Under-17 World Cup Finals: 1 in, 1 to go

Spain 2, Ghana 1

The Ghanaians will be hard-pressed to walk away from this one not feeling a bit odd. The game was truly equal, but it all came down to which team had the difference-maker. For Spain – Bojan has been that guy, all tournament. Yesterday’s semifinal was no different as it was his strike with 5 minutes to go the second extra-time that beat a Ghanaian squad most known this tournament for ejecting Brazil in the early knockout rounds. Speaking of ejections, Bojan – the gamewinner and an extremely promising Barcelona product – found himself ejected at the 120′ mark after accumulating two cautions. The game was presumably over and Ghana’s promising run came to an end, but not without already having a tremendous impact. Two players really stood out and many are poised to snap them up as future prospects – so watch out for the names – Ransford Osei (5 g) and Sadick Adams (5 g).

Germany vs. Nigeria TOMORROW

The last match-up today sees Germany as the favorites as they defeated a strong Ghana 3-2 in the first round as well as the revived American team and a tough England squad. Nigeria, though, has progressed through a minefield of a talent as well beating Argentina in the quarterfinals and dispatching of France in the round-robin stage. The Germans are led by Richard Sukuta-Pasu (4 g), a Leverkusen product, and a wise-way-beyond-his-years Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich – go figure – product), while Nigeria’s Macauley Chrisantus (6 g and tourney leading goalscorer) is making the kind of noise that German Bundesliga teams really like and aim to invest in. If the 17-year old can find enough chances and turn this thing into a shootout, I bet you Nigeria will come out on top. If the Germans hunker down and defend like they know how, it’s a Germany/Spain final. The way this tournament has been, however, favors the shootout and Nigeria in the final.

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United States U-17’s Seep Through the Cracks, Face Germany

Round of 16

Spain vs. People’s Republic of Korea (8/29)
Tunisia vs. France (8/29)
Peru vs. Tajikistan (8/29)
Ghana vs. Brazil (8/29) – an intriguing match-up of two dominant youth squads whose senior squads happen to play each other at this point of the 2006 WC in Germany

Argentina vs. Costa Rica (8/30)
Nigeria vs. Colombia (8/30)
England vs. Syria (8/30)
United States vs. Germany (8/30)

Quarterfinals to be played Sept 1st and Sept 2th, 2007
Semifinals to be played Sept 5th and Sept 6th, 2007
Consolation to be played Sept 9th, 2007
Finals to be played Sept 9th, 2007

The US Under-17s got the win they needed with a 2-0 shutout of a 10-man Belgian squad. As seen above, the Americans will take on a tough German squad who advanced out of Group F by defeating quality squads from Colombia and Ghana, while the US boys went through on Goals For as their Goal Differential of -1 was tied with Tajikistan. Alex Nimo has been real quiet through out the group stages and they’re going to have to find him if they plan to beat Germany. Next round opponents would either be England or Syria.

United States Under-17s lose opening game 4-3 to Tajikistan

The U-17s suffered a surprise setback to their opening round in South Korea today. Possibly a firm display of underestimating your opponent, but after this loss, neither of their remaining matches seem easy. They will play Tunisia, Thursday, August 23rd and whoopee! it’s on ESPN 2 at the wee hours of the morning (4:00am) and then take on a Belgian squad sitting in fourth place on Sunday, August 26th. The young’uns were sunk by two late goals as each team took turns pummeling each other on the offensive end. The absence of Alex Nimo was surely a factor in the loss and his presence has to be made evident if the US boys are going to advance to the next round. Game recap and standings below…

Scoring Summary:
            1   2   F
USA    1   2   3
TJK     2   2   4 

USA – Mykell Bates (Greg Garza) 9th minute
TJK – Farkhod Vasiev 32.
TJK – Samad Shohzukhurov (Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev) 43.
USA – Greg Garza (Billy Schuler) 48.
USA – Billy Schuler (Alex Nimo) 53.
TJK – Nuriddin Davronov 82.
TJK – Fatkhullo Fatkhuloev 86.

Lineups:
USA:
18-Zac MacMath; 2-Sheanon Williams, 3-Mykell Bates (capt.), 6-Danny Wenzel, 7-Kofi Sarkodie; 8-Jared Jeffrey, 10-Bryan Dominguez (9-Ellis McLoughlin, 86), 17-Greg Garza (16-Brandon Zimmerman, 79), 19-Alex Nimo; 11-Abdusalam Ibrahim (15- Brek Shea, 72), 13-Billy Schuler
Subs Not Used: 1-Josh Lambo, 4-Tommy Meyer, 5-Chris Klute, 12-Kirk Urso, 14-Daniel Cruz, 20-Larry Jackson, 21-Brendan King

US Soccer’s Match Report

The full standings are here.