March 9, 2009
SCORELESS WITH HONDURAS
U.S. U-20s hold own fate
BACOLET, Tobago ---The U.S. Under-20 Menís National Team played to a scoreless draw against Honduras in a Group A game on Sunday night at the CONCACAF Under-20 Championship at Dwight Yorke Stadium. The U.S. played a man down for the last 30 minutes of a game that was halted for 35 minutes because of a power outage.
The draw keeps the U.S. atop of the group with four points. Jamaica, after a 2-1 win against El Salvador, has three points, Honduras has two points and El Salvador has one. All four teams are still in the running to advance to both the semifinals of the tournament and the 2009 FIFA Under-20 World Cup.
The U.S. controls its own fate and can secure advancement as one of the top two teams in the group with a win or tie against El Salvador on Tuesday, March 10(7 p.m. ET). Before the U.S. kicks off, Jamaica and Honduras will play their final group game and the match could have major implications for the Americans. If those two teams tie, the U.S. would also be able to advance with a loss to El Salvador.
"As we had anticipated, the game against Honduras was very tough," said U.S. head coach Thomas Rongen. "We are happy that we were able to put ourselves in a good position to determine our own fate heading into our last game against El Salvador."
Honduras kept the U.S. under pressure throughout the game and in just the fifth minute, Roger Rojas nearly gave the Central Americans the lead. Mario Martinez, who was dangerous on the left wing throughout the game, hit a low driven ball across the goal mouth. Rojas got a foot to it but Brian Perk made a great reaction save, the first of many for him on the night, to keep the game scoreless.
Brek Shea earned a U.S. free kick in the 36th minute, setting Dilly Duka up from about 25 yards, but Duka's shot missed the target. Continuing the pressure, Peri Marosevic set up Jared Jeffrey by holding the ball up and laying it off to the midfielder about 20 yards from goal. Jeffrey smacked a one-timer that went high over the net, leaving the game scoreless heading into the half.
Similar to the start of the game, Honduras came out of the locker room firing. This time it was Erick Salvador Andino who ripped a shot from long range that forced Perk into a one handed save as he was able to tip the ball over the crossbar.
In the 60th minute, midfielder Billy Schuler, who had entered the game just minutes earlier, was issued a straight red card for a tackle against Jose Israel Fonseca, forcing the U.S. to play a man down for the remainder of the game.
Despite being down a man, second-half substitute Brian Ownby was able to spark the U.S. attack with his speed down the right wing. In the 70th minute, he dribbled through a pair of Honduras defenders and played the ball across the goal looking for Shea, but it was just out of reach.
Honduras had an opportunity to take a late lead when Jose Francisco Valladares surprised the U.S. defense by hitting a shot from long range that just missed the far post. In stoppage time, a pair of corner kicks were cleared out by the U.S. defense just seconds before the final whistle ended the game scoreless.