Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
Following a tough 2-1 defeat to Portugal on Monday, the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team channeled their anger into a complete performance against another European foe.
U.S. forward Joe Gallardo scored a hat-trick in 85 minutes, while attacker Haji Wright added another two as the U.S. U-17s thrashed England, 5-1, in their second game of the Nike International Friendlies. The lone goal conceded by the USA came just two minutes after halftime on a beautifully taken free kick by England midfielder Marcus Edwards.
In eerily similar fashion to the match against Portugal, the U.S. opened the scoring against England in the 13th minute as left winger Pierre Da Silva dropped into the box unopposed, crossing to the far post where Gallardo met the pass with a sliding shot that sent the ball slowly over the line.
Three minutes later, Gallardo put the U.S. up two goals when he took advantage of a turnover in midfield, cut into the box, and finish with a powerful strike past England’s goalkeeper Ryan Sandford. The U.S. began to sit back following this, and England had two or three chances throughout the rest of the first half, though the Americans looked solid on the counter attack.
England could have grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck when they cut the deficit in half two minutes into the second half. A dangerous free kick at the top of the box was beautifully curled home by Edwards, and then in the 55th minute, England had the chance to tie the game when they were awarded a penalty kick.
However, Will Pulisic stepped up to the challenge and saved the penalty kick, giving the U.S. a renewed sense of hope. Substitute Luca de la Torre had a huge impact in the second half as did fellow substitute Christian Pulisic, and de la Torre in the 72nd minute dribbled through the England defense, finding Wright at the far post for a tap in to put the U.S. up two goals again.
Wright scored his second eight minutes later as the U.S. took advantage of another turnover and after some shifty moves by the LA Galaxy academy member, Wright fired past Sandford for the fourth goal of the game and his third in two days.
The U.S. completed the 5-1 rout in the 85th minute when a free kick fortuitously bounced in the direction of Gallardo, who finished through a defender’s legs in the box to earn his hat-trick.
Earlier in the day, ten-man Brazil tied Portugal, 1-1, in a feisty affair that saw the referee whistle for 33 fouls. Marcelo de Souza put Brazil up a goal in the 10th minute but Portugal answered back nine minutes later through Benfica product Ricardo Mangas. Brazil suffered a blow after two reckless fouls from Caique da Silva meant he was due for an early bath, receiving his second yellow card in the 26th minute. Despite playing more than an hour with an extra man, Portugal weren’t able to take advantage as the two sides settled for the draw.
With the win, the U.S. moves up to third place in the Nike Friendlies standings with three points, one behind both Portugal and Brazil, who are on four points. England sit at the bottom with zero points. If the U.S. wants to win this year’s tournament, they’ll need England to hold Portugal to either a draw or loss on Friday afternoon, before the USA take on Brazil in the tournament’s finale.
What did you think of this match? Impressed with Gallardo and Wright? Glad to see the U.S. score goals against a European opponent? How do you think Barbir played in central defense?
Share your thoughts below.