February 15, 2011
CRUISING PAST CUBA
U.S. U-17s open with 3-1 win
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica — Andrew Oliver delivered a goal and an assist as the U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team earned a 3-1 win against Cuba in their opening group match of the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Monday night. Alfred Koroma opened the scoring and Esteban Rodriguez added a third as the U.S. improved their all-time unbeaten record against Cuba in U-17 qualifying to 4-0-2.
Solar Chelsea FC striker Koroma put the U.S. ahead in the 27th minute, tapping home a rebound after Oliver’s shot was denied by Cuban goalkeeper Sandy Sanchez. Oliver was on the receiving end of a fantastic outlet pass from Esteban Rodriguez and blew past his mark, firing a low drive that was blocked by a good save from Sanchez and sat up perfectly for Koroma to calmly finish.
The U.S. doubled their lead in the 46th minute. A long ball out of the back from Mobi Fehr was flicked on perfectly by Oliver to Mario Rodriguez’s feet. The striker then took a touch and perfectly placed a back heel right back into the path of Oliver’s feet. Oliver then took a touch while shielding off a defender and slotted the ball past Sanchez.
The goal sparked a renewed vigor to the U.S. attack. Four minutes later, the U.S. pounced on a loose ball and Serna played it ahead to Dillon Serna. Serna smoothly played a ball back to Esteban Rodriguez who calmly took it in stride and slipped it past Sanchez for the third and final U.S. goal.
Cuba snatched one back in the 69th minute when Dairon Perez took advantage of some confusion in the U.S. penalty area to surprise Piña with a well-struck shot. The Cubans had a nice buildup to create the chance, the goal adding life to their effort.
In the opening game of the tournament, played just before the USA’s game, Costa Rica topped Haiti 3-1 to take control of Group A. Groups A and B both continue play on Wednesday when Haiti faces El Salvador and Cuba plays Panama.
The U.S. U-17s round out play in the three-team Group B on Friday, Feb. 18, against Panama with a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff at Jarrett Park. The top two teams in each group will advance to the quarterfinals with Group B set to crossover against Group A which is made up of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Haiti. The winner of Group B will face the second-place finisher in Group A, and vice versa. The quarterfinal winners will move on to the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Mexico.