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February 22, 2011
U.S. Qualifies for U-17 World Cup with 3-2 win

MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – A goal in the 112th minute by Marc Pelosi proved decisive as the United States collected a hard-fought 3-2 win against El Salvador in the quarterfinals of the 2011 CONCACAF Under-17 Championship.

With the win, the U.S. qualified for its 14th consecutive FIFA U-17 World Cup, continuing the record of being the only nation to qualify for every edition of the event.

Alejandro Guido scored first for the United States in the fourth minute, but regulation ended 1-1 heading into the 30-minute extra time. Mario Rodriguez gave the U.S. the lead five minutes into extra time followed by Pelosi’s winner. A late El Salvador penalty wasn’t enough to keep the USA out of the semifinals where they will face the winner of the Jamaica-Honduras quarterfinal set for Wednesday.

The U.S. struck first off the head of Guido. Joe Amon got the ball back from his own throw in and curled a cross to the top of the six that cleared the Salvadoran defenders and found Guido, who snapped a near-post header for his first goal of the tournament.

Five minutes later it was El Salvador’s turn, once again finding space up the middle. Romel Mejia threaded a nifty pass to Castro, who forwarded on to Jose Pena. After two touches to keep his open space, he fired low past Piña to the far post.

The U.S. pulled ahead in the 95th minute, getting in behind the Salvadoran defense on the left flank as they had throughout the match. As Pelosi closed in on goal, he cleverly disguised a pass across, freezing the ‘keeper. Rodriguez was streaking to the far post, and calmly connected into the open net.

The goal took the wind out of El Salvador’s sails, and the U.S. took advantage in the 112th minute to seal the victory. Looked after by two defenders inside the right corner of the area, Guido split the pair and drove a low cross to the near post where Pelosi used his left foot to guide the ball home.

While the terms appeared to be settled, things got interesting in the closing minutes. In the 113th minute, defender Kellyn Acosta picked up his second yellow of the match.

One minute later, U.S. goalkeeper Piña rose high to collect a ball in the box and struck team captain Diego Galdamez in the chest with his leg, and Pena immediately retaliated by pushing Piña to the ground. The referee signaled for a penalty and issued both players red cards, forcing the U.S. to insert backup goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh as their third substitute. El Salvador’s Gerardo Iraheta converted the ensuing penalty, and with nine men the U.S. were able to run out the clock.

The 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup will be held in Mexico June 18-July 10.

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