Defending champ Nigeria spoils U.S. start at U-17 World Cup

By Mike Woitalla

There's a chance that the USA faced the strongest team, based on history and Saturday's performance, at the U-17 World Cup when it fell, 2-0, to Nigeria in the Group A opener in Santiago, Chile.

Nigeria is defending champion, a record four-time winner of the U-17 World Cup, and three-time runner-up.

The USA had a promising start to the game with Christian Pulisic orchestrating from the left side, but well before the first half hit the halfway point, Nigeria found its stride and dominated for the rest of the game. The Golden Eaglets outshot the Americans 19-5 while the USA failed to force a save from Nigeria goalkeeper Akpan Udoh.


Coach Richie Williams' team did survive the onslaught until the 50th minute, when defender Austin Trusty botched his attempt to clear a cross from John Lazarus, setting up a close-range blast into the net from Chukwudi Agor.

Eleven minutes later, Agor headed an up-the-middle U.S. goal kick to Victor Osimhen, who shook off a challenge from U.S. captain Hugo Arellano before stroking the ball past U.S. keeper Will Pulisic.

Trusty, the only field player added to the squad that Williams used at the qualifying tournament in March, was ejected in the 87th minute.

Nigeria was denied a bigger win by U.S. keeper Pulisic, giving the USA a silver lining of not entering its final two Group A games with a worse goal differential. The top two finishers and best four third-place finishers of the six groups earn second-round passage.

"We are obviously disappointed because of the outcome," U.S. coach Williams told "We played a good first half, we were balanced, solid and we even created some chances that we were not able to convert. Nigeria scored two quick goals, but thanks to unfortunate errors on our side. We were hoping to be more effective, but we lost against a good Nigerian team."

Nigeria coach Emmanuel Amuneke said, "Considering it was the first match, I think it was a good game. At the beginning it was pretty even, everything very tactical, neither of us wanted to make a mistake. At halftime I told my players to believe in themselves, and it worked, because we were more precise. Besides the three points, which are very important, I also liked that we kept our heads even when we could not get things going."

In the other Group A opener, host Chile settled for a 1-1 tie with Croatia, the USA's next opponent Tuesday (4 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 2 and NBC Universo).

U-17 World Cup: TV Schedule & Results

Oct. 17 in Santiago
Nigeria 2 USA 0. Goals: Agor 50, Osimhen (Agor) 61.
Nigeria -- Udoh; Lazarus, Enogela, Zakari, Bamgboye (Chukwueze, 81); Osimhen (Okwonkwo, 90+3), Nwakali, Agor (Michael, 61), Ikwu; Anumudu, Ebere.
USA -- Pulisic; Olosunde (Adams, 67), Trusty, Arellano, Nelson; Zendejas, Calvillo, Perez; Wright (de la Torre, 64), Gallardo (da Silva, 83), Pulisic.
Red card: Trusty (USA) 87.
Referee: Deniz Aytekin (GER).
Att.: 20,637.

El TRI OPENS WITH BIG WIN. Mexico, runner-up at the last U-17 World Cup and champion in 2011 and 2005, opened with a convincing 2-0 win over Argentina on goals by Kevin Magana and Eduardo Venegas. Abraham Romero, a Southern Californian who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy's U.S. Soccer Development Academy team, started in goal for Mexico.


Roster: U.S. U-20 women prep in Spain

The U.S. U-20 women's national team, which is preparing for December's qualifying tournament for the 2016 U-20 World Cup,  is training in Madrid Oct. 19-29. U.S. coach Michelle French took a squad 21 players.

With college ball in midseason, 19 of the squad members are youth club players. The USA will play Spanish first division clubs Atletico Madrid (Oct. 23) and Rayo Vallecano (Oct. 27).

The Concacaf U-20 Women's Championship, Dec. 3-13 in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, will send three teams to the 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.

Players at this camp range from five different birth years, 1996 to 2000. The age cut-off for this group is players born on or after Jan. 1, 1996.

The two collegians in the squad are goalkeepers Rose Chandler and Samantha Leshnak, currently back-ups at Penn State and North Carolina, respectively.

U.S. U-20 women’s national team
GOALKEEPERS (3): Rose Chandler (Penn State; Atlanta, Ga.), Brooke Heinsohn (New England FC; Norfolk, Mass.), Samantha Leshnak (UNC; Liberty Township, Ohio).
DEFENDERS (5): Julie Doyle (San Diego Surf; Laguna Niguel; Calif.), Samantha Hiatt (Crossfire FC; Newcastle, Wash.), Zoe Morse (Michigan Hawks; East Lansing, Mich.), Taylor Otto (CASL; Apex, N.C.), Kiara Pickett (Eagles SC; Santa Barbara, Calif.).
MIDFIELDERS (6): Marley Canales (San Diego Surf; San Diego, Calif.), Savannah DeMelo (Beach FC; Bellflower, Calif.), Alissa Gorzak (Eclipse Soccer Club; Naperville, Ill), Jordan Harr (Dallas Sting; Sachse, Texas), Brianna Pinto (CASL; Durham, N.C.), Taryn Torres (FC Dallas; Frisco, Texas).
FORWARDS (7): Marissa Bosco (Eclipse Soccer Club; St. Charles, Ill.), Emily Fox (FC Virginia; Ashburn, Va.), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado; Highlands Ranch, Colo.), Zoe Redei (Eclipse Soccer Club; Highland Park, Ill.), Ashley Sanchez (SoCal Blues; Monrovia, Calif.), Alexa Spaanstra (Michigan Hawks; Brighton, Mich.), Ella Stevens (GSA; Grayson, Ga.).

8 comments about "Defending champ Nigeria spoils U.S. start at U-17 World Cup ".
  1. VIC Aguilera, October 19, 2015 at 7:51 p.m.

    Like I said before, Haji Wright is the second coming of Altidore. Coach Williams best move was subbing him.

  2. Santiago 1314 replied, October 20, 2015 at 9:58 p.m.

    Kid looks like he has Grown 12 inches In 3 months...Awkward and Clumsy...Not what I expected from all b the Pub..

  3. Dustin Johnson, October 20, 2015 at 10:45 a.m.

    Is Abraham Romero, a Southern Californian? Is that how we are describing players that elect to not play for their country, their state affiliation?? Last time I checked the name of this site is Soccer America and its in English.

  4. Soccer Madness replied, October 20, 2015 at 10:40 p.m.

    ISnt Romero the kid they had as 3rd string goalie for USA not too long ago? Can you blame him for being #1 in Mexico? Same difference as all those Germans playing for USA. you dont think they would all rather play for Germany?

  5. Santiago 1314 replied, October 21, 2015 at 1:26 p.m.

    True that..."Oriundi" Every where..

  6. Daniel Clifton, October 20, 2015 at 11:39 a.m.

    I watched a good portion of this game and saw the same old same old, a US team that is out skilled and out possessed. Nigeria dominated this game. I see long balls to nowhere. Pay to play has to go. What happened to "the Pyramid is upside down" from Klinsmann. No action, just talk.

  7. Forever Blue, October 26, 2015 at 11:20 p.m.

    What made this worse is that this was not even a strong Nigerian team. They finished 4th in the African qualifying.

  8. Richard Brown, November 13, 2015 at 3:22 p.m.

    There is no way to check the age of Nigerian players. They are big very fast and skillful.

    I had three of them years ago. They did not go back to Nigeria they stayed in the US with there chaperone. I found them by accident in the Brooklyn central league.

    I gave them to a friends team in the Italian league here. Then they came with us to the Dallas club.

    That was when Paul Gardener called us the most skillful team in the Dallas cup under 19.

    Then they went to Tulsa. They played on Martin Luther kings HS team in Manhattan. I think they were 35 by then :)

    One went to the MLS.

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