U.S. U-17s escape with 2-2 tie against Croatia

In its second game at the U-17 World Cup, the USA squandered a 2-0 halftime lead and were lucky to escape with a 2-2 tie against Croatia on Tuesday in Vina del Mar, Chile.

The Americans, who opened with a 2-0 loss to Nigeria, will need a win Friday (6:30 pm ET, NBC Universo, FS2) against host Chile to keep its hopes of second-round passage alive.

After Luka Ivanusec scored the 2-2 equalizer in the 77th minute, Croatia hit the post three times, including twice in stoppage time.

In a first half during which Croatia threatened mainly with long-range shots handled by U.S. goalkeeper William Pulisic, the Americans went ahead on goals in the 20th and 40th minutes. Christian Pulisic was instrumental in both.

After Josh Perez delivered the ball to Luca de la Torre streaking through the middle, three Croatians converged on de la Torre as he stroked the ball into Pulisic’s path. His low shot from 12 yards beat the diving keeper Adrian Semper for the USA’s first goal of the tournament.

Pulisic, who had been attacking mainly from the left, appeared on the right wing five minutes before halftime and drove in a cross that Brandon Vazquez headed hard into the net from seven yards out. Vazquez had missed an open-net sitter from five yards four minutes earlier.

While the USA managed a slight edge (53%-47%) in first-half possession, the second-half was stunningly lop-sided in Croatia’s favor. The Croatians out-shot the USA 18-1 in the final 45 minutes after an 11-5 edge in the first half. The full game possession stats favored Croatia 57%-43%.

Desperate goalmouth clearances and saves by William Pulisic kept the Croatians at bay until the 65th minute when Ivanusec beat left back John Nelson to Borna Sosa’s high cross. The deflection landed conveniently for Karlo Majic to slam home from six yards.

Croatia continued to its torment of the U.S. defense, especially on right back Tyler Adams’ side, from where Josip Brekalo broke through to lay on a ball that Ivanusec directed into the net from 19 yards.

Oct. 20 in Vina del Mar
USA 2 Croatia 2. Goals: C.Pulisic 20, Vasquez 40; Majic 65, Ivanusec 77.
USA – W. Pulisic; Adams, Arellano, Barbir, Nelson; McCabe, de la Torre (Wright, 83), C. Pulisic, Zendejas; Vasquez (Gallardo 75), Perez (Calvillo, 68).
Croatia -- Semper, Sosa, Erlic (Dira, 44), Kalaica, Soldo, Brekalo, Durasek (Ivanusec, 44), Majic (Babic, 83), Moro, Lovren, Sverko.

10 comments about "U.S. U-17s escape with 2-2 tie against Croatia".
  1. Santiago 1314, October 20, 2015 at 8:09 p.m.


  2. Santiago 1314 replied, October 20, 2015 at 8:28 p.m.

    Better.???..."BETTER GET A BUCKET, I THINK I'M GOING TO THROW UP"(Monty Python-Life of Brian'83) ...Come On Coach Richie.!?!?!?...Coaching 101...The WORST Score to have at Half-Time IS.???..???...???..2-0.!!!...When they Countered with 2 Wide Wings and Crosses; You should have Countered with 5-3-2...You left Your Outside Backs TOOooo Far Inside, and they were always LATE in getting Out to Cut Off the Crosses...Pissed Away a Good 1st Half...Good choice with Vasquez at Hi-Forward and Pulisic at the Lo-Forward...7 for all the Players; Much more Passion and Play...2 for Coaching

  3. aaron dutch, October 20, 2015 at 8:36 p.m.

    This is improvement, we are in a true group of death. If we can get a draw vs. Chile that is a solid U17 in the group of death. Lets be realistic we are not winning but if we can be even in the best group this year then next time we can advance its a process.

  4. Soccer Madness replied, October 21, 2015 at 8:39 a.m.

    Improvement? On what? This U17 team was beating Brazil and Coratia just 1-2 years ago. They were severely outplayed for 80% of the game by Croatia who deserved the win. When will we understand that being outplayed like this but puking off a win isnnot improvement. From all the games I've watched our U17 team is the only one tobbunker tobget a result. Improvement?

  5. Santiago 1314 replied, October 21, 2015 at 11:25 a.m.

    Group of "Dead Beats" would be More Precise...We Can even Park the "Bunker Bus" infront of the Goal Properly...Nigeria Is the only Decent team from this Bracket...They Thumped Host Chile 5-1...Nigeria is ALWAYS A Favorite at this Age Group... They just don't have a Good Birth Year Registration System... It evens out we all players reach Maturity...

  6. Soccer Madness, October 21, 2015 at 8:42 a.m.

    Not the group of death. Germany, Mexico, Argentina are group of death. Mali, South Korea, Brazil, England tougher as well. Croatia has 9 of its players that belong to One Croatian club! That's right. We basically lost to a club team.

  7. BJ Genovese, October 21, 2015 at 9:27 a.m.

    Group of Death? Seriously? Did you watch Brazil-Korea? I think anyone commenting on the USA u17 is required from this point on to watch other games in this tourney. Then you will start to put the pieces together.

  8. Eric Dibella, October 21, 2015 at 9:38 a.m.

    I only saw the second half, and it was depressing at best. The Croatians broke down our defense with skills and ball possession. When in the world are we ever going to have a team that does this on a regular basis at any level?

  9. Santiago 1314 replied, October 22, 2015 at 11:33 a.m.

    Or as the Croation Coach Dario Basic put it: "If you offered the draw at halftime, I would have taken it....Then we asked for THE HEART of our players and they responded with PERSONALITY and also with TALENT."...Humm,!?!?!?... When was the Last Time we saw a USA Men's Team play with Heart, Personality and Talent.???...Even the Women's Team Started Slacking, until they put that Big, Bad A$$; Morgan Brian in the Midfield {sarcasm}...See; "It's not the Size of the Dog in the Fight, It's the Size of The Fight in the Dog" (Mark Twain)...and She Brought It.!!!...With Personality and Heart and Talent...One Player, in the Right Spot CAN make ALL THE DIFFERENCE...

  10. Soccer Madness, October 23, 2015 at 10:36 a.m.

    What many fail to see is that Croatia had a few 1v1 players that broke us down at will. That was biggest reason they were better than us. We will never be at their level if we dont scout, encourage and develop those type of players.

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