Youth National Teams: U-17s draw with Costa Rica in CONCACAF opener

The U.S. boys' U-17 national team opened the 1999 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament with a 2-2 draw against Costa Rica in Montego Bay, Jamaica at Jarrett Park Stadium. "You can play in all these tournaments and prepare all you want but until you actually set foot in a CONCACAF competition you don't feel the pressure of having to win and our team felt the pressure today for the first time," said U.S. coach John Ellinger. "Of course we would have liked a win but a tie is a positive result and now we will prepare for Honduras." The U.S. came out flat in the first 25 minutes and fell behind in the 8th minute when referee Jose Farias awarded a questionable penalty kick after U.S. defender Greg Martin was pushed from behind and was called for a handball inside the USA penalty box. Costa Rican forward Marvin Calvo converted the penalty putting Costa Rica up, 1-0. "I was very disappointed with the first 25 minutes of play and the penalty kick reall unnerved us," said Ellinger. "It took us awhile to regain or composure and I was pleased with the last 20 minutes of the first half. In the second half we dominated Costa Rica." After a thunderous collision with U.S. midfielder Kyle Beckerman, Costa Rica midfielder Cristian Montero had to leave the match in the 38th minute and be hospitalized with an injury to his right shoulder. The U.S. responded in the 28th minute when Landon Donovan was pulled down outside the Costa Rican box setting up a U.S. free kick. Seth Trembly launched a 30-yard rocket that Costa Rica keeper Nighel Drumond could only watch as the ball smacked the top cross bar and bounced in. Seven minutes later Costa Rica took the lead again when U.S. keeper Delvin Countess could only block a low driven cross that fell to the feet of Costa Rica's Fabricio Mena, who smacked the ball in to give Costa Rica a 2-1 led at halftime. The U.S. came out on fire in the second half and took it to Costa Rica, creating numerous scoring chances. Adolfo Gregorio and Raul Rivera went in late for the U.S. and immediately their speed and technical skills made an impact on the game. In the 86th minute Gregorio hit a corner kick that created a scramble in the Costa Rican six-yard box, with the ball eventually finding the feet of Donovan who evened the score at 2-2. "Adolfo hit a driven ball into the box that went over Nelson [Akwari]'s head and bounced out to [DaMarcus} Beasley who was on top of the 18-yard box," said Donovan afterward. "Beasley headed the ball back in to Jordan Cila who was between four Costa Rican defenders. Cila won the ball and headed it perfectly to my feet and I just fired it in between the keepers legs." In the day's other match, host Jamaica edged Honduras 1-0. The U-17s will play Honduras on Friday, Feb. 26 at 1:00 p.m ET. and will conclude qualifying against Jamaica on Feb. 28 at 3:00 p.m. ET. All games are played at Jarrett Park Stadium in Montego Bay and are aired live on Jamaican television. Feb. 24 in Montego Bay USA 2 Costa Rica 2. Goals: Trembly 28, Donovan 86; Calvo (pen.) 8, Mena 35. USA -- Countess, Akwari, Yi, Trembly, Martin (Onyewu, 46), Jackson, Cutler (Gregorio, 60), Beckerman (Rivera, 75), Beasley, Cila, Donovan. Costa Rica -- Drumond, Brenes, Quesada, Segares, Montero (Hernandez, 38), Villalobos (Fleming, 88), Arroyo, Perez, Salguero, Calvo (Hidalgo, 80), Mena. Yellow cards: USA -- Beckerman 56; Costa Rica -- Quesada 61. Referee: Jose Farias (Canada). Att.: 1,234.

CONCACAF Qualifying

Feb. 24 -- USA 2 Costa Rica 2, Jamaica 1 Honduras 0.
Jamaica 1 1 0 0 1 0 3
USA 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
Costa Rica 1 0 1 0 2 2 1
Honduras 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Feb. 26 -- USA vs. Honduras, Jamaica vs. Costa Rica. Feb. 28 -- Costa Rica vs. Honduras, Jamaica vs. USA.
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