Mario Rodriguez and Marc Pelosi scored goals in extra time to propel the United States Under-17 national team to a wild 3-2 victory over El Salvador in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF U-17 championships. The victory booked a place in the semifinals of the tournament and clinched a berth in the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico for coach Wilmer Cabrera's squad.
In the 96th minute, Rodriguez finished off an unselfish pass from Pelosi, who had gotten in on goal from the left on a counterattack but elected to slot a ball across the center of the area. Rodriguez ran onto the pass and finished into a vacated net to put the United States ahead.
Pelosi added the eventual game-winner by touching home a cross from Alejandro Guido in the 112th minute before chaos ensued.
After U.S. defender Kellyn Acosta was sent off for picking up his second yellow card, El Salvador forward Jose Pena and U.S. goalkeeper Fernando Pina were involved in an altercation that got both players sent off with straight red cards.
Pina was given a red for kicking an El Salvador player in the box while trying to make a play on the ball in the air, and Pena retaliated by getting physical with Pina.
Backup keeper Kendall McIntosh was pressed into duty and promptly yielded the ensuing penalty to Geraldo Iraheta, which got El Salvador back within one goal, but the United States held on with nine men to advance.
Guido got the United States off to a strong start with a goal off a header in the fifth minute, but the lead was short lived. Pena equalized for El Salvador four minutes later, and the teams played through the 1-1 scoreline until extra time.
Acosta and Pina should not be available for the United States' semifinal match against either Jamaica or Honduras, who will face each other in a quarterfinal on Wednesday. Panama, which qualified for the U-17 World Cup for the first time after defeating Costa Rica earlier in the day, will face either Canada or Trinidad and Tobago in the other semifinal.
What do you think about the result? Relieved the United States qualified? Think the USA can win the CONCACAF title?
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