindad & Tobago 0 pts (2 games)