Photo by John Dorton/ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Aegean Cup.
Facing four-time defending champions France in the opening match of the international Under-16 tournament in Turkey, the U.S. squad defeated their European opponents, 2-1, with goals scored by forward Joe Gallardo and midfielder Christian Pulisic.
From the opening whistle, USA forward Haji Wright proved to be a handful for the France defense, using his pace and power to get in behind the defenders at multiple opportunities. In the 31st minute, Wright used his speed to burst past his defender, taking the ball to the byline before crossing in to the middle to a wide-open Gallardo, who tapped home with ease.
U.S. goalkeeper Kevin Silva made a number of saves, including one on a penalty kick and the ensuing rebound. However, the Bethlehem, Penn. native couldn’t stop Arnaud Nordin’s directed toe poke inside the six yard box as France tied the score in the 69th minute.
Wright picked up his U.S. teammates in the 80th minute, using some shifty moves to force his defender to take him down in the box, earning the USA a penalty kick. Pulisic, the U.S. No. 10, stepped to the spot and made no mistake, freezing the France goalkeeper in his place.
With the win, the U.S. U-17s move up to second place in Group B, one spot behind Norway, who defeated Scotland 3-0 and lead the U.S. on goal difference. The USA returns to action on Tuesday with a game against Norway.
Here are highlights of the match:
What do you think of this result? What stood out the most to you? Impressed with Wright’s pace and power?
Share your thoughts below.