Americans down to one last chance at U-17 World Cup qualifying

By Mike Woitalla

One of the U.S. national team program's consistencies for nearly three decades was that the USA always qualified for the U-17 World Cup.

But the streak -- 14 straight World Cup appearances since the tournament’s 1985 inception -- came to an end in 2013 under Coach Richie Williams, who had taken the helm for that cycle.

Williams kept his job. The 2013 qualifying tournament format meant that the USA’s third game -- after wins Haiti (3-0) and Guatemala (1-0) -- was do-or-die. And the young Americans perished with a 3-1 loss to Honduras.

Williams welcomed the new format for 2015: Five group-stage games, and the group winner qualifying automatically. The goal for the USA was to win the group and avoid a one-off clash.

As it turns out, this year’s U-17s again face a do-or-die game, because after winning their first three matches -- Cuba (5-0), Trinidad & Tobago (2-0) and Guatemala (4-1) -- they blew two chances to clinch qualification.

On Sunday, they tied Honduras, 2-2, conceding a late equalizer, when a win would have clinched. On Wednesday, they squandered their second chance – losing 1-0 to Jamaica when a win, or a tie it turns out, would have booked them a ticket to the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile in October.

The USA will face Costa Rica, Canada, Jamaica or Mexico on Sunday.

The tie against Honduras, in front of 14,000 home fans against a team that had qualified for the previous three U-17 World Cups, didn’t seem so bad. More troubling was not getting a result against Jamaica.

The decider came from Nicholas Nelson’s penalty kick in the 57th minute after Costa Rican referee Ricardo Montero called a handball on U.S. captain Hugo Arellano, who had lunged to intercept a low cross with his chest.

From then on, the Jamaicans, aside from escaping a handball call of their own in the penalty area and surviving a couple goalmouth scrambles, kept the Americans at bay by winning one-on-ones and booting the ball out of bounds and downfield.

In the first half, U.S. keeper Will Pulisic and his counterpart Jahmali Waite each made a pair of key saves, but most of the play was in the Jamaican end.

Before the halftime whistle, Eric Calvillo hit the post with a 40-yard shot, Alejandro Zendejas had three chances. He was denied by Waite on a fourth-minute breakaway, struck a high rebound wide from 12 yards out, and had a well-struck curling shot tipped around the post by a diving Waite.

In the final phase of the game, the U.S. game deteriorated severely. Williams subbed defender Alexis Velela out for striker Brandon Vazquez and the Jamaicans kept the Americans occupied by sending and chasing down long balls deep in the U.S. half.

In its last two games, the USA struggled in the second half. That’s a problem Williams will need to find a solution for by Sunday.

March 11 in San Pedro Sula.
Jamaica 1 USA 0. Goals: Nelson (pen.) 57
Jamaica -- Waite; Talbott, Hinds, Grant, Brown; Beckford (Adamolekun, 46), Hammond (Williams, 78) Brown (Senior, 83); Dawkins, Bartley, Nelson.
USA -- W.Pulisic; Olosunde, Velela (Vazquez, 76), Arellano, Adams; Calvillo, C.Pulisic, de la Torre; Perez (Gaines, 72), Zendejas, Wright (Gallardo, 69).

Ten foreign clubs join MLS's Generation adidas Cup

The second phase of the 2014-15 Generation adidas Cup, an annual tournament for U-17 MLS academy teams, kicks off March 29. Seventeen of the 20 MLS clubs are sending teams and will be joined by 10 foreign clubs and Chivas USA, whose first team folded after the 2014 season.

The three MLS teams not represented are newcomer New York City FC, which recently announced the launch of a U-14 Academy team but doesn’t yet field older age group teams yet, Montreal and Vancouver.

The tournament consists of two regional events, one held in the fall and one in the spring, for each of the three regions: East, Central and West. The top two teams in each regional group qualified for the Champions Division, a final group stage that will determine the overall winners of the 2015 GA Cup. The remaining teams qualified for the Premier Division.

Champions Division:
Toronto FC Sporting KC, River Plate (Argentina), Aspire Academy (Qatar), FC Dallas Real Salt Lake, Athletic Club Bilbao (Spain), Pumas UNAM (Mexico), SJ Earthquakes, Philadelphia Union, Palmeiras (Brazil), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany).
Premier Division:
NY Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Recife (Brazil), Seattle Sounders, Chicago Fire Orlando City, LA Galaxy, Tigres (Mexico), Chivas USA, Sagan Tosu (Japan), D.C. United, Columbus Crew SC, Medellin (Colombia) Portland Timbers, Colorado Rapids, New England Revolution.

id2 all-stars beat Argentinos Juniors, tie San Lorenzo

The id2 National Selection finished up its four-game tour of Argentina with a 3-1 win over Argentinos Juniors and a 1-1 tie with San Lorenzo.

Lorenzo Lopez (Crossfire Oregon) had two goals against Argentinos Juniors, while Luis Arriaga (Santa Rosa United) had the third goal against Argentinos Juniors and tying goal against San Lorenzo. The id2 stars finished with one win, one loss and two ties against Argentina under-14 teams.

Arriaga, who is one of five id2 players who traveled with the U.S. under-14 national team in February to Spain, also scored in the opener against Velez Sarsfield.

The id2 program is operated by U.S. Club Soccer.

id2 National Selection Argentina Tour:
March 3: 3-3 vs. Velez Sarsfield Infantiles
March 5: 1-3 vs. Boca Juniors Infantiles
March 7: 3-1 vs. Argentinos Juniors Infantiles
March 9: 1-1 vs. San Lorenzo Infantiles

33 comments about "Americans down to one last chance at U-17 World Cup qualifying".
  1. John Bishop, March 12, 2015 at 4:17 p.m.

    Saw the last 25 minutes of this U17 game. Its embarrassing to say the least. I saw nothing but bad decisions on USA's part. Dribbling when they should pass. Passing when they should dribble. Defenders punting the ball right back to Jamaica when playing out of the back was easier. Terrible passing in final 3rd. Mids inefficacy in feeding their forwards. The tie vs Honduras didnt seem so bad??? Honduras tied Cuba!! Question should be, "Have our USA National Team standards been raised or lowered"? Certainly, making that statement, Mr. Wotoilla, you are implying that our standards have lowered. With the implimentation of the USSDA system more than 10 years ago and with a record of not missing a U17 World Cup until 2013 certainly we should be expected to win the concacaf every year, correct?? Not playing a do or die game at the end of the tournament!! I want to see the same people that brag about having so many USSDA players picked for our National teams and MLS teams explain these results we have had in the last 4-6 years in these events. Shouldnt the objective be to see our National Teams drastiucally improved first??? Then we can brag it was because of of USSDA training and scouting system all we want, right?? Otherwise, one could say that it is because of this failed USSDA system that we are getting these subpar results, of which by now, can not be seen as coincidence.

  2. Mark Torguson, March 12, 2015 at 4:55 p.m.

    100% well said.

  3. Lou vulovich, March 12, 2015 at 5:16 p.m.

    i watched the game. Jamaica looked like a recreational team. Very sad not to win those games
    by 5-8 goals.

  4. Paul Williamson, March 12, 2015 at 8:28 p.m.

    If Jamaica looked like a rec team, what are you truly saying about the US team. I'm Also disappointed in the US loosing, but let's not deflect and belittle the abilities of other teams to make ourselves feel better. The facts: Jamaica ended the group with the same record as the U.S. (3-1-1). Fact: The US beat Trinidad & Tobago 2-0, and Jamaica beat that same team 5-1. So let's be respectful of the other countries and the kids that are there to compete. This includes our US boys, since they played well too.

    The discussion should revolve on the decision being made by the coaching staff. Our US boys looked frazzled in every game I've watched that they were pressed. It seems they're comfortable and relaxed when they are up, but when they're challenged they fall apart.

    We must begin the discussion in the coaching ranks if we plan to compete against better international teams. If we are able to qualify for the World Cup, I'm concerned that we will get killed by teams from Germany, France, Ghana, etc.

    So let's stop deflecting and downplaying that we have a problem, because we do.

  5. John Bishop, March 12, 2015 at 9:19 p.m.

    Paul, did the USA boys play well when compared to Concacaf teams or to World Cup competition? You are right we have a problem. We have had this problem for some time now. USA boys should be expected to win their group every U17, U20, U23 & Seniors every single time, right up there with Mexico, given our resources. It starts at the very top with people in charge of picking coaches, scouts, etc. Who then pick players and playing styles to the best of their abilities.

  6. Paul Williamson, March 12, 2015 at 11:04 p.m.

    Great points John. However, as it relates to your questions about the USSDA impact, I understand that 90+% of Canada's team is made up on USSDA players. Trinidad & Tobago has 4, Jamaica has 3, Mexico has 2, Guatemala has 1 and Panama has 1. By all means I would never say the USSDA is perfect, but I don't think this is the problem.

    Our US boys unfortunately were not under their USSDA programs these past two years, they've been couped up in a residency program with Richie. Unfortunately they are not getting enough games, but I'm sure they were training hard. Unfortunately for them soccer is a sport where you must play games to get game sharp. Training will only get you so far. The USSDA boys on the other country teams were playing games almost every weekend and getting game sharp and game ready.

    This is why our US boys looked so intimidated when the pressure is taken to them. They don't know how to react, because they've been able to train and move the ball and dribble around their teammates. They need more games and real games to be ready to take on the talent across the world.

  7. Paul Williamson, March 13, 2015 at 12:47 a.m.

    Hey Lou, Just read another article that our US boys will be playing the recreation team (Jamaica) again. Personally I'm not worried about our US boys ability to play, I'm worried about the decisions the coaching staff will make.

  8. Lou vulovich, March 13, 2015 at 10:43 a.m.

    My intention was not to belittle the US boys
    Ability every America player seems to individually be at a very high level. I am sure talent wise they
    probably can play with the top teams in the world.
    Again I will say Jamaica looked like a recreational team, and there should be no excuse for the US not to win that game by 5-8 goals.
    I am sure there are 10 U17 Academy teams
    who would beat Jamaica.

  9. James Froehlich, March 13, 2015 at 11:02 a.m.

    Win or lose, I believe that Richie has to go. Klinsmann has preached accountability for his players (with which I totally agree) and that should apply doubly to the coaching staff, up and down the U.S. Soccer hierarchy. Nothing personal Richie, it's just business!

  10. ROBERT BOND, March 13, 2015 at 11:37 a.m.

    blame it on the ref-of the 2 hand ball penalties , Jamaica's was worse, way away from the body.........blame the coach, not putting #9 in at the half.....but mostly blame the possession above all else mentality of coaches today, & credit the old dude coach on the other team that knew, like Chelsea in the Champions in 2013, that when you are out-matched, sometimes all you can do is- play-long ball...

  11. John Bishop, March 13, 2015 at 1:19 p.m.

    Paul, you make good points but as to mine about USSDA, if all these teams have shown improvement because of our USSDA, then we should be way ahead of all of them as well. Was the USSDA designed to improve Concacaf competition scouting and play and not USA's? Skill level we dont look bad but decision making we are probably worse than most Concacaf teams. We simply dont know how to attack. Especially under pressure. We are very predictable. if you check all USA youth teams, USA coaches insist on playing without a true striker and mindless posession. Posession without attacking much. 1st 1/2 of that Jamaica game saids it all. Alot of posession. 2 shots on goal. Pointless. The money is made scoring goals. We are copying Spain when Spain "had" to play without a striker and at a time when Germany revolutionized that style with attack minded posession. We are behind and will always be if we cant see those obvious things. The problem with USSDA is that the people in charge are more focused in promoting the "numbers" of USSDA products on National teams (which is kind of dumb because they are same people manipulating selections) than showing a substancial improvement via results on these very stages. We have show the opposite of improvement especially when compared to Concacaf teams. Can you imagine Brazil or Argentina saying "well, we didnt make it this year because these other Conmebol teams are improving so much in our leagues"? Or how about Germany saying that about Poland? We are the kings of excuses.

  12. John Bishop, March 13, 2015 at 1:21 p.m.

    Lou, I am sure there are more non USSDA teams that could beat Jamaica

  13. John Bishop, March 13, 2015 at 1:23 p.m.

    Robert, doesnt Greece play alot of long ball?? ISnt Germany always expected to beat them no matter what? Point is we should have several ways to beat a team like Jamaica by at least 3-4 goals on a bad day. That way a non call or bad call wont matter as the great difference in level of play will prevail.

  14. ROBERT BOND, March 13, 2015 at 2:04 p.m.

    Greece won Euros, '02, didn't they? US will never need long ball, we have the horses, but you need to know how to counter kids team's best chance today is to play it that way, if we don't want to get drubbed in a rematch today the way we were yesterday.......DFB since '06 can play long ball if you let them.....loss to Polen, tho' painful, erste in 19 trys, was transitional, & Lewendoski would make a lot of sides transitional...

  15. Lou vulovich, March 13, 2015 at 2:11 p.m.

    The quality of the American boys is obvious, but it
    seems as though they are playing tentative. When you are clearly better then your opponent in every aspect there should be no doubt about anything except the score margin.

  16. Paul Williamson, March 13, 2015 at 3:41 p.m.

    Much better analysis Lou! I appreciate the effort in focusing on our US team and why they're imploding versus insulting another team / boys because they won the game. As they were just doing what they needed to do to get a win.

    To be fair all the countries in the tournament have quality boys. I Don't think our US boys have played enough tough games against teams that don't idolize or are intimidated by them. I mean they were shut out 2-0 by Panama right before the championships. In addition, Little Richie seems to only want the ball to go to 2 specific individuals. Which limits their offense greatly.

    Let's hope Richie figures it out before Sunday's game against Jamaica again. This would be a great way for Little Richie to go out on a good note.

  17. Lou vulovich, March 13, 2015 at 4:28 p.m.

    Sorry Paul. I am not making any apologies
    for saying Jamaica looked like a recreational
    Team. Their skill level was horrendous. Everyone does what ever they have to do to win, but when you play at a national level ( any age) your skill and composure should be very high.
    The reasons for not being as harsh on the American boys is I think their skill level is very high individually, they just seem to grossly underperform as a team, just like the U 20 did.
    It is always easy to look good against superior teams and loose, it is difficult to beat great teams and always dominate inferior teams. Which is what we should be able to do.
    A minimum of 100 boys should be representing each age group yearly.
    Maybe the problem is the right to lifetime representation of the national team, once you have been picked as a 15 year old.

  18. Paul Williamson, March 13, 2015 at 7:13 p.m.

    Lou, You seem to be very defensive, Never eluded that you were apologizing, I was just acknowledging your attempt to not be so critical of a team that beat our US boys. You loose credibility and come across more hostile, bitter and defensive to the readers when you do that. Again, You can stick to your initial perception that Jamaica looked like a recreational team, but the reality is they beat our US boys, let's hope your right though and they don't beat them on Sunday again. Go USA,

  19. Lou vulovich, March 13, 2015 at 8:14 p.m.

    Paul I did not know this was your personal blog,
    And I don't think it is your business to critic my choice of words to describe the quality of play by Jamaica or anything else I have had to say. So here again the Jamaican team was absolute shit.
    I don't come across as defensive I come across as being very certain of what I am saying.
    You come across as condescending and a complete jack ass. Who knows very little about soccer. I hope this was more positive for you.

  20. John Bishop, March 14, 2015 at 12:53 a.m.

    Relax guys. You both make good points. Lou is right, Jamaica is not good at all. The only thing they can do they have done right and kudos but when it comes to playing USA well it is right to point out the difference that "should be". USA more skilled? Sure? Better tecnically? Yes. Much Better team? Not quite. It takes much more to build a World Cup Team. It takes knowing what you are looking for and still not turning back top talent you werent looking for in the first place, that could be difference makers. It takes the right "proffessional" people scouting the players. It takes the right coaches to set an identity to the team. And many many more things. Beating USA does not make Jamaica even a good team just like USA having won their first 3 games doesnt make them even a good team. It takes much much more than that. I would rather strongly critisize the USA Youth system over calling Jamaica a rec team but thats just me.

  21. Lou vulovich, March 14, 2015 at 2:28 p.m.

    John. My views are a little different, if my son was on the Jamaican team. I would have still said they looked like a recreational team(SKILL LEVEL) and yes the US youth soccer system is bad it always has been and will not change anytime soon. It is a fraternity of friends who work with a trial by failing system. And there has been generation after generation of players either ruined or never scouted for the program. The Qualifying is practically handed to them and they still struggle. It is not the kids. I believe from 12-16 we are as good as most teams in the world.
    After those ages there is nothing in place for development or scouting. If Rich Williams was the best coach in the world but failed to qualify for the last U17 WC, only in the USA would he come back to coach the next Qualifying.

  22. Paul Williamson, March 14, 2015 at 7:55 p.m.

    Lou, You continue to miss the point, while making great points. It's about having some level of savvy about criticizing a team that just beat our US boys. It comes across like we're sore losers, that's all. Be a man and listen to the feedback and stop getting so defensive. As A psychologist, Your constant rebuttals to feedback provided tells me you're not progressing well in your professional and personal life either. So take deep breathe and relax a bit. No charge for the advise!

  23. Lou vulovich, March 14, 2015 at 9:11 p.m.

    Hahaha. $35 K a year 50 something giving advice on personal and professional happiness. You are a clown who knows nothing about soccer and even less about life. Take your medication Paul and stick to commenting on recreational soccer. You could only dream about being as happy and as successful in your life as I am.

  24. Paul Williamson, March 15, 2015 at 9:53 a.m.

    Lou, First you took to insulting another team because of a loss. Now you've insulted every hardworking 50 year old making $35K a year. Since you are unaware happiness is not about how much money you make. It is clear that you're simple ignorant and not worthy on maintaining an educated dialogue with adults where we can agree to disagree without resorting to insults. So let me be the adult and remove myself from this non productive conversation. On a better note good luck to our US boys tonight!

  25. Lou vulovich, March 15, 2015 at 12:11 p.m.

    I simply commented on the poor skill level of the U17 Jamaican National Soccer and that based on their skill level the USA should beat this type of team 5-6-0.
    Follow the posts Paul, you started lecturing me on this post about what I should and should not say.
    And how I should say it.
    Paul stick to making your point and enjoy other peoples different views. I have never addressed another persons views personally or in any kind of negative manner. Again Paul I was commenting on the game and interested in other peoples views on that game. I am not interested in dialogue with you. You must be mistaking soccer America for Facebook. Thanks for being the ADULT

  26. Dwayne Chappell, March 15, 2015 at 12:21 p.m.

    Lou, You did not simply comment on the other teams skill level from what I've read. You were extremely disrespectful to the young lads. And now you are upset because you were called out on it. Thank you Paul, you made great points.

  27. Lou vulovich, March 15, 2015 at 12:41 p.m.

    Dwayne, I was not disrespectful to the young Jamaican boys only to their very poor skill level.
    It was a comment based on the way they played that game against the USA. 3 boys were fantastic the other 8 were atrocious with the technical level of recreational soccer players, and they still won the game. That was the point. No apologies made.

  28. Dwayne Chappell, March 15, 2015 at 12:53 p.m.

    The US lost, so try focusing on critiquing your US boys. Jamaica did the US a favor because they get a 3rd chance to qualify. The US also doesn't have to face Mexico or Canada. So be thankful versus an idiot ,

  29. Lou vulovich, March 15, 2015 at 1:31 p.m.

    Dwayne if Dwight York had watched that game he would have claimed he was from Trinidad.
    Clearly, if you have read my original posts, you'll know that the whole point of my comment was to critique the skill level of the US team. I would hope that people would stop viewing the criticism as a personal attack on the boys. Instead, you should give them some credit. They are trying to become world class professional athletes. If they are clearly exhibiting a very poor skill level, then a certain degree of criticism is necessary to make certain that the requisite changes are made to ensure that they represent their nations' soccer well in future. Also, as poor as the play was, it is unfair for the Jamaicans to have to beat the US twice.

  30. Dwayne Chappell, March 15, 2015 at 2:37 p.m.

    Lou, We can all read, your point in your post was not to critique the skill level of the US. Good try. maybe you should read your post again and maybe you will get it this time. It's simple your comment was in poor taste especially since the US lost.

    Lou vulovich
    commented on: March 12, 2015 at 5:16 p.m.
    i watched the game. Jamaica looked like a recreational team. Very sad not to win those games by 5-8 goals.

  31. Lou vulovich, March 15, 2015 at 2:52 p.m.

    Exactly. You are so sensitive to the criticism of the level of skill displayed by the Jamaican team that you miss the point. The only thing that real Jamaican soccer fans did during the game more then cheer was, cringe and laugh.

  32. John Bishop, March 16, 2015 at 9:57 a.m.

    Dwayne, I agree with Lou. What is so bad in making a comparison as to how you fell a team plays?? The overall play of the Jamaicans was low as far as skill and tecnical ability is concerned except for a few. If calling them a rec team is too harsh for you guys this only means you guys are too sensitive. WHat we should all be outraged about is the performance of our USA Teams in a time we were told they would be so much better. Our USA team proved yet again that they are not good enough to beat a lowly team like Jamaica, even thoiugh we were purposely paired with them as Costa Rica and Canada were better. We are told that Honduras tie is good result when Mexico completely runs over them in 3-0 win. Wake Up People!!

  33. Dennis Mueller, March 16, 2015 at 3:16 p.m.

    The US did not perform well when challenged physically. The last game was proof that that was corrected in the US defensive end, but the US attackers could not seem to get in front of Jamaican defenders to get a foot on multiple crosses coming in from the left. True, the crosses were pretty predictable, but it was always a Jamaican who fought his way to the ball not the US players. When/if the US finds some strikers who do not care how much it hurts to get into good spots and have the strength to get through to crosses, they will score more goals.

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