US Under 17s fall to Nigeria in World Cup opener

Published Saturday, October 17, 2015 6:42 PM by Shane Barrow

Today marked the opening game for the USA at the 2015 FIFA Under 17 World Cup.  To me, this is one of my favorite events.  Loads of passion on display. Wide open, attacking soccer and the young stars of tomorrow. The Americans opened with a difficult game against the defending under 17 champions Nigeria.

The African side arrived pretty much as advertised.  Talented, athletic and dangerous in every phase of the game.  A serious test for the young US boys.

The opening twenty minutes were wide open as both teams got good attacks.  The defenses were looking a bit shaky, but they were holding on.  The Americans were getting anything they wanted down the left flank and were able to put some very dangerous balls through the Nigerian box.  They went unfinished though with Haji Wright narrowly missing a redirection just over the crossbar.

Nigeria wrested control of the match from there and kept the US Under 17s bottled up in their own end the rest of the opening half.  The pressing Nigerians forced the American wingers back on defense thus leaving the team with few options to get transition into any meaningful attacks.  The game would go to halftime scoreless, but with Nigeria on the front foot.

Nigeria emerged from the locker room and quickly took the lead.  US defender Auston Trusty shanked a clearance leaving the ball sitting in the middle of the penalty area.  The other American center back Hugo Arellano tried to make a sliding last ditch intervention, but Chukwudi Agor was waiting to smack it home.  A big hill to climb for the US U 17s against the defending world champions.

Things would get worse from there as Nigeria doubled their lead on the hour mark.  A short goal kick from American keeper Will Pulisic was headed straight into Nigerian forward Victor Osimhen who beat both US central defenders before firing home off the post. Bad goal to give up that pretty much ended the match right there.

To make things worse with only minutes to play American center back Auston Trusty was shown the straight red for stomping a Nigerian winger.  There was no real intent on the play, but the Nigerian player made a total meal of it goading the referee into the dismissal.

Not a good result to start the Under 17 World Cup for the USA youngsters.  With difficult matches left against host Chile and Croatia it could be a quick three and out for the Americans at this edition.  Croatia awaits on Tuesday where the team will need to get a result or be under fire against the hosts Chile in the final group game.