USA clashes with U.S. products in U-17 World Cup qualifying quest

By Mike Woitalla

One of the players aiming to prevent the USA from clinching a spot at the 2015 U-17 World Cup when it faces Jamaica on Wednesday is Texan Nathaniel Adamolekun.

Adamolekun, who was born in Texas to a Jamaican mother and Nigerian father, is Jamaica’s leading scorer at the U-17 Concacaf Championship in Honduras with three goals.

The 6-foot-1 striker played for Lonestar SC’s Development Academy teams before moving to the DA program at MLS newcomer Orlando City, for which he scored 12 in 15 games.

"I have been in Jamaica a couple of times and I just love the people, the country and I just love the vibes it gives off and the culture," Adamolekun told the Jamaica Observer. "I never really had an interest in the Nigerian national team. Then in the U.S. I never really had the opportunity to go and play for the national team, so Jamaica is a great opportunity and I am really enjoying it so far."

Two other Jamaicans, defender Jahlanie Hammond (Florida's Miramar United) and midfielder Zaire Tobijah Bartley (New York Red Bulls) hail from the USA.

Trinidad & Tobago, which the USA beat, 2-0, has four U.S. products in its squad: New Jersey PDA’s Josh Burnett and Chaz Burnett, who have both played for U.S. national team youth teams, and Noah Powder (New York Red Bulls) and Jerren Nixon (Philadelphia Union).

Defender Juan Riley of Florida’s Weston FC is in the Guatemala squad but did not see action in the 4-1 loss to the USA.

Mexico’s starting goalkeeper, Abraham Romero, plays for the L.A. Galaxy’s DA team, while Mexico midfielder Ivan Gutierrez was a Best XI DA pick with Chivas USA last season. Outside back Edwin Lara of Northern California, who was a starter for the U.S. U-17s before moving to Pachuca and switching allegiance to Mexico, has yet to see action for the Group B leader.

In January, the Tab Ramos-coached U.S. team’s successful qualification for the U-20 World Cup was made more arduous when FC Dallas academy player Andy Ruiz scored a 90th-minute golazo to earn Guatemala a 1-1 tie in the opener.

U-17 World Cup qualifying: Concacaf schedule and results

Richie Williams: ‘Draw was good result’

Sunday’s 2-2 tie with host Honduras ended the USA’s three-game win streak, but the Americans can clinch with a win over Jamaica on Wednesday – or a tie if Honduras fails to beat Guatemala by seven goals.

"Obviously it was a very tough match, I think, for both teams," said U.S. coach Richie Williams. “We’re happy with a draw. It still keeps us in first place in the group, and we move forward. … A draw against Honduras is a good result. It’s not easy to come into Honduras and play an international match and get a positive result. All you have to watch is from the senior team down – it’s not an easy place to play and Honduras is a good team.”

A crowd of 13,511 cheered on the Catrachos at Francisco Morazon Stadium in San Pedro Sula.

“I think the crowd obviously pushed Honduras, gave them a lot of energy,” said Williams.

Defender John Nelson said: "I haven’t played in front of a crowd like that. It was probably the loudest crowd I’ve heard in my life, the toughest crowd. We didn’t let it get to us, we just stayed focused. I don’t think it affected us.”

U.S. U-20 women beat Dutch and Norway

The Michelle French-coached U.S. U-20 women’s national team notched 2-0 wins against both Norway and the Netherlands in its La Manga tournament openers in Spain.

While outshooting the Dutch, 18-2, Mikaela Harvey and Jordan Harr scored in each half.

Midfielder Mallory Pugh, a starter for the USA at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, scored both goals against the Norwegians. The USA had a 12-5 edge in shots.

The Spain trip is first international event for this age group in the new cycle, which leads to qualifying for the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, for players born before Jan. 1, 1996.

March 7 in La Manga
USA 2 Netherlands 0. Goals Harvey (Ogle) 45, Harr (Buckingham) 80.
USA -- Murphy; Petersen, Jacobs, Scarpa (Mejia, 46), Elliston (Flores, 69), DeMelo, Ogle (Buckingham, 69), Harvey (Corboz, 46), Canales (Harr, 69), Pugh , Racioppi (Redei, 46).
NETHERLANDS -- Quaye, van der Wal, Akkerman (Sanders,65), Kerkdijk, Peels (van Schijndel, 65), Kets (Folkertsma, 65), Bruinenberg, van Linden, van der Wal, Beerensteyn, Hoekstra.

March 5 in La Manga
USA 2 Norway 0. Goals: Pugh 40, Pugh 88.
USA -- Murphy, Elliston, Jacobs, Riehl, Flores, Petersen (Canales, 70), Ogle, Roberts (Harvey, 46), Buckingham (DeMelo, 70), Abam (Watt, 46), Pugh.
Norway -- Wattern Mikalsen, Leine (Eriksen, 66), Clausen, Hansen, Bratberg Lund, Heimvik Hughland (Tosterrud, 78), Saevik, Hoegh Dekkerhus, Hasund, Fridlund, Velta (Fjelldal, 46).

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