USA’s Ayo Akinola

The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team has taken control of Group A at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup after a 3-0 win over host India and a 1-0 shutout of Ghana, thanks to Ayo Akinola’s 75th minute goal.

U.S. coach John Hackworth’s U17s now have a Thursday meeting with Colombia to round out group play.  The U.S. dominated India in the opening win, but found the going more difficult against Ghana.

A scoreless first half did not lack for quality or action between the two sides. The U.S. seized the upper hand after the opening 10 minutes, carving out a host of opportunities that had the Ghana defense scrambling or forced goalkeeper Ibrahim Danlad into action. His counterpart at the other end, Justin Garces, also had to be on his toes in the later stages of the opening 45 minutes as Ghana was able to fight back into the game, but the U.S. ‘keeper and defense did well to limit the Black Sarlets to mostly speculative, long-range efforts.

The U.S. had done well in the first half to maintain the majority of possession in the first half and ultimately was able to do so again in the second despite a strong opening to the second stanza by Ghana. With the 90-plus degree weather beginning to take a toll, the U.S. defense bent but did not break as Ghana’s wingers began to get around the outside.

However, a smartly executed high press from the U.S. turned the game in its favor midway through the half as Chris Durkin came up with the ball deep in Ghana territory and initiated the passing sequence that ended with the ball on Akinola’s foot. The second half sub did the rest, beat multiple defenders and the goalkeeper with a deft finish to give the USA the 1-0 lead against the run of play.

Ten minutes later a clash of heads between U.S. captain Josh Sargent and Black Starlets Abdul Yusif reduced Ghana to 10 men as both sides had already used all three subs and Yusif could not re-enter the match due to injury.

With the man advantage, the U.S. put its foot on the ball, maintained possession and saw out six minutes of injury time to claim an impressive three points and go top of the Group A standings.

After the game, Hackworth responded to questions about the 4-3-3 system his team used against Ghana by saying, “That’s something that the youth team staff implemented. It puts us in a position on be both sides of the ball. We think it’s the best system for development.

“I don’t think it’s risky to do what we did. We believe we can compete with any team and that’s why we are here. We played the game in the manner that we have trained for the last three years. It was an excellent contest, more like a chess game.”

Up Next: The U-17 MNT next travels to Navi Mumbai for its Group A finale vs. Colombia. Kickoff from Dr. DY Patil Stadium is set for 10:30 a.m. ET, and the match can be seen live on FS2 and UNIVERSO.

2017 CONCACAF U-17 Championship Classification Group D
Team GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
USA 2 2 0 0 6 4 0 4
Ghana 2 1 1 0 3 1 1 0
Colombia 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 -1
India 1 0 1 0 0 0 3 -3

Goal Scoring Rundown: 

USA – Ayo Akinola (Chris Goslin), 75th minute: 
The U.S. employed a high pressure trap to win a turnover in Ghana’s defensive third. Chris Durkin came up with the ball on the left wing and picked out Goslin stationed just above the center of the box. He kept the ball moving over to Akinola on the right side of the box and the speedy substitute beat his defender before fending off another and lifting his shot over the onrushing Danlad for the game-winning goal. USA 1, GHA 0 FINAL

– U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Ghana
Date: Oct. 9, 2017
Competition: FIFA U-17 World Cup – Group A
Venue: Jawaharal Nehru Stadium; New Dehli, India
Kickoff: 7:30 a.m. ET (5 p.m. local)
Attendance: 17,500
Weather: 91, mostly sunny

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                          0 1 1
GHA                         0 0 0

USA – Ayo Akinola (Chris Goslin) 75th minute

USA: 1-Justin Garces; 2-Jaylin Lindsey, 3-Chris Gloster, 4-James Sands, 13-Sergino Dest (14-Akil Watts, 63); 8-Blaine Ferri, 6-Chris Durkin, 20-Chris Goslin; 10-Tim Weah (7-Ayo Akinola, 63), 9-Josh Sargent (Capt.), 11-Andrew Carleton (18-Indiana Vassilev, 81)
Subs not used: 5-Tyler Shaver, 12-CJ Dos Santos, 15-George Acosta, 16-Taylor Booth, 17-Bryan Reynolds, 19-Jacobo Reyes, 21-Alex Budnik
Head Coach: John Hackworth

GHA: 1-Danlad Ibrahim; 5-Najeeb Yakubu, 6-Eric Ayiah (Capt.), 8-Kudus Mohammed (9-Richard Danso, 73), 10-Emmanuel Toku (7-Ibrahim Sulley, 82); 11-Aminu Mohammed (13-Gabriel Leveh, 57), 12-Abdul Yusif (Exited in 85th, was not replaced), 15-Gideon Mensah, 17-Rashid Alhassan; 19-Sadiq Ibrahim, 20-Isaac Gyamfi
Subs not used: 2-John Out, 3-Gideon Acquah, 4-Edmund Arko-Mensah, 14-Bismark Owusu, 16-Kwame Aziz, 18-Mohammed Iddriss, 21-Michael Acquaye
Head coach: Fabian Samuel

Stats Summary: USA/GHA
Shots: 11/ 18
Shots on Goal: 2/3
Saves: 3/1
Corner Kicks: 2/5
Fouls: 10/9
Offside: 0/1

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Chris Goslin (Caution) 6th minute
GHA – Kudus Mohammed (Caution) 69
GHA – Richard Danso (Caution) 86

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