Photo by ISIPhotos.com
By DAN KARELL
The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team proved on Friday that they can not only compete with nations like Brazil in terms of skill, but also in terms of discipline and mental strength.
Backed by another final two-goal night from Haji Wright and one goal and two assists from Joe Gallardo, the U.S. finished off the Nike International Friendlies tournament in style, defeating nine-man Brazil, 4-1 to win the tournament. It’s the second tournament title in three years for the USA.
Both teams came into the final match of the tournament knowing that a win would earn them the title, but just like they had in their two previous games, it was the U.S. who struck first.
On a counter attack after a turnover in midfield, LA Galaxy academy product Wright dribbled nearly 40 yards, handled a defender trying to muscle him off the ball, and finished past Brazil’s goalkeeper in the eighth minute to give the U.S. a perfect start. The U.S. kept up the pressure but it was Brazil who was the next to score, as Xavier played a terrific ball over the top that Marcelo da Souza controlled and finished inside the box in the 16th minute.
The tied scoreline didn’t last long though as Gallardo, just two days after scoring a hat-trick against England, scored off a scrum in the box from a corner kick to put the U.S. back in front in the 22nd minute.
That goal marked as close as Brazil would get for the rest of the game, as the U.S. remained in control and went up a man just before the half. Brazil’s Evander da Souza was shown a straight red card in the 40th minute for a studs-up challenge on U.S. right back Matthew Olosunde, who seemed to be OK after it.
Gallardo played provider in the second half as he set up goals from Pulisic (56th minute) and Wright (68th minute) to give the U.S. the title. Brazil had a second man sent off in the 86th minute as Jordan William fouled Christian Pulisic, and the referee actually ended the game before the 90 minutes were up. Brazil’s players didn’t cross the halfway line after that red card, so the U.S. just held the ball and stood in place.
Finally, about 30 seconds before the 90 minutes were to finish, the referee blew the whistle to end the match, setting off wild celebrations from the U.S. players and those in the stands.