FIFA Under-17 World Championship: USA Outclasses Italy 3-1 to Move Into Quarterfinals

CHICLAYO Peru (From USSoccer.com) — The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Championship this afternoon with an impressive 3-1 victory against Italy in their second match at Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero in Chiclayo Peru. All three U.S. goals came in the second half with Ofori Sarkodie scoring first followed by Kyle Nakazawa and Ryan Soroka.

Sitting atop Group C with six points after outclassing the European giants the U.S. didn’t secure a spot in the quarterfinals until North Korea defeated Ivory Coast 3-0 in the second match of the day in Chiclayo. The U.S. will make their second straight appearance in the quarterfinals and their fifth appearance in 11 Under-17 World Championships.

This is the third time the U.S. has won their first two matches in group play also pulling off the feat in 1991 and 2003. The three-goal game marked the first time in the USA's 38-game U-17 World Championship history that the team has scored at least three goals in consecutive games.

The U.S. will take a chartered flight to Lima on Wednesday morning as they will play their final match at Estadio Nacional on Friday Sept. 23 against Ivory Coast. Kickoff for the match is 3:30 p.m. CT and will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel. Fans can also follow the match live on ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker presented by Philips Electronics.

"Getting a victory against Italy that enabled us to advance to the quarterfinals is a great achievement by our young players said U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team head coach John Hackworth who increased his record in international play to 14-3-1.

"We came out and executed our game plan almost perfectly today and were able to control the majority of the match. I was extremely impressed by how we played and were able to keep our composure for 90 minutes."

"Our job isn’t done even though we’ve qualified for the next round. We will enjoy this win but then begin to prepare for our final group match against Ivory Coast. "

After a scoreless first half dominated by the U.S. captain Ofori Sarkodie put the Americans on the board when he blasted home a free kick from Kyle Nakazawa in the 47th minute. Nakazawa flighted a perfect free kick from the left sideline into the area that Sarkodie brought down and then finished high into the net with a calm turn from six yards out.

The U.S. took a man advantage when Italy forward Salvatore Foti was shown a straight red in the 60th minute for an off-the-ball incident directed toward U.S. goalkeeper that was witnessed by the assistant referee.

Seven minutes later Nakazawa took it upon himself to score on another superbly taken set piece for the second straight game of the tournament. His 25-yard direct strike bent over the wall and into the upper left corner of the goal past Italian goalkeeper Enrico Alfonso.

The U.S. continued to cruise until Italy substitute Andrea Russotto began to give the U.S. fits in the midfield and eventually cut the U.S. lead in half when he scored in the 74th minute off a strange 45-yard free kick that tricked Rueckner. Russotto’s service from along the left sideline into the penalty area went over the head of everyone before skipping off the artificial turf and into the right side of the net.

With the lead down to one the U.S. showed a maturity in their game by not folding. Instead they continued to dominate and frustrate the Italians who eventually finished the game with six yellow cards and an ejected coach to go along with the red card.

Ryan Soroka got the final tally and secured the U.S. win by finishing into an empty net in the 90th minute after a dangerous long free kick from second-half substitute Amaechi Igwe dropped into the area for Preston Zimmerman. The scrappy forward fought through an Italian defender and was able to flick the ball past Alfonso into empty space for Soroka to finish easily. The goal by Soroka was the 1000th in the overall history of the FIFA U-17 World Championship.

"Scoring any goal feels so good so really it’s just another goal said Soroka who also tallied in the opener against North Korea. "I’m glad I was able to get the mark but I had no idea about it at the time obviously. I was more happy to just secure our win with the third goal."

The U.S. made a few slight changes on the backline to start the match putting Nikolas Besagno as a central defender and moving Blake Wagner to left back in place of Amaechi Igwe. The move paid dividends as Besagno’s physical presence was apparent as he along with the Ofori Sarkodie Kevin Alston and Wagner won head balls and frustrated Italy’s towering forwards throughout the match. In the 66th minute Besagno was substituted after twisting his ankle and is listed as day-to-day.

The U.S. was all over Italy from the opening whistle keeping possession setting the tempo and putting pressure on the Italian backline. Forward David Arvizu was the most dangerous player on the field during the entire 90 minutes as he continually found gaps behind Italy’s defenders on and off the dribble to put crosses into the box or find space himself to take a look on target.

Arvizu had his best opportunity of the first half in the 31st minute when he joined Zimmerman on a two-on-two towards goal. Michael Farfan threaded the ball straight down the middle of the field for Zimmerman and Arvizu sprinted up his right side as he dribbled forward towards the penalty area. Zimmerman pushed the ball to his right for Arvizu at the top of the 18 where he unleashed a low drive that went inches past the left post.

Three minutes later Arvizu had another chance when Blake Wagner sent in a cross from the left flank. All alone at the back post Arvizu took a settling touch but Davide Brivio was able to close down and block his half volley.

Arvizu continued to be active in the second half and was unlucky to get on the scoresheet. A number of times the seemingly tireless forward ran down long balls before beating defenders on the dribble to create space for a shot on goal.

The victory enacted a bit of revenge for the U.S. national team program as the Under-20s were bounced out of the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in the Netherlands this past June by Italy in the Round of 16.

- U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Game Report -

Participants: USA vs. Italy
Competition: 2005 FIFA Under-17 World Championship
Location: Estadio Elias Aguirre Romero; Chiclayo Peru
Date: September 20 2005
Weather: Cool 65 degrees
Attendance: 15240

Scoring Summary:
1 2 F
USA 0 3 3
Italy 0 1 1

USA – Ofori Sarkodie (Kyle Nakazawa) 47th minute
USA – Kyle Nakazawa 66.
ITA – Andrea Russotto 74.
USA – Ryan Soroka (Preston Zimmerman) 90.

Lineups:

USA: 1-Bryant Rueckner; 3-Kevin Alston 5-Ofori Sarkodie (capt.) 16-Nikolas Besagno (2-Amaechi Igwe 66) 13-Blake Wagner; 6-Quavas Kirk (4-Josmer Altidore 71) 8-Kyle Nakazawa 19-Michael Farfan (14-Neven Subotic 83) 11-Ryan Soroka; 9-Preston Zimmerman 10-David Arvizu.
Subs not used: 7-Omar Gonzalez 12-Gabriel Farfan 15-Daniel Kelly 17-Jeremy Hall 18-Deigo Restrepo 20-Brian Perk.
Head Coach: John Hackworth

ITA: 1-Enrico Alfonso; 2-Davide Brivio 3-Lorenzo De Silvestri (capt.) 4-Manuel Angelucci ( 16-Matteo Scozzarella 74) 5-Michele Cremonesi; 6-Daniele Greco (10-Andrea Russotto 65) 7-Tommaso D’Attoma (17-Michael Cia 57) 8-Simone Palmero 18-Marco Mancosu; 9-Cristian Tiboni 11-Salvatore Foti.
Subs not used: 12-Paolo Tornaghi 13-Fabio Franceschini 14-Stefano Mauri 15-Matteo Mandorlini 19-Marco Dalla Costa 20-Simone Santarelli.
Head Coach: Francesco Rocca

Misconduct Summary:
ITA – Michele Cremonesi (caution) 28th minute.
ITA – Lorenzo De Silvestri (caution) 54.
ITA – Daniele Greco (caution) 56.
USA – David Arvizu (caution) 58.
ITA – Salvatore Foti (ejection) 60.
ITA – Manuel Angelucci (caution) 67.
ITA – Andrea Russotto (caution) 76.
ITA – Francesco Rocca - Head Coach (ejection) 83.
ITA – Michael Cia (caution) 88.

Officials:
Referee: Mark Shield (AUS)
1st Assistant: Nathan Gibson (AUS)
2nd Assistant: Ben Wilson (AUS)
Fourth Official: Marco Rodriguez (MEX)