November 3, 2009
GUNNING FOR ITALY
U.S., prepares for U-17 WC 2nd round
After finishing second in Group E at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, the United States continues its run in the second round when the Americans face Italy Wednesday at 4 p.m. local time (10 a.m. ET).
Despite an opening loss to eventual group winner Spain, the Americans bounced back for wins over Malawi and United Arab Emirates to earn six points and a chance to play the Group F winners. Wednesday’s game from Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna, Nigeria, can be seen live on ESPN360.com, and followed with ussoccer.com’s MatchTracker or at twitter.com/ussoccer.
Italy earned wins over Algeria and Korea Republic and a draw against Uruguay in the group finale to earn seven points and the Group F title to advance to the knockout stage for the first time since 1987 and only the second time overall at this event.
Only Iran’s defense was more stingy than the Italians in group play, as Italy ranked second-best among the 24 teams by allowing one goal in three matches. They have yet to allow a goal from the run of play, as South Korea’s goal came from the penalty spot.
Already having clinched a spot in the round of 16 entering their third group match, Italy inserted five first-time starters against Uruguay and came away with a scoreless draw. Goalkeeper Mattia Perin, one of four Italy players to play every minute for the team, will miss the U.S. match with a cut on his foot, according to FIFA.com. Franceso Bardi, who deputized for Perin at the UEFA U-17 championship and appeared in one match, will likely take his place.