Thursday, August 23, 2007

US U-17's Fall Again: US 1-3 Tunisia

Highlights here.

This result puts Tunisia through to the round of 16. Spain, Brazil, and Nigeria have also qualified early.

With 0 wins and a goal differential of -3, this result also means that out of 24 teams total, only two have worse records than us: Trinidad and Tobago (!!), with 1 goal for and 9 against, and New Zealand (!!!!), with 0 goals for and 12 against.

I stand by my observation that today's U-17's are more technical than our U-17's of the past, but I'm also realizing that they're still pretty amateur. If someone were to cite their performance vs. Tunisia as evidence that our youth development system is in dire need of reform, I would agree.

Three out of the four goals scored in that match were penalties, granted. Yet Tunisia's last goal just before the whistle, the one goal not taken from the spot, was a damn gift. There were only two US defenders minding the backfield and they were practically shoulder to shoulder in the center of the pitch. Tunisia chipped it wide, blasted down the wing, passed it across the face of goal, and buried the sitter. If the game were any higher than U-17 level, I'd say conceding that kind of goal is shameful.

With two straight losses, the U-17's are very hard-pressed to qualify for the round of 16. According to's write-up:

"With a victory in their final match, the U.S. would be tied with Belgium on three points but would secure third-place in the group due to tie-breakers. At the least, a one-goal victory against Belgium would put the teams tied in goal differential (the first tie-breaker), but the U.S. would have a greater number of goals scored (the second tie-breaker). Whether they would advance as a third-place team depends on the results from the other five groups.
The U.S. could also finish second in the group and secure a spot in the knockout round if they defeat Belgium, depending on the result in the Tunisia-Tajikistan match." Tunisia would have to score an epic win over Tajikstan for this to be true. It's all on the line now.

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